|"Get in the water you big Jessie."|
|"Get in the water you big Jessie."|
Thursdays are a ball ache. In particular because I have to take the Kids to their swimming lesson, which appears to be run by the last surviving concentration camp guards dressed as a bunch of menopausal women.
For a refreshing change of pace the Boy's swimming teacher has stopped swimming alongside the Kids whilst criticising their lack of Olympic potential. Now she sits in (or more precisely - wears) a chair and hectors them loudly from the side of the pool. So it appears even buoyancy isn't a requirement for a swimming teacher these days.
This makes me quite ragey, so today I decided to deal with it by staring angrily at the back of her head and not saying anything. It's a good job she didn't turn around because I'd have had to look somewhere else.
Exiting the swimming pool then became an intricate rage inducing maze of bovine parents with vacuous expressions standing in doorways. The Boy then turned getting changed into something akin to pushing an eel into a balloon. While every other kid in the place left fully dressed he failed to negotiate his way into a pair of pants. So I did the parent-wanting-to-shout-at-child-in-public thing by giving him a wide eyed silent snarl that promised lots of shouting later. This would have worked admirably if he'd been paying bloody attention.
So the shouting happened outside. I stomped off to the car, the Kids dawdling in my furious wake. Instead of getting in the car, they started having a fight.
Dear reader, I'm not proud of what happened next for reasons that will become immediately obvious. I must have been thinking of Withnail and I when an emotional ketchup burst came out and I yelled;
Several points to make here.
1. I have a car
2. I was standing next to a school
3. There was, on the other side of the road, a man mowing the lawn who actually stopped to look at me
4. The Girl burst into tears and then, crucially, cried:
"I WANT MY MUMMY!"
On the up side I managed to get a wheel spin out of my twelve year old diesel dustbin. Plus the Girl (who is vegetarian) dropped her guts* in the car so pungently I nearly hit a lamp post.
I'm writing this during the Kids interminable Saturday morning athletics class in an effort to have somewhere to put my eyes. I rue the invention of Lycra, particularly because the athletics instructors fit into one of two categories: very fit or bizarrely immense. Either way, when they start demonstrating squat thrusts or lunges right in front of me the effect is the same - my eyes try to get out of my ear.
Athletics is only one of many extracurricular activities the Kids are signed up for. Earlier this week the Boy had a social engagement for which I was his designated driver. Last year he joined the cubs, which strangely he seems to enjoy in a totally unqualified manner. I say "strangely" because you often find him saying things like;
"I love playing Lego, but I wonder if it might be a bit dangerous. "
"Yes, it's right up there with using a rectal thermometer on a crocodile."
Anyway, his social engagment was something called a "Gang Show", which I assume wasn't run by the Bush Boys. I dropped him off outside the local theatre and was chatting with Akela when he notice that I had a lot of blood on my thumb.
"Industrial injury? "
Now, I could have said that I'd cut myself building a log cabin, or that I'd caught it on my lathe, or that it was a shark attack. Because as a man I will occasionally be sparse with the truth if I think it might postpone someone's inevitable realisation that I am, when all is said and done, a complete tool. However, I went with;
"I was zesting a lemon. "
Which is about the most middle class injury you can get aside from getting a paper cut from your copy of the English Language version of Le Monde Diplomatique.
Plus - I've never zested a lemon in my life. I actually did it grating a carrot whilst making coleslaw. And why was I making coleslaw? Because we're too cheapskate to buy it from the supermarket.
Naturally the response to my reply was a long silence, followed by:
I don't know why I'm trying to convince people I'm middle class. I'm about as middle class as a string vest or a pack of 20 Rothmans. I'm sitting in a sports hall in the rougher end of town and my Kids are the least well dressed here. In fact they look like they're going to tarmac someone's drive. And there's nothing wrong with that. I should embrace my working class heritage. So I will do that back by sitting back and reading the paper.
Once again I'm away from the family on a business trip. This time I'm at an international conference at which I'm due to give a presentation to delegates from Europe, Africa and North America on a very weighty subject. This seems remarkably foolhardy on the part of my employers as only yesterday I found myself utterly foozled by the simple fact that the Wife has the same surname as me.
