Great Expectations?

Today I’ve been reflecting

On a conversation I had with a ex-work colleague some time ago.

Knowing me to be a doting dad, she always asks after the cubs. I give her updates whenever we catch up.

I take great pride in recalling a recent shopping trip my daughter and I had, where the command of the morning was that the only way to make progress through the shopping mall, was by stepping on rectangle floor tiles and only rectangle floor tiles. She was quite specific in this.

We held hands, shopping bags evenly distributed and made our way gingerly through the centre.

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We moved with the accuracy of a Suisse timepiece. A watching Police Officer nodded his approval with a smile, whilst a retired couple commented that ‘it may take us a while’ to get where we were going.

We don’t care. This was our moment and where was the harm?

All was going well until we happened upon a large area of circular tiles. Our expedition ground to a halt. Very, very poor and inconsiderate architecture. What were they thinking?

We stood in contemplation for what seemed like an age, before I turned to her and asked, well now what?

We decided to turn back. Rules are rules.

My ex-colleague seemed puzzled. ‘Sounds like she has you wrapped around her little finger!’

Perhaps, I smiled.

I then told her that we dance a lot too. It doesn’t matter where we are. If we hear good music, we dance. We’re quite uninhibited.

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‘You do realise’ my colleague said, ‘that you’re setting the standard to which she will judge all men…’

Yes I do.

‘She might be disappointed if her partner doesn’t respond to her needs in a way that she’s become accustomed’

Perhaps.

But my daughter will also know her worth. She’s not a princess; she’s a determined individual. She will know that if her partner doesn’t give her butterflies in her stomach, knows effortlessly how to make her smile and is comfortable enough to show her his true feelings, then he’s probably not the man for her.

I’m sure I’m not growing a monster so for now, we dance, we pathfind and we make memories. This is what life is about.

After all; she is only 8.

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BSD

From the Bible; it’s Jewish..

It’s the end of their stint with me for the school holidays. Having pulled my back yesterday (on my birthday!), we had what was primarily a down day.

Late afternoon I felt sorry for my caged cubs. We jumped in the car and went to our favourite park.

Parenting trick; take them out near their supper time. They’ll then naturally leave the park in search of their next meal.

I had a plan for supper but was pressed for time. At the stove, they glossed over the fact that my usual ‘come and get it’ was replaced with ‘well, that’ll have to do’.

She finishes eating first, and leans into my personal space to tell me something.

“Daddy; there’s this story in the bible, about a stranger who knocks on a man’s door…”

Quite familiar with the bible, I’m at a loss for this particular story.

She chimes on.

“A man opens the door and the stranger asked ‘do you have a space for me to sleep?’ but the man said no”

Definitely not familiar with this story.

“The stranger then says ‘but I can help you! I can cook you a wonderful meal!'”

I’m wondering if this a Samaritans remix or some stranger danger thing that has become clouded in her brain.

She continues and I continue to fork food into my face.

“So the man let’s the stranger in and he starts cooking a soup. But the stranger hadn’t brought any ingredients so instead, he popped in a magic toenail…”

At this precise moment, something in my mouth went crunch.

“and then he popped to the neighbours to get some broccoli…”

I’m not listening any more.

The final element of confusion flooded in and brought me back to reality when she tailed off with,

“I think it might be Jewish”

“no; Christian…”

She angles her head in thought.

I fear my appetite may never return.

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BSD

You make your bed.

A few weeks back..

I took the cubs to a new park. It was the start of the really good weather so we walked. I want them to get more exercise so a 4 mile round trip should make bedtime smoother.

On the way they were as good as gold. Proper respect for the road and in good spirits. We make 2 miles in good time.

The park is beautiful. Part manicured lawns, flower beds and an aviary. We take some time to look at the birds.

Contraptions

A lot of public parks now have rudimentary exercise equipment in them; this one is no different. They kind of resemble what you see in gyms but slightly more weather and wear resistant. My two love them, so I sit back and let them burn some more energy.

As is also usual for public spaces, there were some bigger boys and girls around. Too old for parks, but too young for bars; puberty purgatory before adulthood, raging hormones included.

Their language is a little raw so we move off. There are some more traditional apparatus for the cubs.

In a gated area sits some new challenges. A higher climbing frame that will test her, a rope walk and a rope swing onto a cargo net. All good confidence builders.

We get stuck in.

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Not alone

As you’d expect, there are other families around. Kids aged from about 3 to 10 years old. They’re all jolly.

My two hit the rope and cargo net; a queue builds. My eldest helps her brother by passing him the rope. He pauses, then swings into the net. Since I didn’t tell him to let go, he swings back to his starting position.

His sister shows him how its done, passing the rope back before scrambling over the top, commando style. He’s still on the bottom and duly hands the rope to the next waiting kid. She looks about 5, and helicopter mummy is very near by.

She swings with all her might, before my youngest can get clear. She sends him tumbling.

