Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Is He Going To Be Gay?

A silly question really, but one that has cropped up again comically over the last week or so.

Max has taken to putting his hand on his hips quite a bit. He’s gone short of raising his heel or saying “Hey Sailor,” but he sure does look a bit fruity with his hand on his hip.

And I know it doesn’t mean jack, but it has prompted others to jest about his future sexuality.

I actually remember a conversation with my late wife about our child’s future sexual penchant.

Don’t know why we were talking about it, but I was asked what I’d DO if our first born turned out to be homosexual.

My genuine response was to suggest finally I might have someone on the inside that could give me a reasonable explanation on people who are attracted to members of the same sex, but make every effort to look like the opposite sex.

I mean, that’s one of life’s, or more specifically, my life’s, mysteries.

See there is always a benefit to everything.

Not that there is anything wrong with unconventional sexuality, nor would it bother me if he did turn out to be that way inclined.

In fact, I’ve been suspected of being, and called gay myself. I suppose it’s because I wear quite a bit of pink and stay-at-home dad isn’t very butch.

It has never bothered me, and at times I’ve played on it. Me and my best mate have even got our kids into some places as a family.

So at times, being a fake same-sex family has actually saved us a few pennies.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Gone, Gone, Back And Gone Again

I, and I hope my son, love our little trips away.

Our trips have become even more precious to me since the introduction of nursery to my son’s, and I suppose, my life.

After spending so much time together, and with the freedom to go where we wanted, that’s pretty much what we did, within reason.

Amongst our regular week populated by swimming sessions, toddler groups, music classes and farm visits, there would quite often be a few days away sandwiched in between them.

We’d visit friends based in London, Shropshire and in the lovely Yorkshire countryside. My parents have a caravan on the Welsh coast, and we know where they keep the keys.

I think it’s great for children to experience different places, people, and learn about behaving while in the keep of others.

And it’s even easier to do mid-week term time.

In our circumstances, I think these trips have also been exceedingly important for us and our sanity.

Indeed, on one trip away, my sister and her husband joined us. And they both commented on actually seeing a definite improvement in my mood and well-being from the trip, or break from the routine.

Last week we were back with our wonderful friends in Yorkshire. I took the opportunity to take Max mid-week and pre half-term.

We both had a great time, and I think our hosts enjoyed our, but particularly junior’s, company for the days we had there.

I was also very proud of my child’s behaviour and how he seems to have a knack of remembering the tiniest details from our previous visits to good, and often comical, effect.

Wales next, let’s hope the crabbing trips are fruitful or is that meatful actually?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Starvin Marvin, Or Is His Name Jim?

I love it when other parents ask for my two-penneth.

Especially when the requests come from other parents, particularly mothers that I respect and look at as good parents.

Last Friday I had an interesting natter with another parent at our regular toddler group haunt.

They were concerned that their little treasure had decided to stop eating.

Apparently a regular and good eater until last week, his mother was very surprised that he’d suddenly taken to doing a mini Ian Huntley impression.

I asked if she thought he was teething, or if he was running a temperature. She said he’d been a bit ‘tetchy’, but she put that down to her constant nagging of his eating.

She then said she’d planned to visit the Health Visitor to discuss the situation with them.

I recalled the time, when as it happens my son was about the same age as hers, that I went to ask for some advice on my delayed introduction of cow’s milk into my son’s diet.

I’d read that if your child wasn’t eating a lot of meat, which my lazy so and so couldn’t be bothered to chew at the time, that they may get the iron they could do with from formula milk, the super-strength versions.

When I asked the question to the assembled child care advice experts, they looked at each other and then me, with their best ‘what did he just say’ faces.

This now doubt filled her full of confidence.

A varied and wide diet is what I’d always prescribe, not only because it gives your child great balance and nutrients, it also means they are easy to feed in any situation.

They will also eat when they’re hungry, and will let you know when they are running empty. I’d only really worry about their eating after a good while. It’s the liquid diet that becomes more pressing within hours.

Thankfully today I was advised that all was back to normal, and said child was back to consuming a health diet.

I don’t often get this problem with my child, ignoring the time he demanded a sandwich with four different fillings, and would only eat it off the top of our cooker, in his PJs, obviously.

Friday, 23 May 2008

There Are Monsters Amongst Us

My favourite brother-in-law, the one who also happens to be the very cost effective electrician on my house-build, made a very nasty discovery this week.

He does a lot of work in council properties, which means that he has come into contact with both the weird and the wonderful.

Covering families with dust sheets who will not move, and moving horses out of their bedrooms so he can re-wire them.

You get the idea.

But this week he discovered things he’d rather not have, and this has hit him harder, and served as a stark reminder to those around him.

When turning up to one of this week’s properties, he found that, as pretty much normal, the tenant was not ready for them, and furniture had to be moved before they could start the job.

The tenant actually helped them move a book case, which they then found some pictures and magazines behind.

