#DFictionL or The Magazine

So I’ve seen that the wonderfully talented Sam Coleman of dustandlove.com is running a competition to showcase storytelling, with the theme of parenting, in under 300 words. There’s a crazy part of my brain that likes the idea of using this to relaunch my blog and remind myself that I can write. Hopefully people will read this and think that I can write well!

Anyway… Read, enjoy and I’ll let you know if I win. Much love to you all for reading.

 

 

He considered the meagre amount of change in his hand before examining the magazine again. It was remarkably thin and lacking in content, the majority of the price presumably taken for the “free gift” selotaped to the front cover.

He glanced down to see his daughter looking up at him, her eyes imploring him to buy it for her. He saw the shelves of magazines then through her eyes, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of wonders with small plastic treasures glinting out from the front of every brightly coloured cover. He sighed and dropped the magazine into the basket before returning the pack of mince to the fridges, resigning himself to beans on toast for dinner again.

He would never deny his daughter her heart’s desire, no matter how cheap and tacky it might be.

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In the midnight hour

How do ill children expect their parents to sleep? Oh, sorry, my mistake. They couldn’t care less if we do!

Now don’t get me wrong I have nothing but sympathy and pity for the little darlings when they’re under the weather. I’m sat here listening to the harsh cough and laboured breathing of my daughter as I type and I would give anything to make her feel better. I’d even take all the germs and make them my own, and I really hate being ill. I despise being ill. I’ve had more than my fair share of illness and it’s a trigger for my depression, so when I say I’d be ill in their place I mean in seriously.

However, my unending love for my children can be tested by their behavior when ill.

I’m sat on the sofa typing because I’m sleeping on the sofa tonight. Why? Because the kids are ill, that’s why! If I was to sleep in bed then my daughter’s fevered sleep ranting would disturb my son who’s also ill (and the lightest sleeper in the world) and my wife. So on nights like this we divide and conquer. Or at least divide…

Last night the boy kept my wife awake by coughing himself conscious at various points, whilst the girl attempted the same, with the added bonus of demanding a drink to ease her suffering at 3am and 5am. They then wanted to be up and watching Charlie and Lola at 6.15. I’m fairly certain the adults aren’t winning here…

The worst part of this is that the kids expect our sympathy and for us to meet their every need and whim whilst they’re sick. I can guarantee that when this bug finally catches up with us grown ups, we won’t be waited on hand and foot, and sure as hell no ones gonna cut us any slack!

Anyway, there’s a lull in the throaty snoring from my daughter’s room. I must try and sleep while I can so I can be awake enough to operate the Sky remote in a few short hours and kick off the morning’s CBeebies marathon in style. Sleep well dear reader.

My first memories

Yesterday a Twitter friend asked what people’s first memories were and my answer was simple, but too complex to explain in 140 characters. My first memories are of my dad; Of being scared by my dad.

My parents divorced when I was about 3 years old so I don’t really remember living with my dad. I can’t tell you if it was a happy time, if he played with me and my older brother, if we went for walks, or went to the park. I simply don’t recall that part of my life. All I have are two small fragments of that time. Two tiny moments of my past. Neither of them happy.

My first memory is of walking with my dad and my brother to his preschool/nursery and being given an old five pence piece to put into one of those toy dispensers that look like giant gumball machines. I can remember turning the handle and the plastic ball that held the toy dropping to the ground and rolling away. I chased it and retrieved the ball from the gutter it had settled in, opening it to find a hopping frog inside. Pleased with my new toy, I turned to show it to my father only to see an empty pavement behind me. I remember running round the corner with tears filling my eyes and seeing another empty street. I ran towards the next corner hoping they’d be there, only to have them leap out at me shouting “boo!”. I can remember them both laughing at their joke, but I can’t remember their reactions to me bawling my eyes out thinking I’d been abandoned.

My other early memory is of sitting alone in the front room of the house we lived in before my parents split. I was playing with my army men, standing them on the table in front of me, preparing them to battle, when all of a sudden the lights went out. This is a scary enough occurrence for a small child, the sudden darkness, being alone, but what happened next left me terrified. I heard a wailing and moaning coming from the doorway and looking up I saw an evil grin and fiery eyes moving toward me. I screamed and heard the laughter of my father and my brother, and as they turned the lights back on I saw the jack o’lantern in my father’s hands.

So there you have it. My two earliest memories. Not good ones, not nice ones, but the only ones I have of life with my father as part of the family.

I suppose that these memories stand out because they evoked such strong emotions at the time. I just wonder how much they’ve influenced my relationship with my dad. We’re not estranged by any means, but we’re not particularly close. It occurs to me whilst writing this that it’s been months since I talked to him. Is it because of the memories I have? Maybe we were close when I was little, when we lived together, but I can’t remember missing him after we moved away. All I remember is being scared by him.

Love, hate and CBeebies

CBeebies is a godsend. Truly it is. I don’t know how parents coped before its invention!

When I was a child I had to find other ways of amusing myself in the mornings, and as we all know the imagination of a child is a dangerous thing. The lack of CBeebies led to me sledging down the stairs on a mattress, jumping off the shed roof, scaling the back wall of the house, seeing how many sweeteners I could put in a pint of milk, picking all the woodchip off the wallpaper, and many other crimes of youth. The only reason my mum doesn’t have grey hair is due to her hairdresser.

