Sunday, 23 November 2014

Pandemonium

It turns out that both my children have birthdays, and as a consequence of this we had to go through the hell of having a second birthday party within a month. Sucks to be me.

Since the Girl shares her birthday with one of her friends, we decided to have a joint party and invite their entire class. Which led to me trying to entertain about 25 five and six year old's. With that volume of potential lawlessness there's quite a lot of pressure. Especially when their parents are present. Ever seen the dads on the touchline of a school football match? You'd think lives were riding on it, which sadly they occasionally are. Even something as innocent as a game of musical statues is too much responsibility for me. I mean, there's just so much riding on it.


A friend of mine booked his daughter's birthday party in June, when I last spoke to him he looked like he'd just got back from Helmand. Apparently they'd had a game of sleeping lions that continued for nearly an hour. He didn't quite have the bottle to pick anyone to be out because it kept turning into a bloodbath whenever he even looked at one of the children.

 Still, as the person people volunteer for such things because "he loves kids" (note: I don't), it fell to me. It took approximately all of my life to get through the bloody thing. We then foolishly embarked on a game of pass the parcel during which I kept forgetting who I'd stopped at before. This culminated in stopping the music on someone who had apparently cheated. And it wasn't just the kids that pointed this out to me. At one point I heard one of the parents mutter "This is rigged."

We muddled through in the end, largely by bribing the children with sweets. I think I managed to get through the whole thing without risking too many death threats. I announced that everyone was a winner, there was a cheer and it was very clear that whilst everyone was a winner, I was definitely the loser.

There's no way you can have any level of interaction with a group of kids that doesn't make you look like a moron at some point.




Yeah. That's me on the right. That's exactly what I look like. So, you know, say hello when you see me in the street,

Overall the party was a success, and led to a haul of booty for the Girl that ranked just below the Brinx-Mat job. She got Frozen loom bands, Frozen puzzles, Frozen coloring books and a set of twin overhead cams for a 2006 Ford Focus with Elsa and Olaf on them. There was a time where not everything had been merchandised by Frozen, but I don't remember it clearly. That's probably due to the heavy alcohol abuse.

 The unfortunate side effect of the party (and therefore her birthday) being over was that she didn't have anything to look forward to (except, like, Christmas). This has become an issue, because of late she's been struggling to get to sleep for a variety of weird and wonderful reasons.



 Which can lead to the odd misunderstanding in the middle of the night when she appears in the doorway of our bedroom at three in the morning.




She sure loves Jesus, that Girl.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dirty Weekend


I have seen hell, and it looks like an eight year old's birthday party. 

Kids birthday parties are the battleground on which competitive parenting are fought. I say this from the viewpoint of the World's Least Competitive Man (don't even try to disagree - I've got you all beat hands down on this one). I don't see the virtue of spending hundreds of pounds for other people's children to vomit cheesy puffs on the floor of the village hall. Nor for that matter does the Wife - who came up with the plan of taking a handful of the Boy's friends out for the day. We plumped for the British Superbikes at Brands Hatch, partly because both the Wife and I love a bit of motorsport, but mainly because we could make it cheap. Very cheap.

This is how we found ourselves sitting in a borrowed Ford Galaxy with five seven year old boys. The Girl was in a separate car being driven by the parents of one of the Boy's friends. It was a godsend that they decided to come along. For a start, you couldn't put the Girl in a car with five boys. She would have dug out the tyre iron and opened a can of arse kicking before we'd got out of the driveway. Also, by the time we were five minutes into the journey, we realised we were had absolutely no control over the group whatsoever. Cue an hour long journey during which flatulence became sole preoccupation of the majority of the occupants of the car. We hadn't reached the M25 before someone dropped their guts with such gusto the windscreen started to run.

In fairness, if I was in a car with four of my mates farting would still be the mainstay of both our conversation and activity. The difference is, we would have been funny.

It wasn't all bad. The one thing you can say about five boys is that they're easy to wind up.

"Right... Are you all aware of where we're going?"
*Chorus at ear splitting volume* "YES!"
"No need to shout. So - first up we're going pony trekking, then you all get your own princess dress, and finally you're going to have your toenails painted whatever colours you want."

Say whaaaaaaa?
One said;

"I've already had my fingernails painted. Loads of times."
"He's well gay!"

And this led us to the gay conversation, which was as well thought out and urbane as the farting conversation.During this the Boy's excitement reached critical mass and his voice went to a pitch that only dogs can hear.

Eventually we got to Brands, parked, got in and as we walked towards the circuit the Boy said;

"Look! They've got a park with slides and swings. Can we go in the park?"
"What? There are motorbikes racing! We've come here to see cool motorbikes racing, right?"
"Yeah. We can go to the park, and if we get time, we can watch some racing afterwards."
"I have not driven you halfway across the south of England and brought you to a racetrack so you can go on a swing, Boy."

By the time we found somewhere to sit down, at least two of the boys were starting to gnaw on the others out of hunger. So we opened the picnic and were regaled with.

"What have you got to drink?"
"Well, we've got orange..."
"Don't like orange."
"Or apple..."
"Don't like apple."
"Or blackcurrent..."
"Don't li-"
"Blood? Would you like some blood? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT??? MY BLOOD???"

