Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Photo Meme of Mystery

Many thanks, albeit through gritted teeth, to Humdrum Mum for tagging me for this meme. When I first read her blog bio I thought she had said that she worked for sanitary purposes, and I spent 20 very confused minutes trying to figure out why. How did working keep her clean? Was she a teacher of the sacred art of water aerobics? Was she a faulty umbrella tester? Did she, in fact, work in the bubble bath bubble measuring department of a leading bubble bath manufacturer? I had so many questions until I re-read her bio, and reminded myself never to skim again.

Anyway here are my instructions:

1. Open the first (oldest) photo folder in your computer library
2. Scroll to the 10th photo
3. Post the photo and the story behind it
4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread.

Well, what to say about this photo? It's of my sister Lucy (and let me tell you, she knows a secret or two?) and my eldest daughter Storm, taken in the pub I used to own before I became a househusband and started housebitching. It was the 20th June 2006, and as you may be able to tell, it was taken during a football match. It was England's game against Sweden in the World Cup Finals, a game we drew 2-2 that let both teams progress to the knock out phases. I can't tell you much more about the photo because I wasn't there. I was in Brno, Czech Republic, in another pub, watching the same game with 15 fellow stags, all there to celebrate my mate JG's upcoming nuptials.

I guess you would rather hear about that now wouldn't you? Women tend to be quite inquisitive as to what us men-folk get up to on these trips. That's probably because men tend to stick to the 'What happens on tour, stays on tour' code, and after hearing about some hen nights I wish more women would follow that code. All of which mean I can't give you any of the juicy bits, well none that involve anyone else but me.

Although to be fair, as there was 16 of us on the trip you was almost always with someone else. I did one morning decide to go for a bus ride on my own, but that's about the only thing I can think of off. I don't really know why I went on the aimless journey, it's not something I like to do at home, I guess I just wanted to feel like one of the locals. Unfortunately I had to fare dodge as I had thrown all my coins at a mate the previous night. He had decided to start pole dancing in a club we had accidently wandered into, ahem, and he certainly didn't dance well enough to deserve any notes.

The only other story fit for outside consumption would be the morning when me and my roomy No Rent Boy (we all had tour nick-names, mine was Boy Band Wannabe) decided to wake the groom up early. I burst into his room only to find a very naked, and very startled Czech Businessman (he was wearing a bowler hat) who was now wondering why there was two shouting Englishmen in his room. It's hard to sincerely apologise to someone in that situation. Laughing your arse off whilst walking backwards doesn't help, neither does waving his 'do not disturb' tag at him.

I can't tell you who spent so much time sleeping outside the door to his room, we ended up calling him 'draft excluder'. I can't tell you how we run up a bill of 12,000 Czech Crowns in a pub when a pint cost 35 Crowns. And I also can't give you the name of the only stag to insist on booking into a fancy hotel away from ours. I can tell you that we managed to convince him that ours had a pool on the roof. I can also tell you that he wandered into our hotel bar in trunks and a towel, demanding that one of us show him where it was, much to the merriment of ourselves and the staff.

So there you go, a couple of stories within the story that was explaining why I wasn't in the photo that I was meant to be telling a story about. I am also glad I had to pick the 10th photo and not the 11th. This is the 11th and it would need more explaining than it needed editing.

So now to nominate some wonderful wordsmiths I admire, and I know have got way too much time on their hands.

1. Brits in Bosnia.
2. I'll think of a title later.
3. Bringing up Charlie.
4. No wine on Wednesdays.
5. Notes from Lapland.

Good luck folks, I'm sure you will entertain the crap out of me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Guilty Feeling of Dumb Innocence

I am writing this sitting in the Accident & Emergency department of the hospital for the second time in a month, and probably the 6th time in two years. This time its Mate's turn. He of nimble feet was running in the living room (my five year old has gone all middle class on us and has banned the description front room), when he tripped over some fresh air and cracked his head on the open patio door. He only cried for a minute, there wasn't even that much blood to be honest. If it had been me I would have filled the cut with ground pepper and put some sellotape on it. Unfortunately this is a method the Wife disapproves of so it was off to the hospital.

