And Then There Were Three!

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As the sun rose on Christmas Eve, our third little bundle of joy and snot had finally joined us.. 9 days after we had mentally occupied the stable. Had she been the Messiah, her timing would’ve been a farce and very awkward for the shepherds to manage.

As festive presents go, this little lady’s arrival is a special one for the family as her first official task was to help her now big brother and sister to leave a carrot for Rudolph. The period of the Christmas holidays has passed in a blur as we manage all the basics of keeping a new baby on the straight and narrow.

A few days after her arrival and as the firsts signs of calm had descended, I began to realise that normality (if we could ever call it that) in its infancy had begun to return to our home. The 6 and 3 year old stood perplexed in the kitchen with me as we pondered the imminent death or worse of the neighbour’s cat chewing the balls of fat and seed left out for the birds.

For the first time since their baby sister’s arrival, the other children had their old focus back. They were concentrating hard on the implications of the cat’s culinary decisions as I tried to eloquently explain how I hoped if it got a dose that it’d recuperate in its own garden and not mine. Normality had indeed crept back into our lives and with an extra beautiful little face among the ranks of the tiny, we couldn’t be happier.

Concerns that our senior little soldiers wouldn’t adjust to a new arrival never really emerged as all through the boss’ pregnancy we fielded questions and involved the children in different aspects where possible. Their quick adjustment to new normality, along with an intense desire to hold Junior the Third’s hand (the right hand seems to be top real estate going on today’s row) is music to our ears as parents. This littlest of ladies will work well under her older sister’s direction and her brother’s enthusiasm to lift things for her and sing in her face whether she likes it or not. It’s heart warming and a relief to see them settle quickly.

Normality, I remember thinking as a first time parent, is a relative thing. Its the sense of coping well with a sense of familiarity with the challenges that are thrown from day to day. Such a sense of family normality can only be emphasised by Junior 1 roaring from the other room that J2 is wiping his bogey in her pyjamas. That happens in every family…… I hope.

As a return to school and Montessori approached, the arrival in our home of the tooth fairy put the new baby onto page 2 of the news. The gummy joy lit the eyes of our eldest and sparked a small tear in Mammy’s eyes as her baby took another tiny step to getting a job, a car, making her own dinners and cleaning her own house. I quietly asked the tooth fairy if she might also bring a pause button so that I could spend more time watching these little moments and freezing them to memory. Its these little seconds that we’ll all try to remember best.

The emotion of the missing tooth soon turned to practicality with the tooth fairy’s battle to drop the cash and collect the goods. On a reconnaissance mission on behalf of the tooth fairy, I crept in to see J3 fast asleep with the wrapped up tooth held firmly in her grip. Her eyes snapped open and she whispered ‘She’s not here yet Daddy…’. Slowly I retreated to inform the tooth fairy that she’d need to be on her best form for this mission and she’d be better off opening tray two of the Dairy Milks. The transaction was completed a little later on.. the tooth fairy a little wiser now.

As I write, bundle 3 is fast asleep wrapped up in my left arm while I type very slowly with the other. Another little memory snapshot to add to her growing list. Next on the agenda will be to whisper goodnight as promised to the others who are fast asleep. I’d get away with that one but a promise is a promise, especially as J1 reported in a nightmare last night and needed a little extra TLC today.

In the dream, there was no ice cream. Other things happened too but with a backdrop of no ice cream, she can’t remember what they were. There was.. no.. ice cream in that dream. It therefore qualifies as a category 2 nightmare.

Normality is a simple, magical world with ice cream, and three is a magic number.

 

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The Elf on the Shelf

elfI’d love to know what this elf is thinking. You’d imagine he thought it would be a standard assignment. 2 adults, 2 children; five and three.. primary school and Montessori.. colouring in and making stacks out of sofa cushions. This had pretty ordinary written all over it.

On arrival, the nature of the chaos would have been a straight forward giveaway. This is a house that wasn’t preparing for Christmas alone. There seemed to be other events consuming the activities of this year’s customers. Stacks of nappies, bags of baby clothes and strange parental urgency gave all the clues this elf needed. There’s another customer on the way.

