Wallop!

It’s the end of my youngest son’s first half term of school. It’s been largely uneventful save for a couple of minor issues, oh and there was a little problem with a bit of a fight.

My dad was one of those dads who always told you,

“If he hits you, you hit him back”.

I’ve not said that to either of my children. It’s not that I don’t believe in punching someone in the face if they’ve just done the same to you, far from it, I just believe that you should judge every situation as it comes i.e. How big is he? How much did it hurt? Did I deserve it?

In any case that belief is for adults only, not for children, especially 4 year olds like my H! Instead we have adopted the approach,

“If someone upsets you go and tell the teacher.”

We haven’t even mentioned ‘punches’, as far as my kids are concerned no-one wants to punch them in the face. That’s how it should be!

Despite all this I got called aside by H’s teacher at the end of one day and she spoke to me while a sheepish looking H cowered around my legs.

Apparently a kid in Year 1 (year above four year old H) was saying horrible things to him and generally being verbally abusive. My seven year old eldest would be very upset and tell the teacher immediately, H smacked him in the face without a word.

Now I don’t know if it’s being a dad as opposed to a mum, but I felt a pang of pride swell up from somewhere inside me that I just couldn’t control. Of course on the outside I was horrified, I said all the right things and chastised H and told him that was not the way to behave. And on the whole I agree with my outside appearance. But that pang inside remains whether I like it or not.

A few days later I was telling one of the other dads in the school playground. A bespectacled fellow who doesn’t appear to have any aggression in him whatsoever. His response to the story was.

“Good on him!”

I didn’t agree with him openly and still towed the party line that I was shocked and appalled. But inside I felt glad that I wasn’t a monster.

I found out through the grapevine later that the boy who H walloped is known for being a bit of a bully. Apparently getting a slap from a four year old has brought him down a peg or two and he’s treating others with a bit more respect now. My outward words of warning for H have certainly taken effect too and I don’t think he’ll be walloping anyone again anytime soon. Perhaps all’s well that ends well?

Thrifty Fathers Day

“We only spent £3 Daddy and H’s present cost twice what mine did.”

Back in June we had Fathers Day. Usually spent in the garden, preparing a barbecue for my father and not sitting on my arse where I should be.

My favourite part about Fathers Day is the lead up to it. The boys getting excited about ‘Daddy’s Big Day’, me partly pretending to be excited but also more enjoying seeing them excited. In the week before I receive the best gifts, the ones they make at pre school. A particular favourite of mine was a card made into the shape of a shirt and tie. Definitely a keeper!

Since they are both now in school, however, these little self made treats are no more. Apparently the school prefers to concentrate on such things as maths, English and science, so bloody old fashioned!

Still, one great thing the school does is organise a Fathers Day gift sale. The school’s an academy so this is one of the ways they raise money for themselves. Basically they have all the available gifts laid out on a table, the children choose one, pay for it and they then get given the gift completely wrapped. The gifts aren’t expensive, they range in price from £0.50 to £10.00 from a packet of Maltesas to a small set of cheap screwdrivers.

At the last event I gave T £20 to get me a couple of gifts from H and himself. I gave both boys some guidance,

“Now I’m grateful for anything, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive thing you see but please definitely not a key ring…and no pens..”

I’m not being ungrateful, it’s just that a key ring is only useful when you have keys to put on it. Unless we put a new door or a gate somewhere then we don’t need anymore keys, hence I don’t need another keyring. As for pens, I am not exaggerating when I say we have at least 1,500 pens in the house. I used to own a firm and we were doing a trade show and needed gifts for about 100 people. We decided on pens with our company name on. We left it to the last minute and only then did we realised that the minimum order was 2,000 pens. Fortunately the pens are of incredibly poor quality so we are getting through them at a rate of about 100 a year.

Also, I must admit I would have been more than happy with the Maltesas. It wasn’t a packet, this was a box which I could have probably made last about an hour.

The boys came back after about two minutes of searching for the perfect gift for their Daddy and T placed £17 change in my hand.

“We only spent £3 Daddy and H’s present cost twice what mine did.”

Come Sunday I’m obviously excited to see what my thrifty sons have bought me for £1 and £2 (leaving room for the school to make a profit). Now your probably thinking that I got a keyring and a pen, but you’d be wrong. The £1 gift was actually a coaster with ‘Top Daddy’ written on it. I love it, it’s by my computer and I use it every day!

And the other gift? Yeah, that was a pen…

Ignoring your Kids

“when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones”

One of my major pet hates is parents wearing headphones whilst they are in the company of their children. Now, I see ladies in the park doing their exercises with their prams, that’s awesome, what a great idea, exercise classes dedicated to mums with babies in prams! My wife would also like to personally congratulate any mums who have the physical and mental capability to do that within the first year!

However, when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones. The reason is obvious to most but I’m afraid not all people. Your child is just starting to learn how to communicate, they need to practice, they don’t know anybody else to talk to, you are stunting your child’s development – are all the things I want to shout at the parents who walk along with their kids whilst completely absorbed in whatever they are playing through their earphones. Granted, most of the time it is the mums of the two and three year olds who have dropped their older kids at school and are deciding to ignore the younger ones on the way home which is bloody awful, but some of the time it is mums of the school kids, aged between four and ten. They completely blank them out all the way to school, when they could be hearing about the day ahead, what they are looking forward to to, what they are apprehensive about. Then they completely ignore them all the way home from school, when the child may want to tell them about their day.

