“Daddy; would you prefer a dog or an Osprey?”
“Daddy; would you prefer a dog or an Osprey?”
A lesson in delayed gratification
One thing I wish my parents had spent more time on with me was money management and economics. Things may well be different now. Don’t get me wrong and, as I have explained before, I’m not destitute, just careful, having had my fingers burnt.
I don’t want either of mine to struggle in adulthood (what parent does?) so I see it as a priority to prepare them for the fiscal demands of the world.
At the end of these school holidays, we’ve had an action packed week that has left us all tired. We’ve also depleted most of the essential groceries and she has asked for some modelling clay, so off to the shops we go. While we’re in there she spots a must have toy cat, that now has her attention. She asks for it, but it’s slightly more expensive than the clay I’ve found.
Hearing the answer no, she breaks down.
We finish the shop with her in tears and I miss most of what I came for, as I’m tired.
In the car, I tell her that if she cleans her room, and helps her brother clean his, I will give her some pocket-money.
Back at the den, she sets about the task. I’m doing the weekly clean too and they’re pretty used to the routine.
As I pop outside to the bin, I almost step on a tightly folded piece of paper, secured with a bright orange loom band. I take inside and unravel it. It’s a handwritten note;
“Dear God; would you please can you get me the toy cat. Signed ———- Amen”
As a relaxed Christian, I’m touched by this and put the note in a safe place for prosperity and to protect her innocence. As I go back upstairs, she runs into my room.
“Daddy, daddy! while cleaning my room I found exactly £3! it’s enough to buy the cat!”
That’s fantastic darling! It’s like your prayers have been answered!
She stares at me..
“How did you….never mind”
This got me thinking. However it had happened, her prayers had been answered. This is now an interesting premise. I’d made her a deal in which she would trade her labour for financial reward – that’ll sound familiar to us all.
I’d also resisted the temptation to just buy it for her, especially when she broke down in tears, but in my eyes that would be wholly wrong. Ok; she’s only 7, but when is a good time to learn about delayed gratification?
The lessons she learns now will stick with her for life. Effort and reward; what drives us to push ourselves to achieve our goals in life. If it’s handed to us, we’ll eventually come to expect it. Hello dependency.
I reassure myself that this act is neither small nor petty. By the time she recognises the value of the lesson, it’ll be second nature.
As it transpired, the cat was £5, so our second trip to the shop also ended in tears. Luckily, the clean-up offer still stands.
Looks like the Lord doesn’t believe in a free lunch either.
It’s an issue; but it needn’t be.
The combing of it, the cutting of it and well general maintenance. Constant consternation.
The cubs are mixed race. A term I hate as it signifies the human desire to neatly pigeon-hole everything away. Everything must have a classification. I digress.
They are half Afro-Caribbean, and technically quarter Mauritian, quarter Scottish. To the eye, they’re Caribbean. Hope you’re keeping up.
Their ethnicity is important because their hair is typical of our race; slightly thicker and prone to tangles if not cared for correctly. Correctly maintained, it looks amazing. This subject has caused and causes countless rows.
Girl cub loves having her hair done and always did. We had a heck of a search for the rights products but when we found them, bingo. Products are the key.
Boy cub? well that’s a whole separate chapter. All I can say is sorry. To my neighbours, passers-by and probably to a couple of nearby postcodes. Washing his hair sounds like a horrific assault.
I mentioned a while back that when he was younger, we nearly lost him to an ear infection that put pressure on his brain. The resolution, following a brief stay in hospital, was to be fitted with grommets. A drawback of having grommets is that you have to limit water getting into the ears.
When his hair needs washing, out comes the cotton wool. And the screaming. I mentioned horrific before. It really is quite bad.
He hates it. He hates water in his face and in his eyes and isn’t shy at letting you know. I tried so many different things including using dry flannels, getting him to look up, using the shower (with and without the head) and using a cup. All resulted in increased decibels.
I went to the internet for help.
I found this
There was the usual due process that I apply to everything and I wasn’t convinced. It was 32p, so I bought it.
It took a while to arrive so I promptly forgot that I bought it. It arrived and I thought it was a suspect package.
I opened it, and I wasn’t convinced. It was folded for easy transit so it was badly misshapen.
