Kitchen Redecoration – Toddler Style

Earlier this afternoon, I was giving Cherub #1 and Cherub #2 lunch.  Nothing fancy, just some homemade soup (which Darling Wife made yesterday) with bread sticks and houmous.  Any parent will know just how messy two little tykes can get when they ‘consume’ such things, but I figured that as they are bathing with Mummy tonight, I can afford to let them redecorate themselves.

As it was, they didn’t make that much mess at all.  I will admit to being pleasantly surprised that I didn’t need to wash the floor, or wipe the table, or steam clean the walls and ceiling.  Cherub #1 wasn’t really that hungry so he left his soup pretty much untouched, his spoon sitting forlornly, partially submerged in the bright orange goop.

Although I didn’t need to clean the kitchen, I did need to contend with the whingeing from Spawn #2 regarding the leftover bread sticks that she wanted to claim.  Not usually a problem, but she had already scoffed her share of crumpets, banana, cucumber and cherry tomatoes at their children’s group about an hour earlier, so I didn’t want her to gorge herself silly on bread sticks.  So she changed tactics and demanded a drink instead.

“Good”, I thought.  She needed to keep up her fluids and a weak juice would help.  But then I clocked her hands.  They were covered in soup, houmous, and bits of soggy bread stick.  I mean, honestly, she looked like the bloke who gets doused in toxic waste in the original Robocop!

I needed to wipe her hands before I gave her the cup, so I left the room to get the baby wipes from the lounge.  Now, our lounge and kitchen are immediately next to each other, separated by a wall, but you can see into our lounge from the kitchen table.  I could only have been out of the kitchen for, oh let’s see, the amount of time it takes the average person to say “Tantrum”.

Then Spawn #2 began screaming, a high-pitched, blood curdling scream that only a one year-old girl can.  Never mind the fact that I was still in the house.  Never mind that I was talking to her the WHOLE TIME.  I left the room, and that was enough.  And it annoyed me.  It frustrated me that I could not just leave the room for 10 seconds to get a packet of wipes.

I grabbed up the wipes and stomped back to the kitchen to deal with the little banshee.

As I entered the room, I pulled a wipe out and threw the packet onto the table in frustration.  The wipe hit Cherub #1’s spoon.  The spoon took flight.  And orange Butternut Squash soup splattered everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  It was all across the table, on the floor, up the walls, and even on the ceiling.  In true bloke style, I turned to Spawn #2, fully intending to utter those immortal words, “Now look what you made me do!”

Then I noticed that I had managed to get the soup all over her too.  I don’t know what was worse; the fact that in my mood I had managed to make more mess than two young children, or the look that Cherub #2 was giving me, as if to say “Now what did you do that for?”.

The room was silent.  I took a deep breath and, in my head, counted to ten.  And as I was just about to turn towards the cupboard for the anti-bacterial wipes, a small voice piped up from behind me.

Cherub #1: Uh oh. (Pause) Daddy made the wall orange!

Well, yes. Yes I did.

To Gramps, with Thanks

My Grandfather, Jack, was a veteran of World War 2.  In his 90 years, Jack saw many things that would make people of my generation crumble.  He witnessed some of mankind’s greatest achievements, and many of our worst horrors.  And despite this, he was the kindest and most loving man I have ever known.

Gramps came to live with us in Spring 1982, not long after my Grandmother passed away.  I was only 3 years old when he moved in, and Gramps became ever-present in my life.

He would collect me from school every day and talk to me about what I had been up to, and he would make me feel safe when older boys from other schools boarded the bus and caused untold mischief.  He would take me out for walks and treat me to sweets from the newsagents.  He was a smoker, but he never lit a cigarette up while he was with me, and whenever I joined him in his TV room to watch Only Fools & Horses, he would stub out his roll-up and we would share a good laugh at Del Boy and Rodney…and, of course, Uncle Albert.

