Tag Archives: children

If Your Name’s Not Down…

My oldest child has just turned seven years old.  It seems like just a matter of minutes since I was a new dad, clueless and scared out of my wits, yet MM is well on the way to double figures.

As was the case in previous years, our daughter wanted a party this time round.  We booked a local soft play area suitable for slightly older kids – think less ball pools but more trampolines and other bouncy stuff – and those in attendance weren’t disappointed.

Our one issue was numbers.  With a limit at the venue of 25 kids, we had our work cut out.  As well as our three other children, we had to consider their cousins, our friends’ little ones, and of course, MM’s classmates from school.

This last group posed a dilemma.  When we asked MM if she was inviting the whole class, she wasn’t keen on the idea.  Instead, she wanted to handpick who was coming and who wasn’t.

On one hand we understood where she was coming from – after all, who wants to invite someone they don’t like to a party.  Then our opinions, rightly or wrongly, come into play.  If there are any parents or kids who we don’t like, we’re hardly going to go out of our way to include them in our daughter’s big day.

However it’s not that simple.  When the invitations are handed out at school, it’s normally done by the teacher.  Imagine the excitement in a class of 25 pupils, where most of those present have been asked to a party – at our kids’ school they often come running out at home time, with the pieces of paper still in their hands.  Contrast that image with the feelings of a handful of kids if they are left out, excluded while most of their peers are included.  No child deserves that.

Therefore, everyone in MM’s class was invited.  As it turned out, one or two couldn’t make it and others just didn’t come.  However, the friends she did want there all showed up and a good time was had by all.  We’re glad MM made what we believe, is the right decision – she ensured nobody felt left out.

We only wish that was all of the kids birthday’s over with for the year, but alas, no – in just a few weeks the twins turn four.

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No Excuses

I read the recent reports about a 3 year old being treated for alcoholism.  Yeah, that’s right – 3 year old – alcoholism.  Doodle has just turned 4, and he’s barely allowed fizzy soft drinks, yet some kid, somehow, is being exposed to alcohol on a regular basis.

In this day and age, this story probably shouldn’t be a surprise, given the number of scumbags there are out there.  However, even in the sick, twisted world we live in, this is beyond belief.

At best, if you can call it that, the toddler is somehow managing to gain access to a cupboard where his or her parents store their drink.  However, this doesn’t answer how the little one opens the cans or bottles.  It’s obviously not a one-off either.  Also, if the kid involved was drinking of their own accord, would the parents not notice the side-effects.  The kid would surely be ill, unless they have the drinking capabilities of a 50 year old docker.

More likely, the idiots are feeding the poor little one the stuff deliberately.  God only knows their motivation.  Perhaps they think it’s funny, getting a laugh with their drinking buddies by helping their own child to get drunk.  Either that, or they do it to shut the kid up – make sure he or she sleeps and the parents can then sit on their fat lazy arses without having to take responsibility for their own child.

Hopefully the parents will be dealt with, if they haven’t been already.  They shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this kid or any other.

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The Changing Man

I believe becoming a parent changes everybody in some way.  Whether it’s in terms of attitude, personality, finances or even just the amount of spare time you have – the minute a kid arrives, life becomes very different.

In my case I would say all of the examples above apply to me, with my life being transformed over the past 5-6 years.

Let’s start with the day-to-day stuff.  I had a decent job, with good money, reasonable prospects and worked office hours.  Now, I work night-shift in a role that is very much a job – I don’t see any career in the offing but for the moment, that suits me fine.  I will go into more detail about my working life in a future post.

My wife isn’t working and we have four kids so, as I’ve talked about previously, money and time are impacted upon.  I’ve covered these issues before so I don’t want to repeat myself.  I’m boring enough the first time.

I now spend a lot more time at home.  When I’m not working, I want to be spending time with my kids, which means a social life goes out of the window.  This is in no way a complaint – I love it when we spend time together as a family, whether it’s a day trip somewhere, or just plodding around the house or garden.

Before I settled down, I used to spend a large part of my weekend out and about in the city centre, but now I wouldn’t even contemplate it.  While that’s partly down to my circumstances, it’s also because of the random acts of violence I hear and read about every week.  Incidents involving stabbing, slashing and other attacks are the norm and I would rather steer clear.  Such trouble is not new – it’s always gone on, it’s just that when I hear about it now, I feel I have too much to live for.  Why risk your safety in pubs or clubs full of boozed up nutters – I’m probably too old for half of these places anyway.  I also think ahead about 15 years when my lot will start venturing out to pubs and clubs.  It’s a worry, though obviously I have a wee while before the kids are going on nights-out.

