Hi! <Waves>

Funny and honest tales from a made-to-work Dad of three, wobbling, graying, and laughing his way through parenthood. Armed to the teeth with Nerf guns, full of pie, fighting a chocolate addiction, but genuinely honoured to be at least half of Team Parents (yay!).

29 July 2015

Ant Attack!

We are just about to start the bed time.
The daily battle of convincing three knackered, but full of energy children, that despite what the sun says and the chirping birds, and all the other children outside screaming, shouting, having the time of their lives... It's bedtime.
So we can do adult stuff (housework and sleeping).

I am sat with Boy8 and Miss4 watching cartoons, consuming cereal and milk (I have tea obv).
When Mrs. Amazing appears (like magic) in front of me, BabyBoy1 attached to hip and says:

'Boy8's room is full of ants, flying ones!'
Oh no!
That's terrible...
How are you going to deal with them?

Who am I kidding?
Pest control is my area. I don my black hood, sharpen my axe, and take Boy8 with me to see just how bad it is. If it's really bad I may be able to offer him up to our new Ant overlords whilst I make my escape.
And because Boy8 likes squishing ants.

(Ants rave)

I open the door to the ant farm and compared to last year.... It's not that bad! Bonus.

Still there are about 1000 ants running around Boy8’s room, some flying like drunken fools.
There's ants all over his Lego, over his desk, all through the pile of crap he's hidden under his desk. I have my suspicions he may have hidden a bag of sugar behind his desk, hence the ants. But it also could be the little buggers eating through the mortar and getting into the house to watch TV.

An audience appears behind me: Mrs. Amazing, BabyBoy1 and Miss4 and they all watch me as I tackle the ants. Who made popcorn?

I've no idea what to do.
They didn't mention this in basic Dad training. There wasn’t any basic Dad training. I can't remember watching my father remove thousands of ants from a bedroom. It doesn't come up in the pub chats. So how am I supposed to know what to do?

I suppose with hindsight I could've googled it. Grabbed a book and read it. Asked Mrs. Amazing if she had any ideas. Anything really to help myself. But obviously I didn't.
I blame the others.

They are all watching me with ‘expectation’. I hate that!
I can almost hear the chatter behind me.
'Don't worry Daddy will sort it out'
'Oh Daddy knows what to do, Daddy knows everything'

The pressure is huge. I bet this is one of those moments that define Dads in the eyes of their children forever.
Crap. I'm not ready.

I'm the Dad, which makes me the leader of this tribe. The alpha male (I bloody am), the head honcho, King dude, and my tribe is under attack. Thousands of fierce invaders are running amok in our village, threatening to take over and throw us out of our own home. And in this moment of need, in this moment of terror and fear... the tribe has turned to me.

Dumb ideas rattle through my head. Brainzilla awakens from her slumber...
Fire? No. This is our house.
Water? How would that help, it wouldn't would it. No. Bad brainzilla
Build something wooden? Like a house? Oh fun! But no.
Access computer game database for helpful skills? <NONE FOUND> No ant killing sims played yet. Crap!
Leap out of window and escape? Er... quite tempting actually. But no, my comics are in the loft.
Get comics out of loft, and then leap out of window? I'd need a huge rucksack?
Get the blue one whilst you're in the loft.
Good plan...

I snap out of it and panic make a decision. Like men of old, and young, and middle age, I resort to my base desire to protect and just start squishing stuff.

Boy8 gleefully rushes into help. But the rest of my audience looks unimpressed. I don't really blame them. Its a poor show and it's going to be like this for ages. There's a lot of ants.
This is the best I can come up with? Feeble.

(Ant: a common house pest <Squish>)

Mrs. Amazing throws me a bone.
'Would the hoover help?'
Bloody genius! Love her!
<Runs off to get hoover>

We have an awesome hoover. I choose and bought it (obv). It cost wayyyyy too much, but it is awesome . It also is hand held, and has a little pokey fitting that was made for this moment!!!

