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!).

24 May 2017

Packing With Boy9 (Not Guns)...

Packing is hard.
It's an annoying job most of the time. Requires thinking things through (urhg) and planning ahead (urghghghgh).
<Flicks keyboard> <Hurts finger>
But it's even harder when the packie (Boy9) that you're doing everything for helping doesn't actually want to get involved.

Boy9 was off on an overnight hike.
They would be hiking 5 miles (oooo) and then coming back to a hall. Erecting <Giggles> tents, fish and chip supper, and then lots of not going to sleep all night. Brilliant.
Oh and probably a huge camp fire and some slightly naughty sing-songs. You know the ones with squishing things, and spaghetti everywhere and she was only a girl from Dunkirk but for a curly wurly she'd lift up her....
Great fun.
I'd go if they let me not do the walking bit.

Miss6 and Mrs. Amazing also have a thing to attend.
Team Parent (yay!) have planned to go to Miss6's thingy and then nip over the road to drop off Boy9, then back to Miss6's thingy. Brilliant.
However Miss6 and Mrs. Amazing have a flower display to make. Quickly.
So they are engaged in that.
Which leaves me to help Boy9 get everything packed, for one night away, in less than two hours. Without me stuffing his head in his sleeping bag any conflict or upset feelings. Omm.
And of course BabyBoy2 is running between the two groups trying to get someone to play with him...

BabyBoy2: <Drops lots of toy cars in front of me>
Sorry Dude... We've gotta get Boy9 packed.
Boy9: <Instantly starts playing with BabyBoy2>
No! You've got to pack! You leave in less than two hours...
Boy9: <Gives me a grumpy look>
BabyBoy2 please go play with your Lego in your room.
<Saddest little, bottom lip wobbling, face stomps off, arms full of cars>
<Feels like the meanest evilest person ever> <It passes quickly>

(... and that’s the not-allowed list…)

I have a list.
They have given us a kit list. Brilliant. And it's sensible. It says no expensive stuff. Great. No Sweets. Mine. Good.
Basically it says: Bring the stuff you need. And don't bring all this other stuff, in detail, that causes fights or they always lose.
I like their kit lists.
It occurs to me I am normally the Team Parent (yay!) elected official to help Boy9 pack. Which could well be because of my skills, abilities and general awesomeness for the job. Or it could be that Boy9 makes this no fun whatsoever a little less than fun, and Mrs. Amazing keeps dodging a bullet.
It's hard to say because Mrs. Amazing will read this.

I tell Boy9 to dress in his hiking clothes.
Plastic trousers. Warm top. No jeans.
The list says very clearly no jeans. They get wet and stay wet. No jeans.
The plasticy trousers we have for Boy9 are designed for this activity. This night. This moment. Thousands of pounds of development went into designing trousers for a nine year old to wear on a hike. The results of which are...
the trousers I asking Boy9 to put on...

<Choir voice>Ahhh ahhhh ahhhh <Hands trousers to Boy, with slight reverence>
Boy9: ‘Can't I wear my jeans?’
No. It says no jeans <Points to the kit list, both places, where it says no jeans>
<Boy9 studies the hiking trousers for a moment>
Boy9: 'They're too cold. I'll wear my jeans'
No jeans <Breathes>

We have a circular discussion about his trousers for a while.
Me using logic, reason, advice, care, and a lot patience. Boy9 the opposite....
<Breaths and rubs face>
We discuss some more and Boy9 is getting annoyed. Which Mrs. Amazing hears from Miss6's room, and suggests Boy9 wear his footy under trousers. So he won't be cold. Good compromise. I am happy.
Boy9 agrees.

Twenty minutes have passed. We still have nothing ready to pack. Boy9 is still in pyjamas.
And pyjamas are the first thing on the list, of thirty. And he is actually wearing them.
We've an hour forty to pack one nine year old, for one night, for a hike.
It's going to be bloody tight.

BabyBoy2 comes back in.
Bored. I suggest he plays with his wooden trains. He's up for that. But I have to go get them down for him. Fine.
I pass Boy9 the list and tell ask tell him to carry on without me. Remove the jammies and put on the hiking trousers. I'll be right back.
Of course I have to get BabyBoy2 going with his track. So actually it's ten minutes.
I rush back to Boy9 to see what he's done in that time.

