Or should that be wanderers?
The head-count is back at two for this gaff, and boy does that feel good.
Our respective, break, break-together, break sequence has done us both the world of good.
I enjoyed the time on my own, apart from maybe one night, but at least that night got me thinking, and I may have perversely ending up doing the right thing on it, which was not a lot.
My child has had a wonderful time and has enjoyed getting up to all sorts of things, which I’ve had to listen to reports of from him, backed up by my parents’ versions.
Sounds like he’s behaved pretty well too, although I do not expect his behaviour to now be at its best, it never is after breaks away - irrespective of who is in control – great timing for our first visit from our new health visitor tomorrow.
Back to my main point, Max’s return was just like a movie scene.
A National Lampoons’ movie scene that is!
I met with him and my parents at a nearby caravan sales site, which was virtually on their route to mine.
My folks are looking at a new caravan for next season, and wanted my input – more fool them – and they were in murdering-multiple-birds-with-one-brick mode.
This place was quite vast, as it has to be to house a good few touring vans, campers and statics, and I arrived in front of them, my parents that is, not the holiday homes.
They’d given me their shortlist beforehand so I went and had a quick look at the models they are deliberating over before they arrived.
I then decided to find the toilet, as I could do with it, and I knew junior would need to go after a decent car journey.
On my way I caught sight of my mini-colossus entering the giant hanger type building that showcased all the towing caravans.
He quickly caught my gaze too.
Then with beautiful symmetry we picked up speed and made for each other with our arms open wide.
It was a real slo-mo moment, without slo-mo and the obligatory power balled, though I do think I heard a call for ‘Keith’ to come to reception, so we didn’t do it against a backdrop of total silence.
To avoid a nasty collision, I picked him off the ground, instantly reminding myself that he now weighs a tonne, kissed him and squeezed as hard as I could, well not that hard, but rib cage compressing all the same.
He reciprocated, and then it started.
“We’ve been bowling daddy,” he joyfully informed me.
“I won, I had to use an orange ball, nanny had a green and granddad, granddad had a RED one!” He exclaimed.
And it didn’t stop much before he passed out for bed.
He was like a talking bottle of pop.
And I was like a stuck record.
‘Oh, I have missed you’
Things are returning back to normal now, well, our normal anyway.
And nursery resumes next week, so that really will be a dose of normality, not that normality is a bad thing.
I’m actually looking forward to it.
The break(s) must have really worked.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Or should that be wanderers?
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
So after a few rain-soaked yet fun filled days out by the coast, my trip has been prematurely ended for a bit of pleasure and pain.
I had a mate’s 40th birthday bash to attend at the weekend, and then I have some deliveries and workmen to organise at our nearing-completion self-build.
As I sit here nursing another saw head, bellowing timely instructions to two ever-so pleasant carpenters, I’m not sure which one of these events was supposed to be pleasurable.
I say my trip was cut short, as my son is still enjoying his.
He’s been ten-pin bowling, I would have enjoyed that.
I may go myself tonight, if I was popular.
As this is a more impromptu parting of father and son, I’m actually a tad puzzled as what to do with myself.
I’m busied in the day with a few writing and telephoning tasks, there’s the aforementioned barking at workmen, and the organising of last few days’ entertainment of the school holidays.
But what of tonight?
A Tuesday, which as I recall, is usually cheap day at the cinema. I may take in the new Batman, but I’m not sure if I can be arsed to source company or go it alone.
It is at somewhat infrequent times like this that I recall I’m actually a single man, which means you have to make an effort if you aren’t content with your own company.
I may have a wander to the village pub for a tipple and a natter with anyone looking long enough my way.
Then there’s the doing-not-very-much option that is actually doing a great deal.
And, as in any household, ironing awaits.
As I’m sure it will still be tomorrow A.M.
So, answers on a post-card, offers by email.
Friday, 22 August 2008
It is at these times that I know she will always be with me, no matter what changes there are to come in the future.
Samantha always made me want to be a better man, a la Jack Nicholson, and she still influences me now.
I find it amazing how much I was actually listening to, she would argue subliminally, as I can do listening without looking like it, to an olympic standard.
Lists were a massive part of her, and subsequently our lives.
