Sundays used to be about doing the least amount possible, or at a minimum, starting the sobering up process of the previous two days’ excesses.
Of course the arrival of children obliterates what that schedule used to be about.
Instantly becoming a slave to their time-table, and the term lie-in has a new definition in a revised dictionary.
Something like; Lie-in : A parent gets an uninterrupted night’s sleep, having no need to set an alarm the night before. Will still be woken by a child.
Today has been a hectic Sunday.
We have been to two parties, and then on to the school’s annual Easter Egg Hunt around the village.
Luckily, and I use that term lightly, the first party started at 10.00, and the second at 11.30, with the hunt being from 14:00.
Yes, I am using military time, as that type of execution was required.
It meant for little clashing and that my son, and I, could get to all the places we wanted to be. I do not enjoy turning down invites for things that he and I would enjoy.
The first party was simple. At a soft-play place about a 20 minute drive from here. Just needed to remember child and present for that one.
I say it was simple, but as the clocks went forward last night, I was a little confused setting my alarm last night, as I was unsure if my phone would auto update overnight, and in case it did not, what time did I need to set my alarm for?
Easily confused me, but not as much as some parents, which I shall come to.
I set another alarm for 07:00, the new 08:00, just in case. But I was awake anyway when both alarms went off.
Max had a great time at the first party, and I knew the present would be well received as I had discussed it with the party boy’s parents.
The best bit was the organised games and dancing. It was great to see a group, predominantly of four and five year old boys, enjoy the dancing so much.
It was not so great to be roped in to ‘doing’ Black Lace’s Superman song. Especially when I got so lost in swimming, and my macho man impression, that it took me a while to work out my son had deserted me, hiding under the party table, no doubt in complete shame of his old man.
The second party was at our village hall, and of the fancy dress variety. Having checked in with Junior in the morning as to what he wanted to go as, I successfully managed to remember the Spiderman outfit, and he got changed in the hall car park, as we raced against another parent, who was also fitting in both parties, to see who could get there sooner.
That was also a blast.
We arrived just in time for his second lot of party food, which my son was, understandably, not that interested in.
But then he had a play on their bouncy castle before enjoying the various party games they had set up.
The car was then dumped at home, and we then had a walk round to the school, noticing various wooden eggs as we did.
Max still dressed as Spiderman.
There was a ‘choice’ of hunt at the school, a child and an adult version. There were both really linked together as the kids’ clues gave you the location of the eggs, and as well as each being a different colour and having a letter on, they were also adorned with a cryptic clue, for the adults to work out.
These clues were mostly trick number questions, like; If you have 17 chickens and all but 9 die, how many do you have left?
It was surprising that people were tricked each and every time, where as I was looking at them all as trick questions, immediately.
Maybe I am too cynical.
Some months have 31 days, how many have 28?
All of them.
If there are three apples and you take two, how many do you have?
Two, of course.
I actually enjoyed sharing, and explaining, my cynicism with a couple of the older kids that we had grouped up with.
Anyway, from the letters on all the eggs, we worked out that it was Scooby Doo that had kidnapped the Easter Bunny, and as a reward Max got a Smarties chocolate egg.
After a quick refreshment stop at the school, we were on our walk back home, so I could start preparing our tea, and this post, as it happens.
Max was having a chat with an older brother of one of his friend’s, about what they think had happened to Scooby Doo, the Easter villain.
My son suggested that Shaggy had perhaps told him off, and that all was then OK. The older lad suggested that Scooby had been given a ten-month stretch, and that should be enough time to put him off attempting a future theft of Easter Eggs, or anything else, for that matter.
I was amused.
My boy was not.
He got a bit upset at the thought of Scooby being locked up, and I had to spend most of our journey home reassuring him that this was not the case, and giving my best possible answers to questions about Scooby’s motives in the first place.
All very confusing.
But a great and packed-out day.
Hopefully tomorrow will be another good one, as we should get confirmation of my son’s place at the school.
So next year, I could be writing those clues.
A whole new level of cynical questions for the village’s finest.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Sundays used to be about doing the least amount possible, or at a minimum, starting the sobering up process of the previous two days’ excesses.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
I do not watch much television, or more accurately, I do not watch many TV programmes.
Our TV set is pretty much always on, if we are in, it is a sort of OCD to switch it on, and I usually go straight for a music channel, unless I am led somewhere else by the smaller of our house’s occupants.
