Confession Time

There are an increasing number of stay-at-home & hands-on Dads – more power to them! There are many Dads of twins. And of course older Dads. But there can’t be too many who are all 3. That was one of the reasons I started this blog; in the hope that whatever experiences I had might be of interest to others: Dads, Mums, or those just looking.

How this all began.

It was supposed to be about me, me as a Dad, an unusual Dad, and how the experience affected and changed my life. I intended this to be a chronicle of an unusual parenting situation from an unusual perspective: my perspective, a bloke’s perspective. That’s actually what gave this blog its strange name. 1-DSCF3705

Best laid plans, and all that eh?

It turned out that it wasn’t about me – it never was, really – it was always about them: Jake and Ellie, my wonderful – now 8-year-old – twins.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I haven’t been too personal here over the years: not much writing about how I’ve been, how I feel, how all this has been affecting me, despite my blog’s stated aims.

DSCF3289

Another reason of course is that I am a bloke, and generally we blokes aren’t too good at that sort of thing: opening up about ‘feelings’, and ’emotions’ – or at least ones that don’t involve shouting at a bunch of other blokes as they run around after variously shaped balls.  In that way at least I’m what you could describe as a ‘typical bloke’.

And I haven’t posted much here, for a few years now; certainly nowhere near as much as I used to. In this blog’s heyday I was posting daily.  A lot of that of course is just due to the twins just growing up. They’re 8 and in school, and are very active in out of school groups and activities: I just don’t see them as much or spend as much time with them as I used to, so there’s just less to write about.

DSCF5334There’s another reason however that I don’t spend as much time with them as I used to, and as much as I’d like to. I’ve alluded to it here a few times but have never written explicitly about it. I’ve always meant to, but there never seemed to be a ‘right time’ for it. There probably never is. Also I’ve always tried to be positive here, and present my experience of parenthood as a positive one, which it largely has been, and this particular aspect hasn’t been positive. In fact it’s been bloody difficult.

“C’mon, spill it man: out with it then!”. Alright; OK then! That sergeant-major is still in my head it seems: more about that another time maybe…

OK, so (deep breath): we’re separated, my wife and I. Have been for over 4 years now,  since Christmas 2013, about a year & a half after we moved here to Wales, soon after the twins started school, just as we were all set to move into the new family home – which I’d selected mainly as it’s almost literally over the fence from their school.

I’m not going to lie: it’s been, and is, difficult. Any readers of this blog will probably know that the twins were, and in many ways still are, my life. They’re the only thing in my life that has ever given it any meaning, really.

The reasons behind it? I’m not sure I will or even should go into that here. And that’s partly because I’m not really sure. I do know that statistically there is a higher than average divorce rate amongst parents of twins: it can be very stressful! “Double the trouble, double the fun.”

As for the future: who knows? We’re still officially married, and we even actually talk sometimes: amicably, mostly. We should probably do more of that sort of thing.

So, anyway, that’s my News. It’s out of the way, it’s off my chest. It’s not before time that I ‘came clean’ here; I probably should have a long time ago.

I’ve gone on long enough already; I’ll write more another time.

Thank you for reading, if you’ve stuck with me this far. More later 🙂

 

 

 

Advertisements

How (Not) to Install & Remove Stairgates: A JallieDaddy DIY Masterclass

Our bouncy little twinnies have been too big & too clever to need stairgates for some time now.

So came the momentous moment – a real “our 2 little babies aren’t little babies any more!” milestone actually – when it came to remove them.

The bottom one was fine. When I removed the top one however there was this:

DSC_0840

There’s a HOLE! A big one! In my WALL!

To be honest, I’m not really sure what happened.

I blame the kids. Or the Government.

The dog ate my spanner?

It’s possible, I suppose, that I may have fastened it on a little too tightly….

I ought to get around to filling it up  – with plaster, probably – and painting it.

After this though I’m a little scared to touch it!

And just in case you are still in need of my expert DIY advice, here’s how NOT to fix a broken shed door:

DSC_0839

Happy housefixing!

This is my entry for my DIY confession to Polesdirect.com’s ‘Changing Attitudes and Values’ DIY Blogger Challenge.

 

 

The Gallery: New

New.

Where do I start?

We’ve had lots of ‘new’ here lately!
Continue reading

Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!

I’ve had an eventful December, especially the last couple of weeks! I’m just now finding the time to write about it.

In less than 2 weeks  I’ve been in 3 car breakdowns, having to be towed each time. The last one  – Saturday – was on the hard shoulder of a busy dual carriageway just ahead of a slip road, in the dark & the cold.

With Jake & Ellie.
Continue reading

School, Work & Me

1-DSC00565

click to enlarge

School – even pre-school – changes things!

In April Jake & Ellie started pre-school on a trial basis for a few hours & a few days a week; this term they’re there for the full 5 days.

We’ve been exercising our option of taking them out at 1.15 rather than the full day to 3.30 but now they’re actually asking to stay on!
Continue reading

Death: The Sequel

Words. Just words. Just 4 of them. No big deal, right?

Well, yes: when those words are “How do we die?”

And when they’re spoken by a 3-year-old boy, to his Mummy & Daddy.

Continue reading

Us and Them

1-DSCN0452

1-BSHmsCZIMAAuQqX

I can’t help thinking of Syria, & especially of its children & the terrible suffering so many are enduring.

Chemical weapon attacks on city suburbs.

A school bombed with napalm.

Horror almost too great to contemplate.

It’s trite, yes: but someone, somewhere has to do something, don’t they?

Don’t we?

Don’t I?

School Runner

Blade-Runner800600

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 😉

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:

DSCN0095

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.

Toy Story

Ellie has a bad habit of tipping the contents of toy boxes on the floor then walking away without having played with the toys much, if at all. It’s a particular problem here as we have so little space. If we let stuff pile up we’ll start tripping over it. Then, as the teddies & toy trains pile higher & higher, we’ll end up not being able to move & will find ourselves walled up inside. Again.

We’ve been trying to get her to tidy up afterwards, to put the toys back in the box. She’s nearly 3 so she should be able to do that now, right?

We haven’t had much success.

“Ellie, will you pick the <play> food up please?”

“No”

She’s a good girl – as she’ll tell you herself – but, like any 2-year-old, she has her moments

“Ellie, please pick the food up”

“No. I don’t want to!”

“Ellie, you tipped it on the floor; you should put it back”

Appealing to logic to a 2-year-old. Yeah, that’s going to work…

“No. You do it!”

Then she goes upstairs to get ready for bed with Jake & the Mummy, while I clear up after dinner. And tidy up Ellie’s toys.

But no more! We’ve decided to get stroppy!

So next time we added:

“Ellie, if you don’t clear up your food we’re going to take it away”

“No!”

“Ellie, Daddy will take it away” (Daddy shoots the Mummy a look that says: “Thanks!” Sarcastically) “& you won’t be able to play with it any more. Isn’t that right, Daddy?”

I understand cabinet collective responsibility & the need for parental unity & all that, although I can’t help feeling a bit like Nick Clegg.

“Yes, that’s right. I will take your food away”

“OK”

Er…what?

“Ellie, do you understand that we will take those toys away & you won’t be able to play with them any more?”

“Yes. That’s OK”.

She called our bluff! She’s only 2, for crying out loud!

Note To Self: Never play poker with Ellie. Unless she’s on my team…

Then they all trotted off upstairs as usual & I wore some more holes in my jeans clearing up toys. As usual.  Although I did take the food away. For a few days

You see what we’re up against here?