Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You break it, you keep it

It was our son Mate’s second birthday this week. A very joyous, but lets be honest, boring age to celebrate. The first birthday is all exciting because it’s their first, and everyone takes an interest. The third birthday is always good for a laugh, as by then the kid knows the score and is really into his pressies, cake, and the whole day in general, but the second is a bit of a non-event, and what the hell can you buy a 2 year old anyway.

I remarked upon this to my wife as we were wrapping his present (just the one, what’s the point wasting money if he hasn’t got a clue, it will be the last ever time we can get away with it), and she strongly disagreed with me. I pointed out, that if this was not true, then how come we were wrapping his present with newspaper. Her curt reply included the phrase “because you forgot to buy any”, and some other, in my opinion, harsh, questions doubting my parentage. She was also not blown away by my “well it is the Sunday Times which technically costs more than wrapping paper!” defence either.

We started the morning with a glass of Cava for me and the good Wife. This was a tradition that had started the morning after I had been on a huge bender with the boys. The hangover was horrific, but heeding my Dad’s advice of “hair of the dog”, I had poured myself a beer to help everything along. The Wife came downstairs at 8am to see me drinking said beer, and was understandably disturbed. I informed her it was (imaginary) Uncle Pete’s birthday and it was a tradition in my family to offer a toast for a good day. I have had to continue the tradition ever since. This is also why Katy celebrates “Odd sock Friday”, much to her teacher’s confusion.

The rest of the morning came and went, he really did not have a clue but enjoyed playing with the newspaper. His Mum sang Happy Birthday every 10 minutes, just to drum into him the importance of the day, but in my humble opinion he looked just as non-plussed the 8th time as he did the 1st.

The next highlight of the day for him was going for a walk (well, being walked in his buggy) with his Oma. Oma is my wife’s Mum, and Oma is German for Grandmother (I think?). She’s not from Germany, but she feels that being called Granny makes her sound old, and so if you translate that to German, Oma doesn’t sound as old. Now I’m 38 next month, and the German for that is “Achtunddreiβig nächsten Monat” which makes me feel loads older and slightly scared, truth be told, so I can’t say I’m in total agreement with the theory.

Anyway, his other Nan and Grandad (call me anything, just call me darling), came over for lunch, and they gave him a toy that my Grandad (we called him MOG which was Nasty Child speak for miserable old git), had made me when I was 2. We had a nice lunch and a few beers, and that was pretty much it for the rest of the day.

Much later, after the kids had gone to bed, after the wife had gone up and resettled them, and after I had gone up again and resettled them, it was time to relax and reflect upon this most historic of days. My wife offered up the toast “Congratulations, we made it.” I obviously looked confused, for she continued “we made it to his 2nd birthday without breaking him, or our relationship!”

This was the most sage-like thing I had ever heard my wife say, and I must admit to being quite impressed. I was less impressed when, judging by the empty bottle I found, I realised she had been toasting herself out in the kitchen a fair few times already. Minor gripes (or grapes), aside, it did get me thinking on how far we had come with him. It also made me think about all the things we had broken in those 2 years.

In that time we have broken 3 car wing mirrors, 2 were knocked off whilst our car was parked outside our house, and 1, according to my wife, just fell off? I can just imagine bringing Mate home from the park with 9 fingers, and getting away with saying “one just fell off”, but don’t get me started. I have killed my entire crop of leeks, and potatoes, although in fairness they would have been killed at some time, but obviously being roasted to death would have tasted better. Two really nice houseplants have bit the dust, and one of them was a bonsai tree, whom I named Le Fi Guy. I miss that wee fella.

The children have not been without their mishaps too. We had the shampoo drinking episode with Mate. The “look no hands”, trampoline incident with Katy. Dawn is off breaking hearts somewhere, but until hers gets broken, I am adopting a head in the sand kind of attitude. There was an incident at London Zoo, but as the Wife does not know about that, it will remain between me, my sister, and an on-looking Lion.

So I guess my Wife was right to raise a toast, because with our track record, it is an absolute miracle he is still in one piece, kind of. So I raise a toast to all parents out there, especially those with a 2 year old. Well done for not breaking them.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Mum

I have the best Mum in the world. No seriously, you may think yours is better, but she’s not. Now don’t get upset now, your Mum is obviously the second best Mum in the world, and that is no mean feat. There are probably 1 billion Mums out there and yours is No.2 on the list. Still not happy, well would you like to be the second richest person in the world? Can we move on now, this is meant to be about my Mum and we have done nothing but talk about yours. Will it help if I said that if I could not have my Mum, I would want yours?