Later in the evening when all is calm, looking down from the shelf the elf can see that these parents’ thoughts are drifting. Rick Astley is singing on the TV and nobody has had the sense to turn him off. There’s a purpose to this intense relaxation at the fire that really didn’t need to be lit. Its 15 degrees outside. Any experienced elf can tell that this pair are getting set for that epic event of a newborn baby’s arrival, and they’re relaxing this evening like its an olympic sport.

Next door in the playroom the remnants of today’s glorious mayhem are a sign that life hasn’t changed much for the owners. Discussions about the arrival of Junior 3 have been straightforward. We’re told its a girl which has let the young man off the hook to an extent. Still, just to be sure, he has segregated his tractors and teddies into ‘don’t touch these’ and ‘you can look at these, just not for long’ piles. Her junior highness is all set to share her stuff.. whether J3 likes it or not. It’s likely that without strict supervision, a newborn girl would be dressed forcibly as Anna from Frozen in an early display of dominance from Elsa herself.

Both are excited and have consistently warned the elf on the shelf that we expect to need a delivery of baby toys that haven’t an official order letter. It was decided that forging one was an option but they didn’t want the elf going back telling tales about Santa letter fraud. It was decided that J1 would add a few baby toys to her list. An acceptable solution to all concerned.

The circumstances fit the season. We’re all filled with hope and joy at the prospect of a baby’s arrival although Mammy would prefer if there are no donkeys involved on this occasion and Daddy’s not great with stables.

There’s a pensive excitement around the house as we all wait patiently. The elf has seen us through this much, he’s not leaving now.

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Scaling New Heights

He sits briefly on the floor staring up at the once invincible cushion on the back of the couch beside the shelf. In days gone by, he’d have shrugged his shoulders, wiped his nose in his sleeve and gone back to eating a toilet roll insert. He’s an older man now. Ambition and testing one’s own physical limits have taken over the space in his life once held for the mundane things like hiding buttered toast in Daddy’s shoe.

Watching him from behind the door, the intensity of the plan forming in his mind is clear. Gone is the little shuffler who made his way around the house on one leg and whichever bum cheek provided adequate road holding for the corners. We’ve moved on to a machine that goes from zero to messy in three seconds. It climbs like a snotty mountain goat and hunts down and chews abandoned Disney princess figures like a young lion with one sock on. (The other having been carefully placed in a plant pot for safekeeping.)

A knowing look from side to side checks for parents. Coast is clear. He rises like a newborn giraffe and steadies himself. A carefully pre-placed unicorn step ladders him onto the couch. Base camp, at an altitude of 2 feet. The illusive cushion masks the 4ft summit and the glorious crystal vase which is the holy grail of living room exploration.

He checks and adjusts his kit. The strawberry and apple flavoured rice cake remains in his grasp. He’ll need that to sustain him at the peak. He will also need to drop whatever’s left of it in the vase like an exhausted climber plants a flag in the slow at Everest’s limits. He’ll come back for it later.

Suddenly a Disney Princess appears from the next room. She runs towards base camp, determined not to allow the ascent continue. Mammy said it was bold to climb on the shelves. One law for everyone. Anna/Elsa/Ariel/Jasmine (Could be any of them really) grabs him by the leg and stares into his face. ‘Not on my watch’. He knows he is beaten but just for today. As he slides back to sea level, he wipes the soggy rice cake across the aforementioned princess’ face and screams at her in clear tones. ‘No’ ‘Stop’ ‘Ah Ahh’.

Pulling rice cake from her royal hair, she screams and runs for parental backup. He sits back on the floor and stares into the clouds, watching the light twinkle through the vase on the shelf. If conditions are right, another attempt will be made later. We’ll call it a draw.

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King of the Castle

20140302-113643.jpgIt’s been a while. Time is flying and life is good.It’s been a while since a Sunday morning stuck to its plan and the chance to slot in an extra mug of tea and a pause to take stock is one I’m a big fan of.

