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?

Hamster.jpg

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

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

dadplusone

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.

IMG_0115.JPG

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.

    crayons

    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