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Friendship Negotiations

So, last night I was called into school as my 8yr old daughter and her friends are having a few “friendship” difficulties and school are worried that it could turn into a real issue if it’s not tackled now.

A parent’s nightmare.

Let me set the scene, the main issue is that there is a group of three girl’s that all hang round together.  But as so often is the case two people gang up on the other one and they are left feeling sad, names are called, yadda yadda yadda.  The one that’s left out changes from day to day, so they are all victims I guess and therefore all responsible at some point for causing this upset.

My main quandary is how best to tackle the situation.  The inner parent wants to just shout “stop hanging round with these people they are making you unhappy!!!!” but the sensible head is telling me “We can all play together and think of a way to get along”.  The truth of the matter is that no matter how angry or upset they get with each other they still like hanging out with them, they’re mates.   I want my daughter to expand her friendship groups (as opposed to banning her from playing with some people) and we keep encouraging her as best we can, but I am aware that to be too pushy will just make her push back stronger.

I had a grown-up chat with her and asked her what she felt the solution was and she said that ‘she want’s to play with everyone but the others just want to keep it as a three’.  I thought this was really mature of her and I suggested similar to the teacher (and headteacher no less), and this seems to be a possible way forward.  The teacher will encourage the whole class to play together more and have all friendship groups more open, so that the young people can go and play with others without it being a problem.  This seems great as not only does it solve the current issue but it makes it much more public and open, and this will hopefully combat any bullying or manipulative behaviours that may occur given time.

So, with a possible way forward we head into a new friendship era at school.  Fingers crossed.

It’s hard not to let your mind head into hyper-drive and think about life in high school and the future and how these types of relationships may affect her long term.  But I suppose that learning to cope with theses situations now and in a positive way will only help her be more resilient (hate that word, and that’s part of the reason I was made redundant, a totally other story) in times to come.  I guess the important thing is to belong and know you are loved.

So with a plan in place the meeting ends and we head out to pick up the twins (5yrs old) from reception:

TEACHER: Can I have a word

ME: Of course

TEACHER:  Your daughter, for the second time became really frustrated and grabbed another child round the neck….

ME: Doh

Dad-life never ends.

Hallo-Whine

What do I think about Halloween.  I am totally on the fence about this one, on the one hand I really don’t like the fact that us Brits have adopted this American tradition, of, let’s face it dressing our kids up to beg for free sweets from strangers, something I spend a lot of time telling my kids not to do.  This must confuse them.

On the other hand, I love it.  I’m a father of three small devils and they get so excited about dressing up, scarring people and being allowed out in the dark (supervised of course).  And let’s be honest, anyone with kids know it’s an easy win to wander round the streets for an hour and do very little with great results, what was it Gino said, “minimum effort, maximum results”.

However, there is one thing about Halloween in the UK that really upsets me, that’s right I said it, upsets (and I’m nearly a 40-year-old blokey).  It’s the fact that hundreds, possibly thousands of young people in each town or city across the country get dressed up and head out on candy adventures only to find 90% plus of all the houses in absolute darkness.  What, like Halloween is the only night that everyone either goes out or is in bed by 6pm, do me a favour.  What other event in the calendar actually gets young people out into the community like this and what’s the result……… Miserable buggers ignoring them, yea great message to send to the young n’s,  come on out into the community and nearly all of us will just pretend you’re not there.  It is a direct representation of our communities at the minute in the UK, ‘I’m alright Jack, so sod the rest of you’.  This needs to change, we need to change.  This is definitely one thing that the US gets spot on.  I didn’t realise it till I saw an Insta post from Everlast off of House of Pain (by the way you should really listen to his music it’s quality).  Loads of kids and parents mingling and experiencing things together as a community.  OK so it might not be a proper representation of all of America but you get the gist.

The UK seems so insular and down that we are too scared to care about each other anymore.  It makes me worried about the future especially when I see my kids skipping and singing past 25 dark houses to go and knock on the one house with their lights on.  They might be too young to notice but they must pick up on it subliminally.

Okay – rant well and truly over.

Next year why not just grab a bag of sweets from the supermarket and answer the door, what’s the worst that will happen?  There may be a few idiots out there but mostly you will make small people very happy in the short term, but in the long term you may help them (and yourself) become more caring about each other.

Peace and Love.

