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

Can you dig it? yes you can!

Day two of half term, and I’ve got this covered.

Proper planning has led me to have most of this holiday covered. As I’ve stated before (probably to myself to be fair) proper planning prevents poor performance. Anyway, last week I found out that our local museum was hosting a fossil event, where for a small fee participants could engage in some palaeontology.

Right up my daughter’s street and my son is happy to play along too.

Being a proper planner, I allow an hour for us to get there. It’s a 5 minute drive so we’re stupidly early; oh well.

A quick wander around in the bleak mid-winter to find a cash-point sees us pretty happy to be back indoors and wandering around the museum. 30 minutes to go. You enter the museum through the gift shop; nice one folks; I see what you did there.

As we queue, my youngest slowly rotates, next to a display of plates and glass ornaments. I put a stop to that.

There’s a guy upstairs sitting behind a table of fossils so we stop for a chat.

He’s fascinating and has a real enthusiasm for what he’s doing. She’s enthralled. He eyes the gentleman up suspiciously, as only my boy cub can, and keeps his distance.

We’re reliably informed that there are more goodies downstairs, so we head for adventure, headlong into a cafe.

Nice going museum; I see what you did there. The fatal attraction of a fridge full of cakes draws them both in and they turn to look at me.

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What came over me?

Not sure what I was thinking, I let them choose whatever they want. She goes for a modest slice of cheesecake whilst he opts for a slice of chocolate cake. Not like the one above; oh no. there was no strawberry on his choice. Instead, the chocolate cake he chose was bedecked with sugar-coated sweets; the kind I bought for a penny in my childhood. It was almost as if the creator wasn’t satisfied with the sugar content of the plain chocolate cake, then decided to push the tooth rotting factor up to 11.

I bought it anyway as we had 20 minutes to kill.

I decided to share the cake with him, convinced that he would struggle with the volume and richness. I underestimated him. I think I had one or two forkfuls, but tired of the battle to wrestle it away from him after the second attempt.

To his credit, he managed to funnel about 90% into his head with 5% spread around his face. The other 5% appears later.

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And we’re in!

I hadn’t imagined quite how popular the event would be. One minute we were alone, the next we were awash with parents and children. It was nice to see so many people out and about and the collective excitement level was contagious.

There were four stations for enquiring minds to visit; an expert, a mask making station, a microscope bench and a simulated dig. I thought the latter looked like two cat litter trays but I kept that to myself.

They were straight in; the added bonus being that they could keep one of the fossils that they found. Four fossils each later (in quite a short time) we discussed the lesson of sharing and leaving some for others whilst reburying their three least favourite.

Advancing to the bench of microscopes for a close up of some minerals we queued behind a three deep moving mass of buggies and bodies. This was very popular, but not with us. As she has three microscopes at home, we decided to show our fossils to the expert upstairs and create some masks.

Home run

He was busy. I really underestimated this. No matter; we went to the masks. One Triceratops (her) and a T-rex (him).

With crayon, felt-tip, marker pen and glue stick it took an absolute age for them to colour in their choices. For reasons known only to her, she decided to use the finest tipped pen to embolden her creation. He was a bit more pragmatic and broad-stroked a fisted crayon across his picture. Not surprisingly he was finished in no time. She slumped further in her chair when I told her that she would have to do the other side too.

Staples, glue, elastic and a healthy dose of imagination later and the cubs were transformed into whatever dinosaur young are called. Happy.

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Unnoticed, we’ve spent two hours here. It’s been brilliant.

As we get up to leave, she notices a thick brown stain on the bum and leg of his beige trousers. She recoils and points all at once but before she can comment, I run my finger along the stain and then pop it in my mouth. I turn and tell her..

We have to go now; he’s done a poo.

I thought she was going to faint.

I do like chocolate cake.

BSD

When to step in…

It’s half-term here and the cubs are with me.

Whilst the wearing down of my energy levels begins, I’m eternally grateful that they’re here.

Once they’re fed, they’re playing boisterously with one another. Watching them, I reflect on the rough and tumble that I had with my sisters growing up; it was great fun.

I also think back to my risk tolerance, which was obviously a lot higher back then.

They fight, wrestle, kiss and cuddle but every move seems to bring their heads dangerously close to every corner in the room that I’d never noticed before.