CBeebies saves me from having to live through such incidents. I can stick the tv on in the morning and be fairly sure that the kids won’t be requiring surgery by lunchtime. They can watch it, sing along, show me show me their groovy moves, and most importantly, leave daddy to sit in peace on the sofa. Bliss.

However, I’ve spent far too long watching it and I now have a huge list of complaints about the programs I’m forced to watch. Where to begin…

The cloudbabies. Child labour in unsafe working conditions. They’re babies who fly horses around the sky and touch the sun. Where are the H&S procedures? No riding gear, no hard hats, no nomex fireproof suits, no bloody parents taking care of them!

Bob the builder. He’s gotta be cutting corners on his builds. Everything’s built in a day! Windmill: day. Solar power plant: day. Nuclear launch facility: day. How does he manage it? Not with the help of his possessed machinery that’s for sure! They couldn’t build a Lego house without setting it on fire! And what happened between Bob and Wendy? They used to be so close, now they barely talk. What went wrong? Did she walk in on him with lofty? Was she getting some from spud? I need to know!

The rhyme rocket. What an awful bunch of wankers. I’d rather listen to Bon Jovi than share a spaceship with them and I loathe Bon Jovi with a vengeance. Their entire mission seems to be to collect rhymes to power their ship, which they will then use up to return home and then have to set off again and repeat. What’s the fucking point?!? The only reasonable answer that occurs is that they’re so annoying their home planet has sent them to complete a mission that will never end in order that they never need be seen again!

Mister maker. Dude, how much coke are you on? Your eyes are bloodshot and your hyperactivity levels are off the chart! Oh and your makes look like shit. Neil Buchanan you ain’t.

Justin Fletcher. A man with a finger in every pie. Is there an hour when he doesn’t appear on CBeebies? He’s everywhere! Something special is a very worthy program, don’t get me wrong, but do we need so many versions of it? Really? And gigglebiz has to be the most unfunny show ever made! And yes, I include Miranda in that. Oh, and if you offer to show me your tiny tumble again I’ll chop it off. You’ve been warned.

Mike the knight. Trainee knight? You’re a fucking squire you posh twat, there’s no such thing as a trainee knight. He’s a jumped up, self important little git who’s only in that position because of who his parents are. This is why nepotism is a bad thing people!

I could go on, but I fear you all stopped reading in the second paragraph. It’s ok, I’m used to talking to myself, I have kids who watch CBeebies! Oh CBeebies, how I love you and the rage inducing peace you bring me…

The first twist…

Today my daughter made me feel awesome.

My wife picked her up from preschool and when they got home she came running in to find me, leapt up onto me and gave me a kiss and a hug. As she’s halfway through her “threenager” stage, this was lovely and unexpected. I usually have to bargain for kisses. It’s not unusual to hear me say “yes you can have another Octonauts on, but daddy needs a kiss first”.

I then get the lowdown on the happenings at preschool; “yes I had fun”, “they had sand in the tray today”, “there were jigsaws daddy! Jigsaws!”. Then my wife let’s me know what the teacher said to her. This could be bad…

The last time my wife was talked to by the teacher was because DD had corrected the teachers when they sang nursery rhymes. The teachers sang their way merrily through ‘Mary had a little lamb’ only to be told “you missed the bit where she eats him”. Arse. I’d taken to singing alternative versions of nursery rhymes as it livened up dull car journeys and I’d forgotten one of the golden rules of parenting:

If you say something, your children will hear it. If your children hear something, they will remember it. If they remember it, they will repeat it at the most inappropriate moment possible.

So there I am, waiting to hear which splendid nugget of my wisdom she’s shared this time, when I get a surprise. “DD had pancakes as her snack today. She told the teachers that they were nice, but not as nice as yours.”

She got pancakes and chocolate sauce for lunch as her reward for such high praise.

Could this be topped? Oh yes. After all, don’t these things come in threes?

During our usual afternoon playfood picnic extravaganza, I sat on the sofa watching both children playing, enjoying one of the precious moments when no one was crying or fighting, when DD strolled casually over to me. She hugged up to me, looked up at me and said “you’re my best friend daddy”. My heart melted right there and had she asked for one, I’d have sold a kidney to buy her a pony.

So there it is. I’ve had a fantastic day and my beautiful daughter has made me feel like the best dad in the world! And I’ve also felt the first twist around her little finger.

I’m doomed.

The SAHD blues


I stay home with my children,
I love them very much,
But with reality,
I think I’m losing touch!

Oh yeah!
I got them stay at home dad blues.

My identity changes,
From day to day,
Today I’m an octonaut,
I was a dog yesterday!

Oh yeah!
I got them stay at home dad blues.

Been watching cbeebies,
for far too long,
I watch all the programmes,
And I know all the songs!

Oh yeah!
I got them stay at home dad blues.

There’s playdoh in the carpet,
Pink yellow gold and blue,
There’s a funky smell in the air,
It’s a nappy full of poo!

Oh yeah!
I got them stay at home dad blues.

Found a book in the toilet,
Found toast in my bed,
Found bags under my eyes,
Found no hair on my head!

Oh yeah!
I got them stay at home dad blues.

Got homicidal intentions,
Toward manufacturers of toys,
Why the hell do they all need,
To make so much damn noise!

Oh yeah!
I got them stay at home dad bluuuuuueeeeessssss!!!