Gramps was very much like Uncle Albert, in that he would regale me with stories of his time in the war, usually recollecting anecdotes about friends of his that were long since gone.  To me as a child, they were just boring old stories that he told by the bagful.  Only later did I realise that maybe Gramps was lonely and maybe recounting stories of his friends to his youngest Grandson was a way for him to enjoy those moments again.

As I began advancing through my early twenties (circa 2000) I began to realise that he would not be around forever.  He had started to become noticeably frail, falling occasionally on his walks up to the newsagents, and suffering physical ailments that should have been treated with more care and professionalism by Barnet Hospital.

Eventually, we noticed that Gramps was struggling to finish meals, or would leave the room with a mouthful of food but spit it out onto his plate or down the toilet.  This became more frequent until one night in 2002 when he awoke and went for the toilet – only to lose bowel control en route.  The subsequent hospital visits confirmed that he had bowel cancer.

Despite a relatively successful surgery to remove cancerous tissue, Gramps was eventually readmitted to hospital in March 2003 for further treatment.  The last time I went to visit him was a Wednesday evening.  I knew I would be unable to see him the following day due to work and Am Dram commitments, but I gave him a hug and told him I would see him on Friday.  For the first time in my life, as I hugged him, I told him I loved him.

Gramps passed away in the early hours of Friday morning.  I never got to see him again.

I am thankful that I had realised how much he had meant to me in time to share it with him.  I am thankful that I began to take notice of his stories and encouraged him to share his tales of friendship with me.  I am thankful that, in the 20 years he lived with me, it was mainly he who raised me.

He was old fashioned, and yet so fresh.  He was silly, and yet so serious.  Gramps was not just a gentleman, he was a gentle man.

Gramps taught me about love and compassion.

Gramps taught me about right and wrong.

Gramps taught me about the importance of respect.

He may have been my Grandfather, but he was my third parent, and although I didn’t understand it at the time, his death hit me harder than anything else ever had before or has since.  It took me years to come to terms with his loss, and even now I don’t think I am fully there yet.  Maybe I never will be…

Although she never got to meet him, my Darling Wife knew how much he had meant to me, so when we first found out we were expecting a baby boy, she quickly agreed that he would have Jack as his middle name.  It is the highest tribute I can pay, a lasting mark of respect, to the man who taught me so much and expected so little in return.

Why am I sharing this with you all now?  To be honest, it’s because of a lady called Heather.

If life has shown me anything, it is that the value of the time we share now is worth more than all of the promised futures combined.  Isn’t there a saying, “Live a little, Love a lot”?  My experience with Gramps proved this to me, and this cannot be more true than in the case of Heather.

Heather is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When she was diagnosed in 2005, she had just given birth to a little girl and was told she had 15 months to live.  But Heather beat the odds and is now one of few long-term survivors.  She is now on a mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma by sharing her personal story.

If having cancer has taught Heather anything, it is the value of life and the value of gratitude. Heather’s diagnosis was in the month of November, and every year since during the holiday season, she is reminded of this difficult time. Therefore, she has set out to acknowledge something in her life that she is thankful for every day throughout the month of December.

This year, she decided to take this idea to the blogosphere. Heather has met some incredible bloggers who have helped her in her journey to spread awareness.

Here is the link to Heather’s blog page where you can learn more about her story: www.mesothelioma.com/heather

I was wondering if you would do that same. This December, we are asking friends, family, and fellow bloggers to post about something that they are thankful for, along with sharing a little bit of Heather’s story with their own friends, family and readers.

I sincerely hope you are interested!

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

And thank you, Heather von St James, for inspiring me to share.

The Terrible Two’s (or A Father’s Authoritative Dilemma)

Spawn #1 turned two.  That’s all that seemed to happen.  He turned two, and began to have tantrums.  There is nothing unusual in that, I suppose, and Darling Wife and I were prepared for it.  But he has been developing a nasty temperamental streak of late (which unfortunately is rubbing off on Cherub #2 in small doses) but while this is not something we want to laugh about, it can occasionally create some truly hilarious moments.