Still in jammies.
I manage my anger. File it away for another day. Save it for the Beiber forums.
I have already told myself that we are going to do this packing. And I am not going to get cross with Boy9.
Not once.
[Mission impossible music starts playing]
Boy9 needs support at the moment for stuff unrelated to packing. He does not need me coming down on him like a ton of heat seeking bricks (they exist). My calmness surprises him.
I am not cross. I am calm and steady.
It confuses Boy9.
I point at what he needs to get, what I am off into the loft to get, and he heads off to get it.
+10 calm points to me.

(<Weeps uncontrollably>
<Mutters something about costume malfunction>)

A few minutes later.
We meet back in his room. He is now wearing his footy under trousers and the hiking trousers. Yay!
And not jammies. I smell test then and gag and put them in the packing pile.
I've come back with stuff from the loft. That goes in the packing pile too.
We repeat this until the list is done.
At one point. I have to sit him down and ask, rhetorically, why he thinks me helping him pack means he does nothing, and why is he lying on the floor, when he should be packing?
But he takes that well.
He even heads off to wash his plate and cutlery.

As we get to the end of the list.
It becomes painfully obvious he needs the big hold-all from the loft. Which I had failed to bring down last time. Muttering. I climb back up, battle the spiders away, and get the hold-all.
Then before we actually pack. I remember his hay fever tablets and head off to get them.

When I get back Boy9 has packed.
What? Hang on!
I'm glad he did something helpful. I am.
But also I really wanted to check things off the list as we packed. As I am sure I got pretty muddled half way through, and I've missed a few things.
Still I don't want to undo his packing. Laziness For his sake. So as I call out stuff on the list. He points to where it is in the bag.
That's a lot of trust from me. He could have filled the whole bag with comics for all I know.
It goes well and I am believing him until we get to suntan lotion. When Boy9 pauses and then smiles. I am confused.
Boy9 opens a draw by his bed and pulls out the suntan lotion. And packs it.
You see why I wanted to check stuff off the list and visually see it go in the bag?
At least he owned up.
I say nothing.

Then we are all off into the car.
Flower display ready. Apparently the theme was misread. But it looks cracking anyway. Miss6 is very pleased with it.
BabyBoy2 has his rucksack with him, because he likes it.
And all of Boy9's stuff is in the boot. I put it there myself.
We park up where we are going to drop Boy9 off. And are about to head off to Miss6's thingy.
When I notice what is on his legs…

(I FEEL… and I think it goes without saying…
<Gives angry look>
That Hulk-buster legs are inappropriate for a hike…
...School is fine...)

Where are your Hiking trousers?
Boy9: <Looks like a rabbit caught in headlights>
Are you JUST wearing the footy under trousers??? ??? ???? ????
Are you joking me!!!
(Not the greatest line I know, but I was managing a lot of ‘feelings’ at that moment)
<Starts headbutting the car>

I close the door and breath.
More breathing. I elect to drive Boy9 back and get the trousers. Mrs. Amazing, Miss6 and BabyBoy2 head off to Miss6's thingy. The hike organiser arrives and wants to chat.
I remove my embedded head from the car and pull myself together for adult talking.
We chat. We talk about suitable trousers. We make sure Boy9 hears.
The organiser gets what is going on, and helpfully leans into the car and says that under trousers are a no no for hiking. Doesn't Boy9 have any plastic hiking trousers?
I nearly hug him. Excellent non-parent backup.
Thank you.

The journey back home is in silence.
No rocking tunes. I am working out what to say to Boy9. I am furious.
I keep thinking all the way to the house. About what I want to say. How to say it and what effect I want.
When we get to the house with thirty minutes left before the hike leaves.
Boy9 heads upstairs and starts playing Scalextric. I can hear it from downstairs.
It is definitely not the sound of someone putting on trousers quickly.
Those sounds are quite different.

I have a lot of options.
Go ballistic at him. Shout. Nag. Grump. Poke him in the ribs. Eat his Lego. Lots.
But I choose calm town and, I think, make the right choice.
The natural consequences choice: If he takes too long, they will go without him.
It's now Boy9's choice.
So I head off to the kitchen and make myself a sandwich. I'm starving.
And then sit on the sofa and play games on my phone.
And just wait.