When I get back everyone else has gone off to have a bath. Which is a right shame, as now armed with the right tools, I can be that tribal leader that does look all cool and alpha-maley.
Damn you universe.
<shakes fist>

I'll just have to tell them about it later. Lie and exaggerate Juice it up a bit too.

The hoover works brilliantly on so many levels. If you have to remove thousands of ants from your house, I heartily recommend using the hoover as:
a) I don't have to kill thousands of ants like some vicious, vindictive God! Yay!
b) It's easy. Point and suck Just like Justin Beiber, when he's pointing.
c) You can even see them through the clear glass chamber of the hoover. How very Buddhist!
d) You can suck the flying ones out of the air. It's awesome!!!

Me and the ant-buster (hoover) work our way into the corner of the room looking for the source of the ants. Boy8 has come back to help (concerned what I may find in his room), me hoovering up any ants I find, Boy8 checks stuff as I pass out for any missed ants.

I pull out his Lego drawers and find a pair of pants ew!, a sock EWWW! and loads of other weird crap only a little boy would keep.
'There's my sock!' as though he had been looking for it.
We had.
'And my pants!' as though he had been looking for them.
We had not.
Shouldn't they be in the laundry basket?
<Boy8 shrugs shoulders>

As we work I talk about what we are doing and how it will affect this ant colony. I try to be an educational and thought provoking Dad. I figure that if I get him thinking about what we are doing then he won't see it so much as a 'LET’S KILL STUFF' bit of fun. More a pest control requirement.

It backfires terribly as after a few chats, he no longer sees this as a 'LET’S KILL STUFF' bit of fun. In fact he sees it for it is, decimating an entire colony of ants. Boy8 requests to be relieved of his duties so he can watch cartoons.

I continue solo, cursing my own mouth and feeling pretty lonely, and mean, for what I am doing to the ants. They just want to live too.
When an ally that I really didn't expect comes into the room and sits beside me.
'Can I help?' says Miss4 all ready for bed, wet hair, jammies on.

It is really nice to see her and I am surprised she has stopped what she is doing to come see me. She could be downstairs watching her Peppa's and eating her supper-breakfast snuggled up to Mrs. Amazing. Instead though she is Boy8’s room, which is an utter mess, stinky as it's full of ant poison, next to hot and sweaty me, also covered in ant poison.

I suck up a few rogue ants and give her a smile.
'Can I have a go?'

And we sit there together, just for a few minutes, sucking up a few ants with a hoover together. I finally get to be the tribal leader I'm meant to be and we have a right laugh. Thanks Miss4.

I show her the hoover chamber full wriggling ants.
'Ew cool!'
'There's one, get it Dad!'

I love her, she rocks.

The flow of ants still hasn't quite stopped so I go outside to check what's going on. It's quite biblical.
I put more poison everywhere I see ants. It's windy so I get covered in the powder, in my hair, in my eyes. #livingthedream

BabyBoy1 sees me at the window outside and totters over. He thinks this is great. Daddy is outside! Ha ha!
He slobbers on the window at me.
I smile back at him and he does it again.

I still have a job to do so I carry on.
I find myself smiling and winking at BabyBoy1 trying to make him smile, giving him attention... Whilst careful, and very purposely, killing thousands and thousands of ants, decimating whole colonies, families, with poison.

It feels a bit weird. But very tribal leader as well.
It’s not all glory then.

26 July 2015

"... and though she be but little, she is fierce!"

Miss4’s poorly again.
She has some bug in her that is making her poorly. It's not doing much, it's just loitering. Like a gang of 17 year olds with fags and cider, it's just hanging about. Not really causing any serious trouble. But man do you wanna call the police on them...

... I digress.

I hate when Miss4’s poorly, I worry.
I worry because she’s only little and she doesn't have much padding on her and padding is really handy when you’re tiny and sick.
I worry that I won’t be there when she needs me. She’s a tiny little girl. I worry.

She is not poorly enough to call the doctor, not poorly enough for an ambulance (thank 12oz steaks and chips), but poorly enough that sending her to nursery seems pointless, as they will just send her back and still charge for it.

