All in good time

It hasn’t been plain sailing in the BSD household recently, and I’m squarely to blame.

Youngest cub has made the quantum leap to being potty trained. A real milestone in the transition from toddler to child. I’m ever so proud of him; he even goes to the bathroom standing up, after observing daddy in some uncomfortably candid moments.

I was conscious of this milestone as he entered the schooling system last September. His birthday is in late August and he had only just turned 4. Personally, I think that this is too young to enter full-time education, but such is life. I wanted him to be dry by the time he entered the system.

There is no shortage of reading out there with useful hints and tips. I knew what I wanted to achieve and set about doing it. I had the appropriate discussions with him and we spoke about what we would do to achieve it. We were both quite excited.

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At first, things went quite well. He would excitedly run up to my room in the morning to proclaim his dry night. Great success!

He then had a couple of slip ups, but this was fine; the road to success is rarely a straight one. We could handle it. Bed changed, cub washed, no harm done; on with our day.

We then had a frequency shift; the dry days were beginning to lose out to the wet days. As we awoke in the morning, the disappointment in his voice was heartbreaking. More cuddles and reassurances that this was okay and that he would get it in time were administered.

I changed tactics slightly. Both cubs usually bedded down with a bottle of water to combat nighttime thirst. This stopped. We also watched the volumes of drink that we consumed in the pre-bedtime hour. This was restricted too.

It didn’t help.

We then tried a reward system. The star system that was already established was utilised. A star would be rewarded for more dry nights than wet nights.

This was wrong.

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Things seemed to be getting worse.

Not only were we experiencing more wet nights but his skin also began to suffer. He’d clearly been peeing early in the night and then sleeping in it. The damage was visible.

He was also getting damaged inside with feelings of regret and shame of not doing as was expected of him.

I had a paradigm shift.

It  followed some soul-searching on my part and answering a few questions.

  • Why were we doing this?
  • Who would benefit?
  • How was it making him feel?
  • How was it making me feel?

The answers, were quite damming.

  • We were doing this because I had decided that we should do it.
  • Whilst we would both benefit, primarily I would.
  • It was clearly making him feel bad; he was neither dry nor earning rewards.
  • This made me feel bad.

Time for a change.

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We stopped. We had another chat and more importantly we re-bonded.

This took the form of a huge cuddle whilst watching his favourite film and eating popcorn. Eldest wasn’t left out; she got under one arm (and near the popcorn). I could, quite literally feel us all renergising in each other’s company.

There were some big learning points here and they were all for me.

I realised that I had let outside influences decide on what was best for my cub, rather than let him tell me.

Please understand, I don’t mean that I expected a 4-year-old to vocalise what he wanted; our children tell us things in so many other ways. We, as adults have to shut out the external noise and truly listen to what they are ‘saying’.

I was guilty of comparing him to his sister, to his classmates, to books e.t.c and in doing so, I ignored the only one I should’ve really listened to; him.

Attaching desired behaviour to a reward system is an age-old methodology but I applied it incorrectly. I’m still not sure I should have applied it at all.

He’s fine now. His skin shows no traces and he’s his usual, cheeky self. He’s back in the training pants for bed as the realisation that he is a deep sleeper will most likely mean that he takes a little longer to get dry.

I have every confidence that he will be; all in good time.

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BSD

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Happy Christmas

On this special day I want to thank all of you that read my ramblings, and wish you, your nearest and your dearest, a very Merry Christmas!

For me and the cubs, I’m grateful that our story continues. I buried the hatchet and invited the ex over to stay, giving her the opportunity to wake up with them and open presents.

She agreed.

Peace is restored. Or it will be when she leaves… 😉

Merry Christmas all xx

BSD

On the way home..

I haven’t done one of these for a while, but eldest was on form again.

It’s a thursday catchup as we haven’t seen each other in a few days. The darker nights and the motion of the car tend to be the gentlest lullaby for youngest cub, who is asleep before we hit the main roads. His sister is in full flow.

