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!).

21 May 2018

Out of Time...

I so want to be a good Dad.
<Crosses fingers>
And be there for all three of them. In their lives. Connected.
Some days I feel I do this.
And others... Well other days I fail and that sucks.

This week.
Team Parents (yay!) main focus has been on Boy10. As he is sitting his Key Stage 2 SATs tests (exams) whilst being whipped by the education flail of pigeonholing and self esteem destruction.
And I've upped my game and attention on him.
Before he left for school I picked him up, and balanced him on my shoulder.
Then spun him round and round really fast, pretending that his head was gonna smack on a wall (it wasn't). And for good measure I did a few huge little jumps with him over my shoulder.
Classic Dad stuff. That is like crack to Boy10. And relieves any tension in him through fun and laughter. My special powers skills.
Then when I got home from work on his first day of exams. I told to him grab a ball and we headed off to a field to practice catches for ten minutes.
Boy10 loved that.

(Michael: “I sat there looking ugly, looking ugly and mean
I knew what you were saying, You were saying to me…”
(treat your ears here: Me In Honey))

As for Miss6 and BabyBoy3 that day.
Well BabyBoy3, the utter little delight that he is, had me up at 5am. Joy.
And after an hour of returning him to bed, despite him being utterly, utterly awake, and finding the whole process hilarious.
I gave up and we went downstairs, as quiet as mice, to watch cartoons.
At least that was the plan...

I give up! Come on then... Let's go watch cartoons...
But we have to very very very VERY quiet. Boy10 needs his sleep...
BabyBoy3: 'OK DADDY!'
BabyBoy3: 'SHHHHHHH!'
BabyBoy3: <Covers little mouth with hand>
Better... Let's go...
Maybe you should just walk down the stairs...
BabyBoy3: 'OK DADDY!'
BabyBoy3: 'SHHHHHHH!'

And as for Miss6.
Well that morning of the week is ours. It’s the one day everyone else naffs off.
And we get a full thirty minutes in the house together.

What do you want to play?
Miss6: 'Game of Life?'
Boy10's 'Game of Life'?
Miss6: <Nods>
It's fine, just wanted to make sure you knew...
We've only thirty minutes, you gotta be utterly, UTTERLY, ready before we start?
Miss6: <Nods and runs off to get ready>
[Thirty minutes later]
Let’s go then… Hang on! <Notice’s Miss6 is in jammies for the first time>
[Lots of running about]
[Both are late]

So yesterday win!
Full sweep. Every child got some focused Dad attention. I even found time to sit and watch tele with Mrs. Amazing.
Whilst eating. Planning out our lives over the next few weeks.
A brief hour of time with all children in bed, when neither of us are too tired to talk, and are not actually sleeping.
Special moments.

But today.
Well I thought it was going well.
To add spice to Boy10's leaving for school rough play: I chased him full pelt through the house. Shoes on and all.
Ending up with me bundling on him on a bed. Boy10 giggling away.
Job well done I felt. Although there were was one scary moment when I rounded a corner at top speed and my not-quite-twenty <Coughs a lot> frame nearly didn't manage to turn in time. Before a wall. But I soon shrugged off that pain.
<Weeps and limps off>

(Boy10: 'Are you OK DAD?'
<Whimpering sounds>)

I spent some good time with Miss6.
As we, and BabyBoy3, scooted into school. It wasn't great time for BabyBoy3 as he was crying and wailing most of the way. Because he wasn't in the lead.
As Miss6 wasn’t letting him be in the lead. She kept scampering to the front. Much to BabyBoy3’s annoyance. And continual tears.
I'm afraid I wasn't very sympathetic as he was making us all late. Well except him, nursery don't care when he rocks up. We pay them a lot.
But my boss and Miss6’s school very much do care.

It wasn’t all bad for BabyBoy3 though.
As we arrived at nursery he smelt crumpets in the air. Which cheered him considerably. Second, and possibly third breakfast can have that effect.
I like hot crumpets too.

Then I missed another chance to spend time with BabyBoy3 at lunch.
My parents were at my place looking after him and I only had an hour for lunch.
And it's such a treat to see both my parents, and to chat to them both.
And they won't be here forever...