My to-do one was ever growing and we would refer back to previous lists, for repeating events.
I’ve taken to relying on them myself.
Very useful for Max’s recent trip away.
She would have a good giggle at that.
Another principle was around money, more specifically budgeting, allocating our monies to our priority items.
We were both very good with our cash.
It would go a long way, we’d enjoy ourselves but still have enough for tomorrow.
But our principles were still a little different.
If I’d allocated an amount, but found a more cost effective, yet still acceptable solution, I would save the money and add it to the tomorrow fund.
Sam would use the extra saved to buy more of the thing bought – like a second pair of shoes - or immediately spend it on something else she so desired – like a matching bag.
We never argued about it, I found it charming actually, and if it made her happy and the numbers still added up, then why would we?
She would actually have more of an issue with me for not spending enough on myself, or just thinking I’d like something I could really afford, rather than just getting it.
Something else I loved about her.
Then last week we, me and child, were food shopping.
Max had been a good boy so towards the end of our trolley dash I took him to the toy aisle.
He predictably went straight for the Ben 10 stuff and picked up some god awful looking thing, but at an acceptable price.
But further down the shelves he found some Harry Potter stuff, which had been reduced. I'm sure JK won't be fretting too much.
“Can I have Harry Potter instead dad?” He enquired.
After quickly noticing the prices were down to a third of the Ben 10 figure, I said “You can son, and if you like you can get Ron and Hermione too.”
Right out of Samantha’s fiscal policy.
A ridiculously innocuous moment, but a lovely one, for all three of us, as it happens.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
I really enjoyed this weekend.
So what if it rained akin to getting water poured on your head rather than it being evenly distributed in what is traditionally referred to as a shower.
That really didn’t matter.
And what else is the back of an Audi TT for, if you don’t use it to strip down to your pants?
What a treat for my chums.
I couldn’t have behaved any differently to my now norm, if I’d tried.
Care-free and internally saturated with alcohol, nothing about me said ‘committed father figure’.
It’s a shame really, because Girls Aloud do not look so good blurry, and it's probably not my best look either.
In my own Amy Winehouse hour I consumed more booze than I will most likely drink for the remainder of this year, and I say that knowing I have a friends 40th next week.
It was a performance I would have been proud of in my youth, rather than ashamed of and paying for in my, eeerrrr, what am I in now? Thirties.
I suppose it was only what this weekend was to be all about.
Have some time off and go a smidge wild, get the system flushed, and batteries smashed into oblivion.
Tick, tick, tick. Next.
Some of my friends likened my behaviour and mood, to that of even my pre-Samantha days.
The out-of-control period, they dislike to recall it.
Ah yes, but the Samantha years, the ones I will always treasure, have somehow travelled through time and influenced the idiot me of then.
Idiot me, would never have thought to have a baking hot lasagne on the go for the minute we returned in from our festivities.
For that Sam, and a thousand other things, I thank you.
Monday, 18 August 2008
More accurately put, he’s really my best mate I’m not related to.
My late wife quickly became my best mate, and she’s now, as she actually once predicted, been replaced by our son.
He’s my best mate.
And he knows it.
My wonderful little sister and my dad, keep him on his toes, but he’s comfortable with that, much prized, accolade.
Husbands and wives should be best chinas.
That was a principle that really worked for us.
It bears out great respect for one another, it means you can enjoy time together in all sorts of pursuits and trust is never an issue.
I’m sure she would have remained top of my friend list, regardless of how strong my bond became with my son.
Sometimes Max seems to return the favour and offers me as his best mate of choice, though I am often replaced with whoever is flavour of the moment, and that has even been known to be the bath time plastic shark.
Other times it’s definitely me, and I love those moments.
He copies everything I do, we have to have the same things, only I’m allowed to share, we’re on the same team and it’s even preferable that our clothes match.
People often refer to us as similar, especially since I’ve been reducing my hair cut frequency.
Max has even referred to it.
“We have the same hair, don’t we daddy?”
“We do if you say so son.”
He’s adorable when he’s in this mode, it almost brings me to tears.
And long may it do so.
I hope I can keep, what is sure to be a much greater honour, of being one of his best chums.
Friday, 15 August 2008
This weekend, and what has at least become an annual event for the last two years now, Max and I shall be parted.
