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Dear Daughter: Jelly arms

I know that you do spend a fair amount of time in the car being shuttled around and you don't make much of a fuss about it, and there's not always that much to look at; but I'd like you to know - in the kindest possible way - that it is not necessary to remind me on each and every journey, that as I drive over speed bumps, holes in the road, etc, that the skin on my arms and legs "wobbles about like a jelly".

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Just a little bit of sadness

I love my sons utterly and completely and I love my life as a parent, they bring so much joy and a level of happiness unlike anything I have experienced before, however there is one thing that stops my joy being 100% - the fact that my mother never got to meet the boys and that they don't have her in their lives.

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12 blogs under the Christmas tree #4

My gift under the tree right now would be for my son to find peace at bedtimes to help him switch his mind off and let his body relax and drift of to sleep feeling safe and with a smile on his little face.

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2012-07-04 17.27.00Spending a lazy Saturday afternoon watching five hours of international rugby – or watching most of it between napping – uninterrupted, on my own.Not thinking “I should stop drinking with my friends and go home now” at 10pm.Spending six hours all told playing golf without feeling guilty.Driving in my car listening to The Meteors at full volume without being interrupted by “I don’t like it!!”Lying by the pool in the sunshine for two hours reading my book without constant otherness vigilance.Having that one more glass of wine at lunchtime knowing that it’s ok because I can sleep if off in the afternoon.Coming home and saying to my wife, “let’s go out tonight.”Being out at 11pm and not thinking that we need to call the babysitter and beg for 30 minutes more.Not holding her when she was born.The 13 months I spent not knowing her.Watching her not really blow out the candles on her first birthday.Her first smile; her first laugh; her first face full of spaghetti sauce.The mornings I don’t see her wake up.The evenings I don’t chat to her before she goes to sleep.The unbridled joy on her face at riding her scooter for the first time.This afternoon when she saw a picture of herself at 13 months being held by her new forever Mummy and said, “I could look at that forever.”

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Why Doesn't Daddy Smile?

946840079623I’ve always thought of myself as a happy-go-lucky type and the first two words that sprang to my friends’ lips when asked to describe me today were “funny” and “laid back”. Of course like everyone I am prone to be unfunny and not at all laid back at times, but generally I like to think they’re right.My own memories of looking after my sister’s children are ones purely of skipping and singing silly songs and laughing a lot.So when our daughter turned to my wife last week and asked her, “why doesn’t Daddy smile?”, at first it made me laugh and raise my eyes skyward, shaking my head in the manner of “oh, the things that children say”, but after a while it shocked me and has given me real pause since.In all our family pictures, there I am mucking about, pulling funny faces, laughing and smiling. But pictures capture a single moment and do not tell the story or indeed paint a thousand words. The camera can and does, maybe not lie in that moment, but perhaps cast a concealing sheen over the truth.And so I have revisited my role as an Uncle and dredged up other not so glorious moments where I was impatient, grumpy, angry even; a lot of them. And revisited, taking off my rose-tinted Daddy specs, how I have been of late as a father. Impatient, grumpy, angry even. It’s trying dealing with a small person developing a will of their own, stepping out of the era of complete malleability and obedience and into the “No!” era. I’m not coping well with that. The first “No!” was funny; the ten thousand following, not so much.I am ok with being a good-enough parent, but “Why doesn’t Daddy smile?” isn’t good enough. Not by a long way.I’m in danger of being remembered as the Dad that never smiled, the grumpy one, the frustrated one, the no-fun one, the one that shouted, the one that had lines etched deep into their ageing face that in others were laughter lines but in him ones of fatigue and misery.And so I resolved to make a conscious change. I came home from work today and instead of flopping down exhausted onto the sofa, instead of nodding absently, not really listening to the chattering child, instead of saying “Bed. Now.” in a raised voice, I spent 30 minutes playing hide and seek. My hiding places were ingenious and she just hid in the same place each time, so I won hands down, in case you were wondering.; she might be only 3 but she’s just rubbish at this game. But we laughed when we found each other, we laughed when I caught her peeking while she was counting to ten, we laughed when she found me trying unsuccessfully to fold my six foot frame into her minute play tent. We laughed a lot. We tired each other out. And when I said “time for bed”, we stopped our game and we smiled at each other. For a long time. Nobody captured that moment, but it will be etched in my brain for the rest of my life. And I hope that image of my smiling, loving face might, just might, stay with her too.

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Chitter Chatter

So, she runs about in a frenzy of joy when I get home from work, careering into the sofa and bouncing off it into the love seat and back again, like a deranged pinball hitting the buffers. Which is nice.

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The Things Kids Say...

During a somewhat drawn-out tour of our local secondary school before making the final choices for our eldest daughter for next year, our youngest, after an hour and a half, obviously decided it was time she cut in on the action.

Lightly touching a maths teacher’s arm to gain her attention, and stopping her in mid-flow, our daughter piped up: “I can go to ANY secondary school I want to when I’m old enough…cos I’m adopted!”

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