It’s a Me Day

So yea it’s a me day, or more accurately its a Paul Day, the very first of 2018.  I can hear everyone’s intrigue getting giddy.  A Paul Day consists of me taking a days leave from work….there’s more.  It also involves some skulduggery on my part.  I also pretend to go to work so that my family are unaware that I am sneaking back home, to bed, to game and generally laze around (let’s hope that he missus doesn’t read this today).

Today has been pretty good on the whole, I have well, gamed, dozed and watched some awesome.  Managed to watch the most recent Blade Runner, and may I say it was bloody good, if long.  And as I write this, the last hour of my Paul Day, I am watching Electric Dreams, a very Philip. K – Day indeed.

I suppose that I should feel guilty, that I am sneaking but I don’t, I feel a little rebellious and a little bit like I’m owed it.  It’s not a day of excess and luxury it’s a day to rest and re-centre yourself.

I encourage you all to have Me Day or You Day……whatever.  Especially if you have a hectic life.  It give you back a little bit of freedom and the chance to catch up again on the things that I like, the things that make me, me.

I don’t have much of the day left to enjoy soon it will be back to the grind but for now I will just keep on keepin’ on.

What would your Me Day look like

Go on……Treat-yo-self

The Things Kids Say

So I got the idea for this post this morning. My daughter Connie was screaming for the TelloSape he he he, bless her.

This is one of the best things about being a parent, listening to your kids innocently getting things wrong…. and then trying to hide your laughter.

But it’s not just what they say it’s how they say it. There’s nothing like trying to play a game on your phone when your 4 yr old daughter blurts ‘give it ere lad let me show you how to do it’, priceless and patronising all at the same time, and very northern (good girl).

I’m afraid that my son is also developing my “game rage”. For those that don’t know, it’s when you are struggling on a video game and the only thing left to do is scream and take out your frustration on the entire world. I was in the kitchen the other morning and all I heard from the living room was a scream of ‘just jump you stupid Gekko’ I must admit that I did feel a little sense of pride. I knew my boy would love games as much as I do, but also sad as I knew how many hours of his life will be wasted on “quests” and achievements.

I heard my boy James come out with a comment that floored me but it requires a bit of a back story. My eldest daughter (8yrs) loves Full House from the 80’s (no idea I’m as baffled as you) and in it there is a character Jessie, that is obsessed with Elvis. So in the car we were all talking about Elvis and I was regaling them with all my best Elvis facts. Fast forward a few days and we were all getting ready for the day, school, work etc. James was on the loo, and I heard this; ‘Connie, Stop hitting me, Elvis died on the toilet!!!’ I couldn’t breath for laughing, sometimes parenting really is a joy.

Sending love.

Until next time…..

Family Festival Fun

So last week we managed to get away as a family (such a long time coming) and it was a bloody blast. We managed to scrape together enough money to go and stay with family up near Edinburgh. Tranent if we’re being pedantic about it.

We love being there when the Fringe is on. So much to see and do and not just in the city.

One of our best days out was at East Links Farm, the kids absolutely loved it. They had everything there from a huge wooden castle to a ski slope. It had it all with trains, go-kart and wild animals to boot. I can’t recommend this enough but be warned it was £15 a head for the day but deals can be found if you look about.

We started the holiday by visiting the beach at Portabello near Musselburgh (feature image).

The kids also loved visiting Dalkeith Country Park it had lovely grounds and a great adventure playground for just £1 per head (bonus) . It also had nice shops and a cafe for the grown ups (so we can pretend to be sophisticated n’all that).

The best day for us was when the family baby sat for the afternoon and evening. Ah heaven, we certainly made the most of it. My better half had a show at the Edinburgh Book Festival whilst I wandered round and soaked up the atmosphere.

Meandering around I managed to book in to see two great comedy shows. The amazing Richard Herring and the hilarious Adam Riches.

It was an amazing night and a flashback to our pre-kid days. “Oh Happy Days…”

The holiday was all capped off by a childrens event in the book festival by Children’s Laureate Michael Rose. It was a great show, he is so skilled at talking TO children not at them, a new family favourite I think. It was whilst here I realised I was a fully paid up member of the Dad Brigade. Every dad there had a back-pack crammed full of solutions for every eventuality. We are like holiday soldiers preparing for battle, proud warriors.

If you ever get a chance Edinburgh in August is a must, so vibrant and full of life, you won’t regret it.

Love you all, bye.

Summer Haze and Endless Days – but at what cost

That’s it, it’s here, summer holidays have officially started.