He is off to the welsh coast for a break with all his grandparents.
Which means he shall be the lording it up for a few days and will have four incredibly loyal servants to dance for him.
I’m taking in a music festival, which I was sort-of tricked into going to last year.
One of my favourite bands from my youth was playing, and so my ever-so-lovely sister got me a ticket. And when I say got, I mean sold.
This year I like the look of the line-up more, and have been listening to more of the acts performing their stuff to get into the whole music vibe.
Anyway, this is all part of our general life plan.
Life, and time, without each other.
Well OK, it won’t be, as I’m sure to drink too much and eat rubbish for 72 hours. And for that matter, let’s see what the respective nannies and granddads let their little angel get away with.
But definitely healthy in terms of not being in each others’ pockets, all of the live-long-day.
Boy, I will miss the, errr, boy,
And I’m sure he’ll be sparing the odd thought for me.
However it’s time I’ve been looking forward to.
A chance to act completely differently and forget about my responsibilities.
Concentrating only on breathing, drinking, eating, listening and welly dancing, in no particular order.
I shall actually be joining him after the weekend, to enjoy what Wales has left to offer, and to resume parenting duties.
With an obvious priority of reversing whatever debauchery that has been permitted, well at least pretending to anyway.
That, and crabbing.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
He has ended up losing his job working with children as he would now be deemed unsuitable. Though in the BBC report, it looks like he has jumped before that has actually become the case.
Since discovering this saga I’ve spent some time trying to work out how many levels this is wrong on, and why, oh why, these people were prepared to put their story out there.
I’m still stumped.
It’s difficult to comment on any parents handling of a particular incident or series of them, especially when you are not in possession of the facts.
My child has also not reached those years when he can start to do real harm to others, so again I can’t refer to experience.
But, ah, a but – means I’m going to anyway.
Well not really.
It just reminds me of a visit I made in the days that my tax return said I was important.
I spent the day at a police operations centre, chaperoning our engineers who were trying to put some unpredictable height-adjustable-desking right.
Most of our stuff was in the 999, or emergency number, incident room.
We had to sign privacy disclaimers, as we were to be overhearing the calls coming in that day.
It struck me at the time how many calls they got from children that were simply wasting police time. And we all know they need little help in that department.
One actually called, I mean actually called the police, on their highest priority emergency number, because his mom would not buy him a motorcycle.
So, what I’m getting at, is that this particular story would have been so much more interesting and thought provoking, if the police had charged the daughter with wasting their time, rather than, somewhat pointlessly, issuing a caution to her father.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Many things have changed in the last three years of my life.
My very existence is entirely different to what it was, and to whatever I imagined it to be – so much for long-term thinking.
We’ve moved around a lot, and even built our own home, which hopefully we are settling in for the long-term, or, based on my previous sentence, this week anyway.
My job went, along with it the healthy salary. A new career has yet to fully evolve, but I’m sure whatever I do, it will bear very little relevance to my previous employment.
The one thing I never thought would happen was that my circle of close friends would change as drastically as it has.
It was predicted by various people around me, and from those I sought counsel.
For many I think they found it difficult to engage with me, or felt discomfort doing so.
Generally my friendships were based on humour and not taking anything too seriously.
But, in the blink of an eye, or in my case, the miss of a heartbeat.
Life got deadly serious.
I couldn’t really fault the actions of my chums in the immediate aftermath of Samantha’s passing, they were all there if I needed them.
It’s in the period since, that some of my relationships have drifted, no doubt in part because my priorities have changed, and my time has not been as freely available.
But overwhelmingly because some stopped making the effort.
I haven’t lost touch with anyone I didn’t want to. My friendships are just different.
In some cases they actually seem to getting closer again, perhaps because others are maturing, and now finding more common ground with me.
That or enough time has elapsed for them to feel comfortable again with our humour based relationship.
My humour didn't really ever leave.
Throughout all this though, one friend, and his friendship has become even greater. I would have called him my best friend before, and we did do a lot together and as a four-piece (with our respective wives in tow).
We know each other even better now.
In fact he knows me that well, that when reading a feature in The Daily Express that included an interview with me.