I prefer to watch music videos, rather than just listening to music itself at home, but do use Spotify on occasion, if I want to choose exactly what I am listening to, rather than settle for the random nature of whatever 4Music, or similar, puts out.
With music videos you can ignore them, as much as be entertained by them, while still listening to the actual music.
I have them on while I am typing this.
You might lose me for three minutes if this video comes on.
But as for actual TV programmes that I look forward to viewing. I do not believe there are many.
I like Shameless, the grim but hilarious goings on of the Chatsworth, a fictitious council housing estate, near Manchester.
Heroes is back at the moment too. And I like the darker nature of the current run.
And The Apprentice started again last night, which is as annoying as it is entertaining.
I am probably within the key demographics for all those shows.
But the programme I have probably most enjoyed recently is Skins.
It is in its third series, and I have watched, and enjoyed the other two.
They featured, as only a moderately important character, Dev Patel, he of Slumdog Millionaire stardom.
And started as a somewhat comic recollection of how a group of college students from Bristol lived a perceived cool and hedonistic existence.
Some more experienced comic actors have dropped in at various points, as parents or teachers of this merry band, but it has essential been about a gang of teenagers.
This string of episodes has featured many new characters, as the story effectively follows this year’s students at the college, rather with the original cast on their evolving lives.
Again it has got darker with time, and each group seems to take even more risks as time goes on.
The involvement of any parent has diminished to give the cast a feel of willful abandonment, and a why-should-I-care-if-no-one-else-does attitude.
Of course they take things too seriously, and situations that are relatively minor get amplified, but this is television.
But while dark, it is generally funny, and there have also been some ‘real’ moments of uplift.
The end of the episode that centres around my favourite character – yeah, I have a favourite, see title - JJ, is a great ‘feel good’ moment.
Watching his mother gaze upon her son, who is medicated to help him fit in with the crowd, and to put a lid on his issues, but appears to be fitting in, and doing the things that ‘he should be’ at that age, made me smile.
The thing is these kids are supposed to be 16, a fact, I have only just realised while I read the programme’s website.
I knew they were young, I just never realised how young, and I guess I find the plots and stories interesting as I can, at times, still feel like I have a young mind-set, even if I have no desire to go back to that way of living.
But justifying watching by virtue of my home’s average age, 17-and-a-half, did not fly with my sister.
I think she just believes I am daft, and a little perverted.
Neither of which I can put a great case up against.
Some of my Twitter chums have also been amused by my preference of 10 O’Clock viewing, Twittering me with updates of what is going on over at Question Time, the same time alternative for grown ups.
Tonight it is the season ending episode of Skins, and I hope to have all my jobs done, including a mountain of ironing, before it starts.
I shall miss it.
But the most ridiculous thing is that it will be replaced by a programme I probably will enjoy even more.
A programme even more juvenile.
The Inbetweeners is a comedy based around four sixth-form students, and their ridiculous goings on.
Both vulgar and real immature stuff.
But if the second series is anything near the first, then I will enjoy a weekly chortle at it for a month or so.
I really am, or can be, such a child.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
As wonderful a being as my son is, he has also developed a fiery temper.
He has the ability to demonstrate tremendous kindness and awareness. I am often moved by the way he shows concern for others, and how he can adapt a situation based on the circumstances around him.
A knack of including people in what he is doing, at just the right time.
I have witnessed him lift those around him, while remaining blissfully unaware himself.
Those are great moments.
Times that are not so great are when he stamps his feet in anger, smacks what is in his way, or shouts horrible tirades when his ducks do not line up just as he likes them.
This is passed the tantrum stage, this is anger.
Anger that is sometimes an act, but more often, seems genuine.
At present this behaviour seems to be exclusively reserved for me, or at least only when I am around.
I cannot be certain of that, but the nursery says he has not shown form of that kind, and the grandparents also say, although they have seen his worst work, it is generally when I am there too.
I think it is a backward compliment that he feels comfortable enough to express himself, even if that expression is not easily stomached and can sometimes be physically, as well as emotionally, painful.
Angry is a very rare state of mind for me, I hope that is not a false claim, and I do not mean that I don’t get angry at all, but it does tend to be rare.
The problem for me is that when I ‘go’ it can take me hours to get it out of my system.
I remember a taxi ride to the airport, when the driver attempted to renege on an agreed deal, a deal that I had made.
I was moderately upset, eventually throwing the ‘fare’ onto this guy’s passenger seat, while my, then, soon-to-be-wife, called my parents to keep an eye on our house, fearing a reprisal physical attack from the taxi firm, for the verbal assault I had just delivered to their employee.
