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!).
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28 February 2016

Not Being Funny … But What You Said Just Then Was Really Boring...

Boy8 was trying to talk to me.
And I didn't listen.

I am not proud of me.
It doesn't matter how busy I am, how I am feeling, or what level I was just about to complete.
Giving any of the goblins children my time is essential. I have so little when I am not at workington.
It should be a reflex thing.

Boy8: Dad?
<Spins round>
Yes? <Everything in hands flies out from centrifugal effect>
<Knocks over BabyBoy1 as he was too close>
Boy8: Ha ha haaa!!!
Stop doing that <Turns back to very important tower building>
Boy8: Dad!
<Spins round>
Yes! <Wooden block in hand flies out and smacks Boy8 on the noggin>
Hahahaaaaa

When Team Parents (yay!) were looking at schools for Boy8.
A few millenia ago. One of things that I loved about the school he is now at. Was how close the pub was the deputy head, who is now the head.
<Whispers> poison... in the pick and mix
The deputy head was clearly busy, but without fail, no matter what child we passed or saw, not matter what they were doing. This inspirational lady stopped, knew the child's name and listened to what they said.
OVER the adults. Us. HOW DARE SHE!
She stopped us talking, politely, because a child was talking and listened to them first. She still does that as head.
Honestly that impressed me more than anything else we saw.
And they had robot lobsters...

(So kewl! ... and tasty ... Kwasty!)

We did visit another school.
I couldn't help think that the head was an utter dick. He did the opposite with the kids.
He made the kids wait. He didn't know their names, I'm sure he guessed at a few as well.
Dick-head: 'Twatface?'
Child: ‘No’
Dick-head: 'Smell pants?'
Child: ‘No’
You sure?
Dick-head: 'Johnny Snotty-snot Farty Bum Wimple?'
Child: ‘Yes sir?’ <Cries internally>

He probably ran a good school.
As a functional community building, he was probably nailing it. Good for him.
But he made the children wait.
Twonk.

Prioritising kids is not easy to do.
Try doing it with your mates. It's hard to do. Especially down the pub.
Because it's a bit rude isn't it. You are basically saying the child's words are more important than theirs. It doesn't go down well with everyone.
It easy to get wrapped up in our adult world where things (kinda) make sense  so that when a child starts their weird nonsensical talking, it can jar with our grown up thoughts. It's hard and exhausting to switch to another language all the time. 
But... We're adults and whatever we are saying could probably wait.
Unless it's bullet, flying toy, last orders, or they're giving out free Star Wars stuff, related.

‘Dad…’ <Sheepishly paws at ground>
Yep
‘I have something important to tell you’
Is it about your socks?
‘Yes? Yes I am all hairy ears
‘It's hard to say... I've been... I've been worrying about…’
Tannoy: [FREE STAR WARS STUFF! RUN MAN! RUN!]
‘... lately’ <Cough cough>
[Dust cloud appears]
‘Dad? Dad? Are you still here?‘ <Waves arms trying to clear the dust>
‘Where did all this dust come from? I can't see you?’
<Bottom lip wobbles>

(FREEEEEEESTUUUUUFFFFFFFFF!!!!!)

Boy8 tried to talk to me the other morning.
I was making lunches, eating cake, drinking tea, rocking out to music and I'm pretty sure I was trying to pay for something school related on my phone.
In short. I was too wrapped up in whatever I was doing to listen.
Boy8 got cross with me.
Boy8 told me off for not listening. Using his attempt at my voice. It was bloody funny.
Boys had a point.
I hadn't been listening.

I had guessed what he was going to say.
Boy8 had a new plastic collectable toy. Blobs (Whatever...). 1 squid each. And he was very excited about them.
I was not. Which is not really like me. I normally love his toys. 
I’ll play most things, and start collecting them myself.
Just these, Blobs, seemed a bit poor by my standards. I couldn't see the fun.
So I guessed what he was going to say. 
I guessed he was gonna to bore the pants off me about the Blobs.
So I just pretend to listen.