I tried it on and nearly passed out. In their defence, they’re made for kids and I’m not the smallest of humans.
Bath-time arrived and I decided to give it a try. I took it out of the hair product basket in the bathroom and showed it to him.
He looked at it for a little while, then shook his head.
We tried it anyway.
It worked and I stand corrected. This could be the best 32p I’ve ever spent.
This is an unexpected issue of being a single parent.
When you buy clothes for your cubs, they invariably end up at your ex’s house.
I’m guessing that this is more likely if the parental share is disproportionate.
If anyone has an idea how to rectify this, other than handing over naked cubs, I’m all ears.
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.
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,
PS, stay positive my lovely people.
OK. I’ve calmed down. The last couple of posts were a mixture of anger and frustration, but I’m better than that.
In order to lighten the mood, I’ve amalgamated the 3 posts that have been sitting in draft.
Whole lotta 👅 going on
The usual Friday bedtime routine consists of me explaining to the cubs that they can’t sleep in my bed. Sometimes I mean it. This time I did.
They have a workaround. First thing on Saturday morning, they jump into bed with me and we have a cuddle and watch a movie. This time, I even let them consume a bag of popcorn in my bed.
At a glance, I would say that their success rate for popcorn to mouth was roughly 50%. Give or take a 5% margin. Once the film finished I told them that I wanted all the uneaten bits cleaned up while I was in the shower.
Whilst brushing my teeth, I heard a commotion followed by silence. I resisted the urge to look.
When I did emerge, the bed was clean, the duvet turned down and they were nowhere to be seen. Nice work cubs.
That evening at bedtime, whilst reading Dig dig digging for the millionth time, I thanked them for tidying my bed.
“That’s ok dad; once we’d got the big bits we just licked the rest clean”
I sat silently, asking Jesus why he’d let something like that happen.
Getting my own back
Tonight’s routine was a little muted. They’re both under par so there was little resistance.
Tucking in the eldest, she remarked that she felt awful with the flu. Her temperature was elevated and she had a headache.
“Dad? How does flu spread?”
Well it’s a virus that is very clever once it gets in your system. It can hide, it can change, known as mutation and will act differently in different people.
“Yes but how does it get into your body?
This is where it gets really interesting; it’s so clever that it knows it prefers to be inside new people to survive so what it does is to make you cough and sneeze and it’s then carried in the thousands of water droplets that come out of us when we do. If you breathe those water droplets in the virus gets into you. It can also survive for 24 hours on hard surfaces like door handles. You’ll then come along and touch that door handle, then touch your face. The result is the same.
She silently takes it all in and begins to process it.
“So when we were in the car with you daddy, that’s when we got it?”
No. I kept licking your face while you slept.
” Dad; I think you need a new workout. I’ve made one for you”
Ok sounds good. What’ve you got?
“Well you start of with 25 star jumps..”
“Then you move onto 25 press ups..”
Sounds good. Anything else?
“You should touch your toes 3 times..”
Sounds like a spell now but go on..
“Then finish with a small run; say 13 miles”
It seems my tactic of not arguing with the ex isn’t working.
I have the cubs with me. I’ve had them since yesterday. The youngest has a fever, sore throat and runny nose. I’ve kept him off nursery.
Following the school run, my eldest is complaining of fatigue and a high temperature. The back of my hand on her head confirms this. On the way home, they both fall asleep.
I message the ex and tell her that both cubs have the flu.
Surprise surprise. Almost as if they’d been exposed to someone with the flu early last week.
She asked me what their temperatures are. I tell her that they’re both above average but he is hotter. This isn’t good enough. She asks if I have a thermometer. I don’t.
I rely on a method my mother taught me; using the back of my hand for a rough guide and my cheek for more accuracy. I love it.
She insists on dropping off a tympanic thermometer on her way home. I tell her it’s not necessary. The kids are monitored and medicated as necessary.
Not good enough. She’s coming anyway; lectures me on my paternal skills and obligations, again, and says she’ll be there shortly.
By the time the doorbell rings, both cubs are under a blanket with me on the sofa, having been fed and duly medicated.
I answer; extremely annoyed. She wants to see them. They’ve heard her voice. She comes in but not before I tell her she’s out of order. A good old British saying straight out of the East End of London.
