Come along for the ride!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In your own time.

This doesn’t have much to do with being a Dad but I must mention it.

I stopped in at the local garage yesterday to check my tyre pressures (stay with me here!). I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that my tyres were absolutely fine, with no loss of pressure.

On my way out of the garage, I glanced down and saw, about halfway across the courtyard, a large snail without a care in the world, mooching oh-so-slowly in the direction of the car wash.

Let’s just quickly recap; a SNAIL was shuffling across a PETROL GARAGE FORECOURT.

My first thought was (as you might expect), “you’re never gonna make it my slimy friend”.

But when I say, “halfway across”, I mean it. He was just about level with Pump number 6, meaning he'd done one of two things.

1. Materialised out of absolutely nowhere a la Doctor Who’s TARDIS or

2. Actually crawled across the first part of the forecourt unscathed.

I’m not entirely sure which of these options amaze me the most.

Friday, June 22, 2007

“At the end of the day …….”

I once mentioned how I always check in on Joseph last thing at night but not Annabel on account of her sleeping so lightly. Well last night I did check in on her, thanks mostly to her having a coughing fit!

And she is just as sweet as I thought she would be when sleeping. She was very restless but a soothing ‘sshhhhh’ coupled with a gentle back patting and she settled, drifting slowly back to sleep.


When tucking Joseph in a few nights back, I told him that I check on him once more before I get into bed. When I explained how I open his door, turn him up the right way, cover him up and kiss him on the head gently, he looked at me, blinking.

His face was a mixture of amusement and disbelief.

“I don’t feel it”, he said referring to the kiss on the head.

“No, of course you don’t", I smiled. "I do it gently so I don’t wake you up".

And so, as is usually the case when I’ve told him something new, his last words to me lately are directly related to the fresh news, in this case, “don’t forget to give me a kiss later Dad”.

Don’t worry my love. I won’t forget.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

“Can we fix it? Yes we can!”

On the common near to where we live, there is an old guy who sleeps rough on a bench.

Whilst walking home together the other day, Joseph announced to M that he wanted to be a builder when he grew up.

“Really?” M replied, “that’s nice”.

“Yeah”, he continued. “I want to be a builder so I can build a house for the man who sleeps on the bench”.

There’s hope for society’s future yet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More money? No thank you …..

It’s official.

“Fathers are taking pay cuts in order to spend more time with their families”, a survey suggests.

It’s a small price to pay if you ask me. Yes, I wish there were more numbers in the bottom right hand corner of my pay slip each month but when you get to leave work early 3 days per week in order to collect your son from school, there’s not much to grumble about.

Well, I can usually find something to grumble about but hey ……..

After fretting since last Thursday about our ever so slightly blocked plughole in the shower room, I went out and purchased the most technologically advanced piece of plumbing equipment that the shop had.

Priced at only £2.78 (a bargain), I was a little worried that it wouldn’t do the job efficiently.

I wasted a good worry however, as it cleared the blockage first time.

Personally, I reckon it had more to with technique, but who’s counting right?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Oh dear, it’s that time of year again.

That time of year where you try to think of something to give your Dad, even though he is famously the most difficult person to buy for on the face of the earth.

Thankfully however, my Dad loves Maynard’s Wine Gums, so I delivered his 10kg box of them last week.

Enjoy them Tel’ Boy.

Closer to home, I was presented with a handmade card in the shape of a Piston Cup (you’ll need to watch Joseph’s favourite movie Cars to know what that is), as well as some very thoughtful presents from M.

We then went to lunch and had a very lovely time for the following reasons;

Joseph and Annabel were exceptionally well behaved

It was a new restaurant and I had never eaten there before

The service and the food were fantastic

My non-alcoholic cocktail was delicious

It also transpired that as a Dad eating there on Father’s Day, I got to eat for free, making the outing great value for money.

Being very health conscious I ordered a salad.

