Archives For Father’s Day

Father’s Day

June 18, 2017 — Leave a comment

Over the years I’ve received some pretty amazing, heartfelt Father’s Day messages from Mtuseni. This is the first year I’ve been in direct contact with Bongeka since starting her in private school last year and getting her a tablet. We don’t chat a heck of a lot — what 13-year-old talks much to any adult, never mind one who’s half a world away? So I was happily surprised to receive this WhatsApp greeting from her this morning.

Funny… after pressing hard on her last week to complete another scholarship application — and a few weeks earlier for not joining after-school activities — Bongeka still comes back with a dose of sweetness. I guess that means she’s starting to understand what I’m doing. And that I’m doing a good job.

Sometimes the stress of helping to raise these kids in South Africa really gets to me. In so many ways I’m powerless; there are so many obstacles confronting Bongeka and Mtuseni. But a silly crown and a few words and emoticons sweep it all away for a while.

Indeed… I’m lucky.

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I can’t believe it’s been almost seven years since I first connected with Mtuseni in a video chat, which I took much of the air out of by trying too hard. A “naive farm boy” as he would later describe it, back then he was kinda gawky and silly and shy — with a squeaky voice, half-baked opinions, and a typical love for cars and loud teen-boy movies. He also had dreams, drive, and a big if wounded heart.

I could never have imagined that first awkward conversation would have extended to a deep, loving relationship and greetings such as this…

dad day 2016

It’s been an amazing journey with Mtuseni, this accidental fatherhood for someone who never wanted kids and — truth be told — isn’t a big fan of the species. The rewards and satisfaction and happiness are incalculable.

But it’s difficult not being able to watch him play soccer … or see him graduate from college … or be there to offer a hug on tough days … or give him a warm, safe place to sleep during the cold South African winter.

I heard recently that having a child is like your heart walking around in the world, and you constantly worry over its safety and well-being from challenges big and small, real and imagined. That concept is crystal clear to me. And it’s much tougher when your kid is 8,000 miles away. But somehow we make it work, and can celebrate the love from my no-longer-gawky-or-shy, growing-up-too-fast son on another Father’s Day.

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Halfway There!

June 15, 2012 — 4 Comments

South-African-Airways-flight-to-Cape-TownMtuseni finished final exams today — marking the end of his third semester at Boston Media House. Only three more to go!

I warned him at the beginning that college goes by in a flash. You’re so busy with classes and papers and exams and activities that you don’t notice those calendar pages flipping like in an old movie. Seems you’re just starting out, and then suddenly it’s over.

Despite my heads up to him, I’m also surprised at how quickly Mtuseni’s time in school has gone. He’s come so far, so fast. Seems like just yesterday he needed Google directions from me to find the college he’d always dreamed of attending, so he could tour it and take the entry exam. Back in those days he needed a lot from me. Oh, he still needs my help and guidance on many things, but he’s become much more independent and self-confident. I’ll admit it gives me a wistful, empty-nest feeling now and then — but it means I’m doing my job.

There have been some tough times this first half of his college career. The lonely, miserable first few weeks when he ate lunch by himself and wanted to quit entirely. The rock-bottom grade on his first college test that shocked us both  and amplified his self-doubt. The ongoing quest to borrow laptops to do assignments. And flunking his Excel class — a mandatory course he’s still avoiding. (We both hate numbers and that software!)

But there have also been many highs at BMH. His first nightclub party at Montecasino for the freshers. Scoring a stellar grade on a big marketing paper despite lacking some key research data. (Good writing can sometimes save the day!) Being selected for the student committee and running his first successful events. His embrace of a wide range of media knowledge — and casual name-dropping of new terminology in our conversations. And his buddies Big Boy, Poloko and a growing group of friends all striving to achieve a better life.

Mtuseni and I have many months and more school hurdles ahead before that December 2013 graduation. But for this Father’s Day, I’m going to raise a glass of single malt to enjoy this shared milestone. Yep… every day with Mtuseni really is a celebration.

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