A little while ago, Spawn #1 did something naughty (I forget what it was now, probably something like pushing his sister over, but it was enough to land him in trouble) and I had to resort to the Naughty Mat.  I grabbed him by the hand, led him to the front door and plopped him on the mat, making sure to shut the door to the lounge on the way – or at least, I thought I had.

Spawn #1 was crying.  He had been taken away from his toys and the TV and his sister and taken to the Naughty Mat.  And now Daddy was kneeling in front of him and speaking in a stern voice.  He was upset because he was in trouble.

And yet, as I spoke to him, explaining the reason why I was putting him on the step, I saw his eyes flick to something over my shoulder.  His crying stopped and gradually a small smile crept across his face.  I couldn’t understand it.  Here I was, imposing discipline on him and telling him off and there he was beginning to laugh.

At this point, I turned around to find out just what it was that was undermining my authority and making him laugh.  I should have guessed…

I had not closed the lounge door properly and there was Cherub #2 trying heavens hard to come and join us in the hallway.  But whenever she opened the door wide enough for her body, she would start to crawl through the gap, and that’s when she would catch the door with her knee and close it on herself.  So she was trying and failing multiple times to get out of the lounge, trapped halfway through the door, and Spawn #1 and I were there absolutely transfixed by this sight.

That’s when Cherub #2 looks up at us and breaks into the biggest, happiest smile in the world.  My heart melted and Spawn #1 burst out into a fit of giggles.

And that was that.  Discipline crumbled and we all just sat there in the hall giggling away, my authority destroyed by a one-year-old with clearance issues…

But at what point should I try to curb this temperament issue that Spawn #1 is developing?  I mean, the above example probably didn’t aid me in my endeavors, but I am hardly helping myself in other instances either.

Only a few weeks ago, I told Spawn #1 it was time for bath and bed.  “No, Daddy.  I not want it.”  Oh, well, that’s OK then!  Wait, no it’s not!!!

“Come on, upstairs, bath – NOW!”  Spawn #1 slaps his hands on top of the TV cabinet, and stomps across the lounge, out of the door and as he approached the open stair-gate, he decides to slam it shut!

Except, it’s not one of those gates that slams and snaps into place, but has a handle that has to be lowered into position.  The end result of this action was that the gate banged into the frame and bounced back, hitting Spawn #1 in his stroppy face as he stomped onward and producing an audible “Oof” from him!

He wasn’t hurt, but this put him in such a thunder-strop that I could do nothing – but laugh my ass off!

The thing with laughing at two-year-olds is that they don’t always understand that you’re laughing AT them, and this must have been the case with Spawn #1.  Upon hearing my cackling, he turned around and grinned at me, his shiny brown eyes twinkling in a way that seemed to say “Oh, you liked that, huh?  Well, I’m gonna bash my face into the gate every time I get near it, because it makes you laugh.”

And then, just before he turned and climbed the stairs, his expression shifted slightly, as if to add “Then you can explain THAT to Mummy!”

I’m beginning to worry about that boy…

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Bed Time Banter

The other day, I got annoyed by Spawn #1. It happens often (a little too often for my liking) but this day saw a repeat of the previous day’s issue that tried my patience. I wonder if the Little Darling is simply pushing my buttons, prolonging the inevitability of bedtime, or just has genuine bad timing. I guess that’s for you to decide… Let me explain:

#1’s nighttime routine is pretty straightforward: Dinner, bath, pyjamas, stories & milk, teeth, songs and sleepies. It has been this way for as long as I can remember.

Spawn #1, however, has started adding his own step in. Somewhere between the end if his stories and the start of sleepy time, he now feels the need to demand to sit on the toilet for Poo Time.

Let me be clear about this. My son demands to sit on the bog and have a crap. Invariably, when I take him to the toilet and sit him down, has just plays with his environment, unravels the toilet roll, aims his winky over the edge of his seat while weeing, and exclaiming loudly about there being a bus in the loo! And all this while doing ABSOLUTELY NO POO!!!!!

In the words of a famous TV and movie director, “Grrrrr. Argh”.

But he becomes a very sweet and funny child while on the crapper. If I get close enough, he will pull me in for hugs and kisses, he’ll mess up my hair and whisper to me about all the strange things that have happened to him that day. And we giggle. A lot!