Eventually Boy9 comes down.
Hiking trousers on. Scowl on his face. Beaten and he knows it, by a master tactician.
And very much unhappy about it.
I try to talk to him about it. But he argues and is rude, and I've had enough.
Talking is stopped.
Instead I tell Boy9 what I expect to happen.
1. I expect an apology. So does Miss6 and Mrs. Amazing. BabyBoy2 cares not.
2. That scowl needs to disappear.

(Now go apologise to the other athlete…
…shake hands…
...and hug…
...now Tango!... Argentine!)

By the time he's dropped off for the hike.
With only ten minutes to spare. All apologies have been given. The scowl has been removed and Boy9 is definately trying to make some slight amends.
Albeit a bit grumpily and reluctantly. Still he is trying.
Before Boy9 leaves he gets the crap hugged out of him by everyone, and he's off.
Hopefully to have lots of fun.

And Team Parent (yay!) now just get to wait.
And see what mood Boy9 is in after a night of hiking, not sleeping, hanging with his mates, being rude, growing up, having fun.
Totes looking forward to picking him up!

15 May 2017

Bed-Returning Mute Robot...

Babyboy2 has finally realised he can get out of bed.
Yes I know it sounds obvious to you. Just fall out.
There's nothing stopping him. No barriers. Nothing.
I just hadn't occurred to his wonderful little brain to do so.

Somehow we have managed to convince BabyBoy2.
That once you're in bed that is where you stay. I know amazing right!
It's been lovely and thank you BabyBoy2 for the few months it has been like this.
Of course it has now stopped.
And BabyBoy2 is a terror at bedtime.

(BabyBoy2: ‘If only there was some way to escape this thing…
I could run about in the dark upstairs for hours, not sleeping!’)

To be fair BabyBoy2 is not great at staying in bed in the morning.
A huge three days it took before he was getting up early and coming to find us in the morning. Which is fair enough as the sun is up. Sun up, baby up.
He is always so excited to see us at the start of a new day. It’s hella cute.
Us not so much.
It’s...It’s only <Eyes starting to focus> … It’s 4:45am! Urghhhh
Normal has a load of toys with him.
Ready to play.
Owwww! My face!!!

Whilst we may have done well with BabyBoy2.
It was not so good with Boy9 and Miss6. In fact with Boy9 we were rubbish.
Running to check him on the slightest noise. Sitting in his room. Sitting outside of his door for decades waiting for the smegger little angel to fall asleep. Hours and hours of waiting for someone to sleep. Creeping about like mice. Getting water. Warming teddies. Story after story.
Seeesh. <Shakes head at us>
If we only knew then what we know now.

We were better with Miss6.
A bit. But not amazing. She did always seem to need a teddy bear that was missing, and I'd spend ages hunting for the ted only to find it in her bed...

I've... I've failed you... <Looks sad about it...>
I looked everywhere...
<Tucks Miss2 in>
<Finds teddy in her hands>
... <Leaves room>
[Swearing noises]

The difference for Babyboy2.
Is that Team Parent (yay!) are already busy putting the other two to bed (after BabyBoy2).
So Babyboy2 isn't technically ignored. We can hear him. We're just busy. So until now he went with it. And slept.
<Team Parent (yay!) high five>

Or, much like Miss6 used to.
BabyBoy2 lays in bed, singing and talking away for a while. And then crash out.
All very, very cute and adorable. I've got it recorded somewhere. Which I won't share as it's a video of a door and you can just about hear BabyBoy2 nattering away to himself.
And whilst no one else will care about that video.
To me it's hilarious priceless.

Team Parent (yay!) are determined.
Utterly determined not spend the next two years watching someone that doesn't want to sleep, go to sleep. Or fight them back into bed over and over and over. Or spend the evening running various bits and bobs up to a small terror.
Until now it has not been a problem. But after mere two nights of BabyBoy2 not staying in his bed. A two hour fun pacted bedtime. Team Parent (yay!) called a snap election meeting.
The thrust of which was - ‘Uh uh. No way. He's staying in bed’

The plan is simple.
Low engagement. Which is lucky as my ignoring low engagement skills are pretty tuned up at the moment...

