How Much Is A Child’s Year Really Worth? #NaBloPoMo

More on the parenting teens theme today given this is what is taking up most of my head space at the moment.

At this time of life when asked my age, I often jokingly answer in dog years. This not only paves the way for further discussion, but also serves as an ice breaker and a youth elixir of sorts. My recent parenting teens experiences leads me to question whether 18 years of a child’s life today has the same equivalency as 18 years of a child’ life, say growing up in the 50s, 70s or 80s. Or is it like dog years and equivalent to something less so that ageing in the new millennium like the value of money is decreasing in effectiveness over time?

I met a wonderful woman today in my Zumba class who also happens to be the mother of two boys. Her boys are older than mine, adult clockaged 19 and 22. We were of course sweatily comparing parenting experiences, have just shaken our wobbly bits on the dance floor for the last hour during class. She was exclaiming how both of her boys were now just starting down the tertiary education road after having travelled for a while and taken bridging courses to gain entry into university in this country. She was very proud of her boys going down this road, as she herself had not done so and wished that she had. Anecdotally she advised that most of her sons’ cohorts had also not started university straight after finishing school, but had chosen to travel, work or taken a gap year.

In the ehemm…three decades (or 4 or so dog years) since I was 18, there seems to have been a shift in how an 18 year old sees the world. We often hear that life for children is more complicated today – faster paced, more competitive and just more. There is no doubt the information age has brought with it an array of options for an 18 year old that were not available to us at that age, or not as easily accessible. For example, many 18 year olds place a premium on seeing the world and are more well travelled than most adults. Through those travelling experiences, the world of living, working and loving in a foreign land is now a reality for our 18 year olds.

But does having all these options mean that the timeline for 18 year olds have been pushed out? Is 23 the new 18 and is 18 the new 15, but with drinking, voting and driving rights thrown in (note in Australia the legal drinking age is 18)? At what point should a person get down and get serious about their life path instead of behaving like human flotsam and jetsam? And is this really necessary now anyway given that home affordability no longer seems a reality for most 18 year olds and there is no guarantee of employment after university graduation?

Am I creating a rod for my own back by insisting that my children study ahead of playing computer games and that they strive towards something other than just living for today?

life path signageI certainly don’t believe that the life path I chose is necessarily the best one for my children. We are all unique and each person should be free to choose their own path. But I can’t help thinking that perhaps we are asking our children to make their choice before they are properly equipped to do so. Are these decisions that should be postponed until my children are 21 or 22 after they have acquired a bit of life experience? Life experience that had they grown up in the 50s, 70s or 80s they would more likely have had by now?

I still have more questions than answers at this point, but I can’t help thinking that it just a different world with different challenges to when I was 18.

They say you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, but maybe it’s possible to put some old shoulders under a young head to offer support and guidance pending launch time.

Any feedback you wish to provide on these issues will be most gratefully received.

Bouncing Around with Bokwa – Zumbalicious Style

Bokwa? You never heard of Bokwa?

Despite the way it reads, it is not the sound of someone choking on a chicken nugget or a new kung-fu move. It is in fact a high impact cardio/dance workout and as they say in the marketing pitch, if you can spell and move, you can do Bokwa. You can read more about Bokwa here.

Keep calm and Bokwa

It’s funny how life always throws things at you in groups. First, there was the A-Z April Blogging Challenge, blogging by the alphabet and now there’s exercise by the alphabet. That’s right, dance steps in the shape of letters or rather your feet move to make letters of the alphabet. I suppose you could Bokwa the alphabet song, but the letters are actually chosen at random to fit in with the routine, rather than danced in alphabetical order. This is a very good thing, because concentrating on the dance steps, coordinating arms and legs whilst reciting the alphabet would probably be a little too much multitasking. All of that and you want grace as well? Ha!

So, I had my first full Bokwa class today after having had an introductory taste of it last week for there comes a time in every mother’s life when being self-consciousness is yesterday’s news. I mean, if you have ever given birth, you would know that you check your dignity at the hospital door. There is just no room for self-consciousness when some nurse is elbow deep inside your birth canal. And that REALLY prepares you for what comes next, namely, when your 5-year-old bright spark of a child boldly announces to the world at large that “Mummy has wobbly bits”.

My wobbly bits look just like hers!Image coutesy of

My wobbly bits look just like hers!
Image courtesy of

And so it was that I took my wobbly bits to Bokwa.

I am proud to say that not only did I survive the 45 minute class, but I had great fun along the way. Firstly, the music is fantastic. Latest hits that even on a bad day would get your foot tapping, let alone your whole body moving on a good day. And you can sing along whilst doing it. Secondly, whilst the steps are set, you are encouraged to put your own spin on them. Dip here? Why, thank you I will. A bit of booty shaking there, certainly.