It was not until much later in that day that I eventually calmed down, and became approachable again. Our friends confident enough to resume the normal teasing-because-we-love-you routine.
Max seems able to change his state of mind very quickly, and is over his irritation very quickly. But he does tend to be more destructive as he gets there.
Like this morning, he was stretching the boundaries, as he seems to do constantly, and me, doing exactly the opposite.
Newton’s third law of motion applied to parenting.
However on this occasion I had no equal and opposite force to that exerted on my shin by my son’s shoe.
More a stern word.
I did not even raise my voice.
More explaining that just because I had decided it unnecessary to take three Power Rangers to nursery, it was not worthy of a kick to the shin.
His anger subsided, via agreement, to upset, and tears.
And for some reason, my explanation that tears were also an unnecessary action, and that perhaps the injured party, me, would be better justified if I thought crying was appropriate, did not seem to quell my son’s sniffles.
Instead our walk through the village was not a pleasant one. He still chose to hold my hand for most of it, but there was a lot of whining, and a few fake tears, and quite a bit of ignorance to queries into his woe from the people we encountered.
Though I quite like the last one, and would expect nothing less really.
His rage is something I will be keeping an eye on, and perhaps researching a bit.
And by that I mean asking a few parents of older children, if it is a good thing to get the anger out now, or indeed, to have the ability to get angry at all, and of course, I expect nothing short of genius amongst the comments left here.
Monday, 23 March 2009
This somewhat manipulated and morphed event, that has found its way into our annual calendar, has never been more important to me.
As a son, and a person for that matter, I am not a very big fan of acting to a society driven schedule.
Annual days, such as this one, Valentines and Halloween are a load of tripe concocted to make me feel like I should be doing something to signify them.
Get knotted those days.
It is not that I do not appreciate what people do for me, or am unable to demonstrate that practically, I just do not like being forced into celebrating that fact to a national, or international, schedule.
However ‘Mother’s Day’ now has added significance to me, in the reality that my son does not have a living mother to celebrate it with, and therefore I need to actually think about how I choose to handle it.
Others around us are very considerate of our circumstances, probably too much in some cases.
And some were interested in how we, or I, would like to handle the day, and traditions like cards.
I decided that my son should make a card for his mother, and if he wanted to make cards for others, he could do so, but they would be additional.
Everyone was onboard with my plan, with the notable exception of Junior himself.
The first opportunity he got to make a card, I was actually with him, at a playgroup we regularly frequent, that chose to make cards a couple of weeks before Mothering Sunday, as they were planning on ‘making’ biscuits a little closer to it.
We had a good half-hour of making a card, a flower based one from various shades of crepe paper, that we scrumbled up and glued down like the bad-asses that we are.
Craft. Is. Cool.
But my boy was not keen on this card being for his mother, instead insisting it was for Cbeebies.
Which prompted some interesting dialogue between us, and a couple of the
nosey more confident around us.
I was not keen on hearing my son’s perceived reluctance to making a card for his mom, but listened to him all the same.
It pays sometimes.
I attempted to explain that although she was not here to receive it, that was no real reason as to not make her a card, and we could make other, additional cards, including for the UK’s number one TV channel for pre-schoolers.
In an ‘I-get-all-that-dad-but’ way, he still insisted that the card should be for his normal channel of choice.
Mildly concerned that my son was choosing television over his mother, a compromise was muted. We would make two cards and pick one out of our works for each.
I gained agreement, but then lost my child’s attention to other things going on at the group, so we never completed the second card.
Instead I let it whirl round my head how he could have come up with such a decision, without really getting any further with that either.
But I need not have worried.
We returned home for lunch, and I switched Cbeebies on while I put it together. However before I made it back to the kitchen, Max pointed my attention to the screen and to their send in request.
Of course they wanted flowers, to signify spring, just like the one we had made that morning.
My son was not choosing anyone over anyone, he simply had put the two and two together correctly.
Have that ‘concern’, and welcome back ‘proud’
He further confirmed his thoughtful side when he decided to make further cards for his daddy and for his granddad.
His granddad’s because he had cut his thumb last week, and the card had become a I-hope-it-gets-better-soon card.
Very thoughtful, and lateral of mind.
On some of our walks to and from nursery and the village playground, my mini-colossus has re-iterated who he has made cards for, reminding me also that our send in card remains undone.
Will have to do something about that later this week.
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Then, I remembered, at least one of the things that I should have done.