He rolls, gets up, dusts himself down, looks at her then looks at me. I offer some reassuring words.

The little girl looks at her mum: ‘I’M NOT SORRY!’ she shouts to her. I’m a little taken aback. Her mum puts a hand on her shoulder. ‘I’M NOT SORRY!’ she shouts again.

I’m kneeling now, giving my cub the once over. My [not so] poker face looking at mummy, and daddy, who was feet away sitting on a bench, who say nothing.

Not wanting to serve time, I decide that to roundhouse women and brats is not a valid option.

I’m alright daddy!‘ he says, before waltzing off to join his rapidly advancing sister, who appeared to be on her way to level the playing field. I intercept her, United Nations style.

The mum glanced back, pathetically, as she took her brat to another apparatus. The brat  was still indignant.

Stimulus/response

As they walked away, my anger turned to pity. I watched with interest the interpersonal relationship between mum, dad and daughter. I surmised that she was an only child. I also made the assumption that they had struggled to conceive and because the physical manifestation of the everyday miracle was now living and breathing, they were so thankful that she could do no wrong. A huge leap I know, but that child ruled both adults.

Kids have accidents; that’s fine and to be expected. The fact that she vocalised her lack of remorse, and did so  unapologetically, told me that this was the norm for her. This was how she behaved at home and that behaviour went unchallenged.

You reap what you sow

The pity in this situation is that at some point in this child’s life, she will meet a situation or person that won’t indulge her. If she’s really unlucky, it won’t be until she’s an adult; the universe has a way of doing that. My daughter would have sped that process up if I’d let her but I’m a good parent.

All 3 of them lose in this scenario. If you don’t set boundaries as parents when they’re small, you won’t be able to do it when they’re adolescents and respect will be a mere concept.

So proud of my two.

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BSD

Resilience

I see my hidden goal

As ensuring that my nurturing turns strong children turn into strong adults. I try to do this in the most subtle ways possible, taking every opportunity to reinforce subtle lessons with real life examples.

I don’t think I’m doing anything out of the ordinary, but I am conscious of who my cubs are, and how the world may view them as adults.

Inequalities

Over here we’ve finally had some solid data on pay differentials. Industry was compelled by the government to post pay grades, gender percentile and other qualitative data that basically, didn’t look good.

On average, women are paid less; people of colour are paid less. Not looking good.

On the plus side, my two are still in single digits age wise, and working a job isn’t what it used to be years ago. Nonetheless, I need to build my pack strong.

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Her

My daughter is a brainbox. Recall, attention to detail, enquiring mind, tick tick tick. Her desire for knowledge never fails to amaze me. Remembering me promising her things could ease off a bit though…

Historically, I’ve made her make her own giant leaps; from climbing up onto a chair before she could walk to riding without stabilisers, watching her tears of frustration turn to tears of joy when she finally mastered it. Watching her realisation, that effort brings rewards.

Now, when asked ‘How did you know to do that?’ by anyone, her answer of ‘the idea was in my head’ renews my pride.

Him

He’s still only 3, so the transition out of nappies to peeing standing up ‘just like daddy’ was a great moment. All those uncomfortable, accompanied trips to the toilet served a purpose.

Goal

As parents, we ultimately do our best. We have our ideal of what we want them to be. The nature/nurture argument plays into things as does free will.

My goal is to give them both the tools to know their worth in the world; to know that the path to success is rarely straightforward and that their ultimate power, lies within.

How they use those tools will be down to them.

Shape your thinking; shape your world.

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BSD

I needed that…

The break. I needed the break.

I lost my writing mojo for a little while, then I diverted my energy into getting some big projects off the ground; more about those later.

I’ve been thinking and evaluating.

Summing up what it is that is most important to me. I don’t think that this is a new thing, but more a change that has been slowly occurring over a number of months/years.

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Renaissance

What do I feel like. I’m still not sure; the process is ongoing. What is certain, is that I’ve made significant progress. It’s so important to recognise progress because if you don’t, when you hit those inevitable walls, you’ll get stuck.

Walls are fine. I expect them. I accept how I’ll respond to them and that’s fine.

Walls are an opportunity to rest, place my back against them, and take time to  appreciate how far I’ve come.

Once I catch my breath… push. up and over.

Ownership

I also recognise my weaknesses and I own them. They’re mine! and so is the decision to overcome or succumb to them at any given time.

Even though I hate to admit it, I have a finite amount of energy. Being middle-aged, I recognise when it’s flagging. I spread myself too thin recently; something had to give.

My saving grace, was looking back at how far I’ve come.

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While you were gone

I stopped the race to zero. The reason being, I made a life changing decision that threw it all askew.  I cleared all my debt, then added to it, but in a good way. A necessary way. It feels good and not at all the heavy kind of debt.

It feels good because it is part of a plan that has an end date, which is so very, very different from the creeping debt that accumulates over time.