Knowing she would freak out, I decided to ring the wife whilst driving there and get it over and done with. She hates speaking to me when I'm driving and using the hands free and always keeps the conversations short, so I obviously use this tactic a lot. Such was her maternal panic that not even this was working, so I had to resort to beeping and shouting "Get out the way" to imaginary road users. That did the trick.

As I parked the car and started carrying him into the hospital, my stomach was full of butterflies and my head was full of paranoia. Not paranoid thoughts, just pure plain head splitting paranoia. I seemed to be visiting this place so often that I should get a season ticket. I'm sure the Security Guard nodded with a frown of recognition, and I still had to face the receptionist. I tried to calm myself down as I answered her numerous questions, told myself I was being stupid. I couldn't see her screen but I could imagine it now showing all of our details, all our numerous visits. I know I'm a good loving parent, I do believe in a smacked bum, but I don't believe in beating a child. I needed to stop panicking, it would all be fine.

"Was you alone in the house with the child when the incident happened?" This one brought me up short. Would they have asked a woman that question? When did the accident become an incident? I guess I should be thankful that she referred to him as the child and not the victim. I bit my tongue and gave neither a smart arse nor a stinging retort, just a feeble "Yes". I think I just made myself look more guilty, her eyes have changed I'm sure of it. Maybe I should be getting angry with the delay, but I know they're only doing their job. But one of their jobs is flushing out child abusers, and did I now look like one?

I was eventually directed to the Paediatric unit, and took the long walk with a sense of dread and trepidation. Most parents would feel this way on that walk, but normally because they were worried about whatever accident had befallen their child. I knew Mate was fine, they just had to un-Humpty Dumpty him, maybe that's why the paranoia was so bad. Maybe if I was doing the parent panic foxtrot, pacing up and down waiting to find out what was wrong with him, I wouldn't have even noticed it?

We sat down with the Triage Nurse and I answered another series of questions as she examined his head. They were a little more probing this time, dwelling more on previous visits, particularly the bruising episode. Mate had been 6 months old when I brought him in with some unexplained bruises on his arm. He hadn't fallen or anything, it just didn't make sense. That was the start of 48 hours of testing, monitoring and questioning. The Ward Sister could barely hide her contempt for me and what she thought I had done. That was until the second day, when she herself left him bruised after a straight forward blood test. Whilst she never actually apologised for her suspicions, she did offer me a cup of tea for the first time. They never did find the reason he was bruising so easily, but it stopped after a few days and never repeated itself, touch wood.

I knew I should stop talking, surely rambling on and on just made me sound nervous, and what did I have to be nervous about? I hated the over analyzing part of my brain, wishing it would just give it a rest and shut the hell up. Triage Nurse gave way to an actual Doctor who was thankfully short on small talk, and big on gluing the boy back together. I was sent on my way with the usual concussion warnings and some leaflets, none of which were about abuse.

As I escaped from the hospital, for escaping is how it felt, I did let out a sigh of relief, both for me and the boy. He was fixed up and showing no ill effects, and I had narrowly avoided a paranoia induced breakdown. I decided to reward us both when we got home, him with an ice pole and me with an ice cold beer.


Whilst escaping any signs of concussion, Mate did however have a couple of unusual side affects to his 'incident'. I was watching Erin Brockovitch the other morning when I noticed that Mate had stopped what he was doing and was intently watching as well. The train set that he had been playing with whilst watching Mickey Mouse lay forgotten besides him. My son had fallen in love with Julia Roberts. Although to be fair Julia does wear a lot of very low cut tops in that film, so maybe he just thought it was lunchtime. He also stopped wearing his sister's old pink boots that day. I can only conclude that his love of all things effeminate was knocked out of him and a love of the feminine form replaced it. That's my boy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Sisters

February is a tough month in our house, both the female offspring have birthdays, and both have long lists of demands. Some, a few of mates over for a party, were easier than others, Slinky the Dog from Toy Story, to grant. All in all they both ended up happy, and my wallet ended up lighter.

