Category Archives: Parenthood

The End

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a great deal, or at all, recently.  Everyday life takes up too much of my time and it’s for this reason that I’ve decided that Dad at the Deep End is coming to an end.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about my kids, parenting and life in general.  I hope anyone (not many) who has stopped by has found my writing in some way interesting or amusing.

I may return in the future to write about parenting in some shape or form in the future.  Until then, thanks for reading and if you are interested in me writing for your site or elsewhere, then please contact me.

Bye for now.

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When Will It Snow No More?

The school and nursery ‘mid-term’ holidays are approaching their halfway point.  When I was at school they were the plain old Easter holidays, but regardless of what they’re called, it’s still two weeks off for the kids.

We normally go away on holiday at this time of year but we haven’t made any arrangements this time around.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my wife hurt herself in a fall so we weren’t sure how she was going to be.  Thankfully, she has a lot more movement in her shoulder, though she still has to attend physio.  While she is on the mend, there is another factor which made us reluctant to commit to booking to go away.

I cannot remember it snowing during April before.  It has now relented but until very recently out garden still looks like a scene from a Christmas card.

Had we arranged to go abroad then we wouldn’t have had a problem.  However, a trip to the north of Scotland or north-west England wasn’t so appealing given the recent weather.  The last thing we wantt to do is put our kids at risk, making unnecessary journeys on treacherous roads.

So instead of being away, we have been going on days out to some of our favourite local destinations.  Some of these have even been outdoors.

As for trips further afield, that will have to wait until the summer at the earlier – assuming the snow has gone by then.

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Step In or Step Back?

The whole family had our regular dental check-ups last week.  While my wife was in the treatment room, I was seated in the waiting room with the rest of our lot.

The twins were over in the kid’s corner playing with an etch-a-sketch type device.  All was well until two other boys – one about the same age as our two and his older sibling – arrived on the scene.  They had no interest in any of the other toys and stood and watched as Thing 1 and Thing 2 created pictures using the attached pencil and different shaped stampers.

Eventually the new arrivals became tired of this and the younger boy made a grab for the toy.  I was sitting close by and could see and hear everything that was going on.  Before I had the chance to even consider intervening, Thing 2 held on to the sketcher, saying, “Hey, don’t that.”

I was pleasantly surprised by our younger twin’s reaction, having expected him to acquiesce to the other kid.  Instead, he remained calm, didn’t shout and didn’t hit.  It was the first time I’d really seen him standing up for himself against a kid he didn’t know.

That however, didn’t put other two kids off.  Both grabbed at the stampers and tried to make their own mark on the picture.  Our two responded by drawing and then rubbing out everything that appeared.  A situation with four boys, playing with one relatively small toy, was unlikely to end well.

Sure enough, within a matter of seconds, Thing 2’s little face crumpled and he moved away from the small table, returning to where I was seated.  It turned out that during the grabbing and banging, the edge of the etch-a-sketch thingy had come down on his pinky finger.  I don’t think was in any way intentional on the part of the other kids – it was simply a consequence of the rough ‘play’.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how to react.  My natural instinct was to become involved and speak with everyone concerned.  Had there been any hitting or bullying going on, that’s definitely the course of action I would have taken.

However, on this occasion, it didn’t seem right: first, I wouldn’t have been comfortable disciplining somebody else’s kids, particularly when their parents were seating nearby, though acting as though they had no idea what was going on.  Second, we won’t always be there.  There will be times when our kids will be challenged by other kids in one way or another and they will have to stand up for themselves.  My or my wife’s continual involvement or interference isn’t going to help them develop.

In the scheme of things, this incident was nothing more than a petty squabble between some kids.  However, it provided me with a taste of the type of situation my kids will encounter on a more regular basis, as they widen their social circle.

 

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Shouldering On

We managed to have a very enjoyable family Christmas despite my wife having a minor accident a couple of days before.  She fell in the garden and injured her shoulder – as I write this she is still in a sling.

Although she was released from A&E that same night, her shoulder wasn’t reset correctly, leaving her in agony for several days until her follow-up hospital appointment.

She is still in considerable pain.  A first physio appointment, this week, dashed any hopes that she would quickly be back to full fitness, with their advice being that the sling remains in place for the next few weeks at least.

Of course, the most important thing is that my other half makes a really recovery and doesn’t impact on her long-term health and wellbeing.  However it’s not easy for her – she is an active and independent person who isn’t used to sitting around, and certainly not resting.

We had already bought tickets for the pantomime and we still managed to go.  Although she had taken some strong painkillers, I’ll never know how she managed to spend most of the day out and about in a busy city centre while being in complete and utter agony – I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes.

Probably most frustrating of all is that she can’t drive.  Although she has now managed a couple of very short journeys, the car has been pretty much off-limits.  As a result, we’ve had to resort to desperate measures – I’ve been going shopping.

Going to the supermarket isn’t amongst my strengths so we have been making use of on-line shopping, but I have been trusted to pop along to the local shops for a few essentials.  I don’t know how she manages to remember on which aisle the items we regularly buy are kept, but I muddled through.