Going out less has one clear benefit – I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to.  I like a beer now and again, and probably enjoy it more, but my ‘responsibilities’ and the hours I work mean 12 hour sessions on a Saturday are, perhaps fortunately, a thing of the past.

Other than drinking, most of my other previous social activities involved sport or exercise.  I played 5-a-sides twice a week, but stopped shortly before I got married.  No, I wasn’t under orders – some of the guys who played started to fall away and finding replacements was difficult.  When I wasn’t playing football, I could often be found watching it, with my season ticket costing over £500 per year.  You won’t be surprised to know that I’ve given that up.  It’s hard to justify an expense like that when you have four kids, regardless of how much you earn.

Since I rarely have the opportunity to sit in the pub talking about football, I now another means of expressing my point of view.  Guess what, I also have a football blog – it’s nearly as good as this one!!!

I grew up close to the city centre and also worked there, so driving was never high on my list of priorities.  Truth be told, I had a couple of lessons at 17 and hated it.  I was 30 by the time I passed my test.  I was motivated by two factors: since i now live out in the sticks public transport isn’t the best, and more importantly, I wanted to be able to take my kids out without relying on my wife every step of the way.  I had set myself the target of passing before Doodle was born and achieved my aim with 3 weeks to spare.

When it comes to personality traits, I feel that my concentration is not what it was.  Perhaps it’s because I’m not used to it, but when I sit down to read a book or watch a film, I find that I’m quickly distracted and rarely sit still for long.  I put that down to always being on my toes, never able to fully settle and ready to deal with whatever drama my kids create

I think (hope?) that the biggest change is that fatherhood has helped me to grow up a bit.  I’ve coped with the responsibility and enjoy being a dad.  In many ways, I’m completely unrecognisable to the person I was 5-10 years ago, but that’s not a bad thing.  Whether this means I’ve developed into a mature, sensible, adult, or I’m simply not as big a kid as I used to be, is debatable.

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Dealing With Four

In one of my recent posts I talked about making the leap and having a second child.  For me, that represents the biggest change for parents when dealing with their kids on a day-to-day basis.  Having said that, coping with four kids brings its own challenges.

Clearly space is an issue.  We live in a 3-bedroom house at the moment and for the moment there’s plenty of room.  Our two oldest kids share a room and the twins are in together.  In the longer term we expect the three boys will move into our largest room, with our little ‘Princess’ having a room to herself.

We may have to move house eventually but we’d rather not.  We live in a fairly decent street which is quiet with good neighbours.  Building onto the house is an option but would we would only buy a bigger place if things become too cramped.  Two adults and four teenagers will be very different to two adults and more small kids so we’ll need to see how it turns out.

Our biggest purchase when we heard Things 1&2 were on the way was a new car.  A 7-seater was a must and continues to be so.  We live in a village where the public transport is fairly average and the big car is great, particularly for taking the kids out anywhere or for going on holiday.  Unfortunately it feels like driving a bus (at least it does the way I drive) and there’s not much chance of squeezing into tight parking spaces in busy areas.  Most people dream of owning a Ferrari or something equally exotic, but I’d settle for a Smartcar.  We are lucky though, in that we are able to go out as a family without any great difficulty.

Clearly having more kids has an impact on the finances.  Holidays are more caravan than Caribbean, though I’m not particularly keen on taking the kids abroad until they’re a bit older anyway.  Likewise, we take a hit at Christmas with four lots of presents and during the year with four lots of everything.  As the kids grow older, they will all develop interests and join after school activities.  That will be interesting, both from a logistical and financial point of view.  At the moment, MM goes to gymnastics and a dance class which is easy enough, but when the boys then start at football, swimming, cage fighting or whatever, it will take a bit of planning.

On the subject of swimming, even that’s an issue.  The local council has a ‘one adult to one child’ rule, meaning we need help to take our kids to the local pool.  We usually take the twins when their older siblings are at school and nursery and then when the ‘big two’ go with us, Thing 1 and Thing 2 go to their grandparents.

Some people like to have a gap of a few years between having kids, but we didn’t, for two reasons: first we didn’t want to still be having babies by the time we reached our 40’s, and more importantly we wanted out kids to grow up together.  We don’t expect them to be best buddies all of the time but at least they’ll be close enough in age to be able to relate to each other.