The Wife made me sit in the shade for a ten minute time out. When I came back she and the other adults were awash in crumbs, muddy picnic rugs and discarded packets of Capri Sun. They were surrounded by a pack of rabid boys battering each other with sausage rolls and a lot of really annoyed spectators who just-wanted-to-watch-the-bloody-racing-thank-you-very-much. I nearly didn't go back. Fortunately, someone brought me a drink. So I drank it and pretended I was single with no dependants. It was bloody lovely. Then;

"We want to go to the park."
"We're not going to the park. We're here to-"

Spin forward five minutes later as we sat in the park wondering what the hell we'd done. Eventually, we made our way to another part of the track where the Wife and the other mum enhanced their parenting with wine.

"You can drive home."
"Thanks, love."

I spent the rest of the trip split between watching the racing and counting how many children we still had sight of whilst they dug a hole in the side of a bank of earth with some sticks. I suppose that's kind of the point. You can spend all the money in the world on your kid's party, but if you give them a pile of mud and a stick they'll be equally happy. Although they do need the loo a lot.

"I need the loo."
"Ok... er... the loos are at the top of the hill. Can you just, er... go in that bush over there."
"No."
"Really? Are you shy?"
"I need to poo."
"Right. Good call. Lets go."

We walked towards the toilet, at which point one of the other boys started following us.

"You need the loo as well?"
"Sure. Why not?"

After a couple of moments the second boy stopped.

"Where are we going?"
"The loo. It's at the top of the hill."
"Ech. Can't be bothered with that. I'm going back."
"Right. Well, we'll have to follow you back then."

We followed him back, then I turned to walk back up the hill with the first boy again. He didn't follow.

"Er... are you coming?"
"Where to?"
"The loo?"
"Oh. Right. I think I'll just go in that bush."
"But you needed a poo."
"Yeah. I changed my mind about the poo."

It was about this time that blood started to run out of my ears, I think. By the time the last race finished and I was rounding the children up with a cheery;

"Back to the car, I'm sick of the sight of you."

most of them looked like a half sucked chocolate biscuit. Especially the Girl who had gone from looking sweet and earnest to John Rambo. The trip home was, surprisingly, even less enjoyable than the trip there. At one point I considered driving into oncoming traffic. 

The day started at 10am and ended just after half past seven in the evening. That has to be the longest eight year old's birthday party on record. After I'd dropped the last of the boys off we got home, put the Kids to bed and the Wife and I slipped into a torpor which lasted a day and a half.

I was considering getting the Boy a divorce for his next birthday, but then he redeemed himself when my sister-in-law came round to drop off his birthday present.

"Happy birthday, Boy!"
"Say it in French or you can't come in."


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Shed Heaven

What? Where the hell did the summer go? It was July just... Oh.

Well, I hope you all had a nice summer holiday. We, like most parents, spent the first morning of the school holidays trying to convince the Kids that they still had to go to school. Or stay in bed all day, or... anything other than come anywhere near us. When I think back to how I felt when the Boy went to school, all misty eyed about the fact that we were sending him into the wider world, and that he would be shaped by other people now, and how sad it would be not to get to spend all day with him. What a plonker I was. Now I react to a day with my Kids like I've just found a spider in my shoe.

The summer holidays are a bit like one of those family comedies from the nineties where the weird relative turns up to stay, and initially he turns the house into a maelstrom of chaos and everyone is all; "Oh no, he's weird and we don't like him" but then as the film progresses it turns out he has a heart of gold despite his weirdness and the family welcome him into their home. Except for the second bit. There's no sudden breakthrough of emotional connection in our house. It's all treading on Lego and shouting. The closest we come to an emotional connection is when we're all crying together because;

a) the Boy wouldn't play with the Girl
b) the Girl elbow-dropped the Boy
c) I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE - IT'S LIKE LIVING WITH THE LOLLIPOP GUILD ON MESCALINE!!!!!

You get the idea.

 In an effort to give ourselves an excuse to avoid the Kids (oh, and because we needed somewhere to put all our crap) we bought a shed. Only its less of a shed and more of a temple to manhood. This is quite ironic given that it's mine and earlier today I was frowned at by my boss for singing show tunes in the office (even more so as I was singing "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors). Anyhoo, we've managed to turn our shed into a shed-come-summer-house-come-brewery-come-I'm-hiding-from-the-Kids-leave-me-alone place. 

Surprisingly for something that I've been involved in the construction of, it went up surprisingly well. No major mistakes although we nearly forgot to put the doors and windows in, which might have had some minor consequences. Oh, and I forgot to stir the wood paint when I painted the shed and it's a range of different colours. And I made a bit of a pig's ear of the shingling. Aside from that, we're talking the Sistine Chapel here. The only real problem came whilst I was sitting on the roof nailing the shingles on. The Girl was watching me from a short distance, wearing an ethereal expression and singing "Ring a Ring a Roses" in a slightly off-key, threatening manner. 

"You alright, Girl?"

"How many times have you hit your thumb, Daddy?"

"Ha! About eighteen times!"

And then I hit my thumb. This was no gentle tap, dear reader. I flattened it. To celebrate my newly flat digit, I did a bit of rolling around on the roof for a moment and, to take my mind of the pain, said words like "NNNNNNnnnnnngggg!" and "FUCKRYINGOUTLOUD!!!"  