Which, quite beautifully, gave me the material I needed it to do it.
It all makes sense here, or sort of.
Friday, 20 March 2009
Yesterday I wrote about dishing out discipline in public.
My original point, which was lost amongst many others generated from my
RANDOMISER brain, was that I had witnessed parents - in my opinion - shouting at their children BECAUSE others were there to witness it, rather than because that was the appropriate choice of action for them.
In the comfort of our own living room this morning, my little smasher was doing his best to draw out an increased volume from me.
You know, that not-so-cute reluctance to getting dressed suitably, and at the appropriate time thing they do?
It is something of an ongoing works in our existence, to get my son to dress himself completely, including discarding removed clothes correctly, without assistance.
He is taking development of my lazy gene to a new level, not helped by my general tourette-like habit of taking over to ensure tasks are completed satisfactorily and within time.
Which is at what point we had a little disagreement this morning.
My patience had got to the taking-over-point, and after employing my come-over-here-I-need-to-whisper-something capture tactic, I hastily arranged my son’s outfit for the day, onto his person.
“I DON’T LIKE YOU.” He stated rather ear-splittingly.
“That’s lovely, can we go now?” I gently retorted.
“I want a hug first.” He stated on a much more reasonable level.
“But, I thought you didn’t like me?” I replied.
“Only when you put my clothes on.” He explained.
“Then why don’t you dress yourself?” I asked.
Without even stopping to think about it, he returned with;
“Because, then, I wouldn’t like myself.”
He has an hilarious answer to everything.
It really does pay to listen.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
It is not really pretty when spats happen, but even more so when they happen in front of innocent, and judgemental, bystanders.
I guess that is why they are called ‘spats’, rather than say, a nice word, like ‘pamphlet’.
Before I became a parent I would watch children being chastised for behaviour deemed worthy of such action by their parents, and I think, I would normally side with the parent, judging that to be the only appropriate action.
Shouting at kids was perceived as the normal action by me in all cases, what other method could there possibly be, talk to them, and reasoning to a mutually agreeable solution? No way.
I have never been much of a shouter myself.
I think being in control, and making points clearly, can be far more intimidating, or at least, be the right type of scary.
Shouting would generally be reserved for my team-mates in the various sports teams I was in, and it would be used for a variety of purposes, to encourage, instruct and berate.
Not that any of them ever listened to the lazy bloke at the back.
Since my son’s arrival my yelling philosophy has been revisited, constantly.
With a relatively calm nature, I do not find it difficult to generally resist any temptation to bellow in his direction, and I consider it a rare failure if I do so now.
Times of immense frustration are the most difficult to resist barking, and I have shouted on occasions such as repetitive toilet failure.
Other times, when I consider it totally justifiable are when he puts himself, or others, in danger. Road safety springs to mind, and as I was very keen to teach my boy to heel on command, I would use a stronger decibel-count to get my seriousness across.
The overriding message is that I want my son to improve, or correct his behaviour and know the reason why.
Even if that reason is just understood as the forever useful; “because-I-say-so”.
Remaining constant is the key, whatever the circumstances and whereabouts, being uninfluenced by outside pressures as much as it is possible.
As he gets older, and social interaction becomes more consistent, like he will be at school with the same people for a number of years, and thus parents will be in each others’ company for longer, there is an added dimension to public discipline.
What will other people think?
People who we socialise with on a near daily basis.
The short answer is what they want, their perception being reality and all that clever stuff.
And while I might type it is not important, that might not actually be true.
I really do not want others thinking of me negatively, especially as I think it may limit my child’s social opportunities.
But also appreciate thoughts like this should not be at the forefront when you are dealing with potentially heated situations with your children.
So far I believe I have resisted action for the benefit of others, flexing my vocal cords just to show everyone else I am in control of my boy. I have not seen the need yet, and ultimately think people see through it anyway, making you look even worse.
I suspect it is not true of others around me, and have witnessed a couple of recent episodes, handled very differently by the parents, and in some cases I believe influenced by the fact that they had an audience.
One mother definitely getting louder, so that others could hear what she was bawling at her child.
Fair consistent behaviour and action speaks far louder to children, and also barely makes a ripple amongst the local self-appointed judging panel.
In this case the child had admitted doing some wrong, which in itself is a positive, it would have been easier to lie, a policy they may decide upon for future.
Instead of asking them to apologise, explaining why, and perhaps then taking them out of their play situation as a sort of penance, physical man-handling and shouting was chosen, which, of course, the child resisted.