<Checks watch> Another cuppa?
Parents: 'Isn't it a bit late for caffeine'
YES! FAR TOO LATE. Especially when you have young children. This time of night is basically the morning for ...
Parents: 'Go on then...'
<Mutters off to make cuppa>

So sadly once again BabyBoy3 was sidelined.
I hate having to make that kind of decision. But I only see my parents for an hour a week.
And to be fair BabyBoy3's around a lot more than that...
But then his need for my time is greater…. ARGHGHGHH!
Why is there no answer for this!!!
Anyway, moment with him not taken.

Then we were onto the evening.
Miss6 had already mentioned that she was looking forward to story time with me.
Which is nice. Although she only seems to say that on the one night a week I go out.
My night. My one evening a week to myself, that I prioritise above everything else. Ish.
Learning to be a ninja classes.
Being able to sing full volume in the car for the hour it takes me to drive. Is worth it alone.
Being able to punch and kick the crap out of a bag and sometimes people, whilst waving swords and sticks about, WHILST learning how to be ninja...
Frankly how could I not go.

(Scale 1:1)

Still it makes the evening tight (time wise).
Especially as Boy10 still needed to be taken out to play ball or something.
Boy10 gets his time with me outside. He is calmed.
Miss6 gets a whopping twenty minutes of my time before I leave. In which I make sure I am extra funny. Extra caring.
And I let her jump on my tummy and squish me an extra time.
Then I'm off to ninja training.

By the time I've got back.
Washed. Calmed down. Eaten something. It's generally close to midnight.
Which is so unbelievably late going to bed in our 5am starts lifestyle. It's a wonder I can still move.

As I crawl into bed.
Body half broken from class. Hella tired out. And tummy full of crisps pasta and salad.
I'm feeling pretty good about how I've spread my time with everyone today.
Been good son. CHECK.
Been good Dad. CHECK.
Went to work, didn't get fired. CHECK.
Made self healthier and learnt new killing methods. CHECK.
Phoned at least one brother. CHECK!
Yep, nailing it!

But then, just as sleep has nearly scooped me in her lovely arms and whispered naughty things my ear. Mrs. Amazing wonders to me if BabyBoy3 will be feeling better tomorrow...

... What?
Mrs. Amazing: 'He's been poorly all day, I wonder if he'll be OK tomorrow for nursery?'
I... I didn't know he was poorly... Crap...
<Is attacked and eaten by guilt monster>

I obviously don't sleep for a bit.
However an hour later. I've worked out a few things:
1. I should have noticed BabyBoy3 was poorly. Bugger.
2. Three kids is hard. Harder than it appeared when BabyBoy3 first turned up. Being outnumbered is exhausting.
3. The Cat is a git. Because he didn't really want to come in, but is now being a smegger downstairs and I'll have to go let him out.
4. I do not have enough time to give everyone the time and attention I want to. Or they need.

I can change 1) & 3) and make sure they don't happen again.
I can't change 2). I can just rest more. Somehow.
And 4) well...

That's the whole point of this tale.
I don't have enough time for them all. I don't. There's three of them.
Me and Mrs. Amazing barely scrape together a hour a day together.
And I certainly don't have enough time for all the things I want to do. Which always seem to be last in priority. But that's OK.
Really. It's OK...

Brainzilla: 'It's not OK you know?'
Shhhh it is...
Brainzilla: 'But our dreams? Our plans?'
Can wait. Or have changed...
Brainzilla: 'BOLL-'
Hey, hey, keep it clean please!
Brainzilla: 'OCKS!'

It is OK.
Because this mad, busy to the eyeballs, no sleep, life, will pass. It'll change. Stuff always does. At some point I'll / we'll have a chance to catch up. Hopefully.
And if not? Well at least I tried my best and had as much fun as possible along the way…

<Kids all assemble>
Nerf war? Water fight? Or just a bundle on the sofa here? <Points to sofa>
[Intense kids discussion]
<Is dragged onto sofa>
<Is shot at, soaked and jumped on>
<Is happy>

(OK let’s have a water pist….
<Mutters>… Mine’s tiny compared to that…)

10 May 2018


It's one little word (OK it's an acronym - standardised assessment tasks). And yet it can strike fear into lots people.
The young. Especially UK children in Key Stage 1 (7 ish) & Key Stage 2 (11 ish).
And adults. Teachers. Head teachers. TA's. And parents.