For her part, the Girl said;

"Nineteen!"

in a sing-song voice, and wandered away to push a penshioner under a dust cart, no doubt. This left me to woozily attempt a dismount from the roof of the shed which was punctuated with the following words;

"Whoaaaaaa-sheeeeeeeet!"

and

"Oof!"

And then the Wife kindly taped my thumb nail back on. The post-script to this story is that about a week later the tip of my thumb (which had gone black) fell off whilst I was in an RSPB reserve, and was consequently eaten by a bird. It was a chaffinch. I asked the woman behind the counter.

I don't think the Girl saw the bird eat the end of my thumb, but somewhere along the line she's developed a very suspicious view of them. For instance, at one point during the holidays I was driving down a country lane when four Peahens walked across the road in front of us. I say "walked", it was more of a saunter. They ambled over to someone's front garden and one-by-one, jumped over the garden gate.

"Why are they crosing the road?" 

The Girl asked.

"To get to the other side!"

The Boy and I replied, and then high-fived each other and went; "Yes!". Small things, eh?

"Why are they going in the garden?"

"Dunno, Girl. Maybe they're looking for food."

"Maybe they're murderers

"Well, they're birds. It seems unlikely."

 There was a brief pause, and then the Girl took a deep breath and screamed

"MURDERERS!"

at the top of her lungs. I lurched the car away rather swiftly, spinning the wheels (which, in my old POS takes some doing).

Still, my Kids are the one great constant in my life. In that they constantly drive me freaking nuts.The Boy is still doing all those things that other people tell me make him endearingly eccentric but in actuality are specifically designed to put me in one of those nice canvas jackets that button up the back. Such as when I trod on his last remaining pair of glasses because he'd left them on the floor in the middle of the living room "for safety".

 He's so easily distracted these days that he can't even remember what HE'S talking about most of the time;

(From the other side of the house) "Dad! Dad! DAD! DAD!"

"WHAT?"

*mumble mumble*

"WHAT?.... WHAT??? Oh, forget it, I'll come to you. What do you want?"

"What?"

"You called me."

"Did I?"

*Through gritted teeth* "Yes. You did."

"Oh."

"Why did you call me, Boy."

(Dismissively) "Oh, reasons probably."

 So trying to get him to remember to do something is a complete no goer.

"Boy, you're supposed to be getting into your pajamas."

"But I'm cold!

"You're dancing naked in front of the window, the next door neighbour has just mowed his flower bed because of you and you're complaining you're cold? What do you think this makes you?"

"An imbecile?"

I wouldn't mind, but he cheerily suggested this as if he was going to get a sweet if he was right.

There's none of this with the Girl. Instead we're treated with an endless stream of contrariness. She'll disagree with anything you say. This came to a head the other day when I stuck my head round her door the other night to find that she was zonko, using her duvet as a pillow and having climbed into her pillowcase like a sleeping bag.

Why? Screw you. That's why.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

My Name is Mud

I may have cause a bit of an incident on the M25 last week, so this blog is by way of an apology.

Once again it was time for our annual sojourn of being homeless. We packed filled the car with tents and camping gear to the point it groaned when we pulled away, and headed away from the driest county in England, to the wettest county in England. The one you see on the news with cars being washed away, pensioners sitting on their roof in their nightwear, and people commuting by inflatable dinghies. You know the one.

The incident itself occurred  as we were on a rare stretch of the M25 that was actually moving. Admittedly moving at the speed of continental drift, but moving none the less. I was fiddling with the radio trying to find something other than Classic FM to listen when a spider about the size of my head* crawled out of the air vent in front of me and signaled it's intent to make the next few minutes of my life as stressful as possible. My reaction to this was to take a sharp intake of breath and attempt to get into the back of the car. Fortunately for everyone involved, I wasn't driving at the time (although if I had been, I still would have tried to climb into the back).

"Sp-sp-sp-sp!"

I said, manfully. The Wife glanced across and said, quite wrongly;

"It's only tiny!"

And then;

"Man up!"

I did as instructed and, in the style of someone defusing a bomb, lowered the window as it crawled along the top of the door. The spider paused, looked at me with all eight eyes and, in a very deliberate movement that only I could see, drew a line across it's throat and pointed at me. 

"It wants to kill me!"

I screamed, rationally. The Wife rolled her eyes, leant across me (not easy as I was still trying to get in the back seat) and tried to brush it out of the window. We changed lanes a little. She stopped trying.

Frantically I looked around for something to use to push it out of the window and found, of all things, a pair of bananas, connected at the text, in the picnic bag at my feet.

Like Errol Flynn I wielded the bananas yelling;

"AHA YOU BASTARD!"

And swung at the evil little thing - just in time as it was pulling a tiny knife out to jab at me. There was a thud and, well, I missed. Not only did I miss, but my mighty swing had detached one of the bananas. This flew in a short arc out of the window, across the M25 and through the open window of a rather surprised woman alongside us, finally ending up somewhere in the passenger side of the car. Now, it would have been quite cool if the woman in the car next to us had done a Dani Alves and cheekily eaten the banana. Perhaps with a little wave and toot of the horn. Instead she started shouting. A lot.

"Did you get it?"

"Noooo... Now we have one less banana, that women is shouting at me and there's still a spider in the car."

