Halloween

I’ve never really done the whole Halloween thing. Sure, as a kid I’d dress up and go to the school Halloween disco and dance the monster mash with 47 other vampires, but I didn’t go trick or treating. My family didn’t deck the house out with spiderwebs and rubber bats, nor did we have a bowl of sweets ready by the door to placate hordes of miniature zombies. I’ve never felt the need to do this as an adult either and my home remains undecorated.

However, I now find myself with a daughter in school and the knowledge that other children are talking about Halloween in reverent tones. I’m also aware that she takes notice of the colourful displays in the supermarkets that foist the principles of dressing up and scoffing candy upon us.

So far I’m getting away easy with just a request for a pumpkin that we can carve together. I enjoy crafting with DD so I’m happy to indulge this request, but I wonder how aware of the other aspects of Halloween she really is. The school don’t seem to be making a big deal of it so I might get away with it this year. She’s also rather distracted by the idea of bonfire night at the moment too, mostly because she knows that she’ll be staying up late with daddy.

So how do I deal with Halloween when she does take note of it? Do I get costumed up and throw myself into it with great gusto? Do I encourage her to ignore this vastly over-commercialised “holiday”? Do I encourage her to go begging for sweets door to door?

Why are the answers to these questions never in parenting manuals?

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#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.

Dadman begins

Tomorrow my daughter turns 4 and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone. I can still remember the day she was born clearly and how it felt to become a dad…

Insert flashback style wibbly wobbly remembering lines here

It was hot. Damn hot. Hot enough to boil a man inside his own suit. So I was glad when my wife started having contractions because I could avoid putting it on and stay home instead. Even going for a stroll in the midsummer sunshine in an attempt to speed things up was preferable to putting on a tie. Unfortunately the walk seemed to put a stop to the contractions. Arse. So on went the suit and tie, and off to work went I.

I did get to leave early though when the contractions started again during the afternoon, and I went home to check we had everything ready for the big moment.

We were both remarkably calm during the next few hours as we prepared for the hospital and timed contractions. It was only as they got stronger that we started to feel any stress. My wife has a spinal condition and it wasn’t coping well with the spasm inducing contractions that were jolting her back. Sitting on a gym ball with a TENS machine attached helped somewhat, but not much. At 2am we were ready to head to the hospital, for additional pain relief as much as delivering a baby! The taxi driver looked rather panicked when he realised that his shiny Mercedes was about to transport a woman in labour and he made my wife promise to keep her legs crossed for the next 15 minutes.

When we arrived at the maternity unit we were shown to a room and waited for the duty midwife to check my wife over. We were somewhat surprised that she was only 2cm dilated and nowhere near ready to give birth! Normally prospective parents in this situation would be sent home to wait, but the ward was quiet and the midwife told us to stay put and she’d check up on us in a couple of hours. At which point I fell asleep, sprawled across 2 mismatched plastic chairs for a couple of hours.

Note: falling asleep at this point does NOT endear you to your stressed, pained and unable to sleep wife…

When it was time we were moved down to the delivery ward and introduced to our midwife team. We had 2 midwives and a student in attendance that day, and an anesthetist who really didn’t want to be there. He took over an hour setting up the push button system for the painkillers my wife needed for her back, during which time she suffered painful spasms, jolting her spine with every contraction. I was glad when he left, I don’t think the NHS approves of expectant fathers punching their staff!

Now I’m not going to go into the gory details of the actual delivery except to say that when my daughter decided to put in an appearance, the midwife wasn’t quite ready for her. She had barely unwrapped the delivery pack and managed to put one latex glove on before DD slid out into the world, and had to catch her single handed before she went off the end of the bed! She was placed carefully onto my wife’s chest for skin-to-skin contact and wrapped gently to keep her warm. Sweaty, covered in blood, tears flowing, this was the most beautiful sight I had ever laid eyes on; my wife and my baby girl, holding each other, finally able to see the person they’d known so intimately for the previous 9 months. I got to cut the cord, welcoming our daughter to a new life, and severing the physical link that mum and baby had shared. Now it was time for her to be her own person.

I remember holding her for the first time, surprised by how small she was and how little she weighed. I talked to her as she looked up at me with her dark blue eyes, and I promised her that she would always be loved and looked after. I was overwhelmed with love for this tiny person, and four years later I still am. She may be bigger, more developed and stronger than she was all that time ago, but she will always be that tiny baby to me.

Happy birthday baby xxx

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.

Daddy’s in charge

Today I’m in sole charge of the kids. Nothing unusual there, but my wife worries about being away from the children for so long.

It’s not a reflection on my child rearing abilities, she doesn’t think that I’m going to lose them or that I’ll burn the house down. She knows I’m a good dad and that I can be trusted to cope with the kids on my own for the day. She just worries that one of the kids will get lost or that the house will burn down while she’s not here! There’s a big difference between the two.

Kids wander off. It’s a fact of life. I did it when I was young! It didn’t mean that my mum was a bad parent or that she neglected me, I just wandered off and got lost.

Sometimes fires just happen. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault, they can be the result of faulty wiring, power surges, too many plugs in an extension cord.