No one won in that situation.
Well apart from the panel, who got some quality bad-mouthing in.
I expect it to get more difficult as Max gets older, and has more serious disagreements with other children, and know it is much easier to observe from afar and think ‘in retrospect’.
But now I have this post to refer to when I get a bit shouty in that future.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
This sticker, was stuck on the back of a street name sign, yeah, one of those 3" wide, 3ft long jobbies.
Priceless in the wrong hands.
The road in question was one I used to drive down, and walk on with Max when we lived in what is, I suppose, my home town.
Refer to post title.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
At the end of last week we spent a few days in London. We stayed with a friend, and started our trip on Thursday so we could take advantage of the relative quiet that the end of the working week brings.
It is something we have done before, twice before I think.
On all occasions we have followed the same Friday blue-print. Get up, pack a bag, head to the two big museums, the Natural History and Science varieties, taking in lunch at one of them, and then, based on behaviour, head to Hamleys for appropriate treating.
Finally, struggling back to our base trying to avoid the afternoon rush.
On the first two occasions we have spent the day as a duo, due to our friend’s work commitments, and got absolutely knackered, me from carrying him and all our stuff, and him from watching.
It has been interesting to compare the various times we have been, and how my son has taken in, and reacted to the different things around him.
I suppose, on reflection, it is also interesting to observe how my parenting has evolved.
And that starts with the contents of our bag. The original had nappies, changes of clothes, foods and juices of many different varieties, the latest contents did have an emergency change of clothes, but the emergency toilet – an empty plastic bottle - was closer to the top, and justifiably so.
Like a lot of young children Max is pretty keen on dinosaurs, but not too keen on the giant animated Tyrannosaurus Rex that enjoys top billing within the Natural History museum’s dinosaur exhibit.
The first time he cried, and clutched me very tightly.
The second, there were no tears, but he still took to adding to my payload.
This last time, he was in no rush and held my hand for most of it, then only wanting holding so to get a better gander at the business end of this robotic colossus.
He generally took a greater interest in a lot of the exhibits, noticing things we had just rushed passed on previous occasions.
It meant we actually struggled for time, and our visit to the Science museum, was much more targeted than it had been in the past, and there was absolutely no time for the landmark toy store.
Our targeting at the Science museum included its interactive garden, and the experiment rich Launchpad.
Again in these two zones he was much more alive and aware of his surroundings, I was also more relaxed, as I knew he would be more sensible around the water exhibit and he also plays and shares much more with other children.
All this was very interesting, to me in any case, great points of reference, all split approximately twelve months apart, but the real window to tomorrow came when we were out for a meal.
It was the activity I thought would cause me most concern, Sunday lunch to celebrate another London based friend’s birthday.
Max is usually pretty good these days when we go out to eat, but usually he knows everyone we go out with well.
But on this occasion the dozen or so others were not people he was overly familiar with, or therefore comfortable, or so I thought.
Various props were packed to stave off what I thought was going to be inevitable boredom.
I could not have been more wrong.
My boy was on top form. Moving around the table and engaging with each and everyone there in different measures.
He then courted the attention of the whole table, to play a game of dominos, rules were made up to as he went along, everyone was entertained, and if they had gained enough favour with my son, found themselves on the winning side.
A little assistance was necessary, which he got from others rather than from me, but overall he kept the attention of everyone around him.
Confidence, rather than cockiness, oozing from every pore.
I was in awe of him, and spent what seemed like an age, ignoring everyone else, and just watching him conduct himself.
Totally lost in wonderment.
A proud trance.
Yet, occasionally checking with his new friends that they were OK, although I could see my asking was not actually necessary.
I do not expect every time we go out like this to be so successful. Just like I did not expect this one to be.
Indeed, this was a most unexpected and personally magnificent moment.
One I hope to treasure amongst the many others this incredible boy has given, and continues to give, me, his forever grateful dad.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Being a widower I often look at people, generally folk that I know, but not well, and think, do they know my situation?
I can be chatting to such people, and completely lose myself to this thought, and therefore my track, and as a result, their attention all together.
Then it is no real surprise to get looks of bemusement at such times, but I also feel that I get unexplained odd ones sometimes, which itself is nothing new, as I have always left some people puzzled, just by my general appearance or persona.
Thing is, if they do actual exist - these 'looks' - there is ultimately one - a reason - it is just that I am blissfully unaware of what it may be.
A fact highlighted recently by a few friends of mine.