I have 3 very excited children giddy at the thought of six weeks of fun and frolics ahead of them, and truth be told, I am jealous as hell.

I remember well the feeling of freedom and possibilities about the time ahead.  I guess the reason that I’m so jealous is that I will never get to have that feeling again.  Now as a “grown up” I have the pressure and cost of shaping those freedoms and possibilities.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is totally worth it as I want them to grow up like I did, always looking for adventures, climbing trees and exercising their imaginations.

With a long period of time to fill the cost can soon get out of hand and the end of the summer can be stressful and difficult.  Here are a few things that are days out but don’t give tour wallet a cardiac-arrest:

Camping – you can buy good, cheap, used tents online some that even come with accessories and for the price of  a few nights in a hotel you can buy a tent the basic accessories and go camping every week in the summer.  Here in the UK you can usually pitch up at  a campsite for as little as £10 per night if you look around.  This is a great adventure for them, a bit of a break for you and very inexpensive.

Seaside trips“To the Beach, Beach, lets go to the beach”  I am fortunate enough to live in a seaside town so I have a lot of options close.  But if you can get there you can build sand castles, play football, climb on sand dunes, go rock pooling and paddling, the list goes on and on and don’t let the weather put you off we have spent lots of time there in the rain it’s just an opportunity for you parents to flex your imagi-muscles.

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Forest Walks – We regularly go on forest walks, truth be told though they are little, purpose built woods but the kids don’t know the difference, so shhh.  Take a few empty jars and maybe a net with you in case there is a stream or something and you may get a chance to catch Sticklebacks.

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Swimming – If the weather is too bad then a swim is a good option.  Some local authorities let local children swim for free in the holidays, therefore for all of us to go costs about £4.  Absolute bargain.

The Library – The wife’s a Librarian and would kill me if i didn’t include this ha ha. Honestly though we often use their services.  If you go into your local library they often have summer schemes for children and it gives you places to go, it’s educational and it doesn’t cost much – if anything.  We do the Lancashire Reading Journey.

Parks – There are some great parks around and a quick Google search will find one near you, these include national parks also.  I often take the kids to Beacon Fell and build dens and play hide and seek.

Soft play – Okay some may see this as a bit of a cop out but if the kids are still young, you can have a fairly cheap morning out (and if you go first thing they are usually quite quiet even in the holidays) and they will have a blast.  Piece of advice though – take a book get a coffee and relax

Local event’s – Keep your eye on the local council website, Facebook and google for free events in your area to go to they cost nothing and fill a day.

Days in – Sometimes weather and money conspire against you, but never fear there’s still lots of options:  You can have Film days (tank the lord for Netflix) we head out to the Pound Shop and get a pick’n’mix each go home and watch a movie and eat sweets, perfect.   Gardening maybe not a day out but my kids love helping me in the garden and getting messy as hell.  Indoor adventure time – one of my favourites, use every bit of bedding, sheets and sofa cushions, dining chairs (even tents) and make an indoor fortress – so much fun.

Finally Picnic it all up – one of the biggest expenses when your out is food so take as much as possible with you and you will save bundles.

IMG-20160816-WA0004Any other ideas mums and dads?  Let me know I would love to hear them

Relax and enjoy the summer, who knows you may get that sense of adventure back after all.

Crossing the Finish Line

“The line it is drawn the curse it is cast….” Bob Dylan.

That’s it, another ending.  Today was my last day at University, an end of year exam and a few celebratory drinks, then it was done.

It’s been a great four years and I have met some amazing people.  So much has changed in that time, we’ve had the twins I have been made redundant, found a new career path and we lost our little dog Gus (all well documented in other posts; my attempt at hooking you in, did it work?).

Who thought that at my ripe old age I would be finally getting a degree.  I missed out on it when all my friends went, I took a different route but there was always a yearning there to get one.  I always felt like I wasn’t as good as others, that I had something to prove, and I did.  However now I know that it was something I needed to prove to myself, without realising it I had set getting a degree as a personal goal and today, touch wood, I did it.

To be honest I also wanted to do it for my mum, as I will be the first one in our family to do it and I want her to see one of her sons in a cap and gown.

What better day to do it, than my ten year wedding anniversary to my lovely wife.  It was nice celebrating both occasions with all the family (well obviously going away together for a few nights without the kids, cheeky wink, but that will have to wait a few weeks for our diaries to align).

So guys if you have anything that you want to achieve in life, go for it, no matter how long it takes, you will feel a real sense of accomplishment when you do.