Dawn turned 16, a number guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of any Dad. My little girl has turned into a woman whilst my back was turned, the signs were all there, but I had obviously chosen to ignore them. She was always a bit of a tomboy, but now the smell of dead insects and mud that were ever present when you opened the door to her room, have been replaced by perfume and burnt straightened hair. There is so much opened nail polish in her room that I am surprised she is not stoned out of her nut on a permanent basis. I must admit to sneaking up there whenever the kids have driven me up the wall. Five minutes breathing those fumes and I emerge happier and slightly giggly every time.

As her 16th approached, I felt myself searching for a mid life crisis or three. I was starting to feel really old, standing on the abyss of father of the bride speeches and giving people and money away. I swear that in the two months leading up to her birthday my hair turned 8 shades greyer. It had gone from ER George Clooney to Oceans 15 George Clooney in mere weeks (please note I only said his hair, I don't want to be sued for misrepresentation). When I bemoaned this fact to my Mum she helpfully pointed out that I wasn't as grey as her yet, she knows how to find a silvery-grey lining in every cloud.

The party went without too many hitches, the next door neighbours had been bribed and apologised to in advance with a bottle of wine, so that was them dealt with. As parents it was our duty to hide upstairs and ignore any banging, crashing, or inappropriate loud music. What we actually did was hang out in the kitchen listening to our old 12" record collections. The loud level increased with every bottle of wine (there was four), until the kids booted us upstairs at 2am, unable to hear their own music, or what they pass off as music.

In a huge leap of faith we allowed a mixed sleepover. They are a comparatively good group of kids, and I did include the morning after pill and a course of mercury in the party favours bag. Sod the consequences, at least I looked like a cool Dad for letting the party happen. I think they all acted in a trustworthy manner, but I won't really find out for another 9 months.

Katy on the other hand is 5 going on 15, a child that is always on the feral/precocious see-saw. She absolutely loves watching what she calls 'Piggy Come Dancing', I'm not sure if the renaming is due to her growing sense of irony, or the fake tan colouration of the contestants. I watch with pride as she copies their dancing, a picture of cuteness. Pride turns to horror as she pushes her little brother out of the way and threatens to "rip off his head and poo down his throat" if he gets in her way again. Yep, you did read that right, it's my fault really. I once jokingly threatened to pull off her arm and beat her around the head with it. All this did was prompt her into hysterical demands for more threats. Caught up in a 'she thinks I'm funny' fever, my threats became more outlandish, including pulling off her head and replacing it with a football, and maybe the aforementioned poo one.

Anyway all blame aside, she is never going to be a middle of the road child, and I don't see a quiet or ordinary time in my future. Her birthday requests included that it snow on her birthday, and that I make her a traffic light jelly. With a bit of timing and patience the jelly was doable and a roaring success. The snow however was a tad more difficult. How do you explain to a five year old that there are things you can't do? You don't, you lie and hope for the best. You also do a tribal snow dance for her in the days leading up to her birthday. A snow dance is fairly similar to a rain dance, just with jazz hands added at the end. Someone must have been looking down on me, probably the God of pure dumb luck, but lo and behold it snowed on her birthday as if on cue. My status of SuperDad had been cemented, even the eldest looked at me with a mix of suspicion and awe.

The cherry on the cake for her was when she saw the tent I had set up in her bedroom, she is desperate to go camping. A beer tent may not be the most appropriate thing in the world for a child, but I have come to the conclusion that nothing is quite appropriate in our house, and long may it stay that way.

The weirdest thing of it all is that whilst the thought of Dawn being 16 makes me feel old and Katy being 5 makes me feel young, the complete opposite is true when visiting their respective schools. Maybe it's the fact that at Dawn's school I am one of the youngest parents and at Katy's I'm not? I had set out at the beginning for there to be a moral to this story, it's just that I seemed to have lost it amongst the way. Maybe it's that feeling old is just a question of who is looking at you? Or maybe it's just as simple as enjoy your kids whilst they still let you. Either or, I have decided not to worry about it, well not for another year at least.