Dad On A Bike sleeps with the fishes ....
Hmmm... that can't be right. He's starting with a picture?? And what the heck does "JAM" mean anyway??
Also, for the observant amongst you, you will notice that the date stamp for this post is the 29th March; the 4th birthday of this blog. Strange then, that I have not "posted" it until now; the 3rd of April.
Hmm ... what's going on 'ere then??
Relax, o' faithful reader, all will be revealed. I just wanted to briefly mention a couple of things before I get to my main point this evening.
The other night, Joseph and Annabel asked for a 'snack'. As I may have mentioned in the past, this can mean anything from a piece of fruit to a full blown, mini-buffet-on-a-plate and the problem is, I don't exactly know which one until I've placed it down in front of them. Well, to avoid any confusion or argument, I merely ran through a couple of options until their eyes lit up.
"How about some malt bread?"
All eyes lit up, closely followed by them both repeating "malt bread?" as a question and in perfect unison, which led me to believe that I had hit on the perfect choice.
How funny. Just saying the words 'malt bread' brought memories flooding back.
Sunday evenings as a boy would mean one of several things. An early bath, then downstairs in your pyjamas and dressing gown to watch TV with my parents, sandwiches, crisps and a drink. My brother would always have cheese and pickle sarnies with salt and vinegar crisps and I would have peanut butter with cheese and onion crisps. We both had milk to drink.
Our parents would often have whatever seafood was leftover from the day before (usually prawns), but we all had a piece of Mr Kiplings Bakewell Tart for dessert. Not some piddling little piece either, but a quarter each!!!
Stick that in your tooth decaying pipe and smoke it!!
Jumping forward, and I was reminded again the other day, how lucky I am to see the things I see when I'm at work. From the vantage point I have at the top of the school, I look down into Joseph's playground and Annabel's separate playground. Both of them were with their friends, totally oblivious to the other, playing in their own little worlds. Joseph was playing tag (or IT, or catch, or whatever you want to call it), while Annabel was pedalling a tricycle with two friend's on the back, round and round in a tight little circle, both clearly enjoying themselves and without a care in the world.
Which is just how it should be, right?
7 and nearly 5 years old; you're not supposed to have a care in the world.
Anyway, I watched them running, watched them cycling, watched them laughing, watched them hugging their friends, and it made me think of my own friends at primary school. Don't get me wrong, I can barely remember that time, my memories are sketchy at best; I only have snippets, flashbacks almost, of school aged 10 and before.
How times have changes in a generation.
From "mostly caucasian with some non-caucasians" to a complete reversal of the status quo. I almost envy my children, that the world has come to their doorstep, rather than the other way around. My school friend's names (regardless of colour), were Terry, Steven, Alan, Sandra and Suzanne. My children have friends called Wiktor (Polish), Thivaya (Sri Lankan), Sacha (Russian) and Emile (French Guyana). Their school carnival days are full of food I never experienced until I was in my 20's.
In many ways, this is far better - it has made the world smaller for my children. However, I can remember the excitement at travelling abroad and being given spending money in a totally "foreign" currency. Will the Euro hold the same fascination for them as Spanish pesetas, Italian lire or Greek drachma did for me?
I'm thinking not.
Regardless of the size of the world however, I wanted to discuss something altogether different.
For some time now, I've been troubled by something fairly significant, at least as far as my writings here are concerned; my name.
Dad On A Bike.
I often read back over what I have written and, usually, what I have written makes me smile or at least satisfied that I have managed to get across what I initially set out to convey.
Dad On A Bike; he obviously writes about being a Dad, right? Probably writes about the achievements of his children, how they're doing at school, what it's like watching them grow up.
I read back to the very first posts I wrote; I wasn't sure what I was writing about; anything and everything if truth be told, before I honed it down to what the title of my blog stood for - my life as a Dad, a Dad to two children who were growing up and discovering new and exciting things in the most simplest of places; doing up their first buttons, having a ladybird land on their finger, writing their first letters.