‘So dad…’ she begins

‘I’ve been thinking about Egypt a lot as we’ve been studying it in school. We talked about the great pyramids of Giza and the curse of the mummy’s tomb. Do you believe in the curse?’

No; I tend to…

‘I don’t believe in the curse. I think it was, wait for this, you’ll like this one; bacteria!’

I’m impressed. Do continue..

‘Well; my friend and I are now scientists who don’t believe in God’

Wait a minute; you go to a Church of England School. You pray every day.

‘I don’t really pray any more; I just think’

Ah so you reflect?

‘No; I just think about things that have happened recently….’

Well it’s fine to challenge beliefs darling; I encourage you to take nothing at face value but, be prepared to come up with an argument, both for and against. And be prepared to respect the views of others, without being dogmatic.

‘That sounds like a lot; I’m only 8. Anyway, a dead body locked in an almost air tight building is bound to generate some bacteria. Either that, or the bodies were coated in something that we can’t detect, that became airborne during the course of decomposition. Once the tomb was disturbed, the entrance of new air caused a reaction and the bacteria was breathed in. Boom’

Are you sure you’re only 8?

‘I told you; I’m a scientist.’


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‘What would happen if the Universe shrunk?’

It depends on how quickly it happened; we probably wouldn’t notice. It could be shrinking now.

‘I don’t believe in aliens. Little things running around out there’

Well it’s hard to discount other life forms. The Universe is infinite, and expanding.

‘Not shrinking?’

Definitely not shrinking. It’s still expanding from the big bang.

‘How many other galaxies do you know?’

Just Andromeda.  I think. I’ll have to check when we get home. Think about this; each star that you can see in the night sky is probably a sun. Each of those suns could, potentially have planets orbiting around them. Any one of those planets in the Goldilocks zone, could support life similar to ours. Now imagine this; all the stars that we can see, in the expanse of the sky above us, are a fraction of the stars out there. For scale, it’s not even equivalent to me placing a pea in our garden, but we can only see one-quarter of the pea. To travel to the other side of that pea, would take millions of light years; do you know what a light year is? It sounds like a measurement of time but it’s actually a measure of distance. It’s the distance that light can travel in a year. Light travels at 186,000 miles, per second. PER SECOND. Times that by the number of seconds in a year.

What do you think of that?

‘My friend at school said he rode his dad’s motorbike down the road one night. I don’t think that’s true’


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‘Do you believe in mythical creatures?’

I’m a fan of cryptozoology, which is the study of mythical creatures. My favourite was Bigfoot, but you have the Loch Ness monster amongst others.

‘What others?’

I’m stumped.

‘A unicorn?’

Yeah; why not.

‘What was so good about Bigfoot?’

Strangely, it was the most plausible of all of the stories, and there was video footage.

‘I’ve seen it; do you believe it?’

No; not really. There’s not enough strong evidence. Where are the bones of the deceased? hair samples? scat?

‘What?’

Scat. Poo. It’s what you look for as evidence of existence. It can tell you loads.

‘I don’t like the sound of that. Maybe it poos out of the other end?’

Which other end?? It’s head?

‘Yes. It could all build up inside and then come out later’

I’m not sure you’ve thought that one through. It would still have to come down and hit the floor.

‘Not for a while though. That’s probably their secret’

dadplusone

BSD

Learning Lessons

It’s difficult

Not being around the cubs 24/7. They spend the majority if the time with their mum. This is tough.

I read a twitter post from a single dad a while back  where he admitted that he broke down in tears the first time they went away and stayed with their mum. I really felt for him. I also immediately wondered if I should have felt more when they first went?

Solipsistic thoughts aside, I realise that in this situation I have been quite fortunate. Although things aren’t a bed of roses between me and the ex, she’s stayed local and realises the importance of me being active in the cub’s lives.