Now I can sit back and look forward to taking my wife, mum and eldest daughter to see me graduate. Good times.

I would like to take the opportunity to say thanks to my tutor Jeff and my degree companion Nathan who kept me going through the tough times.

Stay lucky people.

“because the times they are’a changing” Bob Dylan

Not On My Watch Sonny Jim

So I am literally writing this sat on the landing having to police my three unruly children, that, despite the fact they are 7 and 3 (twins) are determined to stay up and play schools till the wee small hours.  Well ‘not on my watch sonny Jim’, I tells ya.

This is so hard as I try to be a kind and fair father, but when it gets to this time and they are being cheeky (nice way of saying little sh**s) all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs and tear out my eyes. Is that normal?………………….  yea probs.

How does this work, I thought that when they got to this age I would be able to talk and negotiate with them,  little did I know that the little sods would have the audacity to say NO.

Well they won’t get the better of me, I’m a survivor and the king of my own Kingdom, I won’t be told what to do by the smaller people (although it does seem to have gone quiet so I am typing very slowly in case I wake said smaller folk).

I hope that this phase passes by soon, I really do.  All that keeps swimming round in my head is the U2 Mantra, “It’s just a moment , this time will pass”, wish it would get a bloody move on though.

Oh well, any other sympathetic dads out there that want to advise me or just fell my pain please do, love to hear from you.

Dads supporting dads.

Dad on Dad action……. wait err no, ignore that and please don’t google it (chuckling to myself like Daddy Pig)

See you soon folk and don’t let the Bastards grind you down.

Futures

So like my kids, I too have had the summer off (from blogging) and just tried to immerse myself in the family and having a right good time.  We did as well.  But now it’s back to the grindstone and earning some pennies. But it’s tough sometimes.

I took the cover photo of my clan the other night, and it made me think about all of our different futures.  What type of world are they going to grow up in? What challenges and hard times will they have to get through? I imagine it will be mostly like mine (and yours I suppose), but with so much more information, and the sate of things I feel that they are going to have to cope with things that I didn’t have to.  It seems that the whole world now, is gripped by fear, anger and stress.  A place where only the selfish and  greedy succeed.

I worry for their immediate future also.  Both myself and my wife are facing possible redundancy.  All we really want to do is our jobs, earn fair salaries and the pay off of that is getting time with our kids doing fun things together.  Why does stress have to play such a huge role in these times?  Is it just me, but I don’t remember growing up times being this stressful (or maybe they were, maybe it is just having a young family is stressful, having to pay lots out and worrying about every little thing.  Will this time pass as the kids get older and a little more independent).

I find working very stressful at the moment.  The thing is, stress affects us all and personally I don’t like what it does to me, I worry about my kids and try to keep everyone safe and happy.  It makes me selfish as I don’t know if things are always going to be there.  Am I going to stay in work? is my wife? could we lose the house?………  and on it goes.  I feel so sorry for the rational part of me, because he must be exhausted having to work so hard to keep me calm and sane, believe it or not I am for the most part but it’s tough and gets on top of everyone from time to time.

All this is more stressful because I love working with young people and I love being a youth worker.  I believe there are so many young people out there that need that support and help.  It’s so frustrating to know that my country doesn’t feel the same way.  I have chosen a career that the government want to quash and de-professionalise (don’t think that’s a word), do they really not see the bigger picture, can they not look ahead ten years and see the problems this will cause? or do they just not care? Is it the next guy’s issue?

When I look around, why are the people in caring roles the ones struggling so much? When people selling false promises and the things people can’t afford doing so well.

As a father what advice do I give to my children?  Seriously I don’t know.  Do I say, try and get a caring role or a job that makes you truly happy, whilst knowing from experience, this work doesn’t make people money so they don’t really see any point doing it and thus setting my kids up to struggle like I am, because I don’t ever want them to feel like this, like they are letting their own family down.  Or do I say, be selfish earn good money and suck up any crap you need to, because the money you earn will save you a lot of stress and means you can have more opportunities as a family (you may just feel a bit empty where your work is concerned, incidentally probably the place where you will spend most of your life).

As ever I will look for inspiration and guidance from all over and trust my instincts.  I keep telling myself that we just need to keep going, keep pushing and we will make it.  I hope that I am right.

Keep repeating my mantra to myself when things are hard:

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do”

Keep the faith in humans, I reckon most of us are okay and just trying to travel our own journeys.

Laters

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