Apparently they were clearly of ‘dodgy’ content, the tenant scooped them up, picked up his laptop, made his excuses and left.

They didn’t think a lot of it, just thought this guy was embarrassed as they’d found his porn collection.

That was until they found more pictures in this guy’s bedroom.

The grotesque content turned out to be that of indecent pictures of very young girls, innocent children to the rest of us.

Sparky was so shocked he was virtually sick, and quickly set about getting this matter reported properly.

As he left the property in a bit of a daze, he soon realised that it was situated virtually opposite a nursery.

This made him feel even more sick and shocked.

It also reminded the rest of us around him, especially those with children, that we all live within a society with terrible dangers and amongst some despicable people.

I know there is really very little you can do about these, hopefully rare, nut-cases.

Indeed my belief is if someone wants to harm or take your child they will. Sadly, similarly to if someone really wants your car, or to take something from your home or garage.

That’s put a bit simply, but I mean it in principle.

The need for effective safeguards should obviously be a priority, but this problem, I suspect, is tragically never going to be totally preventable.

I just do my best, as every parent should, to protect my child as best as I can, so he’s effectively not the best option for any would be perverts.

And further pray that we remain in the vast and good side of the statistics of those not exploited, rather than the very poor minority that fall terribly foul to this type of sicko.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Lesson Learnt, Again

Why is it, even at 31, you forget the lessons you’ve been dealt, and the reasons why you do or don’t do certain things?

Today I had a timely reminder of that.

I’ve always been keen to try and stop my child from taking his toys on the various outings we go on.

I saw it all too often at playgroups, when children would bring their own toys, only to lose them, or fall out with other kids that showed an inkling for their prized possessions.

Based on this observation I always dismissed my own son’s requests to take stuff with us, to various places.

Sometimes compromising on taking said toy or book with us, but leaving it safely in the car, the buggy, or in Daddy’s pocket.

This is a decision process I’ve extended to nursery.

If he’s particularly into playing with a toy in the morning, and wants to bring it with him, it makes it to the car and has been staying in some of the conveniently located pockets by Max’s car seat.

Only last week, somehow, we got to the nursery with three little plastic insects. Two flies and a grasshopper – that’s not really relevant, but I’ve typed it now.

As I was signing him in, I was trying to convince him to either put them in his bag, or give them back to moi for safekeeping.

Surprisingly the nursery leader suggested a compromise; he was allowed to choose one of the three to keep with him.

Sensing the fact that there was a negotiation taking place, my child got the nursery leader to agree to two. One in his hand and one in his pocket.

This is a dangerous precedent, especially as today he insisted on taking his latest Ben 10 thingy, and duly came out of nursery without it.

We had to traipse back, that’s me, child and child’s playmate for the afternoon.

Luckily, the nursery staff had put his toy to one side.

Unluckily, part of it was lost, the tail I think, and we had to endure five to ten minutes of inconsolableness and about another 50 minutes of feeling-sorry-for-myself-ness.

Well, lesson learnt, again.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Priority Number One, Or Is That Two, Three Or Several?

Max’s nursery has not been fully operational for the last three weeks, something to do with, the very circumspect, ‘radiator man’.

This has really served as a great reminder for me, that my child comes first, and I need a life flexible enough to take up nursery slack.

It’s also been good as my child has been entertained at peers of his, and I’ve returned the favour with having other kids with us. Proves the parents at the nursery seem to be accepting us into the village life.

I have however been contemplating taking a few days out of nursery, as the sessions are limited, to have a few days away with my son, much like I used to do pre-nursery attendance.

The timing could also suit us, as my house build project could be left for a few days next week as the floor will be drying.

But as is the Sod’s Law formula the nursery will re-open fully next week – when the good money was on a post half-term return to normal order.

This leaves me in a bit of a quandary as I know my son will really enjoy a few days away, and will still do a day at nursery next week.

I dropped my dilemma into the fellow parent walk-to-the-car chit chat, and was the response was fairly unanimous.

Take him out of nursery whenever you want, as you won’t enjoy the same freedom come proper schooling.

They then relayed how most of them have taken older children out of school for term-time holidays, due to cost and their own holiday entitlement agreements.

In fact, it is a subject under constant review, and one that is generally left to each individual school’s discretion.

The figures for unauthorised absence do take term-time holidays into account, such is their prevalence.

I for one, won’t let that influence me next week, plans are much more likely to be kiboshed by issues or requirements at our self-build project.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Bouncing Along, Or Not, As The Case May Be

Bouncing castles have always concerned me.

Not just because you worry what damage your child may do to themselves, or others, while they are on it, but also because you may have to hoist yourself onto it, to eventually get them off.

Tragically, it looks like the child in this news story is left permanently injured from his experience on a giant inflatable.

What a sorry tale this is, and is a swift reminder that accidents will happen and there is risk in virtually all that we do.

Life can be so cruel. The best of intentions can’t prevent disasters going on and I’m sure the bouncing castle fraternity will bring out the stats, but that won’t help this particular family.