I felt bad.
I still feel a bit bad. It was quite a conscious decision to not listen and just pretend.
I totally didn't get away with it either.
Boy8 stormed off. Chanked right off (annoyed) with me.
Fair play to him.
<Hangs head in shame>

I let him stomp off go.
Then stood there and wondered at what I had just done.
Wondered at what a smegger I had just been.
Wondered at what I needed to do to undo my own icky mess. I realised.
<SIGH>
I went and found him to say sorry, and give him a damn good listening to.

Sorry mate
<Huffily turns away from me>
I am really sorry, I was busy earlier (lie) and didn't listen
But I really want to hear what you have to tell me (true)
I have time to listen now
Please tell what you were going to say
<Huffs a bit more>
Please <Gives him playful arm hits taps>
‘...well… This one is like this, because...’
<I am forgiven>

I am very glad I bothered to undo my mistake.
Boy8 really wanted to tell some stuff. He went on for ages. 
It was really important to him. I have no idea why or how. But it was. To him. Not me.
I listened brilliantly, like a boss, like the best Dad ever undoing his own worst Dad mistake
I had to.
Somehow or another, I had pretty much begged him to tell me about his Blobs, so either I had learnt my lesson... or Boy8 is an evil manipulative genius. 
#proud

("Soooo… What’cha wanna do tonight? Board game?")

And truth be told.
Once I started listening for him, instead to what he said .
I really enjoyed it. (lie)
It was even more boring than I could ever have guessed, it was like Chinese water torture, but with words. It was like every 'funny' bit Ant and Dec did this year at the Brits, utter agony…
I barely made it out alive...


24 February 2016

Thank You Worst Witch...

Have you read 'The Worst Witch' by Jill Murphy?
I haven't. Not all of it… yet...

But that’s mainly because I grew up in a house full of boys.
Hundreds of them. Everywhere. You couldn't move for boy books (Roy of the Rovers), toy cars, stinky sweaty footyball kits and smells. Everything was very much boy themed (especially the smells).
Not much girl stuff made it into the house. Definitely not stories about young girls attending a witching college and getting into slight scrapes.
But then, that was ages ago, before steam was invented, and PC meant a fuzzpoliceman.
Sorry, Police Officer man.





Mum: ‘Does anyone want this toy kitchen to play with?’ 
<Offers to her boys, more in hope than expectation?>
Me me me!!!! <Raises hand>
<Get's looks and thumping mimes from brothers>
… Actually... On second thoughts...
<Further punching and kicking mimes, throttling, stabbing, elbows etc…  from brothers>
Nope! Changed my mind, don't know what I was thinking...
Let's all go play Footy Ballington… I LOVE IT
Bet I convert more than you lot! <Runs off>
<Rude gestures made behind back, but all go play Football by brothers>

[Years later]

Who wants steak and ale pie?
Bruv1: ‘Me!’
Bruv2: ‘Me! I WANT LOTS’
Bruv3: ‘POUR IT INTO MY MOUTH!!!
Bruv3: ‘IMMEDIATELY!!!’ <Mimes punching and thumping>
No... <Smacks bruv with pie ladle> Sit!
Bruv3: <Sits>

So...
Miss5 was given 'The Worst Witch' for her birthday.
Mrs. Amazing was instantly vocal about it, and started flicking through the pages in joy and with childhood memories bubbling up. It's amazing how a few sheets of paper can do that. 
Even more exciting was knowing that Miss5 was going to be reading it for the first time very soon. I get the same feeling when Boy8 picks up a 'Calvin and Hobbes' or an 'Asterix'. 
#Proud
Mrs. Amazing loves the 'The Worst Witch' books. She loves the film that was made. 
Which makes sense as it's got Tim Curry in it! I KNOW Tim 'Rocky Horror Show' Curry!
Marvellous.


(So Tim… Through the medium of prosthetics… Tell me how you're feeling?)

I, on the other hand…
Was not excited to read it. It looked a bit dullo to me. 
But who cares what a 30Lots man thinks about a book aimed at small people. Elfs.
And really getting Miss5 into chapter books is bloody very important, and Miss5 was dead excited to be reading chapter books.
She was keen as mustard (what a ridiculous saying… ‘very enthusiastic’ it means).