I flinch a lot but I try not to step in. I’m a great believer in learning from experience, as long as that experience doesn’t involve surgery.

They’re fine.

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They then decide that they need to be outside. I can’t agree more. It’s about 3C with ice still on the ground, but there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Nah; I don’t believe that either. It’s horribly cold. I send them out anyway.

She’s off with the keys and heading for the garage; she wants her archery set. I’m not out there to supervise and wonder if I need to be. I trust her. The only rule is that there is no shooting if her brother is down range.

I guess we’re at the crossroads where I have to relinquish some of that responsibility to them, well, more to her as she is older and know that whatever will be will be.

Helicopter parenting can do more damage than a bump on the head.

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Here are two occasions when I have stepped in; I was ironing in my room and they were in her room; the following sentences had me running:

“It’s time for the sacrifice!”

and

“We can either chop your head off, or half of your head off”

I think she’s been doing history at school.

BSD

 

Could it get any more Christmasy??

Firstly; Christmassy isn’t a word. Either with one or two s’s. 

But I had to share this scene with you.

First mistake

Letting the cubs bed down with me; I should know better. I do know better. I even had a warning from the ex, when I told her that that was my plan this evening.

It didn’t matter. I hadn’t seen them for a while and wanted them near me, so after bath-time, they both clambered into my bed.

Cue singing. By him, at the top of his voice; much to her annoyance.

One threat of ‘You’ll go back to your own bed..’ seemed to do the trick.

monkeys

Second mistake

When I eventually turned in was not putting them into their own beds as they slept soundly. I tiptoed around my bedroom as I prepared for bed, trying not to disturb the status quo.

I use the light from the bathroom to gauge their positions in the bed, noting which side has the most room and where I have some chance of getting some sleep. Ablutions completed, I get in.

Third mistake

Getting into bed.

I’m a big unit; about 6’5 and about 110 kgs but, I moved with precision of a cat, stalking it’s prey. The duvet moved as skillfully as if performing surgery. Every muscle straining to smooth the whole movement into one, seamless motion. I lay back.

Onto a tiny arm.

Well, I might as well have entered the room with a small orchestra getting their ear in, whilst 10 waiters carried 10 trays of glasses in a 7.2 earthquake. He squealed and started to cry which woke her with a start. Yay me.

Fourth mistake

Not seizing this opportunity to put them into their own beds.

Instead, after the kisses and cuddles, we tried to make it work. All was still.

A tiny arm flopped over my face. Then a chubby foot settled itself in my armpit. Then my daughter protested of a foot in her back. The boy is flexible; I’ll give him that.

He turns.

‘Stop breathing on my back! it’s dangerous!’

I’m too tired to challenge this theory, or make enquiries into its origins.

He’s clearly now heating up so he pulls his knees up to his chest and extends his feet downwards, clearing himself from the duvet. And us in the process. She was having none of it.

The row that follows sees him sitting up and asking for his water, which is on the bedside table nearest her. She passes him his bottle; he erupts into tears.

‘I WANTED TO GET IT!!’

She fires back at him with increasing volume to match, then puts the bottle back down, making him cry even more.

Please just give him his water bottle.

Now she starts to cry. ‘I WAS ONLY TRYING TO HELP!’

Christ.

Now would’ve been another of those good opportunities to put them into their own beds. I didn’t take it. More cuddles and a sort of peace descends. We settle.

Moments later, my neighbour starts drilling; or sawing up a small oak tree; or starts his motorbike (that he doesn’t have) or cranks up their helicopter.

industry-vintage-old-fabric

How can a 3 year old snore so loudly!!? he’s only just fallen asleep! and he’s only 3!! Did I mention that he’s only 3??

I gently, turn him to face his sister. ‘Daddy; I know what you’re doing’ she states quite correctly. She’s right, but I thought she was asleep.

I promise his breath isn’t fatal darling; you’ll be fine.

Winter Solstice

The problem with the day following the shortest day in the northern hemisphere is that it gets dark early and stays dark early. You can imagine my joy at hearing my 06:00 alarm going off the moment I had settled the cubs to some sort of sleep.

That was a terrible version of a good night. Sleep deprivation is a terrible weapon.

feet up

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Pray for me.

