Blackberries

DSCF3876For the first 2 years of your lives we all lived together in our big house in the Midlands. The “big old house”, with the big old garden.

You don’t remember it. I do.

I remember how I was your full-time, stay-at-home Daddy. For your first year with Mummy, and for your second year by myself when Mummy went back to work, with reduced hours.

034I remember it all so well. You don’t.
Continue reading “Blackberries”

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Does Hogworts take 3-year-olds then?

Jake had found one of his magic wands; he loves pretending to be a witch / wizard (yes, I’ve tried explaining; he doesn’t care!) & doing Magic.

He’d been using it to do magic spells on the Mummy, while she was preparing dinner.

Says the Mummy, jovially: “I hope you weren’t trying to turn me into a frog!”

Straight away he responded, quite matter-of-factly:

“No, I just wanted you to go away”.

Riiiight…

Well, at least his cheek comes with a sense of humour, I suppose…

Also, I think the spell he’s looking for is “Expelliarmus”, but it’s probably best not to tell him that yet – just in case it actually works!

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Wot So Funee?

Flashback Friday: Ruins Revisited

We went to our country park on Saturday, & walked past the part I posted about in my (first) ‘Flashback Friday’ post, the ruins of the 12th-century Abbey.

It’s sad to see that after all this time it’s still closed off & that nothing seems to have been done.

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Still, at least Jake & Ellie got to climb inside a giant stone mushroom thing & pull funny faces. As you do.

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BWA-HA-HA-HA!! NOW I RULE THE WORLD!! (Oh no you don’t…)

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Then it was on to the fairytale-themed playground, which I must photograph sometime: them carrying the joys & excitement of childhood; me carrying their scooters…

Another fun but tiring day out!

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mummy mishaps

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Home Alone

It’s been a strange week.

Since Thursday last week the Mummy has been away with Jake & Ellie, first visiting her relatives in Eire & then her parents near London. She was working in north Wales after the trip to Eire, & has actually found that the best way of getting to & from there is by train from her parents’ house north of London, despite our living in south Wales! They’re due back this evening.

Jake & Ellie love their Nanny & Papa & love seeing them, & vice-versa: they always get spoilt with toys & attention.

I’m very mixed about this.

I don’t like being apart from them, especially for so long. I miss them; that goes without saying.

And yet this last week I’ve managed to get more done than any time in recent memory!

I’m completely up-to-date with all my emails. I’ve cleared piles of work that haven’t seen the light of day in literally – and I’m using the word in its correct sense here! – years.

I cleared my desk! I cleared that cupboard! I fixed things!

Looking back it’s staggering how much I’ve got done, especially given my usual track record.

Of not getting things done, that is.

And, if I’m honest, I’ve enjoyed the extra independence. A bit.

As a hands-on parent you’re ‘on call’ 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

I’ve had none of that. No-one needing me to do this, go there, get that. It’s been kinda nice.

I could almost get used it!

Almost.

“Almost”: because I don’t actually want to.

It’s been quiet.

Too quiet.

I miss the “I want an apple juice!”.

I miss the “Daddy, come play with me!”.

I miss the silly children’s TV programmes.

I miss my iPod being hi-jacked by ‘My Favourite Mini Disco Songs’. (‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ is Ellie’s favourite; ‘My Friend the Witch-Doctor’ is Jake’s – although I actually like that one. ‘Agadoo’ & ‘The Fast Food Song’? Not so much…)

I even the miss the squabbles & tantrums!

They should be back in an hour or so. then I’ll have the usual running around, the “How have I been here for an hour & not been able to sit down for more than a minute?!”.

The tripping over toys, the play-doh on my shoes, the stickers on my T-shirts, the silly TV, the silly music, the silly squabbles.

I can’t wait!

Trike-Racing at a Dinosaur Park (yes, really)

It was the end of the day after our visit to the Dinosaur Park on Sunday. We’d given in to double-nagging & had stopped off at the play area.

It was a trike racing track for 3- to 6-year-olds, a bit like MotoGP viewed through one of those extreme slow-motion cameras.

It was actually quite funny, in a cute sort of way.

Children were getting their vehicles stuck on the scenery, & on each other, & were having a lot of trouble trying to work out how to free themselves.

Then of course there’s the inevitable child who, for no apparent reason, is determined to go around the wrong way, causing chaos as they go.

Ours being at the lower end of the age-scale I had to intervene several times!

Ellie in particular really took to it & was zooming around (slowly) like a pro. Jake didn’t really get the hang of it: which is odd, as it’s the other way around with their trikes at home.

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Look at her go!

Jake ended up manning the petrol pumps, although he was a bit remiss at taking payment from his customers!