It’s part of a plan that took time in the forming, and whilst it was hard to see how the pieces fit together initially, I had it mapped out. It’s coming together.

If you’re unhappy with a situation, you have two choices; change it or change the way you think about it.

Stay focused, expect the knocks and roll with them; learn from them then push forwards stronger than ever before.

You only ever lose when you stop.

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BSD

PS, thanks for sticking with me! x

Down day

I think I’m exhausted, or pretty close to it.

We’re nearly halfway through the year and it has been a busy one. My writing has suffered.

It doesn’t help that I’m cramming a lot in, including learning two new skills. It means that for the most of the time, I have my head deeply buried in one type of reference medium or another. Luckily I enjoy doing that.

The cubs are on form although he’s a little under the weather. What that does do, is give the three of us the opportunity to cuddle up on the sofa and watch movies.

Never, ever underestimate the power of a down day and a cuddle. It’s almost as if I can feel my batteries recharging.

I’ve even ordered a pizza, rather than cook.

Tommorow, normal service will be resumed. I’ve discovered a new green space near us that we’re going to explore, waterproofs and picnics will be packed.

Adventure calls.

BSD

What’s crippled daddy today?

Was it a Minion walkie-talkie?

No.

Was it the inexplicably golden painted, Thomas the Tank Engine?

No.

Was it Cat Boy (????)

No.

In a twist away from the usual culprit, Triceratops, it was Velociraptor, in the dark hallway.

I was only heading up to tell the Cat in the Hat and her brother to stop singing ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’ and go to sleep.

At least it wasn’t the family jewels this time.

BSD

World Book Day

Has to be one of my favourite days of the year.

Most schools in Britain encourage children to attend school dressed as their favourite literary character. The cubs love it, especially my daughter. They’re with mum this year and she has a creative flair, so all is well.

My daughter has a passion for any Dr Seuss stories. Last Christmas, she received the entire collection. She loves them, and will read for hours.

On the last W.B.D, she went to school dressed as the Fox in Socks. This year, she’s the Cat in the Hat.

Her mum WhatsApps a photo of her to me, before they journey to school. I’m so impressed as she looks, amazing. I compliment mum on her costume creating skills. Historically, she had created a Wonder Woman (or Lady Woman, according to my daughter) costume from scratch, and had also created a number of Angels for a school play.

She confesses that she bought the costume from Amazon.

Oh well, no matter.


On the way home

Britain is going through some adverse weather at the moment. As usual, the country slowly grinds to a halt and the news is full of people trapped in cars, after ignoring warnings, and folk skiing down the high street.

I pick them up slightly earlier in a vain attempt to avoid the traffic on the way home. School has phoned to say they are closing due to the weather.

The nursery doesn’t subscribe to W.B.D yet but it’s been a day of excitement and at the snow-covered school gates, parents are met by gleeful dinosaurs, fairies, Worst Witches, a B.F.G and what I suspect may be a Ninja Turtle.

My own Cat in the Hat comes bounding over and delivers the greatest of hugs. She’s tired, as she’s been looking forwards to this day for a while now. Best of all, she got a book token for her amazing costume.

She asks me if she can wear her costume tomorrow, before falling asleep in the car; happy.

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PS. images in this post are links to the products I’ve mentioned. Clicking the link will earn me commission. Except for the pic of the cubs. You can’t have them. 

BSD 

Come on….

Ever had one of those days, when after checking your work ‘to do’ list, you immediately buy a lottery ticket?

#truestory

BSD

Is it always a struggle?

This question seems to roll around my head quite often; usually when I forget how lucky I am.

Only dead people never get stressed, never get broken hearts, never experience the disappointment that comes with failure.

Tough emotions are part of our contract with life” Susan David, PhD

I lifted this straight off of a Ted Talk that I stumbled across on twitter. I like it. At some point this weekend I’ll listen to it all, but it did get me thinking.

Why do we have adversity?

I think there are a number of answers to this question, the main one being equilibrium. A term that actually refers to the state of a chemical reaction in equal flux but has found comfortable use in day-to-day language.

Balance. That’s why. If we didn’t have the rough, we would neither recognise or enjoy the smooth.

Then there’s the others

As in the worse off. There is always someone worse off than you. It’s worth remembering but to be honest, that’s a skill. A divine one at times.

Silver lining

This is the bit I like. I’ve spoken about it before; when going through tough times, something invariably turns up to turn the tide.

It’s always worth remembering this.

It’s also worth remembering, as the psychologist Susan David said, the only way to avoid the pain and heartache that comes with life is to not live it. Don’t expose yourself to it. Don’t take chances.

But where’s the fun in that?

So as you’ve probably picked up, things are challenging at the moment. The positive thing is that I now recognise the signs. Once you can do this, you can attempt to control your responses.

Owning your feelings and responses is a better option than shying away from any experience that may well be painful.

The greatest rewards are often linked to the greatest risk.

Ending on a cliché,

BSD

PS, stay positive my lovely people.

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