I have never really been much of a stickler for my appearance, stemming from a childhood that deemed any sort of grooming an unnecessary and therefore all too consuming process.
It was not until my mid-teens, that even showering became unreluctant, but post antiperspirant activities were still not introduced until a much later stage, and I had a far from regular routine.
I was not so much as unfashionable, as by chance I did purchase, or more accurately procure, some half-decent clobber.
But I would groom and dress at a minimum to allow myself passage to the day’s planned activities, taking note of dress codes and probable door policies.
And relaxed probably does not go far enough to describe how I would look after myself throughout a day, Samantha would have said horizontal, alluding to a more than laid-back approach.
I can actually remember a great example a good number of years ago now. My best friends were moving house, I was cajoled into helping them out, and then Samantha, my new girlfriend at the time, was coming to stay at the new house and be introduced to my friends.
We spent a hung-over day moving and sorting out all that needed doing, and we worked well into the night, so were knackered the following morning.
In their efforts to appease the ailing help, my friends had made bacon sandwiches, and in my haste to come down and eat them, I had not bothered to dress appropriately.
But I think they were used to my lax attitude, and seeing me in my pants for that matter.
Sam was due in the afternoon, but as you might expect my friends had a brisk succession of people visiting them to have a peek around their lovely new abode.
Again, there were people I knew, but none very well.
So, I had a succession of familiar faces taking in my friends’ lovely new lounge, then looking at me all scowly-faced vegging on the sofa in all my boxer pant glory.
My friends were actually grateful as my appearance seemed to increase the speed at which these pesky guests departed.
The lady, who quite incredibly became my wife, arrived a few hours later, and as she had not met my friends before I went to the door to accompany her in.
I was not even conscious of the fact that I was still barely clothed and it was mid-afternoon, Sam was giggling on the other side of the door, and had her 'yes-that’s-my-boyfriend' look on.
After I opened the door I went to give her a welcoming kiss, which she stopped me from doing, instead she chose to wipe away stray sauce from the mornings sandwiches, before planting a smacker on me.
Horizontal, was probably right.
These days I like to think I am a little more on top of my stuff, but then again there is the whole new toddler ball game to encompass.
While I snuck a cheeky pint the other week with a chum, I was getting funny looks, and then my company pointed out it may be because I had Transformers stickers all over my sweater.
I was getting a few the other day on our walk home from nursery, and then I was reminded that I had Max’s tiny woolly hat on, as he had discarded it.
And again in a local grocery store, that time apparently because wearing plastic medallions is not necessarily common place.
The world will be used to me one day.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
“Can I have a word?” The soon-to-be nursery leader gently murmured to me this morning.
“Of course.” Was my glib reply, but I quickly ascertained this was to be a private word, rather than a quick public request for me to move or lift something, as usually happens as the regular dad on dropping off duties.
After drawing a blank on what the subject of this ‘word’, that more accurately was always going to be a few minutes of dialogue, while I waited for it, I have to admit to eventually being a little broadsided.
“Mother’s day is coming up.”
Indeed it is. Or it is in this country anyway.
I can remember having thoughts about this, perhaps a week ago, on my return walk from nursery. A mixture of letting them know my feelings, and also with the nursery leadership due to change over at the end of this term, thought it probably worthwhile sharing my general absent mommy mantra with the new regime.
It did not materialise any further, or even make it to my current to-do list. I was probably pre-occupied with planning for our weekend adventure.
But, while I tried to muster a retort, I was desperately trying to put on finger on those thoughts of a few days ago.
I was pleased that the nursery was asking, being a small place I probably expected them to, especially as my son has a growing appreciation of all going on around him, and will probably be asking more questions about it this year.
Since Samantha died I have not been consistent with dealing with Mother’s Day, or generated a fixed policy of where I stand on it, or how we should mark it.
When there has been an activity at our various play groups, or activities, rather than shy from them, we have always joined in. With me perhaps hoping that Max will be prompted to want to learn more about his mom, or about the much more difficult ‘where’ she is.
Whatever we have made for her I have kept, with thoughts of returning them to him when he is older, so he can keep them on her behalf, rather than me.
I do not subscribe in taking things to Samantha’s grave. Although that is where her ashes were interned, I certainly do not think of her as being ‘there’ and I hope that my boy continues to believe the same, without my direct influence I should add.
And I find rotting flowers, and worse still cards, that could have significant sentimental value if kept differently, slowly decaying and being destroyed by Mother Nature, sad on so many levels.