A  family with 2 children came in after us, with 1 child older than the other. Only the younger one went in as the older child was over the age limit.

He complained.

The Mummy explained.

“So what am I supposed to do? Just stand here?!” was the response.

“Yes. Welcome to my world.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

I’m joining up today with What’s The Story?:  a new photo linky from PODcast where you select a new or favourite photo & tell the story behind it. For more posts like this just click the pic:

Tales from the Soft-Play City

At soft-play yesterday I, somewhat optimistically, brought a book with me. And I actually managed 2 pages – a new record!

At 1 point Ellie asked to have a look at it. She then thought it very funny to run around the play area with it.

Jake wasn’t too impressed with this. He went after her, took the book from her – gently but firmly – & brought it back to me, saying “There you are, Daddy”, an expression of serious concern on his face.

Magic 🙂

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Less pleasantly, there was a bigger boy there who for some reason seemed to have taken a dislike to me. He actually hit me repeatedly, through the mesh of the ball-pit, & called me silly names. (“Smelly poopy-head” was 1 I remember; Jake & Ellie found this hilarious – thanks for the support, guys!)

He was also being rough with other children. He continued to hit me & call me names, in front of Jake & Ellie, every chance he got & I felt I had to speak to his parent / carer when I figured out who they were.

If it was me I would have been mortified. In fact I had to intervene earlier when Ellie got aggressive with a boy there; Jake actually came over to tell me about it, which I thought was, again, very mature of him.  She doesn’t like her stuff being taken!

When I talked to them (a Dad) however instead of “I’m sorry” I just got “He’s 6!”. I made my point, I hope gently but firmly, asked him to speak to his son, & walked off.

A little later I saw him being shouted at; I didn’t see them around again after that so I assume he’d been taken home.

Afterwards I remembered seeing his being spoken to pretty aggressively by his Dad as they came in, & thinking how awful it was to speak to your own child so angrily, & in public. As much as I was relieved to see him go I couldn’t help but feel bad for him; it’s possible I’m just being judgmental but it seemed pretty clear where his bad behaviour came from.

 

Soon after that we joined in with a brilliant ball-fight another Dad was having with his little boy, about the same age as the twins. 1 brilliant Dad redressing the balance – with me somewhere in-between!

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School Runner

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I got 2 pre-schoolers walking the streets…I need ya, Dad. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the School Runner; I need your magic.

Not quite what Jake & Ellie’s pre-school teacher said to me. But it might have been.

And, to be fair, she hasn’t actually said anything like that to me at all. I just couldn’t resist appropriating a quote from one of my favourite films

– for I am now officially a School Runner!

Cue swelling spacey Vangelis synths while my spinner car swoops over city skyscrapers before descending onto the mean streets of suburban south Wales

In my head, anyway…

The reality is slightly different.

Jake & Ellie have been eased gradually into their new life as pre-schoolers: at first 2 afternoons a week, then 3, & now they’re up to the full 5.

To start with the Mummy & I were dropping them off & picking them up together; now we ‘take turns’. She likes to do it herself when she can, & she does. I can usually go with her on her days but we want them to get used to just 1 of us collecting them as she can’t go with me on my days.

They are really enjoying pre-school & are usually excited to be going. We just point them in the right direction & off they go; taking them there isn’t a problem.

Picking them up again afterwards, however…

I gaze with envy at the other parents walking along sedately, hand in hand with their little darling – or little darling & slightly bigger & more mature little darling – trotting along sweetly at their side.

I’m not sure what they think when they look at me. They’re probably too busy trying to avoid a flying Jake as he attempts to become the fastest 3-year-old on Earth. There’s a nasty chicane at the gate which is always trouble, then a long lane which is perfect for a little boy intent on doing his best Usain Bolt impression. The lane leads to a footpath then a busy road, & he hasn’t quite got it into his head yet that running onto roads is generally a bad idea.

There’s usually shouting.

Ellie on the other hand likes to dawdle. There are lots of little walls on the way & she sees it as her mission in life to walk on every one of them, very slowly, balancing with her arms in the air so she doesn’t fall off. Except she sometimes does. Some of the walls are in people’s gardens. “That belongs to someone else” is a sentence which just doesn’t seem to register in the world of a 3-year-old, or at least our 3-year-olds.

There’s usually shouting.

Of course I try to grab their hands on exit. They’re surprisingly quick, especially Jake, so that often doesn’t happen. Even if it does they’re also surprisingly strong & are experts at wriggling free.

We’ve tried wrist-straps, but that caused World War 3. They actually seemed genuinely hurt so we haven’t had the heart to try them again.