He said “That isn’t entirely accurate is it? Not in a bad way, but did they make any notes?”
Which I thought was reasonably observant of him as there were a few minor un-truths in the piece.
But I’m not sure he’d seen all of them.
“You’d have never said ‘women are just better at some things’ – I know you.”
How very true.
Nb. I know there probably are some things, and between us we did think of a few that won’t be repeated on here, but purely for comedy and emphasis purposes you understand, I shall be wearing my sexist hat for the duration of this post.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Girl you know it’s true, oh oh oh, China doesn’t want you.
I’ve just read this, and I must say I agree, we, or more specifically China, can’t have the Olympics ruined by a set of bucked teeth.
We must leave that to the World’s greatest heavy lifters, stick throwers and air gun operators.
I’m not a big fan of the games, I’m firmly in Frankie Boyle’s camp.
The Proclaimers look-a-like recently said, “Ironically the Olympics are only watched by people too lazy to switch the television over.”
I love sports.
Football, cricket, hockey, golf, rugby and baseball are all on my viewing, and sometimes, playing radar.
Running in a straight line doesn’t really constitute a sport to me, it’s more, running in a straight line.
Anyway I digress, back to the story.
Now there is two girls lives and personalities ruined.
One will spend a lifetime with a too ugly insecurity
And the other one will unwittingly get the pretty but fake tag.
Forgetting the problems this action causes for those involved, and for the parents who are left to deal with the consequences.
I’m not at all comfortable with a nation, committee or any adult deciding what constitutes a pretty seven year old.
That is very dodgy ground.
But I guess no one will see it that way.
Wrong, oh so wrong, on so many levels.
Sadly, it currently seems indicative of a country that appears to be making great enemies with even itself.
It has taken all my might to resist swearing around him, or at him, since this time too.
I have a foul mouth, or did have.
I used to be very comfortable with swearing and enjoyed doing so, in the main.
OK, they also help to shroud a limited vocabulary, and save wasting valuable brain juice seeking a more acceptable, and suitable phrase.
But there is something about others cringing at words, that tickles a happy place in my brain.
I know, I’m not a nice person.
But now, to avoid repetition and embarrassing incidents, instead of using words that have been rendered taboo, I have adopted an approach of using alternative words, rather than attempt to resist saying anything at all.
Monkey, or its plural, are very good words.
Used correctly these words can be incredibly useful time savers and censors.
They can also be applied to many situations and scenarios, much as one of my very favourite swear words can.
Don’t give me any of that Monkies.
Just as little examples, and clues to the swear word they replace.
Now with child though, I’m getting terribly prudish, don’t worry, I’m not about to join any Mary Whitehouse fan club, and can still mix in the odd, yet still crude, curse.
But I’m even concerning myself with language that really isn’t foul.
Max has been saying stupid a lot, and I don’t like it.
It is a horrible word, and much more offensive than the stuff I like to jest with, as, I suppose, fired in the right direction it can actually be true, and thus really cringe-worthy.
For now I’m explaining why I don’t like it, but not making a huge deal. I figure he will just say this, and other things I object to more.
And sometimes it still is actually quite funny, and at moments bang-on.
Excluding ‘stupid daddy’, that is incorrect of course; I have GCSEs and everything that say different.
Others seem to side with junior, and have rather cruelly said I can’t really chastise him for his accuracy.
Friday, 8 August 2008
I’m a dab hand at blarting.
Thing is I’ve had quite a lot of practice over the last three years.
And I wasn’t adverse to it before, if the situation warranted it.
Personally I’m pretty proud of my ability to show my emotions this way. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like a cry baby, but I’m also not fond of the emotionally stunted.
Since Samantha’s death, my moments, whilst always erratic, have become more infrequent.
I guess I’m learning to deal with them better, and I will take myself out of situations, or replace tears with a good, and wholesome, deep-breath.
Generally I now have more of an issue when people are nice to me, my son, or both of us.
Most people like getting compliments, some go out of their way to get them. I’ve always liked getting them but have always felt a little uneasy when they come, a little embarrassed sometimes.
My emotions are heightened when people are nice, and genuine applause or praise gets me gasping for that good air.
Even more so now when people I respect compliment my son, and/or my influence on him.
It has happened a couple of times recently.
