The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If Companies Want To Know About ‘Agile’, Ask My Son …

3 different nationalities.
4 different countries [In 4 different continents]
5 different homes.
4 different schools.
Two major long lockdowns.
All of this in just 6 – but soon to be 7 – short years.

And yet despite all that change … all that waving goodbye and learning to say new hellos … he remains a happy, curious, cheeky and compassionate kid.

And while he loved his life in China, America and the UK … he is blossoming in NZ.

Sure, some of that is because he has been able to get back into some sort of routine, meet new friends and play with other kids his own age – at least until Delta struck and he got locked down with his parents for weeks on end – but it’s more than that …

Outdoor life is a way of life here.

Being outside is no longer a conscious choice.

The line between indoors and outdoors is now very slim.

No need to change clothes. No need to wear shoes. Spontaneity is allowed to flow which – let’s be honest – is exactly how a kid should be able to live their life.

I’ve lived in similar environments before … in Australia and America for example … but whether it’s because I’m older or now live in a bloody treehouse or have a kid of my own, I appreciate it so much more.

Watching him be able to run around outside is a real privilege.

Of course, for people born here, that’s a normality … but I have lived in environments where that’s not the case, which is why even seeing him watch his iPad in the sun is something I don’t take for granted.

We cannot discount the importance of being able to play outside, but sadly many governments and councils seem to.

Viewing it as ‘a favour’ rather than a fundamental right.

Playing outside helps kids in so many ways.

Bond … learn … imagine … express … play … explore … compete … respect.

It’s not a ‘waste of time’, it creates a deeper foundation for life.

An ability to think outside of lines and others definitions.

Giving kids an environments where they can be outside is basically an investment in a countries future.

A nation of curious, interested, healthy people.

But not everyone gets this.

Some actively try to stop this.

Often people of immense privilege who either associate outdoor life as something for either the elite or the rough.

Fortunately NZ does not see it this way.

They revel and celebrate it.

They have the best parks I’ve ever seen in my life.

Parks made to enjoy and encourage kids to push their boundaries.

A new discovery of what you’re capable of with every visit.

And while for most kids it’s about developing, for Otis it’s also about grounding.

A place he can feel is his.

A connection to where he lives in a way he’s not had before.

Because while he is young, I do not underestimate what he has been through.

Fuck, there’s people I have worked with who have literally freaked out when asked to move office desks … and yet here’s my kid, who has moved countries, homes and friends and still embraces the possibilities of every situation.

So much of that is down to his brilliant Mum who has helped that change happen in the most comfortable, seamless way … but it still requires a mindset to look at what you’ll gain rather than just what you lose.

And while I know one day I’ll no doubt be dragging him off for another adventure somewhere else on the planet [but don’t worry, it won’t be for ages. Probably] I want you to know that I love you from tip to toe and let you know I’m so, so proud to be your dad.

Thank you Otis, you’re a little legend.

22 Comments so far
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What a beautiful post about a beautiful boy and country. I am so happy he is enjoying himself. Don’t make plans for what’s next yet Robert, you also deserve to enjoy what you have too. Love to all of you.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Hahahaha … don’t worry Mary, it won’t be for a bit.

Jill would kill me, let alone Otis.

Comment by Rob

That top photo shows you’re doing it tough Rob.

Comment by DH

Nice words. Hasn’t Otis had a radical haircut?

Comment by DH

The prick who said you use Otis for likes is going to shit the bed over this post isn’t he. What a wanker. I actually applauded your response. Hope Jill is OK, I know she was upset by it.

Comment by DH

I missed this. What happened?

Comment by George

Someone on facebook said Rob was using photos of Otis for likes then argued with Jill when she told him to stop. Said he was just looking out for Otis well-being. What a dick.

Comment by DH

What a shitty thing to say. It’s not true, it’s none of their business and they have no right to say it.

