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Unto GOF a grandchild is born.

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There are occasions when even the most obstinate deeply-rooted cynic can be moved.

In more ways than one.

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1. The Bucket is littered with my thankfulness for having been born in a developed, functional and democratic country.

2. From personal involvement at the time, and much retrospective evaluation since, I believe that Australia’s benevolent colonial administration of Papua New Guinea was exemplary.
It literally brought stone-age people into the modern jet age within just a few decades.

One legacy of this focussed development effort was the provision of world-class hospitals in all major provincial towns.

Papua New Guinea became an Independent Nation in 1975.
It was a vibrant functional country with the potential to become the jewel amongst South Pacific nations.

The ineptitude and corruption of politicians and administrative leaders since Independence has resulted in PNG being reduced to a dysfunctional lawless State in 2012.

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The story;

Two weeks ago my daughter-in-law gave birth to little GOG (grandson of GOF) in PNG’s capital city, Port Moresby.

The public health system had failed to identify that the cause of her agonizing enduring pain was the 4 kg unborn child which was 4-weeks-post-term.  In desperation my son took her to a private doctor, who, just 45 minutes later performed an emergency caesarian to deliver GOG.

The distressed infant, having ingested amniotic fluid, was unable to breathe unassisted and had to be sent back to the crowded public hospital premature-baby ward for ‘care’.

During the following 5 days the hospital  ‘ran out’ of oxygen on several occasions leaving GOG blue and at potential risk of brain damage and death.

Fortunately my son’s employer, a large influential company, had health insurance for it’s management staff, and a medivac Lear Jet was dispatched on a 6-hour return flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby, complete with a doctor and 2 nurses.

Little GOG is now being pampered at one of Australia’s best children’s hospitals. He is in an isolation intensive-care room hooked up to all manner of machines and monitors and attended 24 hours each day by a nurse. Every minute of every day there is a nurse watching over him. In effect his own private nurse.

I have just returned from spending 3 days with the little bugger at his bedside along with his Mum and Dad.

This old cynic has been deeply moved by the experience.

I watched as GOG’s oxygen dependency gradually reduced from 80% machine-supplied to 27% at which point the intrusive and painful tubes were removed (along with morphine dosage) and within an hour he changed from purple to normal baby-colour.

One day later, he gurgled and smiled and began to chat about how lucky he was to be alive.  He should also be proud that at the age of 6 days he had his own passport, complete with photograph showing all of the tubes stuck down his nose and throat.

GOG is still not out of the woods and will require weeks of hospitalisation and further tests for brain functionality.

I am gobsmacked by the capabilities, efficiency and competence of Australia’s health-care system.

Never in my life have I witnessed the sort of selfless commitment, compassion and devotion shown by the nurses who patiently work 12-hour shifts just to ensure one little human’s chance at life is not extinguished.

I am in awe of my daughter-in-law who, just days after a major operation, waddled across the tarmac to get onto a commercial flight to join her baby in Brisbane, and never once complained (at least not to me) about her own pain and discomfort.
One day she might even forgive me for being a link in the GOF-family genetic chain which caused GOG to be born ‘hairy with gangly legs and long toes.”

I also have a son who will obviously be a much better Dad to his children than I ever was.

It is a time for counting blessings, and this week I have many.

But it is also appropriate for me to spare some thought for all the parents in PNG and around the world who will never have access to Lear Jets and medical care for their sick babies.

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P.S.  If the medical information and terminology above does not make any sense, it may well be because I haven’t the slightest clue what I am talking about.

Corporal punishment : GOF’s 21st century review

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The experience of life has left me with the belief that the occasional impeccably timed smack on a kid's arse after reasonable attempts at negotiation have failed, can be a useful and effective deterrent against its subsequent delinquency.

Last year when I expressed this view I was taken to task by some of my Vox neighbors.  This year I have felt obliged to examine whether or not I was perpetuating antiquated barbaric behaviour, and to check whether any other cracks might have developed in my 20th century fortress of child raising certainty.