I feel I have to prove why my Mum is the best now, so let me trawl through the old memory banks. Did your Mum buy you everything you ever wanted, mine didn’t, but she let me lick the bowl every time she made a cake. Seriously, cake mix actually tastes better than cake, and did I mention that Mum used to make cakes, from home, for a living. That’s about 3 cake mix bowls a week, and don’t even get me started on icing mix, mmm pure sugar.

Did your Mum walk you to school every day, and when you got too old for all that kind of nonsense, about 8 in my case, walk you to the corner and let you walk that last bit on your own, so your mates would think you’re cool. Mine did.

Did your Mum always play the “good cop” to your Dads “bad cop”, always making sure that after the rollicking (this was not the word I wanted to write here, but Mum keeps telling me off for swearing) Dad just gave me for smashing something or other, I had someone to run to, to comfort me, and my God, that Mum apron smell. Mine did.

Although there was this one time, in band-camp, (could not resist the American Pie reference), that I had wound Mum up so bad, and for so long, that she chased me upstairs with her slipper in her hand. I dived under my duvet and hid and waited. Mum burst into the room and started whacking me, through the duvet, with her slipper. Unfortunately for her, she had supplied us all with 15 tog duvets, as she would not want one of her little darlings to freeze, so each whack felt like a gnat hitting you with a gnat-sized golf club. The more she whacked, the more I laughed out loud, until she finally gave up and went downstairs. It is only now, as a parent, I can imagine the frustration she felt. So whilst I am somewhat ashamed of my actions, I still laugh like a horse every time I tell that story.

Did your Mum let you move back home every time you split up with a girlfriend, or get divorced (only once), or come spinning off the rails in a spectacular style, even if you was 25 by then, and seriously, can’t you just pick a stayer. Mine did.

Did your Mum teach you how to cook by phone, and not get the hump a few years later, when you would attempt to give her advice on the best oil to cook with (I was going through that Extra Virgin Olive Oil stage). Mine did.

Did your Mum look after your Dad when he got ill, and keep track of all the appointments in the four different hospitals, and all the 26+ tablets (he likes to boast about this) he has to take at different times, every day for the last 4 years. Never moaning about how ill she might be, ever. Mine did.

Does your Mum look forward to every grandchild that keeps popping out, and spoil them (in a good way), and wishes she could spend even more time with them, but not want to hassle you about extra visits. Always having advice when asked for, rather than when you could really do without it because you are elbow deep in poop. Mine does.

Does your Mum have this absolutely wicked sense of humour that you did not even have a clue about, until you was a proper 30+ adult. On a regular basis, my Mum can slay me with a one liner of such Stand-up quality, I don’t even know where it, or the capacity for it, came from.

Have you seen your Mum jive, or laugh, or get tipsy, with a look on her face that makes you realise that once upon a time, she was a young woman with hopes and goals and dreams of her own, and that hopefully you have either fulfilled, or lived some of those dreams for her. I have.

I am not the type of person that takes compliments easily (that might be because I don’t do much to get them that often), but when someone tells me they think my Mum is great, and that I must be so proud of her, I reply “Damn right!”

I once asked her (whilst in a sulk), that if there was a Mothers Day and a Fathers Day, when was children’s day? She replied that every day was children’s day. She was right, and she has made every day feel like my day since.

Thanks Mum, I love you loads.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The only Dad in the village

It was all quite exciting when Katy, our 4 year old started Pre-school last September. She had been counting down the days with the constant chorus of “Is it school day today?” Actually I need to pause the story here and explain a few things. When I refer to pre-school, what I really mean, is the nursery that is part of the Infant and Junior school, and that she attends every morning from 9am to 11.30am throughout the school term. I know most people refer to this as Nursery, but she was so excited to be going to big school like her sister Dawn, that we did not have the heart to refer to it any other way. Anyway, the big day came and went without any real fuss or bother, and my wife accompanied me for that first week, with persistent moist eyes repeating the mantra “my little girls is getting so big, sob, sob.”

There were a few other Dads who hung around that first week, and we all exchanged names, football teams, and handshakes, and shook our heads at the Mums who looked like they were at the Wailing Wall every morning. This all seemed so easy, we would all exchange pleasant chit chat and then be on our way.