The kids were a bit thrown by the whole thing at first, but they understand that mum’s just hurt herself a bit and needs time to recover.

For the next few weeks at least, it’s a case of wait and see.  We don’t want to book holidays – or commit to anything else for that matter – until we are certain that she is on the mend.  We’re also trying to keep things in perspective – although she’s suffering a bit at the moment, at least she hasn’t hurt her head or broken a bone.

Easy for me to say, I suppose.

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Moving On and Saying Goodbye

My mum recently moved house.  She and my step-father decided that the house they lived in was too big and moved to a smaller flat a short distance from where they were.

It’s the right decision.  Since my sister and I moved out, quite a few years ago now, the old place had seemed a bit big for two, particularly as they approach retirement.

However, that’s not to say the news hasn’t had an impact on me and my family, and will continue to do so.  Naturally, the kids are excited – they like the new place and the room where they will spend future sleepovers.  They seem happy enough, though they have insisted on there still being a DVD player available for their use.

I’ve no doubt that the kids will miss their grandparents’ large garden during the summer months but given that we live in Scotland, summer can be as short as a handful of days.

The other big difference for our little ones is the amount of noise they will, or more to the point won’t, generate.  Staying in a flat with downstairs neighbours means our lot won’t be able run, jump and shout the way they do at home or as they do at their grandparents’ previous abode – that may prove to be something of a change for our three boys in particular.

I must admit that for me too, it will be a strange feeling visiting a different address to see my mum.  We moved into the old place just over twenty years ago.  I was in my early teens and although relocating meant that I was further away from my school and some of my friends, the promise of a decent sized bedroom of my own won me over.

In recent years, that room was used as extra accommodation when someone was staying over.  However, every time I walked through the door it brought back loads of memories: the football themed room I first stayed in, the time I damaged the ceiling practicing my golf swing (don’t ask) and the many hours I spent in there where I was supposedly studying, but actually seemed to spend more time staring at the TV or changing over the CD in the hi-fi.

There were also some times that I don’t remember so well: staggering into the room and falling asleep still fully clothed as a result of one beer too many (late teens and early 20’s of course) and the numerous occasions where I pulled the covers over my head because it was time to get up for school, university or work.

Wandering through the rest of the house conjures up images every bit as vivid.  My late father passed away a few years after we moved in – he spent his last few months in a bed set up in the living room, so that he wouldn’t feel isolated in an upstairs bedroom.  Out in the large back garden, my sister had a specially built ‘house’ for her pet rabbits.  I also spent many mornings at the kitchen table, listening to the radio and being so tired that my face could have ended up in my cereal bowl at any minute.

I eventually moved out to a flat of my own when I was in my mid-20’s.  By then I had been promoted at work and was finally in a position to buy a place of my own.  A few weeks before I went to my own place, I got together with my now wife and I was very quickly thinking about settling down.

Of course it’s not just the house itself that provokes strong emotions – it’s everything in it.  My mum is not what I would call a hoarder, but over the years she has accumulated all sorts of things owned by my sister and me.  Most of these items were kept in her loft but with space in the new flat at a premium we either have to take or dump it.

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant about looking through possessions which were bound to bring the past so vividly back to the present.  After all, we were back talking about a handful of cardboard boxes which contained my childhood.  However, it turned out to be an enjoyable couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.

My first computer was always going to be kept.  I mentioned in a previous post about my Commodore 16 and it’s still in great condition, 28 years after it was purchased.  There’s a few games and a couple of joysticks (remember them) with it.  I’m going to set it up, even for only an hour or two, to see how the kids think it compares to the Wii and their tablets.

I’ve also brought home my old football tops.  There are some 1980s classics in there, including a Spain home top with a large red collar and the Brazil jersey from the ’82 World Cup.  I’m hoping the boys will take more notice of these as they become more interested in football.

MM has already had a look at some of my jotters from my early years of primary school.  She particularly likes reading my ‘news’ page and the continual references to football.  She’s less impressed by my attempts at drawing.

There are also some books I won for school performance or behaviour and a copy of the Tin Man by Ted Hughes – I won that at my local library during the summer of 1985, for reasons that nobody can remember.

I have hung onto some other things from school, including my tie.  There are also some photos, including a school football team picture from when I was around 10 or 11.  It’s hilarious looking at how many people had ‘spiked’ hair.  It’s also obvious that some kids’ didn’t have enough gel on, their spikes coming together to form a small mound on top of their heads.

There were some other toys and books that weren’t worth saving, and some other stuff has gone to local charities.  I binned quite a few school reports – I can’t imagine anyone (myself included) will want to look back in future years at bland sheets of paper detailing how I was progressing at learning the different swimming strokes, particularly the individual grading for arms, leg-kick etc.

As fun it has been to bring all of these items over to my own home, they won’t all be on permanent display, with much of it being stored in our loft.  I wonder when the time will come for us to do something similar with our kids and the pictures, toys and other bits of theirs that we have kept.  It’s quite a few years away, but no doubt the time will fly by.