I've been so sure during my writing about it all, that I never stopped to think about it. I just got lost in the fact that I was preserving the seemingly insignificant little milestones for my own failing memory, with the added bonus that people I'd never met, were interested in what I was writing. You've left comments, you've emailed me, you've told me that what I had written had jogged your own memories, that you too remembered this or that as a result of what you have read here. Strangers, as I used earlier, is not a word I honestly associate with many of you.
The problem is, I'm more than just Dad on a bike. The bike rarely gets used anymore anyway but apart from that, I always felt guilty whenever I strayed from the topic matter of being a parent. I know if I go looking for for a food blog and see one with a foodie type title/name, I am less than impressed if it turns out not to be about food at all but about something completely different. How dare they waste my time getting me to look at their inaproppriately named blog!!!
Well, I'm the same.
I'm more than just a Dad. I'm more than just a parent. While being a Dad is the most amazing thing I've ever done, it alone doesn't define who I am. At least, I'm pretty sure it doesn't.
I want to write about other things without feeling bad for my reader. I want to talk about random stuff and not feel I have to justify it by linking it to a story about my children.
Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed writing every single one of my posts (all 509 of 'em) and, reading back over them, this blog will have served it's purpose perfectly; to remind me of the little stuff I could so easily have forgotten.
There is, however, another reason for me calling time on DOAB. Although I am planning to resurface in another guise, I need to take a break from blogging. Not a long break of course; my future self would regret not having the brilliant memory markers which my blog provides. I already have another blog named and ready to go, more generic than this name, allowing me more freedom to write without guilt when I stray from the topic of parenthood. It's already sat there in my profile so go check it out when you're ready. I just can't promise when I'll make an appearance. Not so long that you get fed up and leave for good though, trust me on that.
The thing is, I need to take a break because I've been promising, promising, promising myself to knuckle down and try to ......... well ... never mind that now. I can always report back at a later date depending on how things go.
As you can now see, for the past week I have being doing what I am best at; procrastinating. Procrastinating over how best to approach my last ever post as Dad on a Bike. I have agonised over how to start it, what title to give it, how to end it, and frankly, I still don't know that last bit. I have peppered enough posts with film quotes over the years to know that the title, for all you Godfather fans, could mean only one thing.
That this ends tonight.
So as to not leave any of you too confused, the JAM in the picture at the top of this post is simple; an acronym for Joseph, Annabel and Mar ....... nah, I think I'll leave M as mysterious as I always have; JAM is enough.
I will leave you with a picture that I have already used once before (shock, horror). I took the shot and used it here way back at the end of July 2007 but it means SO much more for what I want to say right now.
From the left, the shadows are my good self, Annabel, Joseph and M.
I know perfectly well that the lives of parents and their offspring are never straightforward and hopefully, the lines of communication between my children and me will always be open. Regardless of what the future brings, hopefully Joseph and Annabel will read these pages one day and see that their Old Dad thought the absolute world of them. They might even admire the fact that he sat up on his keyboard and relentlessly typed, with his permanently cold hands, something that was really quite beautiful in it's simplicity.
I'm not really sure what else I can say. I appear to be procrastinating even in my saying goodbye.
But it's tough. Letting go of something special, that you know you won't be seeing ever again.
Still, I know I've got to be strong, be proud, be a man about it.
If you've stumbled across these pages briefly, thank you for stopping in, I hoped you enjoyed your time here. If you've been reading with me for a while, however, I guess this is it.
I would like to say a quick word of thanks to my smashing kids. Thanks guys!! You have provided me with the material to sit and write for hour after hour, week after week, year after year, at a dull computer screen. It was even entertaining enough for people we don't even know to sit and read!!!
A very quick thanks also to the lovelier than lovely M, who never once batted an eyelid when I uttered the immortal words, "I'm just gonna blog for a while love", before disappearing upstairs for anything between 15 minutes and the entire evening.
Goodbye Dad On A Bike; we've spent some quality time together. Wish me all the luck for the future ol' chap!
"Like tears in the rain ........ it's time ... to die".