Mar 8th, 2014
We all have our crosses to bare.
Janet’s is being able to apparently stay asleep when the kids shuffle past her side of the bed and scale the makeshift barricades I built out of dirty laundry to reach my side.
I know this because I’m already awake. I have the worst super power of all; I know they’re coming before even they do.
I wake, brace myself, and then,
thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, across the landing.
If I’d known their midnight meanderings were to carry on past their fourth birthday I’d have adopted teenagers.
I’m not normally one for conspiracies but it’s rarely the same child on consecutive nights which can mean only one thing. They’re bloody conspiring!
I’m convinced that when my back’s turned they’re discussing who’s on the night shift.
Call me paranoid but I’ve even taken to sneaking up on their conversations to try and catch them out.
So far it’s proved inconclusive, although I suspect Paw Patrol may be their codeword for grumpy sleep-deprived dad.
Occasionally, very occasionally, there’s a mix-up and they both sleep through. On these mornings there’s a tense atmosphere at breakfast. One of them has slept on duty and their brother is not happy. I assume a court marshal follows.
I’ve tried everything. Night lights and landing lights, alarm clocks and confusing their body clocks.
There is nothing this side of the Geneva Convention that’ll work.
My lastest desperate attempt is rewards. They start each night with the promise of three stickers and lose one each time they come through before 6am.
They’re both in negative equity.
I’ve even taught Sonny how to tuck himself back in. The following night,
1am: “DADDDDDYYYY! I’ve tucked myself back in!”
3am: “DADDDDDYYYY! Do you want tucking in?”
5am: “DADDDDDYYYY! Shall I wake Luca up to see if he wants tucking in?”
5.05am: “Sonny woke me up! Can you tuck me back in?”
6am: “Daddy, I stayed in bed ALL night, can I have my stickers?”
There’s not even a pattern to their reasons. Aside from the nightmares and kicked off covers they often don’t even speak. You can turn them round, guide them back to bed and walk away.
I’m then left trying to get back to sleep whilst pondering on when ‘very late’ becomes ‘very early’?
I’ve yet to reach a definitive answer as I’m normally interrupted by,
thump, thump, thump, thump, across the landing. Again.
I say they don’t speak. Sonny did ask me at 3am whether he was a vegetarian. At 4am Luca wanted me to know that 1,710 was a REALLY big number.
The problem is I’m grumpy when I’m tired.
I know your body adapts to the sleep you get but look what only a few hours a night did to Margaret Thatcher.
I don’t have the luxury of coal pits to close down, and the only
miners minors I can take it out on are my own children, and there’s laws against that!
I may just snatch their milk in the morning.
Thankfully they know not to bother me before I’ve had my first coffee of the day. Now I just need to persuade them that I didn’t, and will never order room service before 6am.
In fairness to Janet she does do more than her share. If I lie very still under the covers they’ll occasionally return from whence they came and poke her in the face instead.
Fortunately my laughter can’t be heard above her scream, although by admitting this there’s a good possibility I may go to bed tonight and never wake again.
Mar 6th, 2014
Ah, World Book Day …
A day where children find out their favourite book isn’t what they thought it was.
When it’s fair to ask the question,
“What came first, the book or the costume?”
When doing the school run as ‘Nuddy Ned’ is less appropriate than even I expected.
Where literatures greatest characters include the Power Rangers.
Where my Google search history is littered with the words ‘easy’, ‘no-sew’, and ‘HELP!’
… and I get distracted by pictures of women in latex catsuits because I forgot to include the word ‘kids’ in my search.
When it’s acceptable to wear a onsie outside the house … nigh at all!
When the 2am Asda drunks are joined by panicking parents, and their children wake up to discover the Gruffalo’s half-cousin is Spiderman.
And when the offer of a stripey t-shirt is met by the mother of all tantrums because he mistook Where’s Wally for WALL-E.
Ah, World Book Day…
Feb 26th, 2014
For the purposes of this post all the kids names are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, albeit blindingly obvious to those who know them so I should probably stop right now, but ….
I have a confession to make.
I’m already judging Sonny and Luca’s friends at school. Worse still, I’m judging their parents too.
I’m not proud.
When I say judging, I’m not stood in the playground holding up scorecards, that’d be the actions of a crazy person.
No, I’m keeping a journal of names and numbers so if asked I can give an honest opinion. I’m not really. There is no journal. There’s not!
I know I shouldn’t do it. I mean, god help my boys if other parents are doing the same.
Their dad is the weird dishevelled bloke who looks like he’s over achieved just by getting his kids to school, and who has a habit of making wholly inappropriate comments to people he’s just met.
It’s not a conscious decision to influence who they befriend. I try really hard not to.
Unfortunately I sold my subconscious soul a long time ago, and it’s he who controls the tone of our conversations.
“We like Jack don’t we?”
(You WILL like Jack, his dad’s a TV Producer and I have delusions of one day writing an award-winning sitcom!)
“William’s nice isn’t he.”
(His mum’s a journalist don’t you know, and one day she might be looking for a dad blogger.)
“Daniel seems like a nice lad.”
(How cool is his dad! Have you seen his shoes? He also has a beard that falls on the right side of fashionable, unlike mine that falls on the wrong side of sleeping rough.)
“Do you play with Craig much?”
