Come along for the ride!!

Monday, July 31, 2006

"War - what is it good for?"

"Absolutely nothing, say it again!"

Edwin Starr sang it in 1970 and Bruce Springsteen reminded everyone of the lyrics again in 1985.

Growing up in the 70's and 80's, I got used to watching the very same war in Lebanon on the news as is happening there all over again, although I now have a more vested interest being married to a Lebanese woman. Apart from the obvious hope that my wife's family all come through the current situation unscathed, I hope our children won't grow up watching the same things as I did; it would be more than just news to them - they will see their mother's birthplace being systematically flattened with no hope of going there to see her family or indeed her family home which saw her through the civil war as a little girl and still stands today, albeit badly bullet ridden.

Perhaps the news was more sanitised for us in previous decades but I don't remember seeing the same images coming out of the middle east as I'm seeing now. Maybe it was my age and seeing death didn't hold the same impact as it does for me now.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm now a parent and with that in mind, last night's news made for some very grim viewing. Get rid of terror and fear throughout the world, absolutely, but let's avoid the totally unnecessary killing of innocent men, women and children at all costs.

The French sculptor Armand Pierre Fernandez created a 5000 tonne sculpture which stands outside the Ministry of Defence in Beirut and is entitled Hope for Peace. Built in 1995, the 30m-high sculpture comprises smashed tanks and artillery pieces drowned in concrete, representing the horrors of a war that had been going on for 15 years.

He died in October of last year, just missing the restart of trouble in Lebanon this July.

He died thinking that peace really had endured where he had placed his sculpture.

How ironic.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


As satisfying as it is, there's something a little bit mean about performing "magic" for your children. It's not so much that YOU perform magic for them; it's when they try to replicate the same trick for you. Let me give you last nights example.

J was doing his favourite pouring of water from one jug to another whilst in the bath, sloshing it everywhere except inside the bath itself as usual, so I decide to do a trick for him. There are several small plastic animals for bath time, 3 of which I put in the bottom of the jug. I then fill it up and doing the most obvious distraction, remove one of them. Anyway, I slowly pour the water out of the jug and, hey presto, izzy wizzy let's get busy and all that nonsense, one of the animals has disappeared!

His little face is a picture - utter amazement at where it might have gone! While he's looking gobsmacked into the bottom of the jug, I drop the missing animal into the other jug and, slowly filling it up with water from the tap, he sees the tiger materialise in the water from nowhere.

He's thrilled!

"Can I try that", he says. I duly pass him everything and he goes through the motions perfectly, remembering all the actions I performed in the correct order.

He stands up, grinning from ear to ear, pours the water out and looks into the bottom of the jug, sees the tiger hasn't disappeared and looks at me, the smile slipping from his face in an instant.

"Oh", is all he can muster, his shoulders dropping.

This I find hilarious and roar with laughter, head on the side of the bath. I can hear him laughing in the background and I look up and cuddle him even though he's soaking wet. Of course, as he has gotten such a laugh from me, he immediately tries the same thing again and although it is never as funny the second time, I hug him again, all the more for trying to entertain me again.

Don't worry Poops - even Ali Bongo had to practice!

Monday, July 24, 2006

panic over!

Remember I was worried that J's first experience of his new school in September may end in tears (see here) due to the fact that we last went on the day of the school fair and he was expecting to see a bouncy castle in the playground every day with stalls selling hot dogs and raffle tickets?

Worry over.

M took him back there the other day to meet his new teacher, have a closer look around and he loved it! I can't tell you how much of a relief it is; he's actually looking forward to it!

September looms.

ps - a quick word of thanks to MY Dad for saving us from a week of no water by coming over to talk me through changing our broken kitchen tap!
I'm sure at my age there's a law against a sense of achievement for something so trivial but dammit, it felt good!

Thanks Dad

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Il est malade!

I think I can safely assume that anyone reading this will have, at some point in their lives, been sick. Call it what you like; hurling, chucking up, vomiting, yelling down the big white porcelain telephone, whatever, being physically sick is no laughing matter for anyone.

Let me tell you though, it is absolutely heart-breaking to watch your child be sick.

I don't know if it's the heat or a dodgy ice cream, but J has been quite sick the past two nights. You hear the faint call in the middle of the night - it doesn't matter because you're not sleeping comfortably anyway because it's so hot - and you both run along the landing, grab the plastic bin from the bathroom on your way past, thrust it under J's nose and whoomph, out it comes.

The heart-breaking bit is watching his little body trying to deal with it. Sorry to be so graphic but throwing up is quite a stress on a body, especially one as little as his. Then of course you have the look of it, the smell of it ......... I won't go on but you get the idea!

Many years ago, I worked in a hospital and I took children down to theatres for their various operations but I never really appreciated the gravity of what was happening; for the child or the parent. Occasionally some parents were upset but I always thought, "well, whatever the child is here for, it's for the best".

But that doesn't matter when it's your child who's sick. It doesn't matter that things might be better the other side of an operation; it's the here and now that matters and if the here and now consists of your child being sick or generally unwell, then it is simply awful.