Week 2 was a whole other proposition. I would stroll in with Katy and Mate (our 2 year old) and all was kind of fine, a few nods and hellos, and a little bit of friendly banter. Keen to make a good impression, I had been writing down the names of the Mums and their offspring’s, on a piece of paper that I kept in the car. Every morning before we walked in, I would get some quick revision done, so I could quite confidently name at least 4 children and 2 Mums. I felt that slowly but surely I was starting to fit in.

As a regular reader of Lucy Sweeney’s column in The Times I had even started to identify some of the different species of Mum. I had recognised the Alpha Mum, the Yummy Mummy, the Yumski Mummy, and a couple of Slummy Mummies. I quite fancied myself as Sexy Domesticated Dad, but since giving up smoking (2 years and counting, hating every moment), I think my wife would liken me to (house)Husband on a Short Fuse.

Week 3 was what I now refer to as “Interview week”. The questions were coming fast and furious, most subtle, some just plain obvious. Did I work, how long had we been in this arrangement, was my wife happy with it, what do your friends think? I felt like one of the animals in the zoo that had actually learnt to talk. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the attention I was getting, and I must admit comments like “I wish my husband would do something with the kids” did go to my head a little, but hey I’m only human, and the male kind.

This caused me to lower my guard a bit, and behave a little bit more like the real “what a funny guy” me, rather than “serious responsible Dad” me. In hindsight comments like “Calpol Night, the middle class sedative of choice”, or “sound-proofing their bedroom is a great investment” or my particular favourite “I wish this global warming would hurry up, as I’m looking as pasty as a polar bear’s butt”, would have been best saved for my friends who really knew me and my slightly twisted sense of humour. I had shown them too much me, and without even knowing it, failed the interview.

Being the astute type, it took me another 3 weeks to realise that poor little Katy was missing out on play-dates and birthday parties. In my defence, there were at least 4 or 5 Mums that would really talk to me on a regular basis, so how was I to know I had not become part of the inner circle. It was only when I stood back and looked at the offspring of these Mums that it dawned on me what had happened. These kids were super loud and super boisterous. I now belonged to the parent equivalent of the gang of kids that used to smoke behind the bike sheds at school. A social outcast amongst the good clean folks, that was me. I could have accepted it if it had been because of Katy’s bad behaviour, but because of my “maleness” was a different story.

I revisited everything I had presumed to be true and was quite shocked. I thought “You always dress her so colourfully” to be a compliment, but it wasn’t, it was Mum speak for “blue socks, purple trousers, red top, that’s child abuse that is”. Or when at Christmas the nursery suggested that instead of giving out a card to each child, we should put a pound in the special Christmas card charity box. I remarked to Alpha Mum and Co. that “what a good idea it was, and how I was not looking forward to writing 24 cards.” Total agreement from them all, until the last day of term when Katy came home with 20 Christmas cards from most of her classmates. How could I of been so blind? I had been thoroughly outsmarted and out parented (?) by them all, me of all people.

I had only ever lost a game of child poker once before, so how had I not seen the signs. Ok, an explanation is needed. Obviously I do not use my children as markers when playing Texas hold’em. All parents play child poker, just most of them know it as “patronising the less experienced parent”. It normally happens to me when I am out with my 2 year old. He could be being cute or naughty, it doesn’t seem to matter which, when a Mum will remark “Oh just wait till they hit 3 like Phoebe here, then they are trouble.” Ha, I take your 3 year old and raise you a 4 year old. “Yes,” I reply, “I remember when his sister was 3, now she has hit 4 she seems to have calmed down a bit.” That normally ends the conversation, but sometimes you get a re-raise with “Mmm, Tabitha is 8 now, such a lovely age.” That is normally a Full House statement, but they are never ready for my ace-in-the-hole “I just wish they would stay that way. My eldest is 15 now, and let me tell you, you don’t know trouble until they hit that age.” Straight Flush, the game is mine, always a satisfying moment beating Mrs Smug. Like I said, I have only ever lost once, but how could I have ever seen the ‘20 year old twin boys’ coming, Royal Flush, game over.

I would obviously have to rethink my strategy regarding these wily and cunning Mums, but that is another story for another day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Am I being unreasonble?

This week I set myself a task to find out what Mums talk and moan about. Now obviously I know what my wife talks and moans about, but as I find those subjects boring, I presumed you would too, so I had to look further afield for inspiration. There was no point listening to the other mothers at the school gate, as they all seem to turn mute whenever I am near. I secretly wonder if the government has pulled a master-stroke, and employed all these women to spy for MI5, as I don’t even know the names of half of them, let alone any decent gossip. Seriously, my wife has dropped Katy off 5 times this year, and yet when I tell a story about Daniels mum she replies “Susan, you mean, did you know she lives opposite our Dentist?”