Boy9: 'I can't sleep I'm too hot'
<Glances up, but quickly goes back to tele> Remove your blankets and take off your socks, and top... and that fur coat...
Miss6: 'I can't sleep it's too bright'
<Doesn't glance up> Close your eyes when you are in bed...
Boy9: 'My rooms in fire'
<Says nothing> <Passes cup of water> <Sees doctor in the morning>
Miss6: 'I think the house is about to explode'
<Puts in earplugs>

So a Team Parent (yay!) plan / pact has been made.
BabyBoy2 is to be put to bed. All happy and fun. Lovely stories. Giggles. Cuddles. Kisses.
Sweet lovely time with our baby boy.
But once the door is shut.
Once the official bed time period is over...

No talking.
Little eye contact.
Back in bed.
Sheets on.
Leave room.
Shut door.

Because there is only one way to win the stay in bed game.
Be the one that wants to go to sleep. And I win that every time.
But if your competitor is a two year old, that just loves opening doors and running back to bed, it's a lot harder to get the win.
For me there is only one way that works. Every Most of the time.
Become a Bed-Returning Mute Robot.

(Mrs. Amazing: ‘Keep BabyBoy2 safe… and in bed… ‘
Beep beep Ooo-ooooo!!!
Mrs. Amazing: ‘My hair looks like whos?
Mrs. Amazing: ‘... Who?’

These are my Bed-Returning Mute Robot rules (for me) (for reference) (that I forget most of the time):

1. Do the same thing over and over.
Make sure you expect a different outcome each time. Really. Aim for madness.
I go for:
Push Encourage back to bed.
Sheets over. Ignore if they are kicked off.
Leave. Give nothing.
Shut door.

And No deviation. Bore him to sleep.

2. No talking.
Not even a 'night dude'. I am a mute robot.
Although should a bad smell be in the room. Then I may have to enquire about poo and the nappy situation. But that's really it.
If I can answer with a point or just by passing something. I do that.
You know that scene in ‘Friends’ where Ross is playing poker and he says 'Once the cards are dealt...'. Early Friends.
Well the same with bedtime. ‘Once it's bedtime…’

3. I must not sit in the room. Ever.
It always starts with a few mins here. There. Then a week later I’m sat on the floor for four hours, finished Candy Crush, again. And I’ve read the entire internet.
And am now late for bed myself.

4. No eye contact.
Not avoiding eye contact. That would be mean.
But I don't stare into those beautiful blue eyes. Don't get lost in those Disney eyes. They are magic. And bewitching.
Pretend you are putting to bed Miss6 Kaa from Jungle book.


5. Be unpredictable.
When BabyBoy2 slowly opens his door and peers out. I am in a different place each time.
Halfway down the stairs. To the left of his door. To the right.
Lurking in the bathroom. Sprawled out on my bed weeping. On top of the cupboard. In the pub with a video hook up, BABYBOY2 THIS IS YOUR FATHER...
Each time I leave the room. I stand / rest somewhere different.
I mix it up.

6. Have something to do.
For me that's my phone. Games. Things to write (this in fact). As minutes become hours and I've put BabyBoy2 back to bed for the seven hundred time. Having something to fill the time in-between is essential. Mrs. Amazing tends to have a book with her.
Boredom can cause me to short circuit with anger.

7. React with different speeds.
This totally seems to throw him off track.
Sometimes I am there at the door as it opens. Ready to coax him back to bed.
Other times I finish my game. Write a bit. Finish my tea. Then spring into action.
I am a Bed-Returning Mute Robot Ninja and amusing myself.

8. Accept the game you are playing for what it is.
It is a game of attrition. No fun. Repetition. I am trying to make this the boring game ever. As BabyBoy2 clearly thinks this is a game.
And there is no way he’s winning.
I’ve a rep to protect (I have not).

And after a few hours of this. Nightly.
You too can feel like a Bed-Returning Mute Robot.
Beep beep booooop (*‘In your face Good luck!’)

Want new Tales send to your inbox? (You do).