Toy Story 3 is the requested entertainment for Princess Aoife this morning (self named, not some parental gush). Her independence is comforting. Unlike your standard princess, once presented with a bowl of weetabix on a low table that’s within grab reach of her beanbag and the tv remote, she is fully self sufficient. The transition to little girl from baby is definitely complete now. She’d tell you that herself. I’ve mixed feelings watching her present me with a hair band that she can’t manage to put on. With the instruction ‘Daddy put this on me, it’s very pretty’ I’m told that while she still needs my help on the most basic of things, she’s deciding more and more when that help is needed. It’s a phase I love. The conversations are a glorious insight into the little lady’s emerging personality. She’s a mix of a cute Disney character and Margaret Thatcher. Cute, but could easily depose the government if the painting mat doesn’t appear in the next thirty seconds.

Meanwhile the little man sleeps soundly, his two lower teeth gnawing on his top gums, willing the bastards to make an appearance and leave him alone. He’s a different creature to his sister. It’s all about colours, eating whatever juicy object can be grabbed at any point, and making noises with spoons. He’s less interested in impressing with his abilities than his sister was, but far more focused on trying to get stuck in places where he shouldn’t be; a tendency I’m told wears off in his mid twenties. Having done the reverse worm and trapped himself under the couch, he calls out with a tone that explains the predicament. If he could speak, the light squeal would translate to a text sent at 4am suggesting that he seems to be stuck in the neighbour’s wheelie bin, (through no fault of his own) and he’s requesting a little assistance that we’ll forget all about afterwards. The technical term would be – scallywag.

The dynamic between these little creatures is already plain to see, and I suspect it will stay this way. He cries.. (Possibly because his Mammy has left the room.. He knows where his bread is buttered) and is immediately comforted with a smothering hug from his sister. Unwilling to accept such consolation, pulling out a fist of her hair restores the balance and she leaves, screaming at the rejection of her offers of comfort, but also at the sight of the lump of hair her brother is triumphantly waving with a smile on his face.

Peace is usually restored when his new ability to give a round of applause to any event is deployed when his sister sneezes or coughs (we’re all doing lots of that lately). She immediately remembers that he’s her number one fan and they both continue with their day.

For us, the king and queen, (again, nothing to do with us), life has presented some glorious changes and diversions in the last six months. Sometimes a little kick up the behind makes you focus on the important things. From my vantage point here in the king’s wing of the castle, it’s a good day to be ruler of the kingdom.

Ruler of the kingdom. Who am I kidding…

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Conversations with Dragons

It’s been a hectic month in Daddy Towers. First day back at school for Daddy, and first day in Montessori for Junior 1. To the relief of everyone involved, it seems we have ourselves an enthusiastic student and not a doorstep screamer. The speed that her highness raced into school on day one with lunchbox (real) and hair dryer (imaginary) surprised us all. One potential trauma ticked off the list!

It’s been very clear in the past month that out of the cosy bud of babyhood, a little girl has emerged with some serious preferences, orders and opinions. She also likes to associate with princesses. For that reason, the latest major request was that she attend the debs ball of a local girls’ secondary school that was on in the hotel across the road. A glimpse of the girls arriving as she passed required an immediate detour to go see said princesses. She wandered into the middle of the lobby and quietly went from girl to girl, gently tapping them on the leg and telling them they were “GOOOORGEOUS”. I don’t think the girl that kneeled down and handed our little one a flower to take home understood the significance of that to a trainee princess who at the moment has shaggy hair and butter strewn across her face. We heard all about that flower for a long time after. Fair play to that girl. It’s nice to be nice.

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As with every princess, we’ve had dragons in the house. This morning a dragon called Aoife2 arrived in the kitchen. I was warned before going to see it that it was a girl dragon who was quite nice and it would be best if I didn’t ask her to leave. It was made clear that it was important that I didn’t address the dragon as ‘him’. I played along until I was informed that although I couldn’t hear it, Aoife 2 wanted real toast. I draw the line at buttering non imaginary toast for an imaginary semi feminist dragon, or imaginary dragons of any persuasion.

The male female divide has certainly been in the thoughts of this little one lately. When mixed in with her established ability to express opinions, this was always due to pose interesting challenges. On one short journey during the week to arrange a christening ceremony with the local parish priest, I was told that she would be telling him that God is a girl. I was so disappointed that he wasn’t available because the conversation between a priest and a vocal 2 year old on the idea that God is female would have been a classic to watch. Being honest, I think he dodged a bullet by being away when we arrived.