The one time I used the buggy, strapping them in, was during a freezing rainstorm where they seemed to accept my argument that we were doing it so I could get them to the car as quickly as possible. I’m not convinced it would work on a normal day, but that’s the plan for my next time.

I’d love to hear about the experiences of  other School Runners, especially other parents of twins. Is it smooth sailing getting them home or are yours little terrors like ours?

It seems to me to be a twin thing, but I could be wrong!

I don’t think there’s any real danger; it’s just stressful so I’d like it to be better! We always make it home more or less all in one piece, unless you count stress as an injury. Where, even if I don’t manage it, I feel like having a sleep – and when I do I hopefully won’t dream of electric sheep or unicorns 😉

Ellie the HR Executive & Jake the Politician

Heard around the Jallie Shack this week:

“You work in an office, don’t you Daddy?”

“No, not at the moment, Ellie. But I used to”.

“When you were young”.

Technically she’s wrong, but it often feels that way…

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Jake threw the mother of all tantrums yesterday. At school pick-up he wanted to sit ‘in’ (behind) the driver’s seat; Ellie had got there first, & I’d promised it to her anyway as he’d had it when I dropped them off. Getting him in the car-seat was a Herculean task! The drivers we held up, most likely also parents on the school run, were very understanding.

At home a bit later it seemed as if he was trying to make it up to me. He walked up to me & kissed my cheek.

“I like your ear, Daddy”

Then looking up at a picture on the wall: “I like your picture, Daddy”

Well, it was a really bad tantrum!

He already seems to know that flattery can get him everywhere. I think he’ll go far, that lad…

Wot So Funee?

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A conversation with my children about dinner

A conversation, just now:

“Daddy, are we eating on the sofa or the table today?”

“The sofa”

“But we’ll make a mess”

“We’re eating in bowls, & you’ll be careful”

“No we won’t”

I give up…

Wot So Funee?
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Memories

When I’ve spent time at the old house* I usually come back in a somewhat reflective frame of mind.

Take this picture, for instance, which I posted back in June & meant to explain but never did:

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I was working really hard: clearing, cleaning, supervising tradesmen, sorting, throwing out rubbish, organising storage & removals, trying to get leaking roofs fixed or replaced in torrential rain, sanding & revarnishing the 100-year-old wooden floorboards: that was a nightmare! I was desperately trying to get the place ready to go onto the market as soon as possible. I needn’t have bothered, as it turned out: despite dropping the price a lot – too much, I think – we still haven’t sold it.

One of the jobs then was cleaning the chalk off the back wall. This wall. It was some of Jake’s & Ellie’s first attempts at art, at making shapes. It will eventually lead to writing, drawing, who knows what else.

To wipe it all off, to erase it from existence, to remove their precious scribblings: it  just seemed wrong. I really didn’t want to do it. But I had to.

1-DSC00326Everywhere I go there I see memories. The big garden I loved so much: we had so much fun there, especially in their second year when they were more mobile & playful & I was their main carer. They loved messing about with sand & water with the play-tables, & playing with the hose. Jake never ceased to amaze me with his ability to find & pick the ripest & juiciest blackberries from the vines which were threatening to dominate all else there. Sometimes we’d just sit on the seats & watch our world go by. Other times we’d climb around & explore, & be fascinated by the insects, birds & frogs we might find. We weaned them in that garden, & would eat outside as much we could in the warmer months. In the house there are toys still there that we haven’t had room for in our little, supposedly temporary house.

1-DSC00325So many memories! They’ll never leave us, of course, but the house feels empty; just memories there now. I feel like it should be full of the sounds of laughing, running children – but it’s still, & quiet. Too quiet.

And it got me thinking : some of the most precious moments that we as parents will carry with us will be from these times: when our young loved ones were 2 or younger.

The age up until which we human beings are meant to have little or no memory of anything that happens to us.

So things that we’ll carry with us & that will be some of our most treasured memories will be things they’ll know nothing about?

I can already see myself reminiscing with Jake the teenager about the blackberries, & getting: “Oh Dad, stop being so soppy!”, before he runs off to his room to play some very loud music. Via his Ninsamyo Holodeck, probably.

Just one more of parenting’s, & life’s, ironies I guess.

I wonder what else this Daddying lark has lined up for me?

Now, if I could just remember where I put my keys…

* A year ago we reluctantly moved from our home in the Midlands to Wales because of work. We had a little place there which we had been renting out, & the plan was to move in there for a few weeks while we sold the old place, then buy a new family home in Wales. But we haven’t been able to sell & we’re still living in a house which just isn’t big enough for 2 adults & active twin toddlers. So we’re stuck. But we do have a Plan B.