Team Parent (yay!)
Have the questionable good fortune or having both Boy10 and Miss7 sitting there SATs pretty much at the same.
Different schools and all that. Different Key stages blah blah.
But both around the same time.

(OK Vegeta you've made your point...
<Is charging power levels>
Elegant as it is, now hear my rebuttal...
<Orders new black board>)

There's very little stress around Miss7's.
They're call them quizzes not exams/tests. No one says the S word around them. They were told they are VIPs so that if they need a wee an adults comes with them, like celebrities.
Sweet huh.
Then they have a big play afterwards and do something special with the children.
Good for them. Good for the school. Good for the teachers.
That makes me glad. It feels a shame to be testing seven year old's so young in their academic careers.
But if they must, they must...

Come on! Off the computer!
Boy10: 'Two minutes more?'
No, now!
Boy10: 'But I need to do this...'
Not need, you mean want. You want to do something in the game.
Whereas I am telling you not to, and asking you nicely to ... OH NO! GET THAT GUY! YEAH HIM!
<We spend some lovely father son time together... killing stuff>

I'm not entirely sure Miss7 knows.
She is sitting SATs at all. She may. But it's not worth the conversation to find out if she is.
I don't remember my SATs. BigBrother#2 says that is because I never sat them. Which is probably right.
It was an awful long time ago. Paleolithic at least.
Yet I do remember some variety of government run tests that we all sat. In class. In silence. When I was about seven.
But who cares. It's in the past. It doesn't matter!
<Hits you over the head with a staff>
And at the time I do remember not caring whatsoever, as they said we would never see the results.
So why worry?

However for Boy10.
It's a totally different game. It's the difference between touch rugby at school, and over twenty one's local drunken rugby.
One is kind and caring and respectful about each player on the pitch, and just wants the best for all in involved.
The other... well we all expect injuries.
And Boy10 may well be one of those that gets mullered to the floor and has studded boots applied to his face in the name of national testing.
Quite a picture I'm painting I know...

Are you done yet? <Is sat as a still life (fully clothed) model, with cuppa>
Miss7: 'Nearly' <Is painting>
It's been ages... I've a numb bum... <Sips on tea>
Miss7: 'DON'T MOVE!'
<Sips and gives Miss7 a look>
Miss7: 'Just be cool... .I am nearly finished...' <Huge enthusiastic brush strokes going on>
Miss7: '... nearly...' <Paint spraying everywhere>
Miss7: 'And done!'
Really? <Goes to get up, falls of chair> Ow.
<Gets up> Let's have a look then?
Miss7: 'TADA!' <Reveals her masterpiece>
Oh... You've painted a rainbow... A brilliant rainbow! It's brilliant!
Miss7: <Is proud>
One question though...
How long after you asked me to pose for you, did you give up on that and just paint a rainbow?
Miss7: 'Almost instantly'
I see...
<Limps off grumbling>

It's complex.
Why I think this may muller Boy10. It's to do with him as a person, how he reacts to things. What his personal values are. And his particular skills.
There's three key parts to his SATs: reading; Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling; and Mathematics.
And one of those he is rocking at. There is no worries at all.
The other two... er... well there's a difference.
And in many ways that's fine.

For Boy10 that is not fine. He likes being good at stuff. It's important to him.
I blame myself. That's very much how I am wired. It has benefits and pitfalls. Like most things.
So for Boy10, all of a sudden, he's being tested and the results are not expected. By him. By Team Parent (yay!) and his teachers.
And whilst all us adults think about what to do. What he could practice, how to move him forward.
Boy10's confidence in his skills is taking a knocking.
Quite a wallop actually.
Which isn't good.