We are all, at heart, the children we once were. I suspect that even Stalin wondered how he'd got from a small boy in Georgia to the most feared man in the world. Shortly before polishing Hitler's skull no doubt
I realise I've just compared myself to Stalin.
It doesn't feel like thirty years since I was asking questions like this, from the Girl:
"Mummy, when are we going to Denmark?"
"When are we going to Denmark? No, not Denmark. Where did you say we were going?"
Or, as my Dad always like to recall, the day I asked:
"How many commandments are there in the Ten Commandments? "
The correct answer is eleven, by the way. The last one is the most important: Thoult Shall Not Get Caught.
Still, at least he only told everyone he met about that. He didn't, say, put it on the Internet.
You see, whilst the Kids can be excused their eccentricity because they're kids, my penchant for rampant buffoonery isn't as easy to shake off. I still deal with the world on the level of a six year old, so my life is a constant battle with social ineptitude.
Many years ago I was talking about this with a deeply religious friend, who in turn told me that she felt incredibly awkward talking about sex with her boyfriend because it made her feel dirty.
"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you're a bit odd."
She said, not unkindly.
"And I won't tell anyone you're frigid. "
I replied in a similar tone.
Apparently that's a no-no. She used words which rhymed with " truck" and "bunt". To this day I'm still a bit baffled about her reaction. And the reaction of everyone I've told about this (normally a whistling inhale of breath and a look of disdain).
She's a nun now, by the way.
Even today I've been crippled with the fear that I'm going to look odd carrying around a packet of chocolate digestives at this conference (I'm a mad man for chocolate digestives). It's only that, by pure luck and that I found the hotel have supplied a little paper bag for such an eventuality.
And it's apparently a "sanitary" bag. So that's good.
* For those of you that live outside of the UK, Southend is like Las Vegas, only with less commitment.
OK, I'm going to be honest, we got Netflix and frankly Breaking Bad is a bit addictive. But hey, don't have a pop at me, when did you last write to me, eh? EH?
Recently a friend of mine wrote quite movingly about the experiences he'd had over the course of his life so far, and how he hoped to have the opportunity to pass on his knowledge. Naturally I couldn't miss an opportunity to piss on someone's barbecue. I made the point that I'd been passing on my "wisdom" for eight years with the net result being I now had to share my house with two raving maniacs.
*With due sense if dread and resignation* "Yes?"
"Have you ever worn girls clothes?"
"You'd look nice in a dress."
"Thanks, Girl. "
"When we get home you could put on mummy's wedding dress and then she'd laugh when you answered the door."
"She probably wouldn't laugh."
"YOUR BOOBS WOULDN'T FIT! "
"Shut up, Boy."
For the benefit of posterity, I would look fabulous in the Wife's wedding dress. I have a lovely turn of ankle. However I'm a gentleman and it doesn't do to look better than your wife.
Last week the Boy (in his typically unwitting way) confused a friend of the mother in law to the point of apoplexy just by telling her his middle name.
"That's a nice name. "
"Yeah, it's my dad's dad's name."
"Yeah, it's quite sad really, we don't get to see him much any more."
"That's a shame, why? "
"He died before I was born."
There was a time when I could come home from work put my feet up and watch some telly before the Wife came in and pointed out the washing up needed doing, the laundry was getting rained on and the house was on fire. These days I have to brace myself to ask the question
"How are the Kids?"
"The Girl is climbing the walls."
"Oh god, what is it now? Did you confiscate her throwing knives?"
"No. She's literally climbing the walls. Look."
In the living room the Girl had removed her socks and was scaling the wood surround on the wall. She climbed all the way to the ceiling, before throwing herself backwards onto the sofa. Since the Girl has the bone density of hardened steel, this ejected the cat from the sofa, who exited the room at close to light speed. It also made me have an aneurysm. Since then I've been trying to source Kryptonite on eBay.
God forbid I bother asking the Kids what they did at school. Last time I did it the Boy appeared to go into Factory Reset. We had to teach him to walk all over again.
It doesn't help that over the "festive period" I've been battling manfully with tooth ache caused by a broken wisdom tooth. Battling manfully is defined by crying in the car park outside the dentist surgery, I should add.
Dealing with my Kids when I'm happy is tough enough. Let alone when I feel like someone is hitting me in the face with a rusty shovel. I've been a bit shouty of late. The up side is that because it's tooth ache, no one can understand what I'm shouting about. So for most of Christmas the Kids treated me like that bloke at the local supermarket who shouts at the cheese. Wary incomprehension.