I know that this is just procrastination on Spawn #1’s part as only last month he would constantly claim to be hungry during bedtime. Before that, it was “one more” “one more” “one more” with stories and songs.

In all honesty he is starting to get a bit better than he has been, but gone are the days when I could just stand in his doorway and say “lie down, good boy, night night” and we wouldn’t hear a peep from him until morning. It used to be so easy getting Cherub #1 to sleep, but not so much now!

Yesterday, he told me he’d done a wee in his nappy, so I explained that was ok as that’s what they were designed for. But my Darling Boy decides he wants his nappy changed NOW!

Me: But you’ve only been in that nappy 5 minutes…
#1: No. Change now. Wee in nappy.
Me: Can it wait?
#1: No Daddy.
Me: Will you drown if I don’t change it?
#1: Err… yeah.
Me: Ok, you win.
#1: Sing Daddy’s song.
Me: Dont push it!

I suppose it’s good that he’s learning to ask for a change, potty training himself almost, but I do wish he would just go to sleep like he used to!

A Birth Story: A Father’s Perspective

There are many reasons that men do not receive much sympathy when it comes to parenthood. Men do not get pregnant. Men do not have to carry a child for 9 months. Men do not have to go through the pain of childbirth. Men do not have to do this, that, and the other… Fair play, you’re right. We don’t. But this is not our fault, it’s an evolutionary foible that we are not to blame for. (And if you don’t believe in evolution, blame aliens or luck or your deity of choice).

But what men do have is a small dose of guilt and a large dollop of worry. (Granted, not all men will worry about the perils of pregnancy and childbirth, and there are many that will not feel even a sliver of guilt about anything to do with it, but there are those of us that do, and I think we need to be spoken for).

The worry I speak of is that horrible feeling of helplessness throughout the course of the pregnancy, when the Darling Wife (or Loving Partner, delete as applicable) is struggling to do anything: tie her own shoes, get out of bed, get off the toilet. It’s not laziness. In many cases, my Darling Wife included, it is something called SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction), a condition where the ligaments in the pelvic bone become too relaxed and thus the pubic bone itself becomes unstable, which can be VERY painful.

While she was pregnant with Cherub #1, Darling Wife suffered from SPD, severe swelling, and PUPPPS (a kind of rash most commonly seen in first pregnancies). And insomnia through discomfort.

She was performing in an amateur show while she was 4 months pregnant, but by this time, she already looked like she was 6 months. By the time she was full term, Darling Wife was describing herself as a planet. My initial response to this assessment?

ME: “Don’t be stupid, you’re barely a small moon.”

In my defense, she was HUGE! And I am fairly certain her bump had it’s own weather system and gravitational field. Possibly even a South Pole…

All this leads me to admit that, while she was out and about at work or shopping or just going to put the recycling out, I was literally bricking it! Seriously, I was worried that she might pop at any moment and I would not be there to help her out…

I needn’t have worried. Cherub #1’s sense of timing is just like his mother’s. Almost two weeks after the due date passed, Darling Wife was eventually admitted to hospital for induction. However, on the morning she was due to be induced, the hospital decided to shut down the Labour Ward, as another local hospital had been inundated with expectant mothers dropping early and had therefore started channeling their overflow patients to our hospital. This was a bit inconvenient as Darling Wife had already been given a pessary. (If you know what this is, good for you. If you don’t I am not going to explain it in any great detail, but suffice to say it is supposed to help trigger labour).

That was a Tuesday. On Thursday night, Darling Wife and Mother-in-Law sent me home from the hospital to get some sleep as nothing was happening. We had been moved to a private room so that I could stay on the ward without upsetting the other expectant mothers. I eventually left the hospital just after 1:00am on the Friday morning.

I was woken after a fitful night by a phone call at 7:00am. Mother-in-Law politely suggested that I might want to come up to the hospital as Darling Wife had been having strong contractions since 01:30am and was now on the gas. I arrived at the hospital to find Darling Wife still in her room, but her morning check was enough to convince the nurses that she should be moved down to the Labour ward ASAP, and by 10:00am she was down there having her waters broken.