On the sick-o-meter (real thing), she's probably about a 4.
0 - Not sick at all, stop faking.
1 - Ahhhh have a cuddle, now get to school faker.
2 - Drink this Calpol, and eat these sweets. Now go play.
[Above this text Miss4 still has to go to nursery, because we have to pay her welfare is paramount. (Not comedy)]
3 - Drink this Calpol and rest. I said rest, get down from there…
4 - Drink Calpol. Rest, why won't you rest? You keep falling over!
5 - Hmm Calpol's not doing it... Drink this Nurofen as well. Rest and sleep please.
6 - Calpol and Nurofen administered as often as the instructions allow. Even waking in the night to administer. Ah hell just glug it (Never do this)... Rest is now voluntary, but she still won't sleep.
7 - Doctor time. She's sleeping and resting too much.

(Calpol: One of the main reasons we get any sleep. Thank you Calpol)
(and Tesco’s cheaper equivalent, for when things are tight, Crapol)

I'm stopping at 7 because it's not fun to think about my kids being that sick, next is ambulances and stuff like that. We've been there, it's crap. I would only go back to those thoughts if I had to. I feel the same about painting edges and plumbing. Only if I have to.

So Miss4 at 4 on the sick-o-meter means she mumbles constantly is a bit quiet, doesn't eat enough, doesn't rest enough, doesn't drink enough, looks poorly and needs constant company.
Poor little lady...

... oh and every now and then, because she's a bit poorly and feeling emotional, she becomes a screaming banshee of fury.
Bless. Bless her volumetric lungs.

Like the other morning as I was loading the kids into the car…

BabyBoy1 is not happy to be put in his car seat, but his fight is short lived and once locked in, there really is no choice.
Boy8 has switched the boosters round, so he can sit in the front. He assures me it's his turn. I believe him. You would.
Miss4's seat is in the back of the car and ready for her to climb in.

'I want to sit in the middle'
No no, it's safer if you are on the side.
'I won't wake up BabyBoy1 by talking to him'
Oh! Good. Thank you for not.
But safety and all that, hop in!

Miss4's face drops and tears of anger quickly flow.
Oh go on! I'll let you drive
'NO!' <becomes kicky>

I try to coax her into the seat a bit more, but fail. Then rather than force her into her seat, I decide to leave her to burn her strop out, and go reclaim Boy8, who was in his seat, but is now absent.

I find Boy8 engaged in very super important Lego play.
We discuss my feelings about this, involving throttle mimes and fist tapping.
I am sure I got through to him this time. (I did not).

When I get back to the car, I find Miss4 still by the car door. Good start!
And more importantly, she’s calm.
Boom POW! Dad skills! <Self fives> (which is a clap).

I smile at Miss4:
Come on, in you hop!
'I want to sit in the middle'
You're on a booster!!! Why do care where you sit???
But it's not as safe...
<Tears, shouting, refusal to get in car> (not me).

I change tactic.
I don't like giving in, but really it wouldn't be so bad to let her sit in the middle. She is poorly and her sitting in the middle won't destroy the universe, a city maybe, a few countries, but I’m fine with that.

OK, as long as it fits, you can sit in the middle
<Instantly stops tears, shouting, stubborn refusal to get in car>

I push her booster across the whopping 50 cm that is difference between, the seat that is not acceptable no way, to the seat where she is happy to sit, in unsafe-land.
It doesn't fit. The physical world is working against her (and me) and she can't have what she wants.

With BabyBoy1's tank-sized car seat on one side, Miss4's booster seat just won't fit, unless she's happy to sit at a weird angle. Which I am sure she would be. But I am not, on her behalf.

Sorry. But it just won’t fit <braces self>
I am sorry.
I'm really sorry, because for some reason, it’s really important to her right now. And I like to make her happy, especially when she’s poorly and not really in control of her emotions as normal.
Her response is as expected.

She bursts into tears, and makes it clear she doesn't want to get into the car, through modern dance.

(Similar to Miss4 in a strop)

Mrs. Amazing arrives on scene wanting to know what the problem is, as they need to leave now. I explain, whilst we both dodge kicks, scratches, and general stropping attempts to hurt us whilst we ignore her.