Desperate times lead to desperate measures, so I ventured onto the Internet looking for Mum’s discussion boards. I decided to keep clear of the one my wife uses, as who wants to read how insensitive I was being the last time I did all the washing, ironing, and cleaning, and then wanted to sit down with a beer, God forbid. I had contemplated signing on as a Lady (would that make me an inter-tranny?), just to gee the conversations along, but found there was absolutely no need.

I hit pay-dirt quite quickly (which just proves I do listen sometimes), and found a “Mums on the net” site that my wife had previously mentioned, and seemed very popular. So I went to the topic boards and found the most staggering thing. What I thought would be the most popular topic, “Parenting”, had a whopping 14,572 posts. With subjects ranging from, ARE YOU THE KIND OF PARENT YOU WANT TO BE(65 posts), IS BEING ABLE TO COOK FROM SCRATCH A NECESSITY FOR A PARENT(49 posts), to my personal favourite CAN I PUT MY CHILD ON EBAY(11 posts?), it seemed to cover all the bases needed to be today’s perfect Mum.

I continued my search, and to my absolute astonishment found a subject more popular that “Parenting” on a “Mum’s parenting site”. I feel like teasing you for a bit, and not letting you know what all Mum’s seem to be talking about, but with the presumption that the majority of people reading this will be women, you obviously all know the answer anyway. “Am I being unreasonable?” is this year’s No. 1, straight in with 16,940 posts. That is almost 2,500 mothers moaning more about being unreasonable, than wondering if dropping a 4 year old on the head really does cause them to forget parts of the alphabet (42 posts).

I spent the next 3 hours reading these posts with a wide range of emotions and reactions, incredulous being the main one. TO WANT TO BUY UNISEX CLOTHES (19 POSTS) Why? TO NOT WANT MY KIDS TO GROW ANYMORE (17 posts) Have you entered them into a dwarf throwing competition then? TO WANT A NEW FRONT DOOR (8 posts) This is not the B&Q website! TO HATE MY BANK (16 posts) The equivalent of quite liking oxygen. TO THINK MY SON IS A SPOILT BRAT (71 posts) You’re right, he is, get off the computer and take his toys away.

I only managed to get through the first 6 of 85 pages so whilst I’m sure this list will change as I work my way through, here are my top 5 in reverse order.

5. TO FIND THIS USERNAME OFFENSIVE (275 posts) The user name in question was ANYF***ER, and in the replies that followed, I can honestly say, I have never ever seen so much swearing in print in my entire life. One person obviously decided to attempt to give this poor old prude a stroke, by inserting C**T or F**K in between every other word. Ladies, ladies.

4. TO TELL DS TO HIT THIS LITTLE BOY BACK (324 posts) Now if it was not for the fact I had to ring my wife and ask what DS meant (darling son FYI), I would have thought this post had been wrote by a Dad. I think the Mum in question had added half the chat room to the list by the time the discussion had finished.

3. DRUG USE – WHAT DO YOU FIND ACCEPTABLE (322 posts) I have always been of the opinion that if your child’s hands are too small to roll a joint, then they are probably too young to smoke it, call me old fashioned. Upon further reading I discovered they meant for the adults once the children had gone to bed. It seems Merlot is no longer the middle class Mum’s drug of choice.

2. NICK CAVE (266 posts) That is all it said, honestly. Further in, she explains that she heard a rumour that his wife was pregnant and could anyone living in Hove confirm it. The first 10 replies mocked her for being in the wrong section (I could not find the celebrity stalker section either, to be fair); the other 256 had a discussion about his moustache.

1. TO BE SECRETLY CHUFFED WHEN TEENAGE BOYS SHOUTED M.I.L.F. AT ME WHEN I WALKED BY(391) This woman was so pleased with herself, and received many congratulations from her fellow “I feel so fat” Mum’s. A few people needed the term explained to them (but as a newly discovered DH or OH, who am I to mock). All was nice and polite until a very straight talking Mum advised her that “I have a 15 year old son, and I can tell you they get turned on by anything, and often get an erection when the wind changes direction!” As I read this, I could feel the gust of a deflated ego, brush over my tear streaked cheek. I could not stop laughing for 10 minutes. I hear the resulting cat fight, is still spoken about in hushed voices.

