Quality time

Bonding with my daughter

Having two cubs is amazing and I have no favourite! But as my daughter was born first, we spent a heck of a lot of time together; our bond is strong.

When we all lived together, one of her absolute favourite things to do was to catch me snoozing on the sofa, jump up next to me, scooch in and promptly fall asleep. We both found it so very comforting and even now she still likes to sleep in my bed.

She was born with hair; lots of lots of hair! She is a magic mix of ethnicity. Whilst I am of Jamaican heritage, her mum is a mix of Mauritian and Scottish which gives her the most gorgeous skin tone and thick, curly hair.

We’ve now established that if her locks aren’t combed through at least every other day they begin to knot. If it’s really left unchecked then it will matt. This is a big no no.

Over the years I’ve taught myself to do various things with her hair; I can plait, comb it; comb it then plait it. I’m thinking of starting a salon for Afro-Caribbean, Mauritian-Scottish women, but I fear it may be too niche.

I research everything I do, and I do mean everything. Where I had books on martial arts, physical training, the SAS (bloke’s staple) and nutrition, I now have books on making things out of cardboard, children’s stories and hairstyles. I love it!

Dadnbaby

New bonding

Since the split we don’t do the sofa thing so much; she’s getting too big anyway but we do bond while we do her hair. It’s not a quick routine so we have to plan these things! Our routine goes a little something like this:

  • Run a bath; argue about what toys go in
  • Don’t overfill bath, as we’re going to be doing some serious shower work
  • Try to convince my son that we’re not washing his hair and acquiesce that he can observe from the sidelines
  • Wet her hair thoroughly, using the shower then apply shampoo/conditioner
  • Acquiesce and place my son in the bath, after he decides that it’s more fun in than out
  • Massage her hair, finger combing any knots out gently
  • Leave the shampoo in while they both try to empty the bath without using the plug hole
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Convince them to get out of the bath
  • The trick here is not to dry her hair fully at this point.

I kissed a lot of frogs before I got to the panacea of hair products for ACMS women. 

 The Shampoo

The magical properties of shea butter! natural afro-caribbean hair (and skin) is prone to dryness. I find this shampoo and conditioner really works well when allowed to sit in her hair for a while. Finger combing can really help at this stage.

Rinse thoroughly.

The Moisturiser

The essential step; don’t dry the hair fully then apply globs of this stuff. I’ve yet to apply to much and again, the trick is to gently massage it into the hair before leaving it to work its magic.

I’ve learned the hard way that a towel over the shoulders protects everything from the Soul Glow effect.

The Technique

Separate the hair into quarters or more. Grips and clips are handy if you don’t have hands the size of dinner plates or you have a really bad memory.

Finger comb again any knots that are still evident. Time to comb!

This comb is a multi-directional thing and easy to grip. Something else I found interestingly difficult with any amount of moisturiser; use the towel…

This part is vitally important. Do small sections of the hair at a time. Grip near the end at first to expose about an inch of hair. Comb out towards the end, both on top and underneath. The grip is to stop the pulling sensation on the scalp.

As the hair becomes more free you can work your way back towards the scalp. You’ll notice the hair falls into the most beautiful curls.

Move from section to section until it’s all combed through.

 

The result

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Is not a pictured here! You may have noticed that I tend to use stock photos of people rather than my actual children. Objects I take are ok and you may get the occasional blurred shot or background shot but that’s it.

The whole process can take an hour or so; plaiting takes longer as this is an add on from this stage.

I find that distraction is your friend at this stage. A 90 minute movie works wonders and keeps them both static. ish.

I’ve just noticed that the headline image is a woman and boy. Oh well; you get the picture.

Click on those links and make me about £4 richer.

BSD

Sunday was supposed to be so good…

I had it all planned out.

It was my weekend with my cubs. We’d been a bit housebound so to stop us all getting cabin fever I’d planned a walk across the nearby fields.

My daughter had her eye on this stretch of land for a long time. It was at the edge of a football pitch and was fantastically uncultivated. Meadow grass, wild flowers, daddy height thistles and all the fauna to match.

My daughter had reliably informed me that it was the perfect environment to track down the creature that had long eluded her; the grass snake.

My daughter has found a hero (other than me of course) in adventurer/explorer/naturalist and climber Steve Backshall. She’s seen everything he’s done and hangs on his every word and that’s fine. I love nature and the outdoors and so she does too. She had earmarked this bit of land as her hunting ground.

I primed them both for the big walk on Saturday promising a picnic and some pioneering off of the beaten track.

The big day arrived

I was up at the usual 06:00 and the cubs weren’t far behind.