At this point I should probably point out that Darling Wife had wanted to have her mother present, as she had six grandchildren already and had not been present for any of the births. Some women may find having a grandparent present at the birth strange, while others are not happy unless they invite the entire village into the delivery suite. I personally didn’t care either way, as I figured it was Darling WIfe’s decision. I also think that my Mother-in-Law is one of the most calm and level headed people on the planet, and we would be blessed with the experience of a woman who had done this 3 times herself.

So, Darling Wife had wanted to opt out of having an epidural as she wanted to have as close to a natural birth as possible, but for some reason, the attending midwife decided to practically force her to have the line put in. After the contractions started to REALLY hurt, she agreed to have the epidural activated.

Unfortunately, this did not have the desired effect, and instead of Darling Wife being numbed and made more comfortable, she began to slip in and out of consciousness and it became very apparent to me that it had been a bad idea to follow the midwife’s advise.

I was trying to talk to Darling Wife and ask her questions, but she became unresponsive. This was worrying, not least because the midwives and attending nurses didn’t seem to notice, but also because when I questioned whether the epidural was supposed to have this effect, they didn’t have a clue!

Mother-in-Law decided to return to the Maternity Ward where there were nurses and friendly faces for her to talk to. I believe she even prayed. I myself remained in the Delivery Suite, holding Darling Wife’s hand, and fearing the worst. I have never been so scared in my life.

A short while later, the first epidural wore off, and while they were changing the cartridge, Darling Wife regained enough of her senses to give a clear instruction not to activate the epidural again. Within 5 minutes, she was wide awake and giving orders to the delivery team while she handled her own contractions with the aid of Entonox gas. It was a startling change from the listless, unresponsive zombie that was sitting in her place just a few minutes previously.

I decided this was a good time to go and find my Mother-in-Law, but I barely got to the door of the Labour Ward before she entered the ward herself. She asked how Darling Wife was doing, and I told her she needed to see it to believe it, but I think she could tell from my face that things were looking up!

By 4:00pm, baby was still nowhere to be seen, and Darling Wife sent me off to have something to eat. I cannot for the life of me tell you what I ate that afternoon, but I know it was tasty and filling. I also know that I was only out of the delivery room for 35 minutes before I returned, anxious not to miss another minute, but even then I needn’t have worried.

To cut a long story short, nothing much happened until about 7:00pm, when I believe they started asking Darling Wife to prepare to push. By 8:00pm, Darling Wife was pushing when she was told, resting when she could, and handling each contraction by dosing herself with gas. I was manning the tension meter and advising her when a contraction was on the way (Darling Wife could not really feel the start or end of the contractions due to the gas, so she had no way of knowing when to start pushing) and Mother-in-Law was on hand holding and moral support duties.

A few hours later though, baby was still not making much progress and an obstetrician was called from A&E. He examined Darling Wife, checked the heartbeat monitors, took blood samples from baby’s head to check oxygen levels and pretty much said “It’s all going well, keep pushing.”

By this time, Daring Wife had been actively pushing for over 4 hours and was now pleading for a C-section as with each push, baby’s heartbeat slowed. Even the attending midwives, of which there were now 6, all voiced their concerns. But Mr Obstetrician (I refuse to call him a doctor on principle) claimed he needed a valid medical reason for ordering an emergency c-section, and almost laughed off our claims that Darling Wife had had been awake for nearly 48 hours and was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, having been pushing for over 4 hours. This, apparently, is not a good enough medical reason, oh no siree.

Still, by some miracle, Darling Wife was able to continue pushing and baby eventually reached a position where he could be grasped by forceps. (“Oh, good” you’re thinking? “Job’s a good’un”? HA! Not likely). Cherub #1 had to be dragged out of her with brute force by the ‘doctor’, while I was trying to hold the bed steady due to a faulty wheel brake! (Imagine, if you will, a tug of war where the competitors are a tall, physically imposing man and that drawer in your freezer that keeps getting frozen shut – except that when the man puts his entire weight into pulling the drawer open, the freezer starts to dance erratically across the floor).

