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.