The problem was, they’d woken up tired. I’ve seen them like it before so we lounged on daddy’s bed for a bit and had a cuddle. My daughter then asked if we could watch a movie; my son was nodding in agreement so we watched a movie.

I must admit that I had a little snooze during the movie and felt better for it. I was also determined that we would go for a walk in the countryside.

After much prodding and persuasion I got them both washed and dressed. We had breakfast then packed my rucksack with various snacks and our raincoats; it was glorious sunshine now but rain had been forecast.

I shouldered my trusty D5000, with the intention of getting some good shots for a blog entry under the ‘Activities’ heading; the premise being that I would illustrate how quality time doesn’t have to be expensive.

Off we went.


The sun blazed down but spirits were high. Both the cubs were freerange as we made our way across the top of the pitch and up a beaten path into the meadow. Then it began.

Two stinging nettles were enough to convince my son that the safest place for him was in my arms. Instead of picking him up, I showed him how to stand on the low ones and circumnavigate the taller ones. In his defence, I wouldn’t be comfortable in 6 foot stingers so I cut him some slack. We pressed on.

5 minutes were enough to convince my daughter that she would never find a grass snake so she disengaged stealth mode to see if she could convince some other elements of nature to reveal themselves through the medium of undergrowth kicking.

I don’t remember seeing Steve Backshall kicking nature into plain sight!!

She agreed, before catching a grasshopper in her hands.

My son had run off ahead up the hill and was now proudly holding and waving something green and plastic at me. It was a cigarette lighter. The grass was tinder dry.

One daddy sprint later and disaster averted. I gave him a chocolate bar from my bag and told him not to pick things up off of the ground. We pressed on (again)

I saw my first photo opportunity in a macro of a thistle. I could foreground it with my son running up the hill behind it, blurred into the background. Genius.

I lined up me shot and pressed for autofocus before manually adjusting. The D5000 responded with the idiot bleep and the message No SD card inserted…’

My daughter held up the cigarette lighter and called out; ‘Dad; I’ve found this!’

We went home.

As we entered the park to reach the main road, she found two feathers. one appeared to be from a Jay and the other from a Buzzard. She turned to me:

Best walk in the countryside ever!

 

Here is a photograph of my camera. That’s all I have to offer.

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BSD

Life’s eternal question..

After being a dad for over 7 years, I don’t consider myself to be new at this; but I’m perplexed. 

  • Yesterday was the last day of the school term. 
  • Today is the weekend. 
  • Yesterday neither of my cubs could get themselves out of bed. 
  • Today they’re on my bed by 06:00. 
  • Yesterday they were running on empty. 
  • Today they have enough energy to power a medium sized farm. 
  • Yesterday everything made them cry.
  • Today; everything is making me smile 😉

    I think today will be a movie day…

    BSD

    Today served as a stark reminder

    Time waits for no one.

    Nothing I didn’t know and I’m sure you’re the same. Let me talk you through this one.

    Sunday is the day that my ex and I plan childcare arrangements for the week ahead. We actually do this a month at a time, but Sunday is confirmation day. This week, it was also when we entered ‘Meet Year 3 teachers‘ for this afternoon at 16:30.

    Head down in projects and deadlines I lifted it above the parapet at 16:10. No drama; the drive isn’t far and work is flexible enough for me to pick up the slack later.

    Driving affords me the great opportunity to be alone with my thoughts

    I’ve known where my priorities are ever since my first born came into the world. Parenthood had a profound affect on me, and where I had been a career driven promotion hungry chap before that day, my focus undoubtedly changed when I became a dad.

    I got to the classroom one minute late (time means a lot to me) and squeezed my huge frame into those chairs that are perfect for little people. The two new teachers were at the front, presenting; the parents were scattered around the classroom on a combination of chairs and desks (If only I’d been a couple of minutes earlier..) and our respective children playing and reading quietly on the far side of the classroom.

    Then, a no so subtle signal that I’d got my priorities right; my daughter looked up from what she was doing and spotted her daddy across the classroom. Without hesitation, she stood up, made her way through her soon to be teachers, through the parents (who were smiling, knowing where she was heading) made it over to my side and threw her arms around me. Decision qualified.

    School 1

    This is not the focal point of this entry. My point is this; it quite literally seems like yesterday that I walked her into school on her very first day. It all seemed so wrong! she was my baby! she’s way too young! she’s not used to these people or this place etc… She was still so small and vulnerable. I took a photograph of her in her new uniform and shiny shoes as she sat on a bench outside the classroom, waiting for her day to start.

    That yesterday was actually 3 years ago.

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    Life does not hang about waiting for us to make the right decisions; we have to get up, get out and live. We make decisions without knowing if they’re life changing or not; those effects won’t show themselves until years later but, we have to do what we feel is right.