She takes her shoes off and sits down, preparing to take temperatures. Both within tolerable ranges. Almost as if I’d looked after them.
She then starts advising me on dosages and checking regimes. I flip. Nicely though, as the cubs are present.
I remind her, that anytime the cubs have been really ill, it was me who discovered so. Me who made her call ambulances, told her what to say then conversed with medics.
It was me, who walked around her to get to our choking daughter, whilst she stared at her, totally unaware of a problem.
I also reminded her that it’s me, with actual medical training, that I have used to save lives over the last two decades.
She’s out staying what little welcome she had; I politely ask her to leave. I know, that youngest is going to be deeply upset at mummy’s fleeting visit. She’s off to the gym again. She’s done a similar thing before.
He breaks down in tears. Offers of hugs and his favourite blanket are rejected. This lasted for 15 minutes.
Luckily, the Power Rangers appeared on the Red Bull soapbox race and made him smile.
I’ve left elements of this exchange out, especially peripheral (and perpetual) pseudo arguments that have been rumbling for a while now.
My own advice has got me nowhere and now I intend to fight fire with fire.
I guess it takes two to argue.
I still have flu. It really sucks. This isn’t a moan-fest. It might just be a tender look into myself.
I think the biggest reason being ill and subsequently off work sucks so much is because it’s highlighted the emptiness of my nest.
I have the cubs from tomorrow and all over the weekend and I can’t wait. At the same time, I’m also willing myself to be better so I can make a decent job of looking after them. I’m aware this is wishful thinking. I’ve already silenced the man-flu-ers with a 6 pound weight loss in the last week.
The last week has been a GroundHoggy existence of sleeping and falling asleep, punctuated by scant eating.
So this empty nest thing is the single parent conundrum. Do you get a place that is big enough for your family or something more compact and bijou?
I went for space. I have one of each and they’re getting to an age where they want their own space so it was a no brainer.
The flip side of having the bigger place is that as the non-main-caregiver (how 21st Century) is that for the majority of the time, you kick around it on your own.
I’ve noticed this more because I’m not at work.
So the revelation is that the empty nest seems emptier
I’ve literally just had a nap. I was rambling so I shut down for a bit. Hate this.
The elephant. cont.
Is that to be ill when one lives alone is, well, lonely.
I’ve spent a lot of time in bed lately just trying to shake things off and for the last week there’s been a pile of clean laundry on my bed.
It was folded and waiting for me to put it away but has since been fashioned into a pile, about the height of sleeping person to which I have been propping myself up of a nighttime.
I hadn’t thought much of it as I’d done it unconsciously over a few days. Plus, research says that sleeping with your head slightly elevated whilst suffering from flu is beneficial to breathing.
I think I miss the ‘Do you want anything?’ type questions and the fact that at some point, food would arrive.
I did a slow cooker thing that lasted 3 days but now I need to stand up and cook.
I’m not going to.
Let’s kill this
Well folks this is a ramble fest. Sorry.
The moral of the story is, being ill sucks when you’re single.
100% more optimism will be available in my next post.
Has everyone had a nice Christmas?
I have, and so have the cubs. It was so far removed from what I endured last Year that it’s incomparable.
In those 365 days I’ve learnt so much about myself and the people that come into my life and more importantly, those who remain.
The cubs have had a brilliant time and have been showered with love (and presents). So much so in fact that I have decided to donate some to a local children’s hospice. I want to give back and the only reason I’ve written about it here is to maybe trigger thoughts in others as to how we can give back or help those less fortunate.
This isn’t my review of 2017, in fact I’m not going to do one; I’m not that interesting.
I will be doing one more post and that will be regarding the second part of the race to zero.
To read more of your blogs. I love doing so as it gives me inspiration, advice and makes me chuckle.
They also serve to remind me that I’m not the only one pushing forwards and trying to make sense of this all.
Keep on keeping on folks xx
Like a glutton for punishment I had both of them in my bed last night as they’ll now be with Mum for a week or so.
Both of them expanded like magic bath toys, moaned every hour on the hour, leaked a nappy onto me and said bed and I’m so sleep deprived I feel I may expire but, I couldn’t be happier.
She used to do the wrapping.
I suck at wrapping.
I’ll tell the cubs that Santa was in a hurry.