But whose fault is it, and is there any point in attributing it?

In this case it certainly looks like it, as care, and more importantly, finance, will be required to aid this youngster’s life from here on in.

The article hints that the ruling may have been heavily influenced by the fact that there was adequate insurance cover in place. But what happens if there isn’t?

Individual incidents and precedent rulings like this may have huge consequences for the whole country, and may weigh in the mind when debating your child’s party theme.

Not a very nice thought to think if you don’t have the correct insurance for guests visiting your home, that you may lose it if you don’t arrange satisfactory supervision.

So disclaimers on your invites, or no parties at home, it looks like that might be a sad and somewhat ridiculous decision for us parents to make. Share/Save/Bookmark

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Child Of Our Time

I’ve found this a really interesting project come television programme.

Gives a good insight into the influence or non-influence of the environment a child is brought up in.

Naturally, I think, I’ve always pondered how our somewhat rare set of circumstances will influence my child’s development and personality.

I’ve read around the subject quite a lot, well, I’ve read what information I can find.

Always being reassured that there is evidence to suggest that bereavement can actually add clarity to the single parent environment.

That is definitely something I’ve seen as a positive, and I’m not envious of other parents when they bicker over the handling of their off-spring.

When I make a calculated decision, it’s then simply a battle of wills between me and my son. There is very little undermining of my position.

My worries have been more over what the lack of a mother can mean to a child.

And if I should alter the way I am to play an adequate role of both genders.

I’m really not sure that I have changed the way I parent, how could I know?

I do lots of listening and lots of explaining. I set rules, and stick to them (broadly), but at the same time reward, praise and share lots and lots of affection with my boy. And he is most definitely, my boy.

One interesting point tonight, was that one of the boys had recently lost one of his grandparents.

This experience actually appeared to have influenced him in a positive manner.

All the other boys chose money as more important to health and kindness.

When queried why he thought that health and kindness were more important, he said “without your health, you’ve got nothing, and if you’re not kind you’re mean.”

Right on young man.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Achey Birthday

Man, birthdays smart when you get into your thirties.

To be fair, I’m barely there, and a few weeks ago I was even asked to prove my age at a bar, much to the amusement of those around me.

It didn’t make me feel any younger, and indeed, I did celebrate my first 30-something birthday this weekend.

I got the usual cards and lovely messages, old git this and grandad that from those younger than me, and the polite ones from the older generation.

I’ve never really got birthdays and would usually be happy to let them pass with a bit of a whimper.

After all, what do they mean? Surely they are merely the same date as that to you were born on, albeit with a different year.

What I mean is, with all the leap years, birthdays can’t actually be considered to be the anniversary of your birthday, if were working on dividing days lived by 365 anyway.

This year’s celebrations coincided with my football team’s last fixture, so there was a fair group of people up for a night out – regardless of motive.

Made me feel fairly popular anyway.

I spent the day with my wonderful son, who enjoyed the football match, or the bit of it he watched.

We seemed to score every time he chanted or sung, which was funny. Sadly Max was quickly bored of that, so we only managed two goals.

My mother then cooked one of my favourite meals. Cow, that's the food not my mother.

My son had been quite specific with my birthday cake requirement, and I’m led to believe a decent search was necessary to find my dinosaur cake.

The night was spent in the company of some new-ish friends and some from my past.

Drinking no longer suits me, not because I behave differently when I’ve had a drink. I seem to have got my emotions and feeling-sorry-for-myself moments well in check.

It’s more the day afterwards, or more honestly, days afterwards.

I hurt.

And by being useless for a day or two, means I’m behind on everything, including my writing.

I have more pressing matters though.

One of Max’s nursery chums is coming home with us from nursery for an afternoon of tomfoolery. Let’s hope it doesn’t escalate into blind ugly violence.

But one golden lining, at least there is no point catching up on the cleaning!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Bottomed Out

Remember the bottom of my son's nursery fell out?

Well it means we've been together a lot more this week.
This, as it happens, has been no bad thing.

I always enjoy spending time with my little treasure, well maybe not always. But when you have days planned out, they go well, and you both enjoy them, what could be better?

Days full of activities, or plenty of different options for us both to do make for very health and enjoyable days.

Planning is key. I’ve always tried to plan for most eventualities, rain or shine and the nano-second toddler mood swing phenomena.

What they say they want to do tomorrow might actually bear no relevance to what they want to do come dawn.

It's reminded me of the not-too-distance past, the pre-nursery days, when our lives were run to beat of, well, rhyme time, playgroups and swimming sessions.

This week we've been to a couple of soft-play centres, parks, duck feeding, swimming and walks by the canal.

All rewarding and enjoyable stuff.

The only downside, well apart from having to put everything else pretty much on hold, is how exhausted I am.

Child care is knackering, many men don’t appreciate that, but I’m one that certainly does.

We shall both sleep well tonight.