Still, after an emergency tooth extraction and having three fillings (one of which was so deep the dentist had to tie a rope to his feet to get back out again) I'm back to being the usual reasonable person that everybody expects me to be. Now bugger off, it's the season 4 finale.
"When you go to work do you have to write about what you did on the weekend?"
Someone once told me that boys are physically exhausting and girls are emotionally exhausting. That's certainly true about the Girl who has, in the past, thrown a wobblers because;
Her horse didn't win the Grand National
The Cat ignored her
It was seven o'clock
The wind was blowing
And most recently because she couldn't find her favourite cuddly toy (called Mega) which was in her bloody hand. In addition to this the hypotheses she makes about the world are, put mildly, ludicrous.
"Snot is magic! When you wipe your nose on a towel it vanishes! "
"I assure you, it doesn't. Hang on, which towel did you use?"
"Your one. "
"Of course you did. Why did I ask?"
On the other hand, girls are more caring. Over the weekend I had a kick-a-bout in the back garden with my brother-in-law. Typically this involved me trying to show that I still had the silky skills of my youth. This was rather unwise because I'm forty one now, and therefore old enough to have forgotten that I never actually had any silky skills. And so, in a moment so beautifully maladroit it was almost graceful, I trod on the ball and attempted to lay down four feet off the ground.
After the laughter had stopped the assembled throng realised that I was - after a whole minute - still only halfway through saying the word "f*ck"
And my niece, bless her offered the following sympathy.
Which is both sweet and disturbing in equal measure.
The Girl's reaction a couple of days later when my foot went black and purple was slightly less compassionate;
"Zombie foot! Aieeee! "
So boys are less random.
"Have you ever gone to work dressed as Joe Calzagie? "
"Is it possible to flambé a platypus?"
And so emotionally stable they never ever burst into tears because an ant didn't want to be their friend.
"Dad, what's the Internet?"
"Well, it's a way for people to tell other people their opinion about things they don't know anything about. "
And so, this blog was born.
Regular readers may have noticed that, for a blog about parenting, there's not a lot of advice in here. At least I hope you have. I am not someone to seek advice from. I am someone on the verge of losing my parenting qualifications for gross incompetence. I was barely qualified as a person before I even had kids. I'm the only person I know who, whilst on a date, was asked;
"Can I ask you a personal question? "
"How long have you known you are gay?"
"Well... Wait, what? I'm not gay. "
"NO! Er, I mean no. "
"Wait a minute... If you thought I was gay, why did you agree to go on a date with me?"
"This is a date? "
On a holiday I managed (in the space of a weekend) to knock myself unconscious with;
A power shower
A six foot pink plastic phallus
I still can't tell the time on anything other than a digital clock (because digital watches ARE THE FUTURE).
Largely I write this to amuse myself (occasionally, I'm led to believe, other people are amused to. By my grammar). Any advice is accidental.
The reason for this is that parents just can't stop handing out advice at every juncture. It's bad enough in the real world where you can't say;
"My son's a bit poorly at the moment. "
Without some genius replying
"Have you given him calpol?"
No. I've given him methadone, you blithering imbecile.
However on Facebook, as with all things, the arsehollery is multiplied by a factor of the internet³. For instance, if you child has a fever;
"My health visitor said give the calpol when his temperature has come up. "
"Don't give calpol on a day with an 'n' in or SOMETHING AWFUL WILL HAPPEN."
"We distracted our daughter Hegemony by playing the harp and then soothed her pain with a patchouli poultice. "
"The doctor will say that you should give him calprofen. Ignore the doctor because despite their expert knowledge and experience they don't know as much as me because I have two year old and an opinion."
We're all guilty of this (I AM A MASSIVE HYPOCRITE). We justify it with the words "I'm just trying to help" when what we're actually saying is; "Please validate my existence with gratitude."
Why? Because you never hear your kids say;
"Thanks for cooking dinner, it must have taken ages! "
"I'm just going to tidy my room. "
"Would you like me to open a bottle of wine?"
"I've flushed the toilet. "
And if you do they're just covering for the fact that they've shat down the back of the sofa. Again.