Sorry you had to deal with that Rob. I assume you knew this person if they were on facebook. It is amazing how many people reveal themselves as racist, sexist or delusional. Hope you are all OK. I would have wanted to kill them.

Comment by George

Not that it matters, but do you know if this person has kids? What a horrible thing to say. The issue is with them, everyone knows how much Otis is loved by Rob and Jill.

Comment by Pete

I was happy to see Robert and Jill’s friends jumping to their defence and telling this horrible man he was wrong, hurtful and needs to go away.

Comment by Mary Bryant

@George. Rob told him to go fuck himself.
Also @George. How come Mary knew but you didn’t?

Comment by DH

Yep … did it because he wanted to give his hair to kids with cancer. What a legend. We cut 35cm off his hair 35cm!!!

Comment by Rob

Oh … this person also sent private messages to people on Twitter saying what he’d done. People he didn’t even apparently know. I don’t know what he was hoping to do. He is obviously dealing with something – he has some form of abusing people for things he has no right or knowledge to engage – but frankly, while I have some sympathy for whatever it is he’s dealing with, he’s gone from my life and I feel all the better for it.

What made me even angrier was he then told Jill she was wrong and blatantly denied what he had said to me, despite it [1] being in his original comment and [2] in the notes he privately sent to people on Twitter.

It’s only because I assume he is going through something that I’ve not mentioned his name. But if I hear him ever trying something like that again to someone I know, it’s name and shame because it’s despicable.

Comment by Rob

It’s despicable they thought that. But to believe they had a right to say it to you is deplorable.

Comment by Lee Hill

what a piece of fucking shit. you know if you were in america you could kill him, say you were protecting your family and get away with it. you might be many things campbell. you might overshare like a motherfucker. but you and jill love that kid, do all you can to give him a happy stable life and its fucking great to see. all kids will be pissed at their parents at some point. loving them too much is not the end of the fucking world. fuck that guy.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Billy Whizz

Who is this fool?

Comment by Katerina

Thank you for your support, it means a lot.

Comment by Rob

What a great read to end the weekend.

I’m so happy to hear how well this move has worked out for all of you. Without wishing to change the positive energy of this post, with all this childhood goodness, what do you think happens that then causes such a high youth suicide rate?

Comment by George

I’d be interested to know too.

Comment by Pete

Good point.

We have actually been working on a project about this recently with conversations with youth all across NZ.

Basically until 11, the life for kids here is generally filled with openness and positivity. Kids are allowed to explore, imagine and believe in possibilities. But from 11, things seem to dramatically change and reality hits.

The focus is on practicality. Which translates to exams and job. Big thinking is not just dismissed, but positively oppressed … and when you add in the lack of foreign investment and the physical isolation of the island in relation to the rest of the World … the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is easier to understand.

We’re seeing a generation who has so much promise but are being robbed of their ability to dream, be daft and try stuff by an almost singular vision of how you should live and how you will be judged for it.

All this contributes to the terrible death by suicide situation this wonderful country has faced for many years.

There’s obviously many other issues that influence and impact it – and the Maori and farming communities are suffering even more – but to wake up one day and feel you have to let go of your passions to follow a system that the nation will judge you by, must make so many young kids question the life they want versus the life they are told to have and still may not be able to achieve.

Our project is called Dream Small. It is similar to America in the Raw but there are significant attitudinal differences to the youth we interviewed for this book and that one – driven by the values and expectations of this island.

NZ is an amazing country, but where youth is concerned, there is a lot they need to do. Of course no one wants this to happen … but like I said about media attitudes towards reporting suicide [ie: they don’t use the word] their best intentions may be contributing to the issue rather than reducing it.

We hope this book will help force the conversation in the public domain and show the possibilities and responsibilities of companies who can help liberate youth rather than make them feel even more in a ever-smaller corner.

Comment by Rob

That’s really helpful Robert. Your point about youth being robbed of their right to be young is powerful. I would love a copy of the book when it is finished if that is possible.

Comment by George

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