It’s funny to think that possessions which are such a big part of their lives at the moment will eventually be no more than a distant, but happy, memory.

 

 

 

 

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A Full Christmas

I’m sure I’m like many parents when I say that I have mixed emotions regarding the build-up to Christmas.  There’s no doubting it’s a great time of year: Christmas lists, nativity plays and putting up the tree are great opportunities to spend time with the kids as their excitement levels steadily increase.

The downside, for us, is trying to organise presents for four kids.  We have to identify suitable gifts, then find time to order them (thank goodness for the internet) or buy them and when all of that’s done, we need to store them all somewhere.  That’s before we even consider extended family.

Thankfully we (ok, my wife) are on top of things this year and at the time of writing we only have one or two purchases to make.

On a personal level, this is probably my eagerly anticipated festive period of recent years.  Due to job, and the unsociable hours which go with it, this will be first Christmas Day off in three years.  I have the added bonus of also being on days off on Christmas Eve and Hogmanay, though New Year does little for me.

I’m sure for many, working on Christmas Day is second nature, but I still find it a bit weird, despite having done so several times.  While the first-half of the day is great – the opening of presents etc – as early evening approaches I start to think ahead and I’m careful not to eat too much or become too relaxed.

So this year will be a pleasant change.  Having 24th December off too means I will wake up fresh on the big day, though if previous years are anything to go by, the kids will be up as early as 6am.  There will be no appeasing them either, if they know Santa has been and gone.

On Christmas Eve, the six of us will be attending the afternoon show of a pantomime.  Christmas Day itself will mean a meal at home and seeing other family at different points during the day.

While the whole day will be a wonderful experience, I’m also looking forward to night-time.  When the kids finally go to sleep, I’ll be lazing on the couch watching TV and eating junk, rather than going to work.

Merry Christmas.

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I’m Glad I Can’t Sing

Now that MM is a bit older, she is allowed to stay up later on Saturday nights as a treat.  She curls up on the sofa with her mum to watch the X-Factor and has quickly become hooked on the music, the judges and the hype.

I think I’ve commented in a previous post that I’m not a fan of the show – success seems to be based more on popularity and less than actual talent.  A hard luck story goes a long way too.  Not a week goes by without someone hoping to win the competition for their grandmother’s-neighbour’s-uncle’s-dog’s-brother who died just a few days/weeks/months before.

At the start of the current series, on a night off from work, I caught a segment of the show focusing on a woman who I believe was in her late 40’s or early 50’s.  She arrived at the auditions believing that she had the potential to have a singing career.  Backstage the presenter, Dermot O’Leary was interviewing the teenage son and daughter of the women, both of whom were there to support their mum in her quest for stardom.

Unfortunately for the lady in question, she was eliminated from the competition…with good reason.  Her singing was poor and her attempts at dancing were arguably even worse.  Like many of the applicants to TV talent shows, she seemed to be in denial about her limitations.  As the cameras scanned the audience in the auditorium, there was a mixture of sniggers, horrified faces and looks of pity.

Worse was to come.  The cameras returned backstage where the female’s son and daughter seemed more than aware of the reality of the situation – their mother was humiliating herself, and in turn them, in front of millions of TV viewers.  The embarrassed faces and the tears in the poor girl’s eyes said more than any words could.

My initial reaction would, I’m sure, have been the same as many others – how selfish of that women to do that to her children.  She’s prepared to have them lined up for public ridicule in order for her to have her 15 minutes of fame.

It’s not that simple though, is it?  We all, throughout our lives, have numerous hopes, ambitions and dreams.  That doesn’t stop when we become parents.  Of course, some of these aspirations change – instead of wanting to be professional athletes, actors or as in the example given, singers, many people instead want to achieve promotion, start a business or retire.

On becoming a parent many of these goals are no longer personal goals.  Instead, many of our wishes are for our children in the short, medium and long-term.  From my own experiences, I don’t think it’s exaggerating to suggest that I spend as much time thinking about my kids’ futures as I do about my own.

However, that doesn’t mean we give up on life.  Yes, our free-time is no longer, well, free and at 36 I’m starting to think that I’m probably not going to become a footballer.  That though, doesn’t stop me thinking that I can achieve a huge amount in the years ahead.

My biggest personal aims relate to my career, which you’ll probably know if you’ve read previous posts. It would be great to make a living from something I love doing, like writing for example.  I am certainly going to have a go and if it doesn’t happen for me, then I at least will have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve tried.  I would also like to think that I will be able to try to achieve my dreams without having a negative impact on my family and their lives.

That’s perhaps where the wannabe singer on TV let herself down most – not with her poor singing voice but in not considering her two children who were there with her.  She should have considered the potential impact on her kids, given the exposure that a show like the X-Factor brings.

However, in her defence, perhaps nobody ever had the heart to point out to her that her voice wasn’t the best.  Even if they had done, it doesn’t make her a bad person, or parent, for wanting to achieve her dreams.

 

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