At the start of this quest I expected to find out what our lovely wives and girlfriends really thought about us evil men folk, but what I found instead is so much more entertaining, and has replaced the latest Warren Ellis book as my bedtime reading material.

So, I guess my next quest will have to be… there anything you don’t talk about.

In Memoriam

Darling daughter No.2, Katy, has recently obtained quite an obsession with death. I know all teenagers go through that stage, and I myself remember spending 6 months wearing black and listening to nothing but The Cure and Leonard Coen. So the only thing slightly alarming in all this is that she has only just turned a precocious 4.

Her pet gerbils, Itchy and Scratchy, died 6 months ago without any real comment or emotion from her. In fairness they were pretty boring, and she had all but forgotten about them, so I can understand any lack of reaction. We dug them a grave (they were being buried in my vegetable patch, great compost I’m told), made a cross, and held a small service. Then nothing, until last week, when she has now decided she wants to dig them up to see what they look like.

She has also caught the ‘God’ bug, what can I expect when we send her to a Catholic school, and is very interested in heaven and meeting the great man himself. Getting her to look left and right, when crossing the road has become an impossible task. We point out the reasons why we look, but her excited reply is “but if I die I get to see God!” A sentence that is somehow cute and upsetting in near equal measures. Not, of course, that she wishes death upon everyone as a great way of meeting God. Every night without fail, her farewell warning is always “make sure you don’t fall down the stairs and die.” It is, without doubt, that comment and my stunned reaction to it that caused me to fall down the stairs the first time I heard it.

This all kind of leads me to the events of last Friday, when I took a phone call from my sister, who told me that Uncle John had died. John was not one of those far-away Uncles (although he did live a 4 hour drive away), that you hardly ever gave much thought to. Since he and Joan, and my two cousins Jonathan and Neil, moved down to Devon when I was 7, we had all remained really close, and spent most childhood summers and Easters down there.

He was a kind, but hard man. Strict, but fair. A favourite game as a child would be to call him “our John Willie” (a childhood nickname he hated as much as his middle name), and then attempt to duck and run from the inevitable whack that was coming. I don’t know why we continued to play it, as even when one of us managed to get away unscathed, he never forgot. Many a dinner time started with a vengeful clip round the ear, just as you were taking the first mouthful. Followed by his chuckle, and that of everyone else, as he left you to rue the idea of ever saying it again.

It was to John whom my Dad turned when I was 24 and going off the rails. I had just given up on my job and career in Insurance, just got divorced, and was drinking and partying way too much. John and Joan ran a pub called The Exeter Inn, and after a long conversation between all the “grown ups”, I was packed off to learn the pub trade from top to bottom for the next 2 weeks.

Every day started at 8.30am when I had to clean the pub (including the toilets, gross), and then do all the bottling up. Cellar management was next, and being a big real ale pub, there were always barrels to be tapped. This process involved hitting a small wooden peg into the keg, and with any luck you would miss your thumb, or even worse, avoid making the keg sending a gusher of beer everywhere. Then a quick change, before getting behind the bar to work till 3pm, a quick break, and then back from 5pm to midnight. Every night we had the same routine, cash up the day’s tills, and float them for the next day. Then the three of us would sit down, for the next 2 hours, with a huge bag of peanuts and a vodka and slim-line tonic and discuss the day’s events and gossip. I ended up staying 2 months not 2 weeks in the end, and those moments at the end of each night, are still some of my fondest memories (and the reason I still snack at midnight).

I was in the kitchen washing up, when Lucy gave me the news. I hung up the phone, sank to floor and just started uncontrollably sobbing. This must have disturbed Katy’s Disney viewing, because she soon trotted out to give me a hug and ask why I was crying. She had obviously caught me off guard, as my reply lacked the normal parent sugar coating. I explained that my Uncle John had died, and I was really sad and upset, because that meant I would never see him again. I may have added that it was just not fair, but I can’t be sure.

There was a pause whilst she digested this information, and I just knew she was going to tell me that it would be OK as he was with God now. Instead of which, she replied, “Well, I can be your Uncle John, or we can build another one!), and with that she gave me a kiss and went back to Mickey Mouse.

I am no longer that worried about her obsession with death and heaven; instead I worry that she might turn into a 21st century Dr Frankenstein.

To quote John’s favourite song from his favourite band “Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round yeah”.