I think some people view us as a couple of victims – the poor couple landed with four young kids.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Before we were married we agreed we wanted 3 or 4 children, and when we found out my wife was having twins, the decision was made for us.  We are two reasonably mature and intelligent people, not a pair of naive teenagers.  The life we are living is the life we chose, and I’m happy to say we have absolutely no regrets.

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Mini-Mummy

I’ve been meaning to get round to talking about each of my kids in a bit more detail.  It feels a bit weird doing this but here goes.

Our oldest is called Mini-Mummy (for the purposes of the blog anyway), as she is very much, a mummy’s girl.  That’s not to say I don’t have a great relationship with her, but her mum is number one, which is only natural.

The nickname could also apply to the relationship she has with her three younger brothers – she isn’t afraid to tell them off or provide a helping hand when required and she loves taking care of them.

MM took her time in arriving into the world.  At 10 days overdue my wife was induced, and eventually our first child had to be sucked out by ventouse, following a 24 hour labour.  Overall it was a pretty harrowing experience….and it wasn’t much better for my wife.  That’s just a joke.

There is one other funny story.  The night of the birth was also the evening of a Champions League semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea (did I mention I like football?).  By sheer luck the TV in my wife’s room had been left on earlier in the day – yes it was luck. 

It goes without saying that I was not watching the game at this point.  Instead I was being a supportive husband and ‘birth partner’ and I seem to remember every bone in my hand coming close to being crushed as I offered words of encouragement to my good lady.

Liverpool took the lead with a disputed goal (Luis Garcia’s strike not crossing the line for anyone who remembers), and I must confess to turning quickly to see what all the fuss was about.  I did also see the last few minutes of the match as my wife, and now mother of my first child, enjoyed some much deserved tea and toast.

MM is now in her first year of Primary School and is thriving.  The feedback from her teacher is all positive so far and she is enjoying the step-up from nursery.  She appears to be fairly academic and at home would rather be writing, reading, counting or drawing than playing with toys or dolls.  We are not surprised by her numerical ability (my wife has a maths degree) but she can take it too far.  When she and other brothers play hide and seek at home (yeah ok, I play too) rather than a simple count to ten or twenty, she will go all the way up to fifty or more….just because she can.

We also have a corner of our house, close to the back door, that’s covered with her artwork.  We have no idea where MM gets her artistic flair from, certainly not from her parents.  It’s not just drawing and painting – anything that involves cutting, folding or gluing, she can’t get enough of it.

That’s about as much as I will say about her academic abilities.  She seems fairly bright but I want to avoid the ‘my child’s a genius’ nonsense which is spouted by some parents.

After school, MM attends gymnastics and dance classes.  She also enjoys playing in and around the garden on her bicycle and digging around and generally making a mess.  MM also likes to arrange ‘talent shows’ at home, which involves making her brothers sing, dance or some other kind of performance.  Sadly I am not excluded, but I usually manage to get away with hopping on one foot and then the other.  Sad I know, but you haven’t heard me sing or seen me dance.

Some of my favourite times with MM are when we are round at the local swing park, or at home reading library books or playing paper-scissors-stone.

Although her confidence continues to grow, she can still be a shy little thing, particularly around adults.  She was a bit teary when starting nursery and had to be prized from her mother a couple of times when starting school.  Even at her gymnastics class, there is the odd occasion where isn’t happy to be left with the coaches and her classmates.  She can also be clingy to her mum, even at home, and it can be a job for my wife to find a bit of breathing space.

One area, thankfully, where she doesn’t have any issues is in making friends.  She is part of a group of girls at school and has made friends at her after-school activities.  Our kids also have cousins who live nearby.

MM has also developed a bit of a temper.  She is rarely involved in the minor scuffles that happen between her brothers, and is more likely to be seen telling one, or more, of them off.  However, if her parents have cause to speak to her and she disagrees with our point of view, she will soon let us know.

Recently my wife was pouring water from the kettle into cups while making hot chocolate.  MM walked up behind her mum and tried to lift one of the cups, which naturally, led to my wife explaining the dangers and sending MM away.  Our daughter responded by completely overreacting and kicking off: shouting, crying, screaming and hands and feet swinging when her mother tried to move her out of the kitchen.  She went from mummy’s girl to monster in a matter of seconds.

Despite these little incidents, MM is a happy, carefree little girl.  We hope she can remain that way for as long as possible.

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