So the next time you're gritting your teeth whilst someone vomits their unwanted parenting tips on you, just remember; they're living with slave driving, egocentric ingrates.
Then remember it was their choice, and tell them to piss off.
I won't lie, this post is going to alienate a few people. Bit of a dangerous move on my part because losing one reader pretty much halves my readership.
The other week I went to see the Boy in a local production of a Russian folk tale. It was about the unilateral annexation of a state by a repressive regime. No wait. It was about an egg and a firebird. Or was that the news? It's so hard to keep up. Anyway, the Boy was proudly playing Chicken Number four. An important role, for the first forty five seconds of the play, leaving him plenty of time to stare vacantly into space and see how far his index finger would fit up his nose for another fifty nine minutes. Still, for the princely sum of five quid I got to sit on a school bench, work on my piles and crane round someone's head to catch a glimpse of the Boy. Who was fiddling with his bits at least all of the time.
This, however, was not the worst of the experience of the day though. Unfortunately, as often happens when I'm unaccompanied, I somehow attracted the attentions of a lunatic. Whilst in the queue I found myself chatting with the support of supermum you often find at these events. Some of you will know the type. Typically isolated by the other parents because they've all spoken to her once in the past, with the unmistakable air of someone who believes that they have been gifted a view of the world that is unshakeably RIGHT and must be shared with the world. Whether or not they want to listen.
Sadly, because I'm not terribly good at being overtly rude, these people are the flies around my dog shit. So this happened;
"Do what school does your Boy go to? "
I foolishly told her.
"Oh. That's a faith school, isn't it?"
"I couldn't send my child to a faith school. I'm an athiest."
"Fair enough. "
"I don't think my child needs people to tell them fairy tales about heaven so they feel better about dying."
"So your child doesn't believe in fairy tales? "
"So no Father Christmas? Your kid doesn't believe in Santa? "
"Oh, yes. Of course he does."
"So... What's the difference? "
"Well, I don't believe in heaven."
"Oh, right. I've got some bad news about Father Christmas for you. "
This went on. It struck me as odd, as I tweeted my irritation with her as she continued to talk, that people like her actually exist in the real world. Ordinarily you only encounter them in badly written books. Which may explain why she fits so well into this blog.
"Still, it's nice that dad's make the effort to get to these things. Although I always think, at the end of the day, it's mum that kids want to see. "
"Oh, you can just f**k off."
I replied, before I'd really thought it through, somewhat surprising myself.
You see, there's something about a self righteous atheist that brings out the worst in me. I have no problem with atheists, a person's view is their entitlement. It's not my view, but I understand and respect it. But the sort of bombastic hypocrite that decries the bigotry of religions by sweeping statements about religion being the cause of all the ills in the world really could do with talking less shit and getting enlightened. People cause the world's ills. Not abstract concepts.
My kids believe in heaven and that keeps them from worrying about their own mortality and that of those they love. It hasn't warped them, and they are happier for it.
Although the other day the Girl did tell me;
"I'm not going to die until I'm a hundred. When I'm crucified."
So it might be that I know nothing.
|The Stig's bobble-headed cousin|
Well, that was weird. Twice in the past two weeks the Boy and Girl have managed to verbally back me into a corner. Then tonight... Well, we'll come to that in a moment.
First of all was the Boy, who came out with this nugget about Armistice Day;
"So you're saying that a lot of soldiers died so that we're free to say whatever we want, and to remember them we're not allowed to speak for two minutes? Well that makes sense."
Then, in an effort to get the Girl to call me Fiona again, I asked her in front of some friends;
"Girl, if you were a dog, and I was the person that owned you, what would you call me?"
*As if to an imbecile* "Woof."
Well, that told me.
So just as I'm starting to think the Kids are becoming rational little people, we come to that point on a Friday when they're both tired and emotional. As they were getting changed into their pyjamas the Girl - up until this point quite cheery - suddenly burst into tears.
"What's the matter Girl?"
"I'm going to miss you when you're dead!"
"Whu-? You what?"
"Your going to die in a hundred years and I'm going to miss you! "
"I'm not going to love for another hundred years, Girl..."
"Well, that was the wrong thing to say, eh, Boy? WHY ARE YOU CRYING? "
"Because you're going to die soon!"
I mean honestly, what the hell?