Tag Archives: children

Papa, Do You Have a Bike Helmet, Too?

As I mentioned in a recent post, I now write for the Bike Citizens Magazine. My first article has been published, here’s a little intro – click on the link below to read the full version.

“Papa, do you have a helmet, too?” my two-year old daughter asked. For a brief moment I did not know what to say. Because while she wears a bike helmet every time I take her on the bike, I am not wearing one myself, not when I’m bringing her to the day-care nor on my commute to work. As parents often do, I rescued myself by telling a half-truth – that I wear a helmet when riding my race bike.

In fact, by not wearing a helmet, I am making a wise, rational, scientifically supported decision. Wonder why? Read my article about it in the Bike Citizens Magazine!

The helmet goes with the rest of the racing gear

The helmet goes with the rest of the racing gear


Filed under cycling, Work

What I learned from my daughter

This is my 200th post here and I’ve done my best to make it a special one. Its been almost two years since I became a father (and I am about to become father of 2 very soon). I never really knew what to expect from being a father. Don’t think any guy ever knows. I had some expectations, like that it would be tiring and difficult. I was hoping it would be fun (it was in fact the most awesome experience ever). But not in my wildest dreams have I imagined that being a parent will be so enlightening and instructive. I seriously have the feeling I’ve learned from my daughter at least as much, if not more than she has learned from me. Here’s a short and non-comprehensive list of the things I’ve learned from my daughter Noura.

If she wants something, she just says “I want”. “I want hug papa”, “I want cookie”, “I want sleep”. She is really good in not overthinking her wishes, not trying to conform with other people, not caring if it is the right time or not. “Read book with papa now”. It is not a question. It is a statement. Its up to papa to consider whether papa wants to read a book as well or has a better idea, and how he is going to “sell” his alternative. I wish I’ve been that assertive when it comes to getting what I want or at least being able to say it out loud.

They say children are easily distracted. Not true. They are just open to new opportunities. But try to distract a child that is really busy with something she or he enjoys (like my daughter and food). Not going to work, at least not without a fight. If Noura is into something, the rest of the world just ceases to exist. So, I’ve seen her potty-training her teddy bear for half an hour. She wasn’t for a second bored with it. The cycle of “bear pipi-bear on potty-bear wipe behind” was repeated endlessly and she enjoyed herself fully. Guess the secret is to be doing something you like and enjoy.

Listening to your body
The few times she was really sick it showed instantly. Normally, Noura has the appetite of… well, I can’t come up with a cute animal to compare her with, but let’s just say she enjoys eating and is really good at it. But if she does not feel well she just says “no” to food. Which is really smart, because when you’re sick you’re not in the position to do proper digesting. I, on the other hand, have on numerous occasions woken up not feeling too well, had breakfast out of habit and spent the rest of the day regretting it.

Letting go
Don’t know how about you, but I occasionally get stuck on something and can’t let go. Like an argument I had with my wife, a bad day I had in the office or some other silly frustration that keeps nagging me. Getting stuck is rather counter-productive, as it serves no real purpose and stands in the way of enjoying the things you do get right. My daughter, as probably all children, has an amazing capacity of letting go. No cookie? But hey, there’s a bird on the balcony! Who cares about the cookie?! Wish I could let go that easily.

Joy of life
The most valuable lesson I have learned and keep learning from being a father is to enjoy life. Actually, this is what all the other lessons are all about. There are so many fun, pretty, special, interesting things around us, so much we take for granted and do not even notice how wonderful the world is. Children do notice. I hope my daughter always retains that amazing capacity to enjoy what life has to offer, and that she will keep reminding me to enjoy it with her. Noura – thank you!.

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Can we have the right for dignity?

I’m sure everyone noticed that last week’s news was particularly bad. In fact, it was absolutely horrible. Here in the Netherlands the scale and impact of the MH17 disaster only now begin to be realized, as the victims are brought back for identification, and a seemingly endless caravan of funeral cars rolls on the road.

Sadly, these dignified images have been preceded by much less dignified ones. I’m sure you’ve seen those, too – it was pretty impossible to avoid them. Even the national news showed every obscene detail from the scene, without editing anything out. Why do they do it? We know there was a disaster. We know it is gruesome. We know it. But do we really need to see all the details on the evening news? Just a few years ago, showing parts of dead bodies on national TV would have been unthinkable. The dead were shown covered in a sheet or pixelated, preserving their dignity as a token of respect. Now, the mainstream media seemingly fight a losing battle with Twitter and Whatsapp for who is showing the most eerie images.

Its not even myself I am concerned about. Yes, my stomach turns if I see the victims of the tragedy of MH17 scattered in a field, but at least I am a grown-up person, well capable of dealing with it. But I have a daughter, who’s just one year old. Right now she’s too young to realize the horror of these images and too young to ask questions about them. It won’t take long though before she does ask questions about what she sees on TV and in the newspapers. And its me who will have to provide the answers. Some day I will have to explain to her that the world can be a bad, bad place at times. But I was hoping that I have a few more years before I have to have this conversation with her, and I would like to choose that moment myself and not to be forced upon me by some news editor chasing the ratings.

And actually, well, yes, its myself I am concerned about, too. Because if God forbid I make the news in the wrong way, the last thing I want is for my mutilated remains to be on public display. We now have the right to be forgotten. Can we also have the right for dignity? Please?

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