For these few hours, I can honestly say it was a ride of sheer terror. Whenever I think back to this day, and to this moment in particular, I still have no idea how Cherub #1 didn’t suffer a broken neck…or decapitation. Darling Wife also had to be cut slightly before the little bugger could finally get out – I tell you it was slightly, but I’ll never actually reveal just how big the episiotomy was. Suffice to say, when I turned round to check if she was OK a little later on, it looked to me like a scene from Sweeney Todd!

Cherub #1 was 16 days late, and had been positioned back-to-back in the womb, meaning his chin was getting stuck on the pubic bone on the way out. He also had suspected shoulder dystocia (where the shoulder gets stuck against the pubic bone preventing the baby from fully emerging from the mother, and possibly restricting oxygen flow in the umbilical cord). Finally, he had the cord around his neck, which had to be cut before he could be fully removed from Darling Wife!

It was almost an entire shopping list of complications, however, thankfully it was all down to his size – he weighed in at a flat 10lbs, measuring 59cm in length!

Darling Wife called the Obstetrician all the names under the sun, but once Cherub #1 was born and was making noise (he took his time about that, too!) and while the Ob was busy sewing her up, she also thanked him!

Whether there was help from On High or not, I don’t know. All I know is, for those long hours in that stuffy, overcrowded Delivery Suite, I experienced something that I would not wish on my most hated enemy. One of the hardest things to do when acting is to go from one extreme emotion to another in the blink of an eye (Elation to despair; Horror to humour), but this is what happened frequently in that room between 10:00am on the Friday morning and 02:55am on the Saturday!

I would like to think I kept a cool head during this ordeal, and God knows, for the sake of my Darling Wife and my Mother-in-Law, I tried to keep calm. But inside, I was horrified, ashamed, guilty, worried, and feeling just a little bit nauseous because I fully understood exactly what it was my Darling Wife had just been through.

In closing, some people will always think men have it easy when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. I don’t believe that any compassionate man could have it easy at all, but I understand why people would believe it. However, I would ask them to please spare a thought for the guys like me who are sometimes going through the biggest and most stressful ordeals of OUR lives! We can’t help being a bit inexperienced at things like this. After all, we’re only men…

Cherub #1

Sleep-Talking – Psychological Insight, or Just Sheer Entertainment?

Maternity leave fast became a distant memory as Darling Wife returned to work two weeks ago, and I have been at home wrestling with my demons in the more literal sense.  With this sudden change in family dynamic, I wondered (dreaded?) if there would be any apparent effect on the kids…

I should not have been worried.  The answer, of course, is OF COURSE!  May as well just throw in a face-palm for good measure…

Bedtime has become something of a minefield, more so than usual.  Now that Darling Wife is at work for most of the day, the kids only really see her in the evenings and at weekends – It’s a bit like a Talk Plan from your selected mobile phone company, except with a bit less stress and a good deal more unintentional international calls (always made when one of your cherubs grabs your mobile phone).  With the children in my care for most of the day, when ‘Mummy’ comes home, she becomes something of a novelty.  If she happens to come into #1’s bedroom to say ‘Night night’, he starts to play up and won’t settle for anything less than ‘Mummymummymummymummy’…

During the nights, #2 has been waking up to 5 times a night, just for a little mummy-comfort.  Not exactly the best sleep solution for a woman who suffered with bouts of insomnia during pregnancy and has a job that can be both physically and emotionally exhausting.  Darling Wife does the best she can, and I help wherever and however I can, but she still ends up exhausted and running on empty.

However, one interesting side effect that has presented itself recently has been the increase in #1’s sleep-talking.  He frequently made noises during the night, and occasionally awoke and called out for me, but he rarely spoke in his sleep.  Certainly, the possibility of proper sleep-talking is increasing as his speech develops quicker and quicker, but last night was the first time that I understood exactly what was going on in his head.