I did not get into this diatribe with my son’s nursery, instead insisting they should not be afraid of upsetting him, as it is his life, and there is no way around the fact that he lost his mother at just seven months old.
All the other children will be encouraged to make cards, and I do not see why he can not also enjoy that process, even thought his recipient has no earthly address.
We discussed making the cards for someone else, like a grandparent, but I think that is dangerous ground too.
On some levels, probably the toddler one, this sends the message that in someway his mother is being replaced by another woman in his family. And however unconscious and passive that message is, it is not one I am keen on.
I shall be discussing it with him, so he knows what is coming at nursery, reiterating my current plan, the-safe-keeping-for-later approach, and see where that gets us.
I have also reasurred the nursery that withstanding my brief they can do no wrong, as sadly these are situations he will inevitably have to deal with.
Shying from, or special treatment because of them, is a whole book of no-no-nadder in my brain’s library.
The leader in waiting is also now fully briefed on a first-person basis on how I generally tackle the questions of where Mommy is, and how I tend to comfort her boy when he gets upset.
I tell him she is always in his heart and mind, and whatever he does, or gets up to, she shares and basks in. She will always be part of him, if not physically in our lives.
He is only to close his eyes and she is there, right in front of him.
And if he is not sure of any of that, or just wants to know more about her, he just needs to open his mouth.
Someone will always only be to willing to share the wonderment of his amazing mother.
Monday, 9 March 2009
I am on catch up, after a very enjoyable, yet very exhausting few days in our nation's capital.
Therefore I am struggling to muster the time and effort required for a proper blog post, but the following picture summaries our trip so much better that I could ever hope to.
Look, I even managed a cliche in a three sentence post.
So instead, I give you the budding, safety conscious, rock star.
Thursday, 5 March 2009
I, as much as most, know that everything you do could very well turn out to be the last time you do it.
However, I am also realistic and optimistic enough to not let thoughts like that occupy my gray matter.
Since I became a widower, and a single parent, I have enjoyed gallivanting with my son and inspiration.
Usually this has been locally.
Play groups, music sessions, swimming, soft play, library story time, parks, farms, monkey forests, adventure centres, museums, rivers, canals, lakes, trains and planes.
To mention but a lot.
Then occasionally we trek further afield. Exploiting the hospitality of those we know around the country.
We have friends in the North, and some in the South.
A few of which, reside in our nation’s capital.
I am not a huge fan of prolonged stays in London, but I do enjoy popping in, and probably more so, fleeing out.
It is something we used to do regularly as a married couple, and would go through very similar sets of emotions.
Excitement > Enjoyment > Frustration and, finally, relief.
Some of my late wife’s best friends had, and still do have, homes in the big smoke. All of which I am still in contact with.
These friends quickly became more than just acquaintances for me, and since her death they have even increased in value.
There is a blurred line of when these people became my friends too, but the proof of the matter is we are heading down to stay with one of Samantha’s longest standing and closest friends this weekend.
This is a trip me and the boy have done before. We have headed down there after nursery finishes on a Thursday and then been able to take advantage of the relative quiet of Friday to visit the more popular attractions.
The rest of the weekend is then spent catching up, and visiting places, people and events that do not usually have an enormous baying flock.
We are doing the same this week, and I have realised this is most likely for the last time before school goes full blown in September.
I am hopeful that we shall still be making visits post September but acknowledge that they will normally be limited to weekends and school holidays, and thus at the busiest times.
Does not mean they will not be great, read how much fun Kat & Co had recently, but I am not going to enjoy fighting the crowds to get a butchers at the dinosaurs and to perform the experiments that I expect to enjoy with relative ease in the next 24 hours.
So perhaps this time, the normal relief I feel on the journey back home with be tarnished with a little sorrow.
Whatever I feel, it will still be worth it, and great times are still ahead, regardless of how they differ from today's norm.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
My son’s, yes, my little boy’s favourite band, The Killers, have been confirmed as headliners for V Festival 2009.
This is the annual August giant pop concert masquerading as a music festival, that I have attended these past two years.
In fact I liked it so much the first time, I built a house near enough to make the site walk-able, and thus the camping side of it redundant.
I still insist I was tricked into going the first time, by a loving sister who thought it would be a good break for me, and it so happened that the favourite band of my youth, were making a comeback appearance.
They are on again this year, presumably still promoting their ‘new’ album, bonus all the same.
There are also some other acts that I would like to see, like Elbow, Keane and The Ting Tings.