I'm gonna be honest here.
Four or five chapters in... I was pretty bored.
And I was the one reading it out loud. 
Obv. I was my best Monty Python style ladies voices for the teachers. Slipping into panto dame every now and then, due to a bit of a cold.
But after five chapters there had been no near death explosions at all.
Not one serious comeuppance, moral learnt, or face punch in the story.
No lasers. No gross out slugs and potions. No broom races. No one had been turned in a pile of poo and pretty much every seemed get on really. It sucked.
Someone did get turned into a pig I suppose.... But it didn't grip me, I kind of knew she was going to be OK.
And worse, and unforgivingly, there hadn't been a single hint that a huge dragon would be rocking up later and burning stuff, to my delighted squeals.
So far the story had been about a clumsy witch and her mate doing stuff that was a teeny bit magical. But mainly they were just going to school.
I was unimpressed.

Then the other night me and Miss5 got to Chapter six.
I can't tell you what happened in the story that was different to the other chapters, as it all seemed the same to me. I was reading it aloud but didn't notice the change.
Like I say, I am not the target audience. I find it hard to empathise with young girls attending boarding school. With pigtails. And skirts.
But something in the story changed for Miss5.
Suddenly. She was right there, in the story.
She was utterly gripped.
And as the tension in the story grew, Miss5 edged closer to me as I read, and started to lean on me as she listened.
Which was bloody brilliant.

Because if you didn't know…
Whilst Miss5 and Mrs. Amazing are the best huggy, kissy buddies ever, and seem to need three rounds of goodbyes every morning, and every bedtime.
I'm STILL made to sit on the floor for story time.
Apparently I'm too smelly and stubbly to get in under the covers as Mrs. Amazing does.
Which is totally unfair who's scruffy looking, I shave much more often now.

I do get more hugs than I used to from Miss5.
I really do. Our physical relationship is improving.
But, lets say, using chocolate to compare what Mrs. Amazing gets against what I get…

I get a chocolate button...


Whereas Mrs. Amazing gets a Choccywoccydoodah cake....

(And no I don’t have any affiliate links with ChoccyPomPom… I just like eating their cakes).

Still.
Forget all that crap and my heartbreaking, jealous, and failing attempts to win my daughters love that never work. Forget it.
Miss5 leant on me as she was gripped by every single word of the book. Everyone's a winner.
A book I was being utterly un-gripped by.
Apparently the story then got scary as I read. I didn't notice.
But Miss5 suddenly held onto me tight.
Then as the tension went, as the chapter finished, she backed off again.
Again, I didn't notice anything change in the story and by then I was looking for it.
But it was very real for Miss5.

It is clear to me now.
Miss5 is not going to be the same as me. Or like everything I do.
Bonding with her is not going to be as easy as it is, or has been with Boy8.
I am going to have to think about stuff a lot. And from her point of view. Craaap
But I bet you every comic I have 50p a gentleman's wager.
It will be worth it.

<Runs out to buy all the Worst Witch series>
<Runs back and just does it online… It’s easier… Less wolves...>


P.s...


(Mrs. Amazing made me add this, something about first batman loves…)



21 February 2016

Parental Guilt...

I have parental guilt.
Quite a lot it seems. It stems from lack of time.

When Boy8 rocked up was born.
The newly founded Parents Republic of Children (bo!) had time and money flowing out of our ears. We did, looking back. Boy8 had both of us at his beck and call.

When Miss5 descended from on high to grace us with her presence, like sleet. 
The Democratic Union of Parents of Children and Fun (bonza!) still managed to distribute our time, so that Miss5 got all the attention Boy8 got. Not necessarily with both parents at the same time. Which is a shame. But Miss5 at least got the same quantity hours of attention Boy8 would’ve had.
Happy days.

(Miss5's original landing site...)

When BabyBoy1 swaggered on the scene.
Team Parents (yay!) never had a chance. Two does not divide into three. Well it does, but it’s not neat and tidy and there’s messy little bits left over and stuff. Eww.
No matter how hard I try there is no way I can spend as much time as I did with Boy8, or even Miss5, with BabyBoy1.
Which is why I have parental guilt.

And it's worse because I love BabyBoy1 a lot.
He utter rocks and is a class A dude to boot.
He shouts Daddy the loudest when I get home.
He brings me my shoes. Alright not when I want or ask for them, but he does it anyway.
He heard ‘Know Your Enemy’ by Green Day today and started rocking out to it. Then he made sure I saw him rocking out, so I could join in.
The little dude is a dude.