Thirdly, and for me, most importantly, the class is taught by a couple of fantastically patient and energetic people from Zumbalicous Australia. You need motivation? They have it in spades. You need to start with the basics? No problem, they will step it through until you’ve got it. You’ve come along for a bit of fun and to sweat – they deliver. A good exercise instructor is like a good hairdresser, a relationship that’s quite personal and something to hold on to for as long as you can!

Below is a pic that was taken after the class. Two of these lovely ladies are fantastic dancers whilst the other wears really bright sneakers.



Over and above the Bokwa itself, I beseech you all to try something new and often. It’s so easy to come up with multiple excuses for not wanting to do or try something, but more often than not if you can overcome the resistance of your old and familiar thought patterns, you’ll be glad you did.

Today I mastered L, O and C. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next week.

And one day soon, I’ll be able to dance the following letters for my wonderful instructors:

T, H, A, N, K, Y, O and U!!

Legal fine print: Bokwa is a registered trademark and so every time you read Bokwa in the above post, please notionally put a little “R” with a circle after it and remember that you can’t steal it.

Z is for Zumba: 10 Things Zumba Class Taught Me About Life (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -

I come to this last Challenge post with a degree of excitement and a huge sense of relief. I’m not one to give up and well, here we are at Z. I’ll be writing more in a post containing my reflections on the Challenge next week after attending to some non-Challenge unfinished blogging business.

So with a great deal of ZEAL, I write my Z post.

I started taking Zumba classes about a year ago. Looking back at that first class, I can’t help but be transported back to that OMG feeling and the eternal question:

 “Just what the heck were you thinking?”

It was an introductory class, so at the END of it the instructors taught us some of the basic latin dance steps of the salsa, cha-cha and merengue. That’s when things began to look particularly bleak. Not sure where I was when they handed out the co-ordination gene, but clearly I was not in that line. My Zumba journey has been a real trip and keeping with the perseverance theme of this post, I bring to you my 10 points of Zumba wisdom.

Here is what Zumba participation has taught me about life.

1. Nobody is born an expert, not even an expert smart-arse. Becoming an expert takes time, training and a whole lot of missteps along the way.

2. Introducing a new routine inevitably increases the chance of missteps. It takes a couple of weeks to feel comfortable with the routine, but once you break through that comfort barrier, it becomes a whole lot of fun. Only you and hard work can break through that barrier and when you do… oh what a feeling! New routines keep life interesting.

3.Nobody focuses on your missteps other than you. Everyone is more worried about their own. There is no spotlight or microphone highlighting that you zigged, when you should have zagged (note the rather topical consistant use of Z words). You think your missteps are so good ? Ha, I’ve got news for you. Ditch the self – consciousness and get out there!

4. Bring your own style to anything you tackle, don’t worry about what to wear, how you look. You can’t do worse than my original outfit of baggy T shirt and old bike shorts. Individuality is exciting and interesting. Remember this also in the context of rule number  three.

5. Everything is more fun with a latin beat ………jajaja!

6. Pitbull is a Zumba class favourite and most of his songs have a great beat that can motivate you to do housework, blogging and other activities …. “two worlds English…Spanish….”

7.  The salsa, cha-cha and merengue are highly technical dance steps. Zumba is not the latin dance championships and you will not be scored on technical merit. Usually, keeping up the energy and your legs and arms moving in something that loosely resembles dance moves is enough. In other words, give yourself a break and just enjoy life’s experiences.

8. The intensity of each routine varies. There is a slow build up starting with the warm up moving to high impact, then a slow catch your breath number, another build-up and finally a warm down. Life is not about being at full throttle all the time. Down-times are permissible and absolutely necessary.

9. Break each routine down to its basics. Start with the leg movements then add in the arms and then put it all together. Sometimes we all just need to get back to the basics and take small bites rather than try to eat the whole pig, which will probably cause you indigestion anyway.

10. A hot looking Brazilian bloke in line next to you makes the hour go faster and sends the energy levels soaring.  Always carry a hot Brazilian looking bloke around with you if you can or if that’s not possible hold onto the idea of something or someone who motivates you.

There you have it, rules and skills for life according to Zumba Zen. I still don’t know how to properly do the salsa, cha-cha or merengue and I’m glad the technical aspects of all of that did not distract me from the bigger picture. I’m moving, sweating, having fun and mixing it with some great people and that to me is more important than championship ballroom technique.

And so with that, here endeth the Challenge.