"What the hell is going on?"

The Boy asked.

"Where's the spider?"

The answer was; no where to be seen. Eventually we lost the woman, but I still had to spend another three hours in a car with a deadly spider ready to pounce - ever fearful the thing was just above my head and the only way I could get away from it was to open the door and roll out into the road.


* It was. Totally. No exaggeration. It definitely wasn't about the size of my thumb nail because I would have dealt with it like a man, not a wet lettuce.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Earth

"Dad?"

"Yes, Girl?"

"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"

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu....! "

And my niece, bless her offered the following sympathy.

"Don't die."

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.

"Dad?"

"Yes, Boy?"

"Have you ever gone to work dressed as Joe Calzagie? "

Less weird.

"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.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A Word of Advice

"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? "

"Sure. "

"How long have you known you are gay?"

"Well... Wait, what? I'm not gay. "

"Really?"

"NO! Er, I mean no. "

*Awkward pause*

"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 stairwell
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.

Friday, 21 March 2014

God Only Knows

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?"

"Yes. "

"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? "

"No."

"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.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Falling Down

Well, the party season has started, and the stakes just got raised. The Boy went to two parties this weekend, involving him in a trilogy of fun that went from ice hockey to quad biking to Quasar. Gone are the days of standing in the corner of a church hall, drinking a cup of tea whilst watching your little darlings dodge vomit on a bouncy castle. Now I'm being forced to join in. And I'm not a join in sort of chap. I'm more of a "come near me and I'll cut you" sort of chap.

The Boy has been ice skating before. We got him and the Girl six ice skating lessons after Christmas and after six weeks and thirty quid the Boy went from being able to stand up on the ice to being able to lie on his back and yell "I can't get up!". Somehow he managed to remove information from his brain. This was probably because ten minutes into his first lesson he nose dived spectacularly and hurt his wrist. Naturally, when he came off the ice he said he didn't want to do it any more. Naturally, I told him we'd spent the thirty quid, so he was bloody well going back again. I'm caring like that.

It was with some trepidation that the Boy arrived for the ice hockey. Only it wasn't ice, it was a waxed floor. This meant that it was easier to skate on supposedly. It also meant that after an hour everything I owned had wax on it and I was almost entirely frictionless. 

Certainly the Boy found it easier to move around on. Especially when he had one of those penguin shaped things to push around. However, at one point this got taken off him, and he found himself stranded in the middle of the rink. He looked forlornly at me.

"Help!"
"You're fine. Just remember your ice skating lessons!"
"I only learnt how to fall over!"

I couldn't argue with that. So, with a due sense of dread, I went and got some ice skates that purported to be my size, but turned out to be clown shoes.

I have been skating once before. It was about twenty years ago. I remember three things;


  1. I didn't like it
  2. I fell over in such a manner that when I hit the ice my elbow drew a big question mark in blood on the ice
  3. I had to be rescued by a twelve year old boy

You see, dear reader, I have the grace and elegance of a duck with an inner ear problem. Thus, when I went out onto the rink, things were destined to go only one way. Down. 

I managed to get over to the Boy with only a small amount of wind-milling my arms and stood with him, encouraging him to walk like he'd been shown in his lessons. After a moment or two he got the hang of it, and started to build his confidence.

"That's right. Like this, Boy."

And I instantly fell over. Not in a "whoops-a-daisy" way, but the sort of way people fall down a flight of stairs in leg callipers.

"Did you fall?"

The Boy asked, observant as ever. I responded with something that sounded like, but definitely wasn't;

"Nollocks."

One of the other dads had to help me up and take me to the side. The Boy refused to be seen around me for a while after that.

Then he went quad biking, which was hilarious for a range of reasons. One was that I have never seen a group of children so excited. They were literally frothing at the mouth, unable to form coherent sentences or even sounds that resembled words.

"Are you looking forward to this, kids?"
"Fmasdallalla!"
"Er, is that a yes?"
"SHAMALIDUKDUK!"

Secondly because they had to wear crash helmets that were adult sized. So the Boy looked like this;

The Stig's bobble-headed cousin

And finally because, from the moment they had their crash hats on the only thing they wanted to do was either punch each other in the face, or head butt each other. It was like a punch up at the National Association of Midget Bikers AGM. And when they eventually broke the fight up and got them on the quads - well. It turns out that when you put your average seven-year-old boy on a quad, they forget what a corner is. The whole time they were on the bikes they would ride in a straight line, stop when they got to a tyre wall and then look in bemusement over their shoulders at the two poor sods running the place. They would then get dug out of the tyre wall, let loose to ride in a straight line and repeat the whole process. I now know what the most soul destroying job in the world is. After five minutes of this I wanted to kill myself on their behalf.

Quasar was the biggest hit for the Boy it turns out - when I asked him what he enjoyed the most. Although when I asked why he replied;

"Because I shot Leon's dad in the nuts like, a hundred times!"

Friday, 7 March 2014

Embarrassment of Riches

This blog would work better if one email of my children was called Rich.

I often tell people that I'm "unembarrassable", partly because I have only a tenuous grip on the English language, and partly because of my father. My Dad was very keen on winding up his children in whatever manner he could. Making any kind of verbal blunder in front of Dad would inevitably result in being reminded of this for the rest of your life, in public. For instance, I once tried to ask the question; "How many of the ten commandments are negative?" and instead (because God hates me) the words that came tumbling out of my mouth were; "How many commandments are there in the ten commandments?"