John Frederick Salt 8/12/48-13/2/09 RIP

Daddy Day Trips

Standing on the edge of the mothers chat groups, and believe me, as a Male, this is the place you usually are, you get to listen with awe at the places Mums take their children. Kids Space, Bumps R Us, Bouncy Tots, Ruff’n’Tumble Tears, the list is near endless. Having visited a few of these places, and by visited I mean dragged kicking and screaming by the kids for best friend Joe’s party, it does seem that anyone with some spare office or barn space can create one of these day-glo accident emporiums. The common safety feature of these places seems to be enough foam lagging to make a gang of plumbers mmm and ahh and shake their heads.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my time there, right up until the moment I stepped back and trod on poor Joe. My ears are still bleeding from the high pitched scream of the 4 year old birthday boy. Remembering the stares I received from 15 disgusted mothers, still sends a shiver down my spine. I am also fairly sure that my daughter Katy telling Joe to “man-up” in her best Dad impression did not help to smooth the waters of hate and distaste I seemed to be drowning in.

Herein lies the problem, fathers are only really tolerated in these places, when accompanied by their wives. The majority of the mothers will look at you and think one of two things. The first being, there goes the divorced dad, is that the only thing he can do with his kid every other weekend. The second thought is either slightly sinister of slightly paranoid (depending on how many cups of coffee you have had). Who is he, where is his child, you don’t think he is one of those perverts you read about in The Sun do you?

All of this has resulted in me having to invent some of my own day trips. The forest is always good, but you seem to spend more time cleaning up afterwards than you do at the actual place. Ditto the local parks, plus 2 tonne of dog poop, and a gaggle of local mums, thrown in for good measure.

My current top 3, in no particular order are:

Nan and Granddad’s. What more can you ask for, my mum will spoil them rotten whilst I join Dad in his green-house for a beer and a moan, followed by the perfect sandwich (how do they make them so thick, tasty, and healthy?).

Football stadium tour. Not from the inside obviously, as this would be far too expensive, and would also need some modicum of planning. No, the best way is to chuck them all in the car and tour from the outside. First stop Highbury, listening to me choke back the emotion as I describe old memories from the glory days when you could stand on the terraces. Next stop the Emirates, cheaper to build than Wembley, and looks even better in my humble opinion. A fast drive past White Hart Lane with the windows up, and I try to keep all swearing to a minimum. Upton Park always interests the kids, but I think this is due to the new stand looking like huge Lego blocks. Finally our tour ends at Leyton Orient, our local team. I would love to take them to a game but seriously Barry, £18 for kids, not likely.

Thames water treatment plant (from the outside looking through the fence). This might need some explaining. Darling Katy is fascinated to where all the poo poo and wee wee goes. We begin with Katy sitting on the toilet and getting the process started. A quick flush and then a rush downstairs to see the stand pipe in the back garden. Back through the house, out the front door to look at the drain covers, and then bundle into the car. A 15 minute drive through the Walthamstow back streets brings us out to the locks, and the treatment ponds. Fifteen blustery minutes, and one slightly scientific explanation later, and we are back in the car, with sweets and pop, to get the whole process started again.

So there you go 3 original trips, with an additional bonus during these credit crunch times, all totally free. Who said Dads can’t multi task.

Just to expain

Just to get a few things straight, right from the off. I am a late 30's house-husband who finds it easier, and more amusing, to refer to himself as a housewife. I stay at home and bring up our 3 kids Dawn 15, Katy 4, and Mate (as Katy calls him) 2. My wife pretty much works full time in a fairly decent job, and I do a few part time bits and bobs that fit in around the kids. I have been a housewife for about 18 months now, and in my own humble opinion, I'm not doing a bad job. Which means I haven't broke one of them yet.

My wife and sister in law (not the same person, me no hillbilly) asked me to write a few articles about a Dad's perspective on Kids, and the schoolgate mum type of thing, for a website they are creating for Mum's (watch this space for news).

I had written the first three, and kept them on the PC to be used when the site is up and running, and there they were to stay, until I read the paper this morning and got upset. There was an article in it, that was nothing like mine in substance, but had a similar title and had been sourced from a place I had used as research. So I have now decided to publish and be damned, because I don't want any future pieces to seem to of been influenced by anything else. I guess all this is my version of the small print at the end of the car adverts so just bear with me a tad longer.

These pieces are just meant to be a bit of fun, and an alternative take on the whole Mum/school thing. I change most of the names, and if you recognise any of the people in them, then you are obviously wrong. Please excuse any grammar mistakes, as, if I am not sure about something, I just throw in a comma or a pair of brackets, until it looks right.

Feel free to respond or criticise, as I am big enough and ugly enough to take it.