The immediate dilemma was where to find another child on which to experiment.  Globet, for reasons unknown, vamoosed many years ago to live at the opposite extremity of this large continent.
And anyway if I attempted to lay a disciplinary hand on her 27 year old backside today the most favourable outcome from the menu of potential repercussions would probably be that her gymnasium toned body would simply pound my patriarchal puniness into pulp.

Society also apparently frowns upon old men randomly selecting children to smack in supermarkets, even though the temptation on occasions is almost overwhelming.
Long term readers will remember that GOF additionally has some "prior history" of questionable behaviour in shopping centres which resulted in him being banned from two of them.

My review options were becoming seriously restricted.

I thought that maybe doing a few experiments on animals might be more acceptable, but Animal Welfare caught me at it and told me it wasn't.
At least no conviction was recorded, and I am learning a lot during my community service at the local animal shelter.

The only remaining opportunity for me was to do my testing on some inanimate object, and just in the nick of time I was presented with a suitable contender.

Our 20 year old television set suddenly had the temerity to display floating rainbow colours instead of any transmitted program.

Whack!!! on the side panel.
Picture restored.   (instantly, but temporarily)
Whack!!!!!    Wallop!!!!!!
Picture back.
I am well on the way to proving my point of view here.

However after two weeks of corrective discipline administered with increasing frequency and intensity, and just as I was about to scout around for a suitable weapon with which to administer a damn good flogging, I decided last Sunday in a moment of frustrated exhaustion to sit down in front of the television and speak quietly to it.

(I have cleaned this up a little for the benefit of your innocent eyes)

"I am dissatisfied with your recent performance.
 Next Thursday I am going to take you to the dump recycle centre,
 then I am going to buy a new digital TV"

We have had a perfect television picture for the last 2 days.

My belief system is now in tatters.

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Love on a leash

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The sexual abuse of children is simply the most heinous, appalling and disgraceful crime of our time.  Yet I suspect this is nothing new in human history.  There is ample evidence of it occurring during previous generations in western cultures, as well as being endemic in some traditional indigenous societies.  Like a pebble thrown into a pond, its effects permeate our entire society from the horrendous impact on the victim,  to family, friends, and successive generations.  
Sadly a majority of crimes against children are perpetrated by family members or close friends.

I have wonderful memories of being a little boy spending time alone with real and honorary Uncles, "helping"  them in the vegetable garden, being told stories, or just sitting on their knee riding the imaginary horse.  I know my parents would not have even remotely considered the possibility that I could be abused in any way.
Very sadly it seems these times have gone forever.  

Mr and Mrs GOF have had a couple of close friends for around 30 years.  We have been there when each of their children was born and shared the joy of watching our own daughter grow up with their children.  
Such was our friendship that one of the young children adopted me as her honorary "Dad" when her real one was absent working in a distant location for a year.   That this child should have shown such trust in me remains to this day one of the most  beautiful moments in my life. Yet I knew it was a situation to be handled with a great deal of care and restraint.  Whilst my natural instinct was to give affection to this child as I would my own daughter, I felt it necessary to self-impose strict boundaries of behaviour.
Our friends are both highly intelligent and caring human beings,  so I was always aware that, being responsible parents, they could never allow themselves to trust me completely.   They would never have made me aware of any lack of trust …..  yet I knew that it was their responsibility to maintain an appropriate level of vigilance.   Accordingly I felt the need to limit my displays of  affection towards the children, avoiding hugs that were forthcoming, or being alone with any one of them.  The children are now wonderful young adults and yet I still have a hesitation about giving them a hug whenever I see them. It has been a joy watching them grow and sharing the events of their lives.   But for me there is also just a little tinge of sadness.  Perhaps I have been a little over sensitive, but I still  consider it was right to err on the side of caution.

In dealing with the children of the world, I must adhere to boundaries appropriate to a man who has been tainted with guilt-by-association with his own gender, and the disgraceful behaviour of some.

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