BSD

 

 

 

I’ve made you some cookies!

I’ve noticed that I go quiet when the cubs aren’t around. I am planning another finance post based around single parent issues, but that’s taking some time to come together.

In the meantime, get your head around this sweet horror story.


On the way home; again.

I hadn’t seen them for a few days as they were with their mum last weekend, so I was pretty excited to pick them both up.

Him first, and he was as excited as me. I like to have a catch up in the car, even though we had ‘face timed’ over the weekend.

He mumbled incoherently for a bit, before effervescently telling me that he wanted a pet, a spider-dog, and that it should be called Adam.

He waited for my response, which didn’t come (could you answer that one..?) then promptly fell asleep. He’d clearly put a shift in at nursery.

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Befuddled, I went to get her.

More great cuddles and she has news. She always has news.

“DAD! I’ve baked you some cookies!”

Oh that’s lovely darling; thank you.

“You’re welcome! I made them on Saturday!”

I picked one out of the bag and ate it, ignoring the funny colouring.

“It did have icing on it…”

Oh? I said, hoping it had fallen off at some point over the past two days…

“I find the icing irresistible! it’s just so tasty!”

Oh no

“So I licked it all off whilst they were still warm”

eye grab

BSD

 

Parent life

06:45, weekday morning:

  • Minimal signs of life
  • Dissent
  • Progress only visible via time-lapse camera. 

06:33, weekend morning:

  • Both awake
  • Standing over sleeping daddy
  • Prodding face
  • Tiny fingers prising adult eyes open. 

I’m knackered. 


BSD

My boy

Doesn’t get as much airtime on here so here are some things that made me chuckle.

Friday evening after the nursery pick-up and school run I made a detour on the way home to pick up some supplies for the weekend. Walking two cubs around the supermarket always provides me with more material than I can ever remember but this one pipped the lot.

As I walked past a display of multi-packed crisps, a tiny voice behind me asked ‘Daddy; this please?’

I turned just in time to see my 3 year old pulling enthusiastically on one of the bottom packets. In engineering, I believe that it would be called the ‘keystone’ packet.

He let out a melancholic ‘Oh no!‘ before disappearing beneath a landslide of 20 multi-packs.

A quick rescue operation later he was fine.


Big Sis had her first sleepover yesterday

I thought that he’d be a bit more troubled without her but the drop off went well, as did bath and bedtime.

He hadn’t had an afternoon nap so he more or less went straight off after brief story and discussion about Peppa and George. Luckily daddy is an expert.

The next morning, I explained that after breakfast, we’d go and collect her from her friends.

Everything was going smoothly; dressed, teeth brushed, shoes and coat on and strapped into his car seat all in perfect time. He even had his current favourite thing, his Triceratops.

I jogged around to the driver’s side and jumped in, congratulating myself on parent skills only to be slapped back to reality by searing, acute pain.

Unbeknown to me, his favourite toy had been thrown onto my seat with crackerjack timing.

Whilst my life flashed before my eyes, a question ran through my head; how had a [tiny] knife man gotten into my car and assaulted me??

A quick inspection of the wound site revealed the offending object.

He was chuckling behind me; I was wondering why they felt the need to make toys out of kryptonite and agony.

thistops

I’m just glad I’ve had children already.

BSD

Short ones..

A collection of times my cubs have made me laugh

#You babe; draw back your bow, you babe; draw back your bow!

‘Actually darling, it’s “Cupid”.

‘That doesn’t make any sense…’

‘Yeah. I prefer your version’

#You babe….


Cub 1 to cub 2; ‘Tickle Punch!’

Cub 2, punches her squarely in the face.

‘DADDY!!’

Play with the bull; get the horns. Both of you; naughty step.


‘Darling; start to take your hair down so we can wash and plait it’

‘Ok dad. Have a look; do you think I’ve still got it in my hair?’

‘Got what?’

‘DO YOU THINK I’VE STILL GOT IT IN MY HAIR!?’

‘Darling, if someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, rather than shouting you should find a different way to say the same thing’

Silence

‘DO-YOU-THINK-I’VE-STILL-GOT-IT-IN-MY-HAIR!!!’

‘Did you understand what I just said to you? that was just slow shouting..’