This question has fallen into family lore. In fact, he reminded me of this faux pas during my graduation ceremony from university. In Southwark Cathedral - at the lectern. Via a microphone.

If it wasn't the fruits of the vacuum between my ears, then it was anything he thought of that would amuse him. One particular favourite was intentionally calling my girlfriend by the wrong name.

"You must be Clare."
"Daaad."
"Not Clare? Janet?"
"Knock it off, dad. You're not funny."
"Julian?" 

Due to this I have found myself fundamentally unfazed by, for instance, knocking myself unconscious on a six foot phallus in the sex museum in Amsterdam. Or tripping up and falling head first into a toilet at work.

This was all fine and dandy until I had kids. A few weeks back I picked the Boy up from his dodgeball class. He was clearly quite cheery as I walked around the school hall retrieving his school clothes from the floor, the roof, behind his ears, and the other assorted locations he'd strewn them. As we walked out of the door he showed me the paper chatterbox he'd made. You remember them, they look like this;


"Pick a colour, dad."
"Blue."
"Pee. Eye. En. Kay... Pick a number.
"I said 'blue'."
"That's not a number."
"No..." *sigh* "Eight."
"One...two...three...four...five..."
"I said 'eight'"
"It says; 'You are sexy.'"

He managed to say this, just as we were passing the headteacher, who paused for a moment and gave me a quizzical expression.

"Uh. I don't think that's a word that you should be using."
"Why? Aren't you sexy?"
"No... I mean... well, actually no. But..."
"Is Grandma sexy?"
"Will you, for the love of God, shut up?"

Sometimes it's like being haunted by the spirit of my Dad. The Girl doesn't do this sort of thing. She goes for another kind of embarrassing.

"Dad?"
"Yes."
"I didn't get to the toilet on time."
"Oh, no! Have you wet yourself?"
"No."
"Oh, good."
"I did a poo."

However, the award for maximum dadbarrassment has to go to the Boy at yesterday's swimming lesson. After the lesson had finished he went under the showers and, just as I was walking into the changing rooms with him he clutched his winkle and yelled;

"Ooh! I need a wee!"

And he ran away, still holding his winkle. I sighed and went into the changing rooms, sat down and waited. And waited.

And waited.

After about ten minutes it started to dawn on me that I was the only person in the room without a child. That I was, in the eyes of the other parents, a grey haired man with "the look", sitting on his own in a kids changing room. This started to attract looks of suspicion. After a few more minutes the other parents were holding towels around their kids and looking at me as if I was something they'd trod in. This became a little uncomfortable, so as a defence mechanism I put my hand in my pocket and reached for my phone, and stopped when one woman saw what I was doing and her eyes went as wide as saucers.

It was at this precise moment that the Boy strode into the changing rooms, completely naked and twirling his soaking wet swimming trunks around his head. For the first time in his life, he appeared to have a moment of clarity, and became aware of his surroundings. He looked first at me, then at the woman who had been looking at me (now aghast), then dropped his trunks, wiggled his hips so his bits jiggled and went;

"WOO!"

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Back Once Again

How the hell is it March?

Well, somehow three months have gone past since my last post. There's no specific reason for this - just the usual case of man planning and God laughing. Still, you'll no doubt be very pleased to know that pretty much nothing has changed in our lives since the last time we invited you in. As if to prove this yesterday, the Boy managed to do a poo that was lime green. Well, lime green and brown. This may seem like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it isn't and no I'm not going to post a picture because this isn't http://www.ratemypoo.com/

Yes. That website exists. You're just going to have to deal with that information.

I won't lie. I was a bit surprised by a lime green poo, so I called the Wife in to look at it. She was quite surprised too and, after a moment of consideration said;

"You know, that might work in the living room."

Over the past ten years I've got to understand how the Wife's mind works, and it occurred to me that she probably meant the colour. Not the actual poo. Since the Boy is seven and the Girl is five we've had several crap-free years with our living room, and I'd started to take it for granted. Plus, as a coffee-table centre piece, I don't think would have worked with the Denby tea set.

The Boy was simply delighted with what he clearly considered a new-found super-power - and was mildly crushed when we pointed out it was probably because he'd eaten candy floss the day before that was a level of blue that can only be conveyed in capital letters, font: helvetica, pica: 16

BLUE

Oh yes. Still, on a certain level it pleases me that the Boy is still young enough to think that the attractiveness of food is directly proportional with it similarity to the colour of a crayon.

Although I do wish he'd stop eating all the crayons.

Typically the Boy dealt with his disappointment that he was not going to be able to produce a rainbow or even tartan bowel movement by delving into the very secrets of the universe and coming up with the following question;

"Is it possible to flambé a platypus?"

This was infinitely preferable to the conversation the Girl was trying to embark on with me whilst she was sitting in the bath that went along the lines of;

"Do babies come from here?"

She pointed at her... er... lady garden.

"Um, yes. Darling. How was sch-?"

"What, from the hole?"

"How was school, darling?"

She ignored me, and leaned forward in the bath as if trying to see up-

"I CANNOT FUNCTION IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES!"