Firstly we had some visitors over from America. They are effectively Sam’s Great Auntie and Uncle, who hadn’t been to this country since our wedding in 2003.
It was quite emotional to see them full stop, but after spending some quality time with Max and I, they had some very nice things to say to both of us.
I doubt there was much air left in the room.
Then after Max’s recent trek out with some of the nice people of our village, we saw the two moms that took him out today.
It was at our now weekly, summer holiday Friday coffee morning.
“You must be very proud of your Son,” they tentatively stated.
Which of course I am.
“He’s a credit to you, we wish ours were like him. Listened to what we said, and didn’t make a fuss about anything. He’s welcome with us any time.”
Wow, I’m just glad they had the windows open.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
I’ve always thought, while I have the temperament to handle most situations well, that children would be the greatest challenge.
Children post toddlerdom most specifically.
It has concerned me how good a parent I will be to my child once he starts school and actually gets past the very innocent years.
I’ve always found children after this age testing. I mean they really do answer back, and might actually win a fist-fight.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting more practice in with the next generation and have been trying to glean what I can from their parents.
You can’t be too prepared, too soon, in my manual.
Anyhow, it appears that if you have a fridge freezer that dispenses ice cubes on demand, you are on to a good start with most six year olds.
Once I’m in the zone of being a fun parent or adult, I do tend to over-elaborate, use difficult language and dig big holes for the kids to deepen.
I’m of a mind to try and explain things and put answers to questions. Sometimes making them up for comedy purposes or to mask my ignorance.
Some of the questions they come up with are brilliant, and are things we did, at one time, know the answer to.
Why is the sky blue?
I was banging on about refraction, which I immediately realised isn’t easy to explain to a young child, nor them understand, plus my answer was wrong anyway.
Then this week we’ve had Max’s virtual cousins over for dinner, I say virtual as they are my brother-in-law’s step kids, and I’m not sure when it is appropriate to adopt full-pretend cousin status.
We had a great time, but I got a bit fed up of them constantly asking for me, thus I thought I would try to be clever, which is never a good idea.
I instructed them that I was no longer responding to my first name and that I was to be referred to as Cornelius Farquharson.
And nothing other than a full and correct pronunciation would get my attention.
Sadly my theorem - that they would find this difficult and give up, was fatally flawed.
They were now just laughing trying to pronounce my new name, which to be fair to them they persisted with.
Max thought this whole episode was hilarious.
For my trouble I even got a picture with my new name on, phonetically spelt, very well I thought.
So impressed I was, it now has pride of place on our magic ice making machine.
And I’ve committed the whole affair to memory, and if I was inclined to manufacture a set of works instructions for six to ten year olds, I would be citing this as reference.
Good or bad, I’m not sure.
Monday, 4 August 2008
They are all brilliant.
The most important thing though is that we are being made very welcome, and Max is making friends with children outside of the nursery and the school.
Many of the families we have come across have been surprisingly welcoming and accepting of our non-traditional family unit.
After all, in this sort of environment our situation is even rarer than it is in more urban areas, from my experience.
It was one of my great hopes that this would happen.
My experiences of living in a town were very different.
People seemed to be very suspicious of a man with a child, and rather than satisfying their suspicion with a polite enquiry, they would instead ignore me and, most likely, come up with their own more interesting conclusions.
Here folks are more interested, and prepared to ask. I think what I’ve just typed is polite for nosey, but it suits me.
I’d rather people asked questions, and if there is something that is bugging them or it would make them more comfortable to know more about us, I’m happy to wax lyrical.
It means we’ve made more friends, and the parents seem to trust me, and don’t mind our company.
We’ve been out on a couple of day trips with kids and their mothers from the village, we’ve had visitors here, some kids have been left for me to supervise, which actually means a lot to me.
Max has been to others to play and for lunch, and tomorrow he’s out on a trip with two of his nursery chums, their older siblings and both the boys’ mothers.
He’s expectantly excited, but so am I.
Not because I get some time to myself, I haven’t really, the darling plumber is due back to do his snagging, and I’ve got plenty of other chores to be getting on with.
I’m excited because he’s excited, and it is further proof that I’m not raising a little monster.