A quick vote is taken over who has to put the screaming little girl into the car, and then fight her into her seat.
I demand a recount and accuse the vote counter of being utterly biased, and unable to count.
But claiming I got four votes, and won by a landslide, Mrs. Amazing has already buckled herself into the driving seat and wished me luck.

If you've never had to move a tiny person that doesn't want to be moved, you're lucky. Because it's kind of like picking up a angry cat, but bigger, more dexterous and better at unbuckling themselves.
Essentially you've got to try to avoid the bits that can hurt, which isn't easy, as most bits can hurt. Feet, fists, pointy little elbows, nails, TEETH!
Technique is king in these situations, and not being cross. A basic understanding of self defence and grappling skills are also helpful. Kevlar optional.

I pick her up, careful to make sure her legs are pointing kicking away from my groin. Learnt that lesson the hard, painful, gasping on the floor, eyes crossed, way before. Then I jam her into the seat facing the right way round.

With the speed of a puma (puma, puma, puma) she is backwards, facing the wrong way in the chair. Which she has done totes on purpose.

Leading with the legs, as legs lead the body, I twist her back round the right way. All the while avoiding the flaying hands and feet. I reach over her to buckle her in, which Miss4 takes this as a cue to try and dive out of her seat head first, into the foot-wells.
Luckily for me, and her (face landing), suntan lotion had not been applied today, I manage to stop her and put her back into the seat.

Her escape for freedom thwarted and clearly feeling frustrated and out of control.
Miss4 deploys her sonic-based weapons. She screams.

She screams as hard and as loud as she can, right into my ear. As I'm leant over her fighting with the stupid buckle.

Owwww! Gosh that was loud.

She screams again and I have white spots before my eyes, my head is rattling, and all I want to do is shove her flip flops in her mouth into my ears.
ARHGGGGGGG My word, you've some strong lungs there!

I am pretty sure my brain has had enough and has legged it to somewhere quieter, as all I can hear now is a buzzing in my head. Like something has been unconnected but not powered off.

Miss4 lets loose one more scream for luck, as I finally manage to shove the smegging buckle in and I calmly, yes calmly (+1000 Dad points), close the door.
Job done.

The rage and screams continue from inside the car.
BabyBoy1 is watching in fascination, taking notes, learning all the time.
Boy8 is still sat in the front, being a paragon of virtue. Wise choice, but transparently sucky.

For a moment I stop and watch Miss4 (from outside the car, where it’s safe).
My word she is magnificent. Such fury and fire in such a tiny little person, she really is very impressive.
#proud #bitdeaf
Ooooooo she’s going to be so much fun to watch grow up. I can’t wait! (really, looking forward to it).
"... and though she be but little, she is fierce" - William Shakespeare, A Midsummers Night’s Dream.
I'm not sure if William had any kids, but if he did, and one was a 4 year girl, that little girl may have been the inspiration for this brilliant line.

I consider telling Miss4 how awesome she is, and how much I think she rocks \m/.

<screams continue from car>
Maybe later, when she’s less screamy and kicky..

22 July 2015

6 Weeks Summer Holiday...

'Are you going to work today?' asks Boy8 over breakfast.

I've got clean pants on, I'm wearing my best ThunderCats t-shirt, of course I'm bloody going to work.
I grunt a yes back at Boy8.
He knows damn well I am going to work. He just likes to torture me, what a Beiber.

'I'm not going to school today'
I know
<eye starts twitching>

'I don't have to go to school for 6 whole weeks'
I know. Summer hols, yay.
<snaps metal spoon in half>

'Don't you have 6 weeks off work for the summer?'
No. Daddies tend to still work through the summer.
'Do you?'
<Shuts dishwasher, hard>

'Mummy doesn't have to work through the summer'
No, no, she doesn't.
<Gives Mrs. Amazing a look>
<Gets 'Sod right off, I've got 3 lunatics to look after, for 6 weeks, on my own. Whilst you swan about at work, eating biscuits and drinking your hot cups of tea, having grown up chats. It may not be called work what I do, but 'Turkish Delight' damn it's hard work' look>

Mrs. Amazing really can speak volumes with a single look. Her 'that goes in the dishwasher, not where you have just put it’ look is quite famous round our way.