My wife fears that these things will happen if she’s not here. Not because of me, but because she’s not here. It’s part of her depression. It’s something she struggles with even though she knows that her presence doesn’t guarantee our children’s safety any more than mine does. We could have a crack team of professional babysitters and a fire crew on standby and she’d still only be at ease if she was here.

I think that some dads would find this upsetting, but I understand it’s not borne from a lack of trust, but a need to be in control. Not in charge, but in control. She needs to be on hand because she’d feel awful if something did happen. She’d blame herself just because she wasn’t there.

So, am I wrapping the kids up in cotton wool and monitoring them more closely than ever? Am I moving every potentially dangerous object out of reach and padding all the table corners?

Fuck no!

This morning the kids have been wearing my hats which are huge on them and droop over their eyes. They’ve been chucking the sofa cushions on the floor and jumping off the sofa onto them. They’ve been ducking under the table and chasing each other around the chairs. The floor is covered in plastic play food, one of the slipperiest substances known to man!

This is normal. This is what would happen if my wife was at home, and it’s what my children expect. I wouldn’t change anything, and if they bump their heads or fall over I’ll deal with it. We may have tears, we may have tantrums, but we’ll have fun and my kids won’t grow up in fear of hurting themselves. They’ll take risks, they’ll enjoy themselves, and they won’t need mummy to kiss them better every time they scrape a knee.

My wife will never stop worrying about leaving them, but then again, neither will I.

Cunt of the week #5

I walked my daughter to preschool this morning and it was great. We chatted and looked at the newly blooming flowers and the changes in the trees. We took turns pushing my son in his pushchair and sometimes pushed with one hand each so we could hold hands and warm them up. Lovely. One of the fantastic parts of being a parent.

But then we had to start avoiding the copious amounts of dog turds littered about the path we take. The path runs around a park with housing on three sides and a large play area and a civic building which houses the preschool at the other end. In order to traverse this path we had to avoid no less than 20 separate piles of canine shite. We also passed 3 bright red bins for the disposal of said shit.

Now my daughter is a very aware child. It comes from having a daddy who might try and pinch her chips. She notices when there’s a mound of faeces in her way and she’s careful to avoid it. She also lets me know so I don’t plough through it with the buggy. But I find myself asking why she should need to be so aware of the fact that some careless dog owner is too fucking selfish to pick up after their dog? Why aren’t these idiots using the provided bins? They must realise their dog is crapping its pedigree chum all over the pavement, dogs don’t just let it fall out their arse while they stroll along!

I’ve also noticed a bizarre trend of some dog owners bagging up their pooch poo and hanging the bags on tree branches like they’re decorating the scummiest Christmas tree in the world. Why?!? Why not carry it to the fucking dog shit bin that’s 10 metres away?!? I’m utterly perplexed by this behavior! If I, as a parent of a child who uses nappies, started leaving bagged crap filled deposits outside Pets At Home, there would be uproar and probably a police investigation! So what makes it so acceptable for these cunts to leave shit smeared across the path outside my daughter’s preschool?

These selfish shit flingers infuriate me. They risk the health of all the children who use that park, the preschool and the football pitch all because they can’t be arsed to carry a small bag to pick up the product of their dogs’ back passages. They can’t be bothered to walk a few steps out of their way to put the diseased leavings of their hounds in a place provided for them. Utter utter cunts.

Please pick up your dog’s shit, keep Britain tidy, and don’t make me come round your house and shovel it through your letter box.

Hiraeth

Happy Saint David’s day! Dydd gwyl Dewi Sant hapus!

However you say it, it’s St. David’s day today, the national day of Wales, a place I called home for 10 years of my life. The only place I’ve lived in for longer is London, my birthplace, but Wales is the only place I’ve ever felt homesick for.

I moved to Cardiff in 2000 to go to university after falling in love with the place on an open day. Although much smaller than London, it was still a richly diverse city with a great social buzz to it and everything a young man of 18 could desire. Although illness prevented me from finishing my degree, I still managed to walk away from uni with some amazing friends, fantastic experiences and a girlfriend who was to become my wife.

The future Mrs Beardy and I moved in together in a studenty area and got jobs, gradually became more grown up (ish) and moved into a more family-friendly area of South Wales, where we lived happily and turned into a family of 3. Our daughter was born on Welsh soil and that cemented my love for ‘God’s own country’.

However, nothing can stay the same forever and it was time to move back to England and be near to family and to grow our 3 into a 4. Our son was born in an English hospital just like his mum and dad, making our daughter the odd one out. Not that it bothers her. She’s 3 and has greater concerns such as whether she’s having toast or cereal for breakfast, or if it’s an odd sock day. She doesn’t remember Wales.

I do. I remember walking her around Cardiff castle, driving through the snowy valleys, exploring the trails behind Tintern Abbey. And that’s why I feel hiraeth. There isn’t a direct translation into English for this word as it’s Wales-specific. It means homesickness for Wales, Welsh culture and the Wales of days gone by; a nostalgia trip that leaves a hole in your heart, one that can only be filled by going home. To Wales.

So happy St. David’s to you all, but mine will be spent in sadness instead of celebration.

Cymru am byth.