Independents day

Ok I’m back and hopefully so is my writing bug. Let’s see how this goes.

I like to teach the cubs life skills whenever I can and today was a big one; cooking breakfast.

She’s 8 next month and has shown the maturity to use kitchen knives responsibly in the past. It’s time to use the hob to make porridge.

Safety first

Sharps are one thing; flame another. She gets a thorough briefing.

  1. No loose clothing. We go into the reasons why, without unduly scaring her. It’s also an occasion to deliver a lesson on ‘stop: drop and roll’
  2. Rear rings only. I rarely use the front ones when they’re here for safety reasons. I tell her that this stops her clothing getting too close. She double checks her clothing.
  3. No flame until it’s needed. Just before the pot goes on.
  4. Long spoon. An absolute must. A belt and braces way of keeping away from the flame.

Pride

She hits the ignition; her life changes for ever.

She turns to talk to me and reach for a bowl. I stop her; keeping her attention on the job. One thing at a time.

She counts aloud as the porridge thickens. Perfection; hob off.

I help with dishing out, as the pot is heavy. (Does the coagulation of a thixotropic material proportionately increase its mass? I’ll save that one for her graduation)

Finishing touches

She added the finishing touches to my bowl; honey, nuts, banana, blueberries, cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. Her bowl was less extravagant but she nailed it (apart from the turmeric but hey; curried porridge can be a thing…)

The look of satisfaction and pride on her face is immeasurable.

‘Best porridge ever daddy?’

Absolutely.

BSD

Going dry

Not about me not drinking alcohol, although I’m still not, mostly.

I’m talking potty training.

I don’t remember it being this challenging nor do I remember feeling these levels of frustrations. I guess it’s easier when there’s two of you.

Youngest cub is making the transition from pull-ups to big boy pants. It’s quite the journey.

Later this year and all too young, he’s going to school and the last thing I want is for him not to be dry when he gets there.

Expert opinion states that you shouldn’t force a child into being dry, but rather you should look for signs that they are ready to start using the potty or the toilet.

For about the last year he has been asking questions about the toilet or opening the door at inopportune moments to stare at me. I took it as a sign.

Nursery staff commented a while back that he had spent most of the day dry so we all agreed to progress things.

On the last Nursery day of the week, when I collected him I also collected a selection of bagged up pants and trousers.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

This week’s grocery shop included 10 pairs of big boy pants; I intend to crack this over the Easter holidays.


Before breakfast, I change him from a nighttime nappy into normal pants. Over the past couple of weeks he’s become quite good at taking himself to the loo. His step and seat adapter are all where he can reach them.

Sans porridge, he starts wriggling and squatting. He says he needs a wee. I tell him to go. He asks me to come, as he doesn’t want to go upstairs alone. Ok.

As we stand in front of the bowl, getting the step and seat in place he stands awkwardly and a growing puddle appears around his feet. He’s a bit upset.

I reassure him that accidents happen and that maybe he should get there a little earlier next time to avoid the agony of ‘almost’.

I clean him up, put on fresh pants and trousers before we return to our favourite breakfast distraction, learning French on he kindle.


The demand for ghost stories have gone up recently. She’s not convinced but he loves them.

I have a great story book that’s almost suitable for them. I read one yesterday and they seemed to like it, so much so they’ve asked for another story this morning.

I head for the lounge with the book and settle in the sofa. I tell them both to come in close so they can see the illustrations.

She’s in; he’s out, preferring to stand by the arm of the chair. I’m suspicious.

Do you need a poo?

“No” he says, before making a straining noise.

A quick check confirms that we need to scoot. Too late.

I’m frustrated and do my best not to get angry; I sort my emotions before I speak. He seems to comprehend that the wee urge needs to be addressed but still seems to poo on demand.

The psychologist in me understands that I can do damage here if I handle this incorrectly. Nobody cracks any new skill straight away.