‘I miss mummy. I think she understands English better than you.’

‘Naughty step’ (not really, but I thought it)


‘Daddy?’

‘Yes?’

‘You say “Christ” a lot’

‘Just asking for help darling’

‘Maybe you should try the Police; at least we know their number’

Christ

BSD

Short one

After a half day fishing, the cubs and I kicked back for a lazy afternoon.

The day is nice, the sun is shining so I buy ice lollies as a treat for when we get home.

Having little patience, they’re asking for lollies before the keys are in the door. “Wait until after dinner; I’m cooking now”

They acquiesce and trundle off to the lounge.

Meanwhile, the heat of the kitchen gets to me; I think the unthinkable. “That’d be wrong wouldn’t it? Eating a lolly after telling them to wait?”

I use all my martial arts skill to silently open the freezer. Then the box of lollies. Then take one out. Then unwrap the wrapper. I pause appropriately, listening for footsteps. Nothing.

I take a delicious, cooling bite.

Dad; what are you doing?

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Silently swallowing a whole (but miniature, thankfully) Magnum, blinking through brain freeze (maybe needing a CAT scan later) and cripplingly sensitive teeth.

“Nothing darling. Go wash your hands while daddy lies down.”

 

Karma.

BSD. 

The lessons they learn.

I often wonder about the lessons we teach our children.

I’ve always been mindful of these and as such I’m very conscious of who I am. This is a thought that has grown over the last eight years or so as I got my head around becoming and being a parent. I had to establish an inner integrity that would manifest itself in my unconscious actions.

It wasn’t enough to act like a good person around my kids; I had to be a good person.

A while ago I was in the car park of the golden arched one taking on some empty calories. The day was warm and my windows were down. Another dad was walking briskly back to his car with his son; I could see that dad wasn’t happy. He stopped to talk to his child and the conversation went something like this:

“I’m really p***ed off with the way you behaved in there! you were an absolute f***ing embarrassment to me and if you keep it up we’ll never go there again”

Now understand this; I swear. I like to think I swear appropriately but yes I do swear. I won’t swear on this blog, because I want you to read it and I can articulate myself appropriately without the use of expletives. I will never, I repeat, never swear in front of my children whilst they are in their formative years. In my mind, this is tantamount to child-abuse.

School

 

The son in the example above was about 6 years old. I watched his face as his dad scolded him and it was a horrific mixture of fear and shame. Dad then saw me looking, gave me a look, which I returned with interest, raising him a head shake for good measure.

Understand this.

What this dad failed to understand was that to a great extent whatever action his son was displaying within that restaurant was probably learned behaviour from his most influential teacher, dear daddy himself. Our kids are a mirror of who we are and in this fine example, dad was showing the behaviours that he was berating his child for. Awesome.

Be better

The trick is this; your kids will learn from you by osmosis. Doing what you do daily and unconsciously are the things that they learn. The reason for this is simple; it’s to do with the way that all of us learn things, repetition and reward.

The repetition is the behaviour that we keep doing over and over and over…you get the picture. This could be anything; the language we use, the way we interact with a significant other or the way we treat difference in general. Our children see this behaviour as the norm and they will emulate it.

The reward can be positive or negative. Behaviours that have a positive outcome are usually repeated, whereas those with a negative outcome are avoided. Again, this is human behaviour and learning. We are wired to avoid pain, physical and emotional. If something has caused us pain historically then we will avoid anything like it in the future as long as we’ve learnt that lesson of course. So a child, learning behaviours from a parent’s unconscious actions has no idea whether these actions are good or bad, but if those actions go unpunished (in that child’s eyes) then the assumption is that they behaviour is the social norm and therefore acceptable; that behaviour is then perpetuated.

mum teach

My point

My youngest cub rushed into my bedroom last week and in his broken English, he gestured me towards his room and reached for my hand. I took it and followed.

I had spent the last few occasions telling my oldest that she should make her bed in the morning once she gets out of it.

He proudly pointed towards his bed which was in a state of being made. It wasn’t perfect (it didn’t need to be) but had definitely had something done to it. He pointed to it and looked at me with a look of pride on his face. I praised him both verbally and physically, in the form of a hug.

In his broken English, he then asked for a high five; he got it.

BSD