I took my sons to a school holiday sports coaching session in the summer and one mum stuck in my mind. She walked all the way in with her son, who looked about eight years old, with her headphones firmly stuck in her ears. Not a word passed between them all the way in. At the drop off the coaches said hello to her son, made a fuss of him and tried to tell her about the day, she wasn’t interested. She just held up an ignorant hand and walked away without so much as a goodbye to the people who would be looking after her son for the next six hours, but more tragically there wasn’t even a goodbye for her eight year old. Poor kid.

This leads on to another more minor bug bear, people who pick up their kids whilst on the phone. At our school the teachers bring the children out in a line and send them off to their parents one by one. My kids come running over excitedly, I’m their dad and they are pleased to see me, this is the same for the vast majority of children who come out of school. However some parents are deep in conversation on their phone, not just their phone but maybe with another mum who they haven’t seen since the morning. Their children go running up, but then slow down as they see they aren’t to be acknowledged, again. Quite often the mum will start walking away on the phone and the child will just be expected to follow behind, without even so much as a smile in their direction or a whispered “I won’t be a minute”. If somebody calls whilst I am picking up my sons I find it perfectly acceptable to say “I am picking up my children from school, I will call you back” because it is a perfectly acceptable thing to say.

Yes kids are a pain in the backside, yes they talk a lot and half of it it absolute nonsense. Yes you need time for your own thoughts. It is very easy to train your ears and brain to be a filter, to ignore all of the nonsense and just let in the pure gold. Sticking headphones in is not the answer, it stops your child talking to you altogether and makes them think that this behaviour is actually appropriate. It is not.

Embarrassed Daddy or Embarrassing Daddy?

“Oh, by the way daddy, I told Miss Smith how pretty you think she is”

My four year old has finally started school. He was more than ready and his confident stroll in without looking back on his first day gave me the full confidence that he was going to do fine!

His teacher is very nice, to make this story less embarrassing (for her in case she ever read this) let’s call her Miss Smith. Now Miss Smith is in her early twenties and in her third year of teaching. Her first year was spent teaching my eldest in year one and we were very pleased with how he got on that year. Also, Miss Smith is hot. As I am now forty there is no way to say that that doesn’t sound pervy. It’s just that out of all the teachers in the school she is noticeably the hottest. It wasn’t just me, all of a sudden I had a lot more dads to talk to at school pick up time…

It would of course be completely inappropriate for me to convey that I think Miss Smith is hot to either of my boys of four and seven. They wouldn’t understand at this age. However, I was tricked by H into revealing the tiniest piece of my thoughts on the subject, a lapse I now regret.

I should reveal at this stage that four year old H is a ladies man. He’s a bit of a lad and loves playing rough with the boys but if a big girl comes along his head is turned and he spends all his time trying to impress them. This manifests itself in the most part as him being a bit of a ‘mummy’s boy’. He’s absolutely obsessed with his mummy, bringing her presents, calling her a princess and taking the opportunity for a cuddle every five minutes.

At nursery he was consumed with getting a ‘Superstar’ rating every day, the rating they achieve if they have gone out of their way to be good that day. If he didn’t get noticed for being good then he would make sure that they knew.

“Charlotte, I’ve tidied the home corner”
“OK H, but you did that yesterday”.

So the next day he would try something new.

“Alice, I’ve put all the books back on the bookshelf”
“OK H, but there was only three books on the floor, I don’t think that warrants you being a superstar”.

But then he cracked it.

“Kirsty, I’ve put all the dressing up clothes back into the box. Also, you look very beautiful today.”

Bingo…

So with this in mind the following conversation wasn’t a surprise.

“Daddy, Miss Smith is very nice.”
“Yes, she is H.”
“Daddy, Miss Smith is very pretty.”
“Yes, she is H.”

That was it. I had hardly gone over the top, merely agreed with the opinion of a big girl obsessed four year old.

The next day I dropped H at the school gates. It was the first day he had to walk into the main gates and make his own way to his classroom. I put his huge book bag on his shoulder, kissed him on the cheek, gave him a hug and whispered in his ear.

“See you later matey, have a great day at school”
“Bye, daddy.”

He turned and took a few steps towards the gate, then he turned and said.

“Oh, by the way daddy, I told Miss Smith how pretty you think she is.”
“Thanks, H.”

Shit. H’s teacher thinks I’m an old pervert.

I did share this info on my Facebook page to much laughter and piss taking.

“Is lingerie inappropriate to give as an end of term gift?”, was probably my favourite.

“It’s going to make parents evening a bit awkward”, was another comment.

No it’s bloody not, it’s going to make school pick up time bloody awkward, in four hours time! Then it’s going to make every pick up on every day awkward. When parents evening comes round it will be beyond awkward!

I have to admit that I’ve not been completely honest at this point. It isn’t the first time I’ve been embarrassed in front of Miss Smith although it is the first time it wasn’t my fault. When T was in her glass he had a gymnastics lesson after school which meant a later pick up. As he was getting changed he excitedly told me that Miss Smith’s dog had had babies and that she had brought them in to show the class. Just then Miss Smith walked through the hall where T was getting changed and said ‘hello”.

“Hi” I said, “T was just telling me how much he enjoyed his day”.
“Oh that’s lovely” she said “Yes I showed the class my puppies today and they loved it.”

The snigger rose up like a volcano, I tried to suppress it but it teared up the back of my throat and roared out of my nose before I could help it. The noise lasted a millisecond but it was enough for a chest tightening awkward moment.

“That does sound like a good day” I finally croaked.

After the latest slip the only option for me now of course is to emigrate.