I yelled, and flounced out of the bathroom like the big frilly girl's blouse I am.

In fact, there is one new aspect to our lives - we're moving. Which means that the Girl can alienate a whole new set of neighbours by making a noise like a wolverine being fed into a jet engine when we're unreasonable enough to ask her to get changed, or look at her funny. Or breathe after eleven o'clock. And of course the Boy will do his bit by, as he currently does, singing a non-stop medley of the hits of Cher.

I have to take a certain amount of responsibility here, because he heard me singing "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" a few weeks ago and got a bit obsessed with the song, so I bought it for him and put it on his MP3 player, which was I thought was a fine idea. Mainly because I had never heard anything other than the first verse and therefore wasn't expecting him to walk around school singing;

"Picked up a boy just south of Mobile, gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal. I was sixteen, he was twenty-one. Rode with us to Memphis and papa would shot him if he knew what he'd done."

There's a possibility this will have repercussions.

Friday, 22 November 2013

What just happened?

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.

"Waaaaaaaaah!"

"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..."

"WAAAAAAAAH!"

"Well, that was the wrong thing to say, eh, Boy? WHY ARE YOU CRYING? "

"Because you're going to die soon!"

"Soon?"

I mean honestly, what the hell?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Effin and Jeffin

About five million years ago, humans invented thumbs. Initially we used them to thumb our noses a "lower" species and say, in a series of grunts and whistles;

"Look! I'm Fonzi! Eeeeeyyyyyyy"

Then we realised that opposable thumbs were very useful (save for Millwall fans, who thought they looked poncy, and members of the Westboro Baptist Church who thought they were made from Satan's nipples). We used them to make tools. Tools, it turned out, were very useful things as well, as you can tell by their name; "tools" which is derived from the Latin word "Toolus" meaning "tool" (I'm a bit out of my depth here).

Since then we've used our thumbs and our tools to invent all manner of excellent things, such as neutron bombs and turkey twirlers. So you'd think the Girl would be a little more grateful than to say,  as we travelled to her swimming lesson;

"I don't like thumbs. They're like fingers only shorter, fatter and rubbish. "
"What do you like then?"

She shrugged, noncomittally and replied;

"Eyebrows are alright."
"I like winkles!"
"Shut up, Boy. "

The swimming lesson was its usual blend of sweating, trying to find a seat and narrowly avoiding falling in the pool. The Boy went first, swam well for ten minutes and then, having put on a pair of flippers, raced the length of the pool, crashed into the side and sank without trace. He returned a moment later, grinning and blearily yelling;

"That was OSSOME!"

Meanwhile the Girl have me a running list of reasons of why she didn't want to have her swimming lesson which included; "Fish poo" and "I've got burps."

Eventually the Kids switched places and once the Boy had got dressed twice-

"Take your pants off your head and FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP FIDDLING WITH THAT!"

-I have him my phone so he could play Bad Piggies.

"Oh,  man!"
"What?"
"I can't get off this level."

I took the phone off him, and spent five minutes comprehensively falling to beat the bloody thing.

"I give up. You have it."
"Thanks."
"You're welcome. I'm not very good at that game. "
"Yeah, you fucking loser."

There was a very, very long pause.

"What. Did. You. Say?"

The Boy showed his usual ability to read the time of a situation and said;

"That you're a fucking loser."

Without looking up from the phone.

"A-abuh.. Buh.. Buh... Whu-"

I said, which improved the situation immeasurably. Eventually I manged to regain enough composure to give him the talk about that word.

"Where did you learn that word?"
"In school."
"I'm not convinced its on the curriculum, kiddo. Who taught you it? "
"Why?"
"Because I'm going to kill the little shit. "

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Braaaaaains

Bloody zombies. They get everywhere.

Regular readers (hello, mum!) will be aware as part of my burgeoning mid life crisis I've taken up running. Specifically, running away from zombies. Yesterday, I got home from work to find the Wife and Kids were out. Torn between going out for a run or having my first poo in peace for seven years I came to the conclusion that running was better choice.

I was about five minutes into the run when my phone ran. It was the Wife.

"Hello. We're just about to come home. Be back about half five. The Girl is being non compliant. If I put you on speaker phone can you ask her what she wants for dinner and see if you can get her out of the tantrum?"

"I'm, like, being chased by a zombie at the moment."

*Distantly* "Girl, Dad's on the phone. He wants to know what you want for dinner."

Boy: "Spaghetti!"

The Girl said;

"HULK SMASH PUNY HUMANS!" 

Or words to that effect.

"What do you want for dinner, Girl?"

"I AM GODZILLA! YOU ARE TOKYO!"

Or similar.

"Are you a bit grumpy?"

"REDRUM! REDRUM!"

"It's not working, love."

*rrrrrrrrrrrrrr*

I sighed, and started running again. I  hadn't got very far (because I'm fat) before I got a text message.

Just got Girl out of tantrum by running over a pheasant.

Because there's nothing like an avian suicide to perk up a four year old girl.

The rest of the run was relatively uneventful save for a couple of zombie attacks and the fact that, for reasons I don't quite comprehend, the app kept making me skip. Not, like, boxing skipping.

Like; "tra-la-la!" skipping.

This turned out to be rather liberating right up until a truck driver yelled a word that sounded suspiciously like "BUNT!" at me.