(Oh c’mon, really? His mum drinks vodka outside Aldi whilst shouting abuse at pigeons!)
You see, I can’t help myself. Innocent chatter with ulterior undertones.
To be fair to the boys they seem to be doing a good enough job on their own.
Luca happily tells me which kids in his class he doesn’t like because they’re naughty. In front of their parents. Why does he keep doing that?
Sonny’s settled with a group of friends who all seem really lovely. The loud, brash, and frankly annoying kids he played with in the early days barely get a mention any more.
I suppose I put such an importance on school friendship because I’ve been
cursed blessed with a great group of mates myself. Some who I’ve known since not much older than Sonny and Luca.
There’s eight of us altogether, plus partners and the subsequent slew of children. (I’m not sure what the collective noun for children is. A headache?)
The five of us (blokes) met in Primary School over thirty years ago. The girls likewise.
The two groups came together in the park at fourteen over a bottle of Peach Concorde. We’ve remained friends ever since.
We’ve shared birthdays, holidays, and weddings.
We’ve been best men, grief counsellors, and Godparents.
Supported Ridiculed each other through divorce, mental illness, and … hang one, nope, they were both mine.
We’ve laughed, cried, and laughed at those crying; and not always behind their backs.
We now live all over the country; from Newcastle to London, Manchester to Lincoln, and yet we still get together at every excuse.
Last week it was a surprise 40th; held in the same pub we celebrated our 18th’s and 21st’s.
There’s a bond that runs through us all like the proverbial stick of rock; if that rock was made out of sarcasm and the belittling of each others achievements.
It’s strange to watch Sonny and Luca running around the playground, knowing that some of their friends could also be with them for life. Shaping their personalities and sharing their dreams.
Or like me, approaching forty and already fearing they’ll be the first of the group to be put out to pasture in an old people’s home.
Knowing there’ll be a knock on the window, and outside will be the other seven, pointing their walking sticks and mocking me until my last breath.
I really hope I’m not the first. I have a string of jokes ready for whoever it is and I’d hate for them to go to waste.
Feb 13th, 2014
I’m not a fan of snow.
It all started back when I was seven years old. My sisters and I were having a snowball fight in the street.
At the time my Auntie was visiting from America with her then partner, Chad.
I was hiding behind a car, and as I raised my head above the bonnet I heard a whistling sound. The rest is a little hazy.
I remember seeing Chad across the road.
I remember something white hurtling towards me.
I remember coming round in a bush with the snow around me resembling the aftermath of a Polar Bears seal supper.
You see Chad was the all-American
hero tit. Loud, brash, and a pro-college baseball pitcher.
He’d launched a snowball from across the street that’d hit me slap bang in the face and burst my nose open. Thrown so hard only the neighbours hedge had prevented me sailing into another postcode!
I’m not a fan of snow.
Fast forward twenty-five years and I had a date with an old school flame. It was snowing.
I was at a gig that night, so we’d arranged to meet for a drink afterwards. I was very excited.
For some unknown reason I’d decided to wear my new plimsolls; the ones with no grip.
Getting to the train station was difficult enough. I must have slipped over half a dozen times on the way and by the end was pulling myself along walls, lampposts, and anything fixed to the ground.
The gig however was really good, I saw Laura Veirs in a basement. Me and only a dozen others.
After it’d finished I skated back to the train station. Approaching the busy main road I stopped, or at least my top half did. My legs decided it was safe to cross. It wasn’t.
With my life in the hands of an approaching taxi I reached out for something to cling on to. A temporary road works sign wasn’t the best choice.
Now for any attention seeker reading this may I suggest a combination of screeching tyres, a high-pitched scream, and the clatter of metal road signs.
It was a Saturday night in Manchester. It was very busy!
Now aside from the obvious embarrassment I at least had a lot of people on-hand to help me up. Or so I thought.
The good Samaritans turned out to be a group of teenagers, who instead of lifting the road sign off my face decided what I really needed was to be pelted with snowballs from point-blank range. My groin took a battering.
Eventually I crawled out from beneath the twisted metal and stumbled the remaining hundred yards to the station.
I took comfort from the fact it couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong.
As my train approached I had a flashback to that whistling sound from twenty-five years previous. I was seven all over again. Only it wasn’t a flashback.
From the opposite platform came a snowball, thrown with such accuracy it hit me, once again, straight in the face.
Probably thrown by Chad.
Now a wiser man would have cut his losses and gone home. I however had a date. Did I mention it was an old school flame I’d not seen for over twenty years?
Undeterred I headed to the bar and there she was, looking every bit as beautiful as I remembered.
I bought a drink and went over. She looked me up and down, made her excuses, and left.
It was only when I went to the toilet that I realised why.
You see I forgot to mention that at the Laura Veirs gig she’d passed round a jar of glitter she wanted everyone to smear across their cheeks. It was very new-age. It was also quite an intimate gig.
As the glitter reached me I didn’t want to be the only person out of the dozen who declined the offer.
I’d forgotten this by the time I left.
What I saw looking back at me in that toilet mirror was the love-child of Boy George and the make-up counter in Debenhams.
The glitter was still smeared across my face. Thanks to the snowball and road sign I looked like I’d had blusher applied by a drunken clown.
I also looked like I’d wet myself.
I’m not a fan of snow.