Then there is the pervability factor in the luscious shapes of Katy Perry, Lily Allen, Lady GaGa and The Saturdays.
And if I fancy throwing rotten stuff stage-wards there is always Alesha Dixon, that is if she stops moving enough to make it fair.
However it is the headliner I am most interested in. They also appeared at the first festival I went to, but I was less than enamoured with them then.
They were far too cool for me to be interested, and I chose their set to ‘enjoy’ the relative peace and cleanliness of the
plastic tardises of filth portaloos.
However their third album, and first two singles from it have got me interested.
Proper sing-a-long-stuff, I have the proof.
I thought it was a fluke, that Max liked ‘Human’ and had learnt the words to the chorus, and much more of them now, but he has also taken to the second single ‘Spaceman’.
In fact, we were singing it this morning on our walk to nursery, and he suggested we try substituting in ‘Astronaut’, as ‘they are spacemen too Daddy’.
So naturally, and due to my consultative approach, when The Killers were reported to be playing this year’s event, I asked my son if he would like to come.
Not a wise move, as it was not really a genuine offer.
I would very much enjoy taking him to an appropriate music festival, but this one really is not a family friendly one, and it would also defeat some of its purpose for me.
It is a real hair down, forget about parenting, weekend. And I really would not want him subject to any of that sort of behaviour.
They would also be last on, way past his bed time, and toddler attention span.
He is not a great fan of loud noise either, so as I stated above, it is not really an option.
Plus, I do not know where he would get £130 from.
But I have moments of that speak-before-you-think-thing, parenting tourettes so to type. And he has since informed my sister he will be seeing The Killers, and I am sure his nursery chums today.
I quickly need to formulate a replacement plan. I am sure that Junior would actually prefer to go do what he did last year, a weekend by the sea with ALL his grandparents, and equally sure that The Killers would not entertain a free and sombre performance in my garden.
As I type this I am thinking a summer party at home, with his favourite music playing, and perhaps even some footage recorded from V, thinking about it, I believe it was televised on 4Music last year.
We could even camp.
Would he realise the difference?
If he has as much to drink as I have had at these festivals in the past, then no chance.
Monday, 2 March 2009
I really enjoy talking with my son, stating before that we are friends as well as parent and child.
I still take the role of the adult - most of the time – but I like to think of our relationship as a partnership, perhaps more a cooperative, than boss and subordinate.
We make a great and formidable team, complimenting each other well, perfectly in my opinion.
But I have to remember who I am talking to.
At times I court his opinion when really I should not be entertaining it. I have learnt to curtail that for things like getting him dressed, cooking for dinner or choosing bed time reading.
It is much better to give him options, than letting him start from scratch.
I am not as alternative as some others.
But, for me, it is a balance of consultation versus time.
If he is given complete remit it can take an age for him to come to a decision, and one that might change, and he goes back on, and gets upset about if that change of mind comes too late.
While this is true, I just find it natural to talk things through with him, and seek his opinion on stuff, however random and changeable it is.
Today, is usually my domestic day, while Max goes off for an almost weekly adventure with his grandparents.
Yet this week, they are on holiday, and therefore we get an extra day with one another. And due to the frequency of these days, I generally choose to do the ad-hoc stuff I have discussed with him in the past. The more expensive trips out, I suppose.
However, today we had our plumber due for a tidy up job, and to bring us a VAT refund.
He was fitting us in, and as his arrival for these tasks has been scheduled before, I was reluctant to reschedule again.
Therefore I did not plan much for today, merely thinking of options depending on how much time we had left either side of this guy showing up.
The choices given were a maiden cinema voyage to watch ‘Bolt’, which after watching the trailer he seemed very keen on. Then the alternatives were ten-pin bowling, or a simple trip out to one of our local parks.
As the weather was dry but windy, the later was by far my least favourite choice, and thus instantly became my boy’s first one.
But after getting him ready for such an outing, and actually stepping out into the weather I had described, he was a little deterred.
Problem being that the cinema showing I had targeted was now not going to fit into our revised day, and therefore no longer an option.
Yet explanations like that do not seem to fly with a four-year-old.
Luckily, he was soon happy, and warm, enough to continue with plan A, his plan A to be precise.
I rested in the knowledge that the place we were headed to was actually only a short walk from one of my other alternative ideas, the bowling.
However, as cold as I was, Max was more than warmed by my attempt at being the kid this time, and trying to get round an obstacle course without touching the ground.
I failed miserably.
Which was the best possible outcome.