Poops does have a rotten tummy bug right now but please God, keep him safe and well. The same goes for Missy. Let tummy bugs, colds 'n' sniffles be the worst we have to deal with as their parents.

I don't know how realistic that prayer is.

But it's the only one I have.

Friday, July 14, 2006

First past the post......

Wednesday evening was a monumental one in our house. Annabel, Missy, Foghorn Leghorn - whatever you want to call her - has taken her first steps. For us at least!

Apparently she rather selfishly took her actual first steps for the staff at nursery. Two in total and I have to admit to thinking, bummer, what a shame, her first steps with someone else. I needn't have worried though because she confidently took 4 steps and fell on the 5th on Wednesday.

Whereas before she would stand herself upright, walk a little while holding our hand but as soon as you removed that hand, she would stand for a few seconds and then drop down onto her knees and crawl to wherever it was she wanted to go.

Not now.

She smiles, knowing that she is standing alone and about to walk and then, arms out to steady herself she's off, 1 step, 2 step, 3 steps, balance going, arms raising, 4 steps, smiling again as she passes her centre of gravity and 5 steps, bang, onto the knees again!!!

Well done Missy, very well done.

You're doing just great!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


There are few things more likely to put you in a "got out the wrong side of bed" mood than being woken up early whilst you're still in it!

J woke us up this morning just before 6am.

The reason?

He wanted to show us "how tall he was" compared to last night!


Monday, July 10, 2006

Disappointment looms!

Saturday just gone found us at a fair in the grounds of the school where J will be starting in September. It's a wonderful school, quite small and, we hope, perfect for his educational starting point.

As you would expect, upon arrival, there are dozens of happy, smiling and laughing children running around, with the smell of BBQ burgers and fruit smoothies in the air, as well as a clown performing in one corner, a huge bouncy castle and slide in another, face painting area, coconut shy, bookstall and sweetie raffle stalls to name but a few.

All in all, a very well organised fair.

We occasionally mentioned that this was his new school in September and we eventually asked him what he thought. "I love it" was his reply and he looked like he really did.

It wasn't until much later when he said how much he was looking forward to starting his new school so he could "go on the bouncy castle again"!!

Oh oh!

There may be tears!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blah blah blah.......

Missy isn't speaking yet but when she does, oh boy are we in for it!

She is attempting to speak at the moment - in her world of course, she's making perfect sense and we're the ignorant ones for not understanding what the hell she's on about, hence the slightly puzzled look on her face when we don't do exactly what she has obviously just instructed us all to do.

"Geesh, eez oof ey sheer" she shouts, offering out a soggy rusk towards us.

"Thank you darling" I reply, hoping I've understood. As I bend forward to take a pretend nibble however, I realise that wasn't what she had in mind.

She shakes her head - actually, it's more of an upper body shuffle than a mere shake of the head. She repeats, "geesh (pause) Eez oof (another pause and a point towards the garden) Ey sheer?"

I look to where she is pointing but alas, my 'out of sync' brain just won't grasp it. I kiss her on the forehead anyway and get her a drink of water.

As M has pointed out, this must be very frustrating for any child or baby. It's clear that she is trying to communicate with us, she obviously wants something done or to be taken somewhere but we just can't get it!

Sorry Missy - just a few more weeks and I'm sure this frustrating phase will be over.

And like I said, THEN we'll know all about it!!!

Heaven help us!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

All the P's!

As J attends nursery 4 days out of 5, he and his peers invite each other to their respective birthday parties throughout the year. As you can imagine, the formula for 3 and 4 year olds parties is pretty tried and tested and unfortunately can make for some very similar and tedious events. Not the one we went to on Saturday however. In fact, out of all that we have attended this year - so far - it will be the one I remember the most.

A paddling pool picnic party!

I kid you not, that's what Joseph was invited to at the weekend. It was the most beautiful Saturday morning and we had to get him to the paddling pool at "The Rookery" on Streatham Common for 11am. The birthday girl is Brazilian and her parents had laid on a fantastic spread of typical South American fayre, a piƱata for the children (and some of the parents!) to whack the hell out of and all set 20 feet away from an enormous paddling pool which all the kids loved.

Standing in the shallow cool water, idly chatting in the sunshine with anyone who would listen, I realised that M and I expend far too much energy on looking outside where we live for childrens entertainment.

This is very stupid.

The paddling pool where we spent a wonderful couple of hours is approximately a 5 minute drive from our house!

If we took the time to look a little closer to home - in our own immediate area, around our own borough - I am sure we would find other little gems to keep us all happy.

What about you? Do you (like us) pore over the internet looking at the opening times of the Natural History Museum or contemplate rather expensive days out at Legoland or Windsor Safari Park?

Take a deep breath and learn a bit more about your own backyard - there'll be stuff going on you didn't even know about. Don;t do like us and say to each other, "where is that I wonder?" It could be your next favourite thing just waiting for you to discover it.

And next time you're in South West London, pop up to the paddling pool by The Rookery for a chat.

I'll be the one standing in the middle of pool with a smug "isn't this great" look on my face.