(Off to work I go)

I don't begrudge Boy8 his time off, I'm just well jell.
He needs it. He really does.
Over the last few weeks, coming up to the end of term, you could see his energy levels plummeting.
The bags under his eyes kept getting bigger, no matter how early he was put to bed (He's a midnight 8pm Lego builder), he still seemed knackered.

I don't mind the school pushing him, you can only get stronger by being pushed, but it's hard to watch sometimes.
Mostly. Boy8 has managed to keep it together at school, learning stuff, like he should.

Good work boy, have a Wine gum!
<picks one>
Dude! ... Not a black one... It's not graduation day….
<picks another>
Green is fine.

However at home his keeping it together has been less 'effective' shall we say (WE SAY).
We get the emotional fall out from school.
But that’s part of our job as Team Parent (yay). We understand that, when he's away from home he behaves, so he doesn't have to when he gets home.

Hang on... That can't be right can it?
<Mrs. Amazing nods sagely>
Can't it be the other way round? <Asks thymely>
'No' <Shakes head parsley>

I would love to tell you that I've done my bit by managing to be more empathetic, supportive, understanding and loving over this tiring time for him. But it would be a lie.

Summer holidays used to be the best thing in the world that I LOVED!!! 
And now they're not. They're something that happens to other people. 
They don’t directly affect me, I still go to work.
When did that happen?

The traffic is lighter I suppose. yay! #livingthedream

(Traffic during summer hols... But why?)

Before I leave Mrs. Amazing tells me their plans for the day:
'Mooch about for the morning, some board games, film maybe'
'Followed by a picnic at a national park in the afternoon, with some friends'
That sounds like fun, tell me all about it when I get back from work.
<Fights back tears>

But really...  don't tell me. I don't want to hear how much fun you've all had, whilst I was bored working really hard at work.

Ohhhh fine!
Go on, do tell me, I want to hear really. I love you lot a lot, and I love to hear what you do. If I can’t be there, then hearing about it is definitely better than nothing.
But if you could dial down the glee and fun levels, a warp or two, for me, then that would be good.

When I do get back from work, I ask Miss4 how her day was:

'We had the best time today'
Did you? That sounds fun. What did you do?
'Well the park was awesome, I climbed trees, chased some birds, fed the ducks, then we played a great game with big hammers'
<looks confused> 'I didn't sneeze'
The game with the big hammers is called Croquet.
'No, no, that wasn't it, it was Poquet or something like that.
'OK' <Ignores me>
'Then we had a yummy picnic, there was all your favourites, pie, crisps, other pie, chocolate, tea, cheesecake, more pie, meats, pies'
<Closes eyes and goes to happy place to stop the tears>

'Guess what we did this morning?'
Flobbed about a bit and then watched a film, whilst playing board games?
'Yep and... we played all your favourite games!'
Oh good...
'Then we watched a film, your favourite!'
Really which one?
'I'd not seen it before… er…. Car Toys… no… er…'
'... no… er… Space… Space Fights!'
Star Wars?
<Runs weeping out of the room>

Oh good bacon sandwich would I love to be off work for the summer.
Watching Star Wars and eating pies with the kids. Instead of being at work. 

It truly sucks looking at the lovely weather through a window.
We have air-con at work which means entire heat waves can pass me by. It can rain and I may never notice.
Surely that isn't right, it doesn't feel right.
Surely, I should at least be connected to the real world, enough, to notice when it rains?

But for a change I am not alone in this. Miss4 is in the same boat as me, good. Nursery is not term time, and she's still got to go in on her normal nursery days.
She may be less eloquent than me (just), but she manages to convey her thoughts on this better than I can.

Nursery today, you ready?
'Poo poo' <Blows raspberry>

I hear ya, I hear ya...

Alice... if you would play us out... ta....

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