The encounter went something like this:

03:00am – I hear a voice begin repeating a strange noise every few seconds, increasing in volume and frequency, and prompting me to get out of bed to investigate and subdue.

Upon entering #1’s bedroom, the floor creaked, and I’m not talking your subtle whispery creak.  Oh no, ladies and gentlemen.  I’m talking Haunted House of Horrors creaking of the sort usually reserved for waking even the most stubbornly dead!  But #1 didn’t even stir.  He just lay there, eyes closed, muttering in some strange language.

As I drew closer, I realised that he was in fact still asleep, and suddenly I could make out what he was saying.

#1: ‘Tair’

Me: ‘What’s the matter?’

#1: ”Tair’

Me: What’s that?

#1: ‘Ooh, tair.  High tair.

Me: ‘HIgh chair?’

#1: ‘Yeah.  High tair.  Fall.’

Me: ‘You fell out of your high chair?’

#1: ‘Yeah’.

Me: ‘Are you dreaming?’

#1: ‘Yeah’

I laugh and he smiles in his sleep.

Me: ‘Then roll over and go back to sleep’.

#1: ‘Yeth’.

He rolls over and cuddles into the duvet.

#1:  ‘Bye Bye, Daddy’.

[Heart melts].

I am trying to decide whether the things that children say in their sleep hold any indications as to their state of mind, or whether I should just assume insignificance and start recording these conversations for future entertainment value…

Answers on a postcard…

Holiday – Celebrate!

Holidays to the seaside are weird and wonderful things.

On one hand you can spend hours on the beach staring out into the great blue beyond, marveling at the sheer vastness of the world.  On the other hand you are charged greatly inflated prices for ice cream, fish and chips, and beach towels that look and feel like they should have come from the B&Q woodwork section but are priced like they came from John Lewis!  And all of this is sold to you by former cockney cabbies or Eastern Europeans (“Hello my friend”) who don’t understand the term “overpriced piece of crap”.

Conversely, holidays with young children are simply a never ending exercise in vigilance…

We have just returned from a long weekend away visiting a friend on the south coast with our two darling cherubs.  Nothing I have ever done before could have prepared me for the experience of #1 running amok in a strange house (where some rooms are off limits for very god reasons: breakables, sensitive documents, treasured family photos, etc), hiding in closets, chasing the cat, climbing out of the cat flap, throwing toys, throwing food, throwing tantrums, and all of this while I am busy keeping track of what strange and interesting objects #2 has just found to put in her mouth!

Leaving the house and taking the two minute walk to the beach was just about the strangest experience of them all.  There was #1 practicing the rules that Nanny taught him and standing off to the very edge of the pavement to wait while cyclists pass by…in the middle of the road.  There were also occasional airborne sights: micro-lights, sailboarders, WW2 fighter planes performing loops and barrel rolls and Immelmans.  And then there were seagulls…

Arriving at the beach on day one, Cherub #1 immediately took off towards the surf as fast as his admittedly long legs would carry him.  Darling Wife and I figured he’d stop before he got to the water.  But of course he didn’t, and in he went, fully clothed, shrieking with delight before promptly sitting down in the surf.  He loved it!  He also found out why we gave him all the warnings about not drinking the sea water!

Needless to say Darling Wife and I are glad that he is not perturbed by the sea, unlike so many other children.  We joke that #1 is fearless, and I suppose that is a good thing, but it also means we have to be so much more aware of our surroundings.   We have to be constantly double checking and triple checking to see what he is up to, because he seems to notice EVERYTHING and he wants to have/hold/touch/taste/break EVERYTHING!  I mean EVERYTHING!!!

Sadly, we are now home, and all that is left is for us to again thank our friend and hostess for giving us the opportunity to have our first weekend away since March 2010.  The break may be over, but we will fondly reminisce about this, our children’s first holiday!

Yesterday, I awoke to the sound of roaring waves crashing against the shore.  Today I awoke to the sound of roaring engines traversing the A10 and the sound of #1 crashing his books against the head of his cot…

Home Sweet Home!

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