Unfortunately my salad came with a side order of two 6oz burgers, dill pickle, relish, onion rings and home fries, all of which I managed to polish off before pushing my plate away from me and announcing I probably wouldn’t be ordering dessert!

Thankfully, we decided to go for a long walk afterwards, through a huge park via a small city farm by which time I had managed to digest my substantial lunch.

Home to play for a bit, children bathed and in bed (all the while still behaving beautifully), open a cold beer and sit down to watch the motor racing.

What a cracking Father’s Day!

Roll on the next one.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who’s Jim?

In a local magazine for families last week, a gymnasium for children was advertising a free introductory class.

As you may have gathered, the word ‘free’ invariably jumps off the page of whatever it is that I'm reading.

So I duly call and book Joseph onto the class; the idea being, let our children try as many different activities as possible in the hope they will find at least one thing that they take to and enjoy.

Just before he went in, another child playing next us suddenly pointed both arms at the ground like she was about to dive into the carpet and executed a perfect forward roll, ending up standing on both feet with arms stretched out to the sides.

Joseph’s face fell.

“I can’t do that”, he whispered, leaning against the wall, confidence suddenly seeping away from him.

I pulled him close and whispered back. “Don’t worry, you probably won’t have to do that on your first day. Forget about forward rolls for now”.

Little did I know he had joined a class that was only 5 weeks away from their end of term show. They had been learning ‘gym’ for 17 weeks and Joseph had been plonked in the middle of it!

“Oh lawdy, how will he do?” I wondered.

I watched.

I smiled occasionally when he looked through the soundproof glass at me.

A thumbs up every few minutes to let him know he was doing just great.

And then, I could see the teacher explaining what they would be doing next. I saw the first child do a hop, skip and a jump and then, bend forward, fingers pointing downwards and, of all the lousy luck, a forward roll.

I look across at Joseph and I can see him twisting his fingers nervously.

The teacher calls him for his turn, he gets up, runs to the starting place and ……. stops. He looks over at me once again and I give him an encouraging smile.

But it doesn’t work.

He jumps down from the foam mattress and starts to make his way towards me but the teacher is very good. She jumps up and guides him kindly but firmly back to the start, shows him how to bend forward and as he starts to lean over, she gives him a little nudge and over he goes.

Ok, ok, I admit it, I have a 'thing' about fragile necks so I give a little wince hoping he’s ok. I needn’t have worried; the girl is a professional, she made sure he was fine.

I wonder what he thinks as he gets to his feet. He looks up, beaming with pride at achieving what he thought he couldn’t only 10 minutes before. They do a “high - 5” and he runs eagerly back to his place in the line, obviously keen to have another turn.

When he remembers I’m watching, he turns to look, handsome face smiling from ear to ear. In the space of the next hour, he walks along a proper Olympic beam, crawls along the parallel bars and swings on a set of asymmetric bars.

Needless to say he absolutely loved his time in the gym and wanted to know when he could come again.

Hurrah. A 100% success record on things he might like to do.

So far.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Higher than a 5 ………………....... a 4!

6.30pm in our house means upstairs for bath time. Joseph and Annabel are now sharing a bath which is usually lots of fun and something they enjoy. M and I still go our separate ways afterwards; she to get Annabel ready and me to get Joseph ready.

Joseph then gives me a choice of what he wants to do afterwards.

1. Read stories

2. The ‘pillow game’

3. Hide and seek or

4. Play a board game

For your information, the pillow game consists of him running away from me, along our landing and me trying to get him with one or both of his bedroom cushions, usually on the back, causing him to fall over in a heap, laughing hysterically.

(It IS very funny).

Anyway, last night he opted for a board game so we chose our coloured counters and threw the dice.

To cut a long story short, I won by two spaces.

His face screws up in an angry frown, he growls at me and informs me that he “wanted to win”.

And so I find myself having the “it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part” conversation with him.

