Words by Zander Heeger

A growing number of young Safas are resettling abroad. This creates a problem of alienation for parents who stay behind.

My kids are technically no longer kids. For starters, they’re thirty-something. They reckon we were smooth parents because we raised them to be profoundly independent. Cynics contend that’s an elegant way of saying we wanted them off our hands.
They seem to be fairly functional humans though, give or take a few disquieting wobbles along the way, and they are indeed emotionally independent. Our bumbling efforts to shape them thus have been spectacularly successful. So much so that they have taken flight and have become forren aliens. That is forren, as in foreign, in case you haven’t seen the TV ad with the delightfully dik chick with an equally fat accent, panting: “I love it when you talk forren”.

Thing is, and here’s the alien rub, the subtleties of this solid Safrican humour will be lost on my kids. They won’t know what I’m talking about because they will not have seen the ad.

Like so many young Safas, my kids live in a foreign land. Inevitably, we have become alienated. Don’t get me wrong, we’re best of mates and talk up a storm on Skype (it’s free), now and again. And we kuier with commitment when they do visit our shores, once every year or two. Or three. But one does lose touch.

I put on a brave face and try to look on the bright side of things. It introduces a new theme to the tired old topics of discussion around dinner tables. Once you’ve covered the customary whining about crime, Julius and rugby, you can now compare notes with friends and boast about what your kids are doing abroad. “It’s so safe over there. They don’t even bother to lock their doors at night!” And, wait for it: “Jeez, but their houses are tiny, hey!”

The kids have now started families and I think I spot a blessing right there. I will never have to babysit. This is just as well because I’ve developed a low tolerance level for little brats and often growl “Kill! Kill!” when they venture within striking distance in restaurants and shopping centres. And I will be spared considerable cringe factor. Imagine being called “Oupa” by a snotty creature dangling from your arm when you’re chatting up the hot teller in the chemist while she’s knowingly cashing up your Viagras.
Another advantage of having alien kids is that you’re spared the acute parental distress of witnessing your offspring becoming mature adults. It must be disconcerting watching your kid lose the flush of youth and gradually turn into a familiar, decaying clone of yourself with a prosperous spread of girth and receding hairline. Conversely, they will be spared the undignified and sordid spectacle of seeing me grow old disgracefully.

One irrefutable downside to kids living so far away from home is that I can’t pop over occasionally to raid their fridges or to borrow money. But then again, neither can they. And it’s quite a relief that they won’t be around to confuse me in my dotage, contriving cunning power-of-attorneys and forcing me into a smelly old-age hovel when I start dribbling recklessly over a decadent teenage mistress.

Zander Heeger is a free-lance copywriter. He denies ever having used Viagra but might be persuaded to endorse it, at a fee.