Tag Archives: Parenthood

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.

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!

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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Equation: M-H=F (Man minus Hobbies equals Father)

Once upon a time, a young man in his twenties spent a lot of his spare time at rehearsals for amateur dramatics shows, down the pub with his friends, or playing video games.  This young man had what he felt was a pretty good life – a good balance between work and play.  He was a singer in a band, he read books and comics, and he liked a drink or two.

Then, one sunny day in 2009, he got married.  This was nothing negative.  People got married all the time, and although divorce rates had never been higher, nothing could have been further from his mind!  Nothing much changed during this first year of marriage, although (for various, unrelated reasons) the band went on hiatus and eventually split.

The turning point came in mid-2010, when the young man and his Darling Wife became expectant parents.  Even at this point, there was nothing much different about the way they went about their lives, but the young man’s primary shopping locations went from being predominantly HMV, Game and CEX, to John Lewis, Babies R Us and Mothercare, none of which sold Halo video games or Bones on DVD.  A significant amount of time was also spent browsing through catalogues and websites for baby clothes/toys/furniture/bedding.

Cherub #1 arrived in Spring 2011.  Wills and Kate had just got married, Britain was experiencing an atypically warm spell, and ‘Party Rock Anthem’ by LMFAO (you know, the embarrassing dance track from The Inbetweeners movie) was #1 in the UK charts.

After his arrival, there was little time left for video games or socialising.  The young man (me, surprisingly!) had a job which took up the majority of my days, and a wife and child that took up the remainder of my time at home.  The saddest thing about being a working father is the amount of time with the family lost to the job or to travel (but that is a gripe for another post).

Everything has its place though, and once a routine had been worked out with #1 that freed up some of our time, it became easier to reintroduce certain pastimes that had been shelved.  Out came the Xbox and out came Halo: Reach.  I could once again join in the fight for humanity!  On rare occasions, #1 would sit on my lap happily pressing buttons on the controller, causing me to lob grenades at my team mates and constantly enter and exit vehicles at very inopportune moments in the heat of battle!  Bless him!

But this reprieve was short lived.  Cherub #2 came along in short order.  As for that routine?  It was a case of ‘find the nearest window and throw it out’!

It’s been just over 10 months since Bubba Pink arrived, but I have again found time to save humanity, win the Spanish La Liga, and finish watching the first season of Person of Interest.  Not bad for 10 months with two demanding children.  Being out of work for 5 months has given me more time with them, but also allowed me extra ‘ME time’ when Darling Wife takes the children out for a few hours.

I was, and still am, happy and thrilled to be a father.  #1 is an awesome little boy, and #2 a chilled out baby girl.  They can be difficult sometimes, but then what children aren’t – as I am sure Wills and Kate will find out soon enough.

And congratulations to them too, by the way.  Y’know, Alexander is a great name…but it should have come first!

Situational Manipulation, or Suffer The Little Children

Somewhere in The Bible (Mark 10:14, I think), the following words are uttered:

Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.

I am fairly certain the following quote came from Julius Caesar (The Roman Dictator, not the Shakespeare play):

‘Veni Vidi Vici’ (‘I came, I saw, I conquered”)

If someone were to translate my children’s thoughts at this moment in time, I’m convinced they would be saying:

Suffer the children, for we came, we saw, and we conquered, and our parents didn’t stand a chance, for such is the way of things in our house!

Having spent the day at a Christening (Godson #2 and his brother) and had a wonderful time, we decided to get the children fed and ready for bed before leaving as we were an hour away from home – the thought being that they would sleep in the car on the way back and bedtime would be easier than usual.

Our children had other thoughts…

While Spawn #2 actually did sleep for part of the journey, #1 did not. Not only did he not sleep, but the closer we got to home, the more over-tired and upset he got. And for those of you who don’t already know, kids will get upset about the most random things. Spawn #1 got upset because:

Cars were overtaking us.

His favourite song finished and the next song took to long to start.

His food tray was up and he wanted it down.

His food tray was down.

His feet were on the food tray.

His feet were not on the food tray.

The food tray is black.

There were trees outside.

This went on for about 40 minutes. Upon arriving home, we tried to get the kids upstairs and into bed ASAP. While bedtime was later than usual, we still wanted #1 to have his milk and stories. Cue more complaining about which stories he wanted, because the first set of stories he picked weren’t the ones he wanted when I eventually persuaded him to sit down. Tonight, he had ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’, ‘Ten in The Bed’ and ‘Sleepy Farm’.

When stories were finished, we set the Gro Clock to sleep time. (Yes, we bought Firstborn a Gro Clock – made by the same company that sell the perennially unhappy GroBag Egg room thermometers – to try and teach him that any time before 6:00am is NOT an acceptable time to get up. I can safely say that this hasn’t worked as yet.)

Then Mummy came in to say Goodnight. Cue another complaint about whether Daddy or Mummy would sing him his bedtime songs, ‘Castle on a Cloud’ and ‘Summer Time’. Daddy won. Eventually. Not sure exactly why I get to do this when Darling Wife has the better singing voice… Probably something to do with the fact that I don’t have the breasts for comfort feeding a ten month old…

With songs finished, I put the Little Darling down in his cot. At this point, I should probably mention that Spawn #2 had been wailing and moaning since just before ‘Castle on a Cloud’ and when she’s upset, Spawn #1 gets upset too. It’s almost like a one way empathy link. I say it’s one way, because #1 will get all whiny if #2 is upset, but #2 couldn’t give a rat’s rear end if #1 kicks off. Aren’t they adorable!

Eventually, I managed to leave the room and headed downstairs to wash a pint glass in preparation for a well deserved cider. Suddenly, #2’s crying unsettled #1 and he kicked off again, wanting “Mummy. Mummy. Mummy”. Off upstairs I went once more, but this time I had a plan – Situational Manipulation.

As I entered his room, Firstborn threw himself back down from a standing position into a kind of ‘I swear I was trying to sleep and you can’t prove any different’ pose. I slowly stepped to the cot and had the following conversation (translations appear in brackets):

ME: Hey Buddy, it’s sleepy time. (Please, for the love of God, go to sleep!)

#1: Yeah. (Whatever.)

ME: You had lots of fun today didn’t you? (Why the Hell aren’t you unconscious already?)

#1: Oh Yeah. (And I ain’t done yet, Daddy-O.)

ME: But playtime is over and it’s time to close your eyes and get some sleepies. (PLEASE!!)

#1: No. Mummy. (I want Mummy to come in here so I can wind her up too.)

ME: Mummy is busy putting your sister to bed. Can you hear her crying?

#1: Uh. (Mummy or Sis?)

ME: Can you hear your sister crying? (Smart arse!)

#1: Oh Yeah. (That little attention seeking squirt is cutting in on my action.)

ME: She’s crying because she is tired and upset, and all that noise you’re making is keeping her awake. (WELL THEN, SHUT THE F*** UP!)

#1: Yeah. (No.)

ME: So lie down, close your eyes, and Mummy will come in and say goodnight to you when she’s finished putting your sister to bed. (I have no idea if this is true, I just want you to be quiet and go to sleep.)

#1: Yeah. (It’s a deal.) [He rolls over and actually makes the effort to go to sleep.]

ME: Night night, Monkey. (Ha Ha, Sucker!)

I really do love my son. He’s so cute and adorable when he is oblivious to my parental scheming!

P.S. I do not condone lying to a child of any age, but sometimes it’s the only way to get them to do what is best for them.