Brendan “Jonesy” Jones: Being an “involved” parent is hell


Jonesy with wife Helen and children Dominic, Romany and Morgan

This time of year can be a prickly time in the Jones household as the local school’s art and craft fair is approaching.

Let me explain.

Because we have such an age gap between our children, I feel like I’ve been going there forever. I’ve seriously had some sort of Highlander* relationship with that school.

Our children are spaced out (that’s in age, not on dope… I think), so I’ve been involved with the school for some 17 years.

My eldest Morgan, now 21, went there. My second, Romany, 16, went there and now my youngest, Dominic,10, goes there. It’s not even our local school anymore – we moved out of the area four years ago, but thanks to Mr 10, still the art and craft fair prevails. The kids haven’t even entered anything in the actual fair in years – it’s just not something that they’re into. But because my wife volunteers in the book stall each year, apparently I’m supposed to also do something, which is why it bugs the hell out of her that I want nothing to do with it.


Don’t get me wrong, I like being involved. School sports carnivals are always fun, and it’s not that I haven’t had anything to do with the fair in the past – I’ve been there to man the barbie and I MC’d a few auctions (which may or may not have been a career highlight). Some of the other fundraising and awards nights can be a little, well, arduous. With each child, they seem to be getting longer and longer, with speech upon speech.

The funniest part is that the kids don’t care if I’m there or not. Actually, my daughter is very embarrassed and would prefer me to stay home (note that, yes, she is a teenager).

But having been married for 22 years, I’ve learnt the path of least resistance is the best way to go, so I ask “Do they still need people to help out?”  This year I didn't get an answer. This is a tricky one.  You can push further and be greeted by the old passive aggressive wall of silence or you can walk away, not say anything and take your chances.  A mate of mine did this once. Him and a bunch of mates were going for a big motorbike ride over in New Zealand. All the other fellas had been copping grief from their respective partners for going overseas without them for the weeks leading up to the departure date, but not my mate. He chose to tell his wife from a cab on his way to the airport. His wife was so stunned she couldn’t really do anything other than just go with it.

As I value my life, I decided to talk it out, so I volunteered to help supervise the jumping castle. I remember the jumping castle when I was a kid except it was that long ago it had stone walls and had a moat complete with dragon.

In the world of "Stuff To Do" on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst, the jumping castle would come in as a 5.

Supervising the castle involves making sure no one gets on there in a pair of stilettos, or tries to go over the wall. It’s like being security at a really bouncy, underage nightclub.

Number 1 would be cooking the snags on the barbie because it looks like you’re doing a lot of work when you’re not and no-one will judge you if you have a beer.  And that’s why they always have more volunteers than they know what to do with. I tried to explain to my wife that it was a good time for me to bond with the other dads and she asked what we talk about. I was mysteriously vague but I’m going to let you in on a secret here… when all the Dads get together, we talk about… nothing! Seriously, it’s small talk city. I wish I had something more exciting to reveal.

10 would be doing the face painting, I did that once because word got out that I went to art school (many years ago). Every kid came out looking like Paul Stanley from Kiss, not because I’m a fan or anything, but because it’s relatively simple and I’m pretty good at stars.

There are other activities that you learn to love when you’re a dad several times over. Teaching each kid how to read is fantastic. Parent-teacher interviews are sometimes fantastic – we tended to become less scared of the teacher by the time child three came along. Teaching each child how to drive never becomes easier. Hopefully by the time my 10 year old has to learn how to drive, the age limit will be pushed up to 21 and my eldest will be more than qualified to teach him instead.

You learn that being a dad is not a sprint but a marathon. And it can become slightly easier each time because you’ve learnt from all you did wrong with the first child.  Sometimes. Other times, by the time you get to that last child, you think you know it all so you’re coasting along on auto-pilot. And I think that a large proportion of airline crashes happen when the autopilot is on…

But ultimately, being a Dad can be just like creating the perfect product to sell at the art and craft fair – it may be laborious, it may even be tedious, but when you see that bright orange ceramic bowl that was lovingly made by your son in tech class, sitting proudly for sale on the trestle table in between the second-hand books and next to the lopsided lamingtons, you know the marathon is all worth it.

*The movie Highlander summarised in seven words "an ages-old battle between immortal warriors", much like parenthood right?

After going to art school for a couple of years, where he learnt to paint fat old people in the nude, a rich trail of jobs followed: sign-maker, outboard motor wrecker, truck driver, sewer worker, panel beater, kitchen hand, club DJ. Jonesy’s big radio break came in 1990 with a night job at 6KA Karratha. His radio journey took him around the country and finally back to Sydney, where he hosted afternoon and morning radio, and was the voice behind successful national countdown show, Planet Rock.

These days, apart from hearing his dulcet tones on the wireless with his breakfast co-host Amanda Keller on WSFM101.7(a gig they’ve had together for eight years!) and together nationally via Jonesy & Amanda’s show ‘My Generation’, you can also catch his mug on the TV, with regular spots on ‘Mornings’ on Channel Nine.

Jonesy is married with three children and lives with his wife in Sydney’s South. He loves tinkering away in his shed on his motorbikes but tells his wife they belong to “friends”.


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