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.

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…

World Book Day

It’s world book day today so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite children’s books from my daughter’s collection.

Penguin by Polly Dunbar

A truly excellent book about a small boy who receives a penguin as a present. He tries to interact with the penguin by talking, dancing, wearing a funny hat, but his penguin just stands still and ignores him. What is a boy to do? Go read the book and you’ll find out! It’s far too good a read for me to spoil the ending!

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

An hilarious tale of a boy who flies his kite too close to a tree and gets it stuck. He tries throwing other things up in an attempt to knock it down, but wait and see what happens when the fire brigade gets involved! Just how far will he go to get his kite back?

The bog baby by Jeanne Willis

A beautifully written and illustrated tale of what happens when two little girls find an unusual creature and decide to keep it. This story always brings a lump to my throat and has caused me to shed a tear or two. One of the most perfectly written stories I’ve ever read. Don’t forget to look for bog babies with your kids so you can fill in the form on the last page!

A squash and a squeeze by Julia Donaldson

The gruffalo and room on the broom may be better known thanks to the Christmas specials over the last few years, but I love this simple tale of dissatisfaction and appreciating what you have. It’s about a woman who thinks her house is too small, but a local wise man has an interesting suggestion for her… Kids will love the lyrical rhyming and Axel Scheffler’s vibrant illustrations, and and grown ups can have fun finding the perfect voices for the characters (I use the Queen and Prince Phillip).

Into the woods by Chris Wormell

Three bears venture into the woods for a picnic, but is there danger waiting for them? A typical horror movie setup and a suitably dark and threatening wood makes this one for the older children (although my 3yo loves it!). Rollo, Pog and Bubba set off for a picnic, but soon find themselves lost and without food, and hunted by the big bad wolf. Dramatic tension grows with every page in this wonderful amalgamation of the teddy bear’s picnic and big bad wolf stories, and an unexpected intervention will leave the kids smiling at the end.

I hope you go and borrow these stories from your local library or buy them from a local independent bookseller if you have one, and that you enjoy them as much as my daughter and I have! Good reading!

Foreign traffic

I’m intrigued by some of my recent blog stats. I’ve noticed that my blog is of international interest!

I started this off as a better way of getting the stupid/ranty/crazy thoughts out of my head than just turning toward my wife and letting out a Peter Griffinesque “you know what really grinds my gears?”. She’s been with me for 11 years now so I thought it was time to give her a break. I know, I’m awesome.

But little did I realise that *raises sword above head* by the power of Greyskull Google and Twitter people in other nations would read my thoughts!

Now I understand that people in English speaking countries might want to read something about being a SAHD or sporting culture, and lucky them, they found me. So hello to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand! But over the last few days I’ve had hits from Kenya, Ukraine and Pakistan. Hello to you guys to!

So what is it that’s made my blog so appealing to these non English speaking countries? Why am I getting hits off Bing and Google from the far flung corners of the globe? Do they care about the plight of the people of Happyland? Do they want to know how not to be a good SAHD? Who knows? All I know for certain is that my international hits started after the inaugural Cunt Of The Week post.

I think the only lesson we can take away from this is that there are cunts all over the world and people of all nations want to see if their national representatives are in with a chance of winning #COTW. I feel a world cup of cunts arriving in the summer…

Childhood lost.

Forgive me for I have sinned.

I have forgotten the pleasure of simple things.

I have let my imagination dull as my youth has faded.

I have forsaken Peter Pan and taken berth with Captain Hook on the Jolly Roger.

I have grown up…

Luckily, I have a little Lost Boy and a slightly bigger Lost Girl to remind me of the wonders of being young and to show me how to play again.
The sitting room is covered in toys today, same as every day; plastic food, octonauts, doctor’s kit, cars, and numerous other carefully, skillfully designed and manufactured playthings. These toys are played with day in, day out and loved, sometimes to bits. The kids never tire of playing with them, making up games around them, but I do.

There are only so many times an adult wants to play doctors before they’re sick of being sick. Only so many games of rescue the sea creatures before you want to drown yourself. Only so many times you can eat a pretend ham sandwich before you do a Mama Cass. But the kids could play these same games every day, sometimes more than once a day, without getting bored.

My mind is numb toward these games now. I know that when a piece of plastic toast is presented to me I need to make a fuss about the lack of cheese until I’m presented with a toy magnifying glass and I can finally see it. I know that when the medical case is handed to me I’m going to see patients with whichever symptoms have been shown on Get Well Soon that week.

If I had any hair to tear out I’d be flexing my fingers right now.

A saving grace appeared this morning in the form of a Slinky. A toy with no real purpose, no preset way of playing with it, no expectation. The kids were using it as an elephant trunk, a dog lead, a chasing toy, a Tigger tail, a tunnel… This simple twisted length of multicoloured plastic entertained my children for almost an hour and caused giggles by the bucketload! I remembered it simply as ‘the toy that falls down stairs’…

So there it is. The proof that I have lost my imagination, lost my way, lost my childhood. I’ve grown up and I may never find my way back to Neverland.

The Great Happyland funfair disaster of 2013

Happyland is a peaceful place, inhabited by gentle plastic figures of all races, creeds, ages, and bodily ability. They live in harmony with one another, leading simple lives in their little plastic idyll.
The farmer tends to his animals, the toy shop till rings up another sale, a young mum pushes her baby in a pushchair, the village children play outside the cottage, none with a care in the world.

Then the fair came to town.

It seemed like such a happy diversion for the village people, a day of fun and frolics, rides to enjoy, ice cream to eat, jolly music to listen to. But now the rides lie silent and unmoving, the ice cream melts under the unforgiving sun, the music now a cacophony of screams from the injured, pleading for help in the hastily assembled field hospital.

What could cause such carnage I hear you ask? Who is responsible for the levels of destruction and the melting ice cream? Where does the blame lie?

Improper adherence to health and safety procedures.

The rides may have looked like fun with their gay trappings, brights primary colours and jaunty tunes, but there were a string of failures to ensure the safety of those who were drawn into the spiderweb of funfair deceit…

None of the rides had seatbelts or high backing to ensure the customers would remain seated throughout the duration of the ride. The pirate ship swing tipped above a safe angle, which coupled with the lack of seatbelts or safety bars meant that passengers fell out on the upswing.
The carousel reached dangerous top speeds sending riders careening off their horses and into the ground.
The rocket ride spun awkwardly and toppled over, spilling bodies across the fairground, crashing into another ride before finally ceasing its deathly twisting.
The ferris wheel engine forced the ride to spin faster and faster until the ramshackle passenger cars carelessly tossed their occupants through the air, sending them crashing sickeningly into the hard ground beneath.

Daddy isn’t allowed to play Happyland anymore.

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.