Tag Archives: dads

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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A Part-Time Follower of Fashion

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in fashion.  No, I don’t mean what’s being paraded down the catwalk in Paris, Milan or wherever, I’m referring to my own appearance and what I wear.

At primary school in the 1980s, the big decision revolved around trainers – should I go with Adidas Kick or Puma Match?  As I got older, the rest of my clothes became as important as my footwear.  Memories of my high school years include a variety of Joe Bloggs and Benzini t-shirts and tops.  As a student and in my early years of work, I had the money to splash out on French Connection, Firetrap and Calvin Klein – give me a break, it was the 90s.

Not surprisingly, as I settled into married life and started to focus on my newly born kids, buying expensive new clothes was fairly low on my list of priorities.  I still liked to look the part but there was more ‘value’ in my purchases.  I didn’t spend anywhere near as much on clothes and I started buying from shops that I wouldn’t have gone near, just a few years before.  Most buys were made on the premise that I needed something, rather than just wanted it.

While that situation remains the same at the moment, over the last few weeks I’ve started to look at what’s in my wardrobe and decided that it’s time for some changes.  Some tops and t-shirts for example, have started to look a bit tired – no surprising really, when you consider that I have owned some of them since before my kids were born.  I wasn’t kidding when I talked about value.

This doesn’t mean I am about to go on a huge spending spree.  I don’t have the money for that and, even if I did, I probably wouldn’t feel too comfortable about doing so, when I could be spending it on the kids.

I have treated myself to a new tracksuit jacket and I will buy a couple of t-shirts for summer – a new pair of jeans wouldn’t go amiss either, since I don’t wear much else away from work.

I will offset any expenditure by selling some old stuff on e-bay.  I have a Christmas gift (a hooded zipper) which didn’t fit and still has the label on it.  That will go up for auction along with a pair of old school Adidas trainers that I don’t really wear and one or two other items.

This isn’t some vain attempt to keep up with the youth of today.  I’m not interested in keeping up with all the latest trends, particularly not the recent resurgence of all things 1980s.  My ‘style’ (if you can call it that) is more like a 90s student – t-shirts or hoodies, loose fitting jeans and suitably retro trainers.

I don’t there’s anything wrong with wanting to look your best, but I it will be interesting to see what my attitude is in the years ahead.  Will I still be hunting for the right pair of Nike trainers in my 50s?  Or perhaps I will eventually give in and begin to dress for my age.

I’m sure my kids will be quick to offer advice, particularly if it’s something they don’t want me to wear when I’m going somewhere with them.

As long as I don’t start borrowing clothes from my three boys when they’re older, I think I’ll be ok.

 

 

 

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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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It’s Snore Joke

I’ve had a bit of a sore throat over the last few days, possibly a touch of tonsillitis.  It hasn’t been bad but that, combined with a sniffly nose has led to me snoring in bed.  It’s not something I normally have a problem with but hey, these things happen.

Unfortunately, my darling wife wasn’t entirely understanding about the situation.  This in itself is rich considering that she snores on a fairly regular basis.  On one memorable evening I could actually hear her when I was downstairs watching TV, while she was upstairs in our bed (obviously).

Anyway, it was bad enough when she woke me at around 1am – she informed me that I was stopping her from sleeping and that she was considering going downstairs.  However, she then decided to pass the time by recording the noise I was creating on her mobile phone.  She then took great delight in playing the recording to the kids….repeatedly.  They of course found this to be hilarious and did their best impressions of their dad snoring.

Hopefully I will breathe and rest easy tonight – but if I don’t, I’m sure someone will let me know.

 

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Dad First, Coach Second

We’ve finally reached that stage where all four of our kids attending after-school (or nursery) activities.  Doodle started a karate class just before Christmas, with his sister already going to cheerleading and gymnastics and the twins at weekly football sessions.

I haven’t been to see MM at any of her classes – she insists it’s mum only and I’m not offended in the least…honest.

However, I do normally take the boys to their clubs and I really enjoy doing so.  It’s great watching them get fit, learn new skills and interacting with their peers. That’s not so say though, that there aren’t problems along the way.

Taking up a martial art was Doodle’s idea.  We had been looking for a while for some kind of hobby that he would not only enjoy, but perhaps help with his aggression and his discipline and behaviour at school.  Overall, it’s been a success – he’s learned a few of the basic moves and at the start of each week the first question he asks is when can he go back.

Our two youngest kids are enjoying their football.  They attend coaching for kids of their own age group and have a great time.  The coaches are very imaginative and deliver enjoyable, well planned out drills and exercises each week.

Of course, the boys are very much of the stage of learning their new activities.  It’s perfectly natural then that they will make mistakes or take time to learn new skills.  Thankfully, their coaches are not only experts in their respective fields, but they are also experienced in working with young children – they therefore know how to motivate them and get the best out of them.

Sitting on the sidelines, I watch with great interest as my three boys are put through their paces.  While I’m proud of all them (and my daughter when she attends her classes) and I try to encourage them as much as possible, there are times when I become a bit frustrated.  This is usually as a result of one of the boys not listening or paying attention to their coach or instructor.  At such times, I will try to catch their eye with a wave or, if they are close enough, I will call out their name in the hope that they will come out of their daydream.  Sometimes it works, but on other occasions, you just have to let them get on with it.

Not all parents have the same attitude.  At the football class in particular, one or two parents – ok, fathers – are just a bit over the top.  I’ve seen a couple cheer loudly when their little ones do something well, yet seen the same people berate their kids when things don’t go to plan.  Such extreme reactions don’t sit comfortably with me at all.

I do offer bits of advice post-training, though with the karate I can only really repeat what the instructor has said as I have no experience of martial arts.  I also encourage all of my kids to practice their skills, as I think understanding the importance of regular exercise, hard work and trying your best are vital not only for extra-curricular activities, but for everyday life.  However, unless an individual is qualified to do both, then the roles of parent and coach should remain separate.

I can, up to a point, understand why parents become so wrapped up in their children’s sporting ‘careers’.  Every parent wants their kids to do well, particularly when up against their peers.  However, putting too much emphasis on victory and success at an early age, could lead to youngsters being put off and missing out on the most important element of all – enjoyment.

 

 

 

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Ten Hopes For 2013

I’ve probably mentioned somewhere before – most likely around this time last year – that I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions.  Most people seem to have no intention of following through on these and it all seems like a bit of a waste of time.

However, at the risk of contradicting myself, I have written down some hopes and wishes for 2013.

  1. Our family remains healthy and happy (obvious I know)
  2. MM continues to show the increased level of confidence she had gained during 2012.
  3. Doodle’s behaviour at school improves further.
  4. Our twins enjoy their last few months of nursery and settle when they start school.
  5. We have plenty of opportunities to spend time together as a family.
  6. We are able to get away on holiday a couple of times during the year (nothing fancy)
  7. My wife has plenty of time to study but also time to herself away from the demands of being mum to four kids.
  8. MM learns to swim and her brothers start to move closer to doing so.
  9. I have some idea about where my long-term career lies.
  10. I continue to write and enjoy it.

Happy New Year

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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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