When people offer to take your child out with theirs, with no obvious reciprocal agreement in the air, to me it is a great compliment.
I hope, as my son does, that tomorrow’s trip is the first of many.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
More commonly put, today is the third anniversary of my beautiful wife’s death.
I’ve said before that anniversaries are just another day, and they are no more difficult or less painful than yesterday or tomorrow.
Indeed nothing changes, those that died stay dead, and the world keeps revolving.
Just as it will tomorrow.
Today’s anniversary was a little different, I did feel, or act differently today.
It started last night when junior cheekily asked if he could sleep in my bed. I didn’t take much convincing as I quite fancied having him to cuddle anyway.
Thing is, sleeping with my son, while infinitely comforting, is not the most pleasant experience.
He is a snorer, a fidget, a kicker, a hogger and a bossy-boots when he is asleep.
So I wasn’t off to the best of starts this morning, being over-tired is never great.
Then I’d been thinking about Sam’s grave.
I do normally choose to lay flowers on significant dates, sometimes more out of self imposed obligation than because I actually want to, or get great comfort from doing so.
Graves are rubbish, but I know it helps a lot of others to visit them.
I prefer to have some of Max’s mother’s favourite flowers in our own house. She loved Lilies and Lily of the Valley.
Anyway, today I was more concerned with our son’s presence at the cemetery.
Generally in the past Max has accompanied me and helped lay flowers on what I describe to him as his mother’s garden.
But now, as he seems to be understanding his loss, I really didn’t want to confuse him any more than necessary.
There will be time for him to know of the grave, and he can decide for himself what it represents, and how it may be useful, or not, to his own grieving mechanism.
He spent some time with Sam’s parents today, fairly usual for a Saturday, but I think they appreciated more than usual today.
When I dropped him off this morning, he was very loving, and gave me a great big kiss and cuddle, virtually un-prompted, when it was my time to leave.
And, I, really appreciated that.
It kept me going for the rest of the day.
Friday, 1 August 2008
I used to regard myself as being quite sharp, and perhaps, on my good days even, in the words of Alan Sugar, drop-dead-shrewd.
My forte was finding better solutions, or simplifying systems and processes effectively.
That and negotiating pay rises with someone who wasn’t as skilled as me in that area.
I wasn’t a world beater by any means, but I’d forged a very successful career as an operations manager of a medium sized, yet rapidly expanding UK business.
While my laid-back and humorous approach to life meant I wasn’t always taken that seriously out of the work place, many respected, and often courted my opinion on all things business.
Now somewhere along the lines I’ve become a smidgen blunted.
I had put all that down to grief.
Being unable to focus on any matter for a sustained, or useful, amount of time.
Not being able to see the importance of any matter that wasn’t of life or death proportions.
These facets don’t bode well for efficiency experts.
But, last week a friend was brave enough to challenge my philosophy.
“It’s being a parent, and a full-time one makes it a thousand times worse,” they enthused.
In part I have to agree, being a parent, or more specifically, being a parent that takes an interest in their child, does have an impact upon one’s astuteness.
Even as part of a near perfect family unit I lost focus on my job terribly easily.
I didn’t want to go back to work once my son was born, and it was probably then I realised I was doing something I was good at, rather than having any interest in.
And detail, albeit sometimes having a monumental effect on the profit and loss account, or staff morale of the business, became just that, detail.
Detail I didn’t really give my full and proper attention to, or a monkey's toss about.
As time, and the job, have elapsed, I guess I’ve not needed to be focused on the blue-sky-thinking tat, and I have never really touched-base on anything anyway.
The more I think about my incisive rating, the more I think this has made me a better rounded individual, and will probably mean I would, technically, be able to be even better at this type of job than I was before.
I don’t imagine it would be long before the rust from the relevant cogs in my brain was brushed away.
Not that I ever really hope to be doing anything like that again.
OK, there was some stuff I enjoyed, aside from being paid.
I liked seeing people grow, and I took pleasure from implementing systems or procedure, that virtually made some parts of even my own job redundant.
But none of that matters compared to watching my son’s delight at singing at playgroup, or running from a lively cow, unable to control his laughter.
So if I have to take a while, or a lifetime, or nearer zombie-ness, that is absolutely fine with moi.