I think that what got to me is that I asked him if he needed a poo and he’s said no. That’s a cycle I do need to break.

Time for some classical conditioning and a great deal of patience.

And disinfectant.

Pirates, and a case of the coughs.

I’m back.

I’ve had a bit of a break because, well, I was tired. I’ve been doing a lot of self improvement lately and that takes its toll. I’ll probably write about it shortly.

Not today though; today, is all about my budding thespian.

School play

My eldest cub has been bouncing off the walls for a month. She had been cast as a major part in the school play, ‘Pirates of the Curry-Bean’.

Curry-Bean……

Caribbean……get it?

I probably didn’t have to spell that out but it fills the page.

She was RedBeard; a major speaking part. For the last few weeks she’s pushed her learning of her lines. She’s practiced so, so hard to the point that her 3 year old brother was fluent in all the songs.

I gave her the nuggets of my experience, having played one of the Three Wise Men in numerous nativities and Joseph in one. This makes me a pro.

Tips

Proper practice prevents poor performance. She learnt this first. It was our mantra for karate and my mantra for everything.

She sang in the bath; she sang in her room. She sang at bedtime, accompanied by him; she sang in the car. I loved it.

The big day

Actually the night before.

They’ve been at their mum’s this week so technically the next time I’d see her would be when she entered stage right.

I wasn’t having that.

Thank you technology; FaceTime engaged.

We chat, I wish her luck before assuring her that I would be at both the lunchtime and the evening performances.

She responds by informing me that her brother, well on the way to being toilet trained, is having a wee in the bath.

Ok.

Maybe he’s more nervous than she is.

The big day (for real)

And I wake up with a hacking cough.

Where in hell had this come from?? Disaster!

Understand this; I’m a big fella; when I cough it sounds like a nuclear detonation giving birth to an adult volcanic eruption. It’s pretty loud.

Water. As much of it as I could drink without killing myself.

Drugs. Cold and flu remedies to be precise.

Cough sweets. Not good enough. Give me the industrial stuff – weapons grade if you’ve got it.

Timing. Tablets taken too early would lose their effect at a critical time; probably during a soliloquy. Time to work the clock backwards.

Tablets take 30 minutes to work but then last for 4 hours; taken too early I’d be protection-less at the commencement of the performance, ruining the show and scaring smaller children; too late and it wouldn’t kick in until the epilogue.

Take one in 10 minutes then another in a subsequent 5, thus staggering the impact whilst allowing for any delays in curtain up.

I may have overthought it.

The (revised) plan

Arrive 45 mins early; eat lunch. Take tablet(s); drink drink. Have wee. Take cough sweet (industrial). Drink. Nice.

Seat at the front, with other cub and mum; relax.

Curtain up

Apart from Captain RedBeard taking time out to wave periodically to loved ones during an orchestrated battle, it was amazing.

Proud daddy had the loudest clapping (thankfully not coughing) in the audience.

BSD

Hark the Herald

Last week, the mother of my cubs demanded to see them on my weekend, whilst accusing me ‘preparing nothing’ for Mother’s Day.

Once I pointed out that it wasn’t Mother’s Day, she backed down.

Today, at 04:35, I’m wrapping her presents so they can be presented first thing.

It’s so hard to wrap when you’re being blinded by your halo.

I’m up because of work btw; not because I’m unprepared.

BSD

I’ve noticed this..

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.

BSD

Normal service

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.

Bad idea.

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.

“DADDY!!”

Sprint finish
” 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..”

Ok; then?

“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”

I’ll pass.

BSD

Unexpected revelation

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.

I’m rambling.

The last week has been a GroundHoggy existence of sleeping and falling asleep, punctuated by scant eating.

Unseen elements 

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.

The elephant

So the revelation is that the empty nest seems emptier

Hang on

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.

BSD

First day of the school term

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead

“It’s only school dad; and that sounds like a bad thing to do”

Some children have no sense of occasion.

BSD