Anyhoo...

Mrs. Amazing (sweetly) shoved a news paper article under my nose t'other day.
‘Read this bit in the middle, you’ll like it’
OK
‘It lists lots of great Dad things, most of which you already do’
REALLY? HELL YEAH, GIVE ME READ NOW!
‘But don’t read the stuff of the left, it will make you mad’
OK
‘Nor this stuff on the right, it’ll make you sweary
Gotcha. Blinkers on.

The read was nice. I enjoyed my self back patting session, but got many funny looks.
But my takeaway point from the list was this:

Dad’s should spent thirty minutes a day, no screens, focused, sober time, with EACH child.

Shiiiit
Sober

Initially I thought, easy, do that every day no worries.
But then I thought again and realised, pants, actually I don’t.
Some mornings are such a rush I don’t even stop to chat to one child. 
Then when I get home I'm late, they are all going to bed early.
So actually I realised that some days... UH UH nope!
I don’t even manage five minutes with any child.
I am scum.

Yes I know...
It’s just an article and where on earth did that magic thirty minutes come from? Magic land.
What science was behind it? Was it even written by a human?
But... thirty minutes really isn't much. Is it.
I feel that thirty minutes is really the very least I should be doing.
I spend more time doing reading crap super important things on my phone.

So with that in mind, today I made sure I did that. 
I spend thirty minutes with each child, quality time too. I know I did. 
Sunday makes it WAY easier as there's less worky gubbins going on.
But I did it and it felt good. Really good.
I managed to sit down with Boy8, Miss5 and BabyBoy1 all separately and just hang with them.
It was nice.


(Eating pizza still counts as quality time... It does...)

Whoever wrote that list knew that comments like that can hurt. 
Which is rare, they normal have knives. Say for a Dad that spends a lot of time at work, reading things like that could really, really hurt. It can read 'you are failing'.
My parental guilt comes from the same place, and I don’t work crazy hours, or commute miles.
So I appreciate the softening someone felt was needed on the list. 
They said that if thirty minutes seemed impossible, or too hard. 
Then start with ten minutes and build up.

Can you imagine life so busy that you cannot spend ten minutes a day with each of your kids?
No? I can. It happens.
And worse I know some lovely Dads that have to do that 5/7 days a week.
They hate it.

But for me having a value, thirty minutes, in my head removes a lot of my parental guilt.
It’s changed the guilt from:

Brainzilla: ‘YOU NEVER SPEND ENOUGH TIME WITH EACH CHILD!’
I am trying, I've gotta work, I'm busy... a lot
Brainzilla: ‘LAME!’

Brainzilla: ‘THAT WAS NEVER THIRTY MINUTES!’
OH bugger off!
That was twenty four minutes, and yesterday I played snap for three damn hours!
Knob off!

See! 
I prefer that thinking.
Less punishing myself for failing to achieve an unquantified impossible task. Never knowing when I am close, or indeed succeed. 
More a realistic achievable goal.
They’re better they are. Cuddlier.

So Boy8, big moment coming up!
Boy8: ‘I know!'
We have played draughts (checkers) together for years, and not once have you beaten me
‘I did once...’
Didn't count, you had more pieces <Frowns>
<Mutters> ‘still won’
ANYway. Today, in less than two moves, and unless something happens to distract me
You are guaranteed to win this game of draughts
I have no choice of moves, and you cannot fail to choose the right moves.
Excited?
<Cannot talk from excitement>
My move <Takes move>
<Boy8 takes move at the speed of light>
Just picking up my piece… 
For my second move...
About to put it down...
<Little eyes watching and waiting>
Nearly there....
[BEEP][BEEP][BEEP][BEEP][BEEP][BEEP][BEEP]
OOOOO! Bad luck, you’re thirty minutes are up
Game discounted, the bell has been rung, last orders
<Boy8 weeps off>
<Miss5 arrives>
So Miss5... you've got one thousand and eight hundred seconds of my time
Make it count!
<Miss5 starts laying squares of fabric around the room>

(Oh no! I keep drinking my having to pieces! CHEERS! I mean… Your go... Hic <Grins>)



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