    For me, the right decision is to put my cubs first. A missed deadline, an unanswered email or an embittered boss will pale into insignificance in 12 months but my daughter remembering that her daddy was at sports day, at the summer dance, at the nativity and at the teacher meet will last forever.

    Choose wisely; you don’t get that time back.

    stop time

    BSD

    How tough is this one? It shouldn’t be.

     I’m going to let you in to a secret; this was one of the best moments in my life.

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    The birth of my daughter; the everyday miracle that happened to me (us). Following what was quite a difficult birth, our daughter was cleaned up and placed on the scales.

    I looked at her and she looked back..

    Her eyes looked deep and dark (most babies are actually born blue eyed!) she didn’t cry or make a sound. She just moved her fingers a little and stared at the voice she was already familiar with, welcoming her into the world.

    I had talked and read to her in the womb. The benefits of a deep voice paying dividends.

    She was perfect in every way; I was in tears.

    I had the privilege of being the first person to change her nappy. She fit in the palm of my hand! I was fascinated by her perfection, especially those little toes!

    That was the moment I discovered unconditional love.

    On reflection, it’s a shame mum and I couldn’t find something similar.

    Four years later, we were blessed again. This time with a son (more on his birth another time).

    Two years later, I’m here writing this. Life isn’t perfect but it is good and I am grateful for everything I have.

    I now have the most important mission ahead and I cannot fail

    How I act, what I say, who I am will be my children’s blueprint for their future relationships.

    The behaviour I display, will be the behaviour my daughter accepts and my son perpetuates. I have to get this right.

    More on Wednesday

     

    BSD

     

    Things I’m thankful for…

    I’m thankful for making it to day 2 of my fitness challenge; work in progress!

    I’m thankful for my son, who cried to get into my bed and once I acquiesced, told me he didn’t like the fan and went back to his bed, leaving me wide awake.

    I’m thankful for my daughter, who despite being only 7 managed to occupy territory (in my bed) roughly the equivalent of Luxembourg.

    I’m thankful for my son, who after his usual bath and bedtime routine dropped a poo bomb that saw us repeating the whole process.

    I’m thankful to my daughter, who woke up 20 minutes after I got to bed to get me to choose my favourite character from Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” (children’s edition) whilst covering my bald head in stickers. I love my life and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Ps; I’m growing things on my window sill now. Lettuce and mint. The idea was to eat more healthily…

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    The mint has gone in gin.

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    BSD

    Home sweet home

    When your daughter draws this on your computer and gives it that title, you know you’ve done something right, even though it feels wrong. 

    BSD

    This morning..

    Having sat up way too late last night to do her hair I elected to take things a bit easier this morning.  

    Working on the ‘a little of what you like’ principle they both get a bowl of frosted corn flakes for breakfast rather than the usual porridge. I’ve decided to begin intermittent fasting again.

    They’re with their mum tonight and indeed for the rest of the week as I’m working so I want to make the most of them. I’ve packed their bags with everything they’ll need until they’re back under my roof again.

    This is going to take some getting used to…

    My time-keeping  anxieties came back with a vengeance and I was quickly aware of the language I was using around the kids. ‘Hurry up!’ ‘Stop dawdling’ ‘Speed up!’ ‘Tell me in the car!’

    One thing I do quite well is listen to myself, and this time I didn’t like what I was hearing. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened them, I smiled. I was suddenly aware of the message that I needed to give my children right now.

     

    I sat on the closed toilet, and hugged my daughter tightly.

     

    My son, hating to miss out on intimacy comes barreling in. On noticing the comb in my other hand he swiftly 180s and sprints away into the bedroom.

    The second error of the day hits me when I take a friends advice and ditch the motorway for the more rural route. I become traffic for quite a while.

    Monday afternoon

    It’s amazing how quickly the time goes before it’s pick up time again.

    I’ve calculated that dropping and collecting both puts 2 hours (each way) on my day. That’s a lot and I’m tired already. Work are being good and I put in the hours in the evening or when they’re with their mum, but something has to give.


    The big man is first and I find him stripped to his vest, the day starting cold but turning hot sees me taking John McClane to get his things. He’s cold to me at first, probably remembering me leaving him but then all is forgiven with a cuddle. We don’t talk much on the way to the second pick up but he seems preoccupied trying to keep the sun out of his eyes.

    She’s extremely tired and slightly teary, so I don’t push her too much. I do get the full run-down on her day and bring her up to speed on mine.

    Things to note today:

    Always keep baby wipes in the car.

    I touched the whiskey, but just a small glass.

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    BSD