I find it pretty frustrating.
Because I think these tests and results count for naff all to do with Boy10.
Whatever results he gets will be fed back to the teachers, the heads, the guv. And they will record the values and check the school is working as expected. Which all sounds quite reasonable.
Except that at some point Boy10 will given the results.
Or we'll be given the results and can decide for him. Which isn't much solution either. Hiding them sends the same negative message.
Does he really need to know?

In September.
When Boy10 starts secondary school. He will sit more tests. This time set by the school to find where he is in his learning. So the new school can put him into the right skills groups. Fair enough.
Apparently they will ignore the SATs results for everything (except the maths results which they will use).
So why test them twice? Tests are not fun.
<Looks at you quizzically>

I know.
There's good reasons why. Well I hope there are. I'm sure there are... <Isn’t all that sure>
But right now, for Team Parent (yay!), it's not quite adding up.
I'm sure they know what they are doing. I know for sure the teachers have his best interests in mind.
And weirdly knocks like this can sometimes make you stronger, and chase off demons.
So it may be a blessing in disguise.
But right now we've a Boy10 with anxiety.
And that's not good.

(Back foul demon BACK!
<Throws holly water>
It’s not working… OH NO! He's smiling!!!


Team Parent (yay!) have a plan.
We discussed. We decided. And made a plan of how best to support him.
We didn't totally agree on this. Which is fine. Mixed opinions can be best sometimes.
But we're going with loving support and huge encouragement. Which is hard to argue against as an approach.
Who doesn't want that?

I reckon we use the Convincing Hammer?
Mrs. Amazing: 'No. Love and support'
Coercion Pliers?
Mrs. Amazing: 'No! Love etc...'
Behaviour Altering Rake?
Mrs. Amazing: <Sighs> 'I'm going to bed, come up when you're done with the great jokes...'
Mind Manipulating Mallet? <Calls after Mrs. Amazing>
Screwdriver of Submission?
[Hours pass]
... er... Hole Punch of Practical Persuasion...

Knowing the plan is loving support.
I've done my best to talk to him about the SATs in a calm and supportive manner.
Never saying they matter for nothing, even if I think that, as that doesn't help. Boy10 still has to sit them.
I've done my best to remove failure as a result. Results are just results, you cannot fail.
We just want him to do his best.
(Baring in mind his best includes being prepared and ready for the tests, so he's had extra practice at home with Mrs. Amazing).

The other morning.
I asked him if his tests started today. He said yes.
Knowing it was my moment to lay the support, and love, on thick. I cooked him a warrior's breakfast: Bacon sarnie.
And generally pampered him. Laughed at his jokes, listened to endless computer game anecdotes. Basically flirted with him. Which is a weird thought.
And then just as he was about to leave for school I took my chance and went for the supportive pep talk.
I basically hugged / picked him up and told him I was proud of him. Talked him up a lot.
And did my utter best to be supportive of the SATs, for him.
A tough task for me in the morning.
Normally you just get grunts, or song.

Then Mrs. Amazing walked into the kitchen.
And pointed out the SATs didn't start for another week.
<Gives Boy10 a look>

Upon hearing this new information.
I rugby tackled Boy10 to the floor and squeezed a fair bit of air out of him.
There was much giggling from all.
Mrs. Amazing commented that the tackle would a better send off for his first day of SATs.
As it was tension breaking, fun, and close physical contact from his Dad.
Especially when you compared the positive benefits of a tackle, against my pep talk.
I concluded Mrs. Amazing had a point.
<Rubs hands ready to splat Boy10 properly next week>

In tribute for Boy10 who's just about to delve into the world of SATs.
I gave you a homeless man miming Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure with not one, but two Kermit frogs. Yes I know, what a cliché tribute.
To me the lyrics seem apt and seem to speak to me directly, 'Mm ba ba de' and 'Um bum ba de'. <Pauses to let them sink in>
Wise words I think you'll agree.
And everyone needs to see this man with Kermit puppets being awesome.

You'll be fine Boy10.
<Whispers we believe in you>
Mrs. Amazing: 'Why're you whispering?'
For drama... <Does Jazz hands>
Take it away you puppeteering genius...

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