I adore them; I really do. They are everything and I’ve always tried my hardest to build and maintain a strong relationship with them. It’s good for all of us.

The difficulty comes when you start to see the values of the other partner enacted in the cub’s behaviour.

We have differences. Obviously. If we didn’t or they weren’t insurmountable, we’d still be together.

We have; they are and we aren’t.

As parents, we always think we’re right, right? We sometimes find ourselves looking at other parents in scorn. We might not always say something, but we think it.. ‘You don’t do it like that…’

Well when a family splits, you can’t help but judge the other parent in the same way. I try not to.

Honestly.

But some times….

Money

I’m a values based individual; sometimes it can be my undoing.

I can turn off something or someone if they don’t share my values. My principles guide my actions and it tends to be a golden thread in my life. I struggle with those that don’t. I don’t understand them, or what drives them. That can be an issue.

I see my job, as dad, to teach and guide. I prepare the cubs for a future in an uncertain world.

A world which, despite Trump, Brexit and emerging far right threats is a lot better than it was a generation ago.

That said, some things don’t change; determination, fortitude and a positive mental attitude will overcome most obstacles. So will knowledge of self-worth. Never, ever, sell yourself short, nor let anyone undervalue you.

Early days I know, but have a plan.

They’re too young, so it’s our job to keep them on the right path. Respect for others, humility and honesty are rewarded, as is telling the truth. My daughter gets it and there have been several, teary confessionals. More often than not, she’s been rewarded for that honesty, or at least not punished as much. My son, well that’s work in progress.

Here’s the challenge.

They learn so much more from what we do, than what we say. Not only do they pick up on the incongruous but they will mimic whatever it is that they see. I’ve written about this before, but our children are the mirrors that we hold up to ourselves.

Make sure you like what you see.

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BSD

Written in the Stars

I’ve hit upon an idea, and it’s a good one.

Okay, okay, total honesty time, my daughter has hit on an idea which was actually a re-hash of how we used to do things before the split.

With her being 8 and he being 4, the usual rivalries etc. rear their heads from time to time. A household can descend into a lawless wasteland if behaviour is left unchallenged.

We’ve been going through the normal challenges that children pass through, where they exercise the human condition of testing boundaries. I am a disciplinarian, but also a humanitarian. Being brought up by a strict father (including corporal punishment) I decided way before I had the cubs that I wouldn’t be that kind of guy. After all, what does beating a child ever teach them, that the bigger and stronger person is always right?

Wrong.

I could never hit my cubs. Such outbursts smack of frustration, a lack of control and revenge for not being obeyed.

In a technique honed with my daughter, I prefer to reason things out in conversation, with age appropriate language. Tone of voice and cadence also came in to play, supported by changing facial expressions. It seemed to work. She’s well-adjusted and appears to be quite rational.

He’s a little different. He gets frustrated quickly which I suspect is linked with his rough start in life and the fact that his diction isn’t quite where it could be for a child his age; he struggles to be understood at times.

His sister can also press his buttons pretty easily and she does so often.

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We had just emerged from a period of them sniping at each other, where my techniques weren’t working. I resorted to separating them and temporary banishment to respective bedrooms.

She broke the embargo to come and talk to me.

‘You know dad you should maybe bring back the star system. Every time we do something good, we get a star. When we’re not so good, you take one away.’

This was something we used to do regularly and it worked particularly well. Great idea, I told her, and gave her a hug. I also asked her why she winds her brother up all the time.

‘Because he reacts!’ she states, before heading back to her confines.

The notice board in the kitchen now has two sections. One for her and one for him. Stars are drawn for good behaviour and removed for violations. I’m not too specific as what constitutes what, as I don’t want them to escape on a technicality.

It’s been in force about a week now and seems to be working. I added the further incentive that if either got to 10 stars, I would convert those stars into pounds, or an equivalently valued treat.

If only my dad had been as inventive.

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BSD

 

 

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