I returned home to find a Girl beaming from ear to ear, with no trace of the previous Satanic possession.

"FIONA!"

She yelled, and pointed at me.

"Look, Boy! It's Fiona!"

"Who's Fiona?"

"You are!"

"Why are you calling me Fiona?"

"Duh! Because you own us!"

"What? That makes no- oh, wait... THE OWNER."

"That's what I said! We're zombies and you own us!"

"Zombies don't normally have own - "

"Braaaaains!"

"Get off! Stop biting me! "

In effort to distract them I decided to ask about their encounter with the pheasant.

"We were driving along and he crashed into my window and he died."

The Girl said, with wide eyed earnestness.

"Poor Lucky died!"

"Lucky?"

"The birdie. That's what we called him. "

"Of course you did."

"Braaaaains!"

"STOP DOING THAT!"

"Look, dad!"

Said the Boy, holding my cycling head torch to his forehead.

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! I AM A GARLIC. "

"No, you're an idiot."

I said.

There was a brief interlude into this insanity whilst we had dinner. During which I said to the Boy (jokingly) ;

"I'm grumpy, Boy. Would you mind if I hit you?"

On hearing this the Girl flung a protective arm across her brother and yelled;

"DON'T YOU DARE! "

"Oh, ok. Can I hit the Girl instead?"

The Boy replied (without looking away from his dinner)

"Go for it."

What a little darling.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pointless

"Parenting," you often hear parents say,  "is a thankless task." Parents often say stupid things, such as;

"How many times have I told you not to do that?"

"What's that sock doing on the floor? "

And my personal favourite;

"Do you want to tidy your room?"

Of course parenting is thankless. You're looking after psychotic egomaniacs. And now, in the spirit of gleeful hypocrisy, here's what drives me batshit nutty bonkers.

Ironing

No one in the history of humankind has ever reached the end of their life and said;

"I may not have lead an interesting life. I may not have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but I'm glad I did all that ironing. "

And when it  comes to kid's clothes you can bet your arse you've entered a world of futility. The scientific definition of a femtosecond is the time between a six year old putting on a perfectly ironed school shirt and it looking like it's been fed to a giraffe.

"The" Instead of "Fuh"

Childhood speech impediments can be very sweet. For instance the Boy said "Ephalent" instead of Elephant for years and I never got bored of it. I still occasionally say "Par cark" instead car park, and chicks really dig that.

However, the Girl is made of nails and pig iron, and as such her speech impediment is more... robust. She has proved completely impervious to any attempt to convince her to say "the" instead of "fuh". Mostly this gives her a bit of a Basildon twang, the sort you hear from seventeen year old women pushing their six children in a single pram whilst they take their pit bull for a walk to the tattoo parlour.

However, on occasion it causes fairly dramatic misunderstandings. Such as when she was regaling my mum with the story of when she saw a man dressed as Scooby Doo queueing to board an EasyJet flight.

"I saw Scooby Doo! "

"Really? Where? "

"Fuh queue!"

Hair

Washing hair is a bit of a chore. At one point the Girl had hair about the length you normally see on a concert cellist. It was so long you had to erect scaffolding before you could start to wash it. So it took about forty five minutes to wash, condition, comb and dry. And since I'm a man, whenever I try to plait her hair she ends up looking like a scarecrow. As for the Boy, regardless of how we cut his hair I'm unable to dry it without making him look like Hitler. Bath night in our house generally resembles a rather dark version of the Wizard of Oz.

Batteries

Everything these days takes batteries. The Boy got a wooden train set for Christmas one year and even that took batteries. And they never take standard size batteries, they all take tiny ones with serial numbers for names that you can only buy from specialist retailers and which cost the soul of your first born child.

We invested in rechargeable batteries, which saves a fair amount of money but comes with the disadvantage of having to hold a "battery amnesty" every two weeks to charge the bloody things up. This involves opening every single toy, normally with a screwdriver. Because if you don't, creepy shit happens. We were bought a musical table (yes, you read that right) that, when the batteries were low, would suddenly switch itself on and play music eerily out of key. Usually at three in the morning. Which meant I'd wake up thinking Freddy Kruger was coming for me.

Monopoly

I'm not a fan of board games, but Monopoly holds a special place on my mantelpiece of hate. Aside from the fact that you win the game by aggressive land purchases and uncompromising rental contracts (and if that doesn't scream fun for all the family I don't know what does) there's the fact that the result is normally a forgone conclusion within twenty minutes but you're forced to grind on with the game for another four hours. Even the "quick" version takes at least two hours. That's not a game, that's a job.

But mostly I don't like it because I've never won, regardless of how hard I try. In the past week I've played the Boy twice. He beat me both times. I cheated the second time and kept stealing money from the bank when he wasn't looking (I'm not proud). He still beat me. When we finished he slapped his forehead and said;

"Oh, man. I was trying to let you win. "

So I got the Girl to tell him where she saw Scooby Doo.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Skool Daze

Well, now we find ourselves with two children in school. It seems like only yesterday that we were dealing with incessant crying, sore bums and wall to wall poo. Actually, it was only yesterday and its probably better we move on.

The Girl's first day at school was relatively smooth sailing. Especially given the Boy's pep talk in the car.