Many people say that this is rubbish and to NOT want to win is taking a “losers” attitude.

I disagree.

Yes, I also would like to win, but if I personally took this attitude over the past couple of decades I would have been one very unhappy bunny; I’ve never really won or excelled at anything.

In the words of the great Billy Connolly, I’m not saying, “love me, love me, I’m thick”, it’s just that I was not (and am not), all that competitive.

I seem to remember reading a newspaper article by David Beckham’s dad, saying how he never congratulated his son for “doing ok”. He constantly pushed him to do better, to never settle for second best.

You could argue that it has paid off; that Beckham Junior has truly “made it”, rich beyond his dreams, world wide recognition, palatial homes around the globe and so on.

But I’m made of different stuff from Beckham Senior. I physically couldn’t be disappointed at Poops or Missy coming second in an egg and spoon race. When you’re up against 10 others and you romp home in second place, well that’s a result in my book.

Or 3rd place for that matter.

Anyway, we played another round of the game we had just played.

And Joseph won. Easily.

He then promptly punched the air and shouted, “yessss”.

Then I threw a hissy fit.

Dammit, I HATE losing!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Vooomm …….what was that?

Could someone please tell me where the time goes?

No seriously, it’s the 2nd of June, we're approaching the longest day of the year and the days are about to start getting shorter for crying out loud!

As a colleague said the other day, Christmas was only last week and we’re already getting ready to turn the clocks forward!!

Well, another week whizzes past, the weekend is here and what have we done?

Ma famille went back to the farm where we picked our strawberries last weekend and picked ……………. another 3 kilos of bloody strawberries! After we swore we’d never eat another one! Apparently my mum wanted to go with them and Joseph was more than happy to oblige.

And so, after a fairly late breakfast this morning (topped with strawberries and accompanied by side bowls of strawberries), we got Joseph ready for another birthday party; a pirate themed one.

Thanks to his own pirate themed party last year, we had his outfit all ready to go, so off he and I went to a small hall near to where we live, after he had established (as he usually does), that I would be staying for the duration. It was the party of a friend of Joseph’s from nursery, his parents had done a lovely job of “pirating” the hall, food, delivered pizza, wine for parents and so on.

Watching Joseph interact however, made my heart ache.

In my view, he is a very sociable boy, very friendly, very happy, but sometimes, it all seems ………… I don’t know, a bit too much. I’m looking straight at him, smiling all the time in case he looks over, giving him a nod to let him know all is well, but sometimes, as today, his look over at me lingers a little longer than I would like and a small shake of the head lets me know something is wrong.

His face tries to be strong but in the same way he walked towards me when he was struggling with breakfast club late last year, he does the same frown now. I adopt my “aghast” face, my “how can you miss out on this fun” face and it just does the trick; he turns about and joins in again. I don’t know what was up though.

Watching him afterwards is the tough bit. Whatever it was that made him want to walk away has obviously been pushed to the back of his mind. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he just didn’t like the game being played; who knows. I'm pretty sure it was nothing serious though.

A little later, they were sat in a circle playing a new game, by which time another child, a girl who had also been at nursery with him (over a year ago) had arrived and Joseph had recognised her.

I could see him looking at her as she sat next to him although she appeared not to notice. Thankfully, they were just in earshot.

He said, “You used to go to my nursery”.

She glanced at him but looked back to the birthday boy’s mother who was explaining the rules of the new game.

He continued, “we went to the same nursery together”, trying to jog her memory.

This time she turned to look at him properly but, failing to recognise him, turned her attention once again back to the game.

Realising she wasn’t going to acknowledge him, he said, “But I can’t remember your name”, and he too looked back at the game.

There are many times that my children make me want to get up, run across to wherever they are and hug them and this was most definitely one of them but unfortunately, there are situations when it’s not really appropriate.

This being one of them.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; having smashing children really is just about the best thing that you can have.

Nothing else comes close.