"You'll really like school, Girl. My favourite thing is play time and golden time. "

"*Ahem* The LESSONS are really good too, aren't they, Boy? "

"Not really. Especially maths and English. They're rubbish."

"I don't want to go to school! "

"Brilliant. Thanks, Boy. "

And so the Girl went into school knuckling the tears from her eyes. Her teacher, a kindly and well meaning sort, took her hand and said;

"Come on, let's go and find some girls to play with."

Not realising the Girl doesn't like girls and, when cornered, acts like a wounded wolverine. Fortunately, thus far there haven't been any a fatalities, which is a blessing because we wouldn't want the Girl impacting on the school's OFSTED rating. The people in the village might get a bit churlish. And the lack of homicide is all the more surprising since the Girl told me tonight that her friend and future husband told her today that he wants to marry another girl, called Molly.

"No one wants to marry me. "

She said, forlornly. My initial reaction to this was to go over to Molly's house and shout through the letterbox;

"Keep your hands off my daughter's boyfriend!"

And then use weed killer on her lawn to write the word "SLUT".

But, once again it turns out that what (to any right minded person) is a perfectly rational reaction, society at large deems "not socially acceptable" and "criminal damage"

All of this has led to the inevitable parents evening. Last night was my turn. Naturally I'd completely forgotten about this, so the Wife greeted me with this information as we passed each other on the doorstep, me returning from work, her on her way out.

I have a lot of time for teachers.  I've mentioned before that I spent a short time teaching in primary schools and am well experienced in the buffoonary and grade A arseholery of some parents. So I have no problem going to parents evening. At least I didn't right up until the Wife said;

"You have to be there for six fifteen. "

"Ok."

"It finishes a half past eight. "

"Ok.. Wait... You mean half six, right? I mean... ha, ha, ha... I'm not going to... TWO HOURS?"

What is there to talk about at a four year old's parents evening?

"Our learning goals for this term are for the Girl to; keep her arse in her trousers for longer than five minutes and to stop yelling 'I'M PUNCHING MYSELF IN THE NOO-NOO!' "

It turns out it was a forum to discuss how the school, the governors and the parents could improve the school. This was all done (but too frigging long). Annoyingly, they served wine and Is bloody well driven down there, as getting slaughtered would have made the whole thing more bareable. More annoyingly, the elderly governer I was on a table with pounded five glasses in the first half hour and spent the rest of the evening alternating between sleeping and dribbling.

Meanwhile the Boy remains completely unchanged by his return to school.

"Why haven't you put your trousers away? You got distracted, didn't you?"

"OOH! ANT!"

Still, his drawing is coming along nicely. Here's a picture of his mum.


That's a saucepan, by the way.

It's not a penis.

Really, it isn't.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Antisocial Services

On the way home today I had to swerve to avoid a young mum who was busily pushing her newborn child into traffic whilst looking in the wrong direction and chatting on the phone. In gratitude for not crashing into her, she swore at me in her best estuary foghorn while the car behind me also swerved extravagantly around her. This served as a neat reminder that whilst it's easy to be a good parent, it's even easier to be a shit one.

When I first became a parent whenever the Boy would cry at night I'd make the generic gag about the neighbours calling social services. Because, of course, you never imagine you're going to be put in a situation where someone might call social services. Or the Police.

A situation, for instance, like when your daughter throws a tantrum in the middle of a busy shopping centre and, as a change from the monotony of yelling "No!"  over and over, she starts yelling;

"I want daddy! I want my daddy! "

And none of the passersby seem convinced as you hiss;

"I AM your daddy! "

Or the situation where your son, on a crowded beach, announces to the assembled throng;

"My dad doesn't like to be naked in public. "

Which wouldn't be weird if it weren't for the fact that no one had asked.

Or the situation where your children start calling each other "Mummy" and "Daddy" whilst having a sword fight (because, apparently, that's how we roll) and when your son attacks your daughter she yells (loud enough to be heard in an adjoining county);

"No, daddy! DON'T HURT ME! WHY, DADDY? WHY? "

Or the situation (and forgive me if I've mentioned this before) when your daughter tries to call the cat in by standing at the back door whilst staring at your burly next door neighbour and yelling" Pussy! " at him.

And yet, in the pyramid scheme that is my life, my Kids are firmly at the top and that, I think is the key.

Whilst I may moan about people giving their kids ridiculous names that are nothing more than a random collection of vowels and consonants, or intentionally misspelt traditional names (Alyx, Kris etc.) that doesn't mean they're bad parents.

It means they have a lack of class or are borderline illiterate.

Outside of the extreme cases of child abuse, the really bad parents are the ones who put themselves first. Because if you didn't want to spend time with your kids, you shouldn't have had them in the first place, you selfish arsehole.

And I'm not saying I'm perfect. The Boy has become obsessed with Nintendogs, and when he proudly showed me his dogs I noted he has; a miniature schnauzer, a toy poodle and a pug - which is the sort of menagerie you would expect a drag queen or Liberace to have. But I try to be open minded, and if he wants to call his dogs Raul, Talula and Joan Collins, that's fine with me.

However, if you're the sort of person that is more interested in talking on the phone than ensuring the safety of your child, might I suggest you get your shit in order?

Thanks.





For the person I spoke to first thing this morning.