As for the heir to my throne, well there’s not a lot to write about that little man yet. He’s your standard 3 month old. He sleeps through the night (I think…) and enjoys watching an aviation documentary of a Monday with his Daddy.

Happy days…

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Why?

Before I became a teacher or had children, I always thought that ‘why?’ was the greatest instinct a child had. The urge to know, to find out, to wonder.. amazing.  Then she asked why. Initially it was a simple challenge, such as; Why are we getting in the car Daddy? That was easy. We’re off to see Nanny.

She accepted the answer and moved on with her crusade to improve Spotty the dog’s behaviour. (Although he came from the cuddly toy shop, I’m reliably informed that he has a bad attitude these days and is acting less than cuddly.) Maisy the Teddy has been forced to sleep face down on the floor this week for breaking a rule too. We haven’t managed to establish exactly what rule yet but we assume she’s learning her lesson.

The ‘why’s’ then moved up a level.. challenging my knowledge of more than the plan for the day. During a thunder storm that caught our inquisitor on the hop, I told her that the noise was nothing to worry about.  She threw me her “starey” face (usually reserved for moments of utter incompetence on my part) and asked.. WHY?! (As in, how could such a loud noise be harmless?.. You fooool!).

I explained that when it got very cloudy and a bit warm, sometimes the clouds bounced together and made a loud noise. That impressed me for the rest of the day. Fantastic answer. Her highness running around telling any adult within three miles that they should RELAX! THE CLOUDS ARE BOUNCIN! suggested the problem was solved.

We then gradually moved into the abstract.

What’s an hour Daddy?

-An hour is about the time it takes to watch two Doras.

Whyyy?

Now how do we answer that? Why does it take an hour to watch two thirty minute Dora the Explorers? Has Dora never met Stephen Hawking? Does she subscribe to the astrophysical theory of bending time? Or is her highness attempting to make a messy mush of my ability to think. I reckon so.

Later in the week,  we mastered the high five, and then the more complex air five which is distributed over short to medium distances.

Did you give me an air five Daddy?

Yep!

Why?

Because I was too far away for a high 5.

Why?

Because I’m having dinner at the table and you’re in the living room.

Why?

So I don’t drop food on the couch.

Why?

Mammy gets upset.

Why?

She likes the couches as they are.

Why?

She thinks (Stare from Mammy) .. WE THINK the couches shouldn’t have food on them..

Why?

Because that’s the rule. And there I failed. I lost. She won. Anytime I use the term ‘just because I said so’ or ‘that’s the rule’ I know I’ve been beaten.. and this week, I’m bottom of the league in the why charts.

I want to encourage my children to ask why. I want the children I teach to ask why but there comes a time when a 2 year old staring at you asking WHHHYYYY? cannot have their curiosity soothed by theoretical physics, ancient philosophy or advanced engineering.

Sometimes its just because Daddy Says So!

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William.. Get One a Wipe..

I couldnt help but be enthralled last week at the reaction of the next door neighbours to the pending arrival of their future king. Having spent some time in England during the Olympics, I think they do flag waving and ‘national craic’ better than we tend give them credit for. The crazed faces of the TV reporters made me a bit uneasy, with one reporter in particular all set it seemed to kick in the door of the hospital to tell them to hurry on. The frenzy of photographers and reporters when his royal newness was carried out was a little cringeworthy.. Have you changed a nappy yet sir? Is he sleeping well ma’am? Yes you dope, he heads up himself after Coronation Street and we set the alarm for 9.

Hours of live footage of the front door made me think of what would actually happen behind the hysteria. What name would be given to this child who some would say is condemned to a life of funny waving mitigated by easy access to some very snazzy vehicles? 6 hour conversation.. Will they manage the carseat? 3 hours for that.. It was all a little unreal.

The reality was probably pretty normal and slid downwards from there. Prince William would have received a dig in the ribs to inform him that HRH Jnr was about to make an appearance. He’d have followed my advice and gone to the press for the 6 pack of crisps and two cereal bars that I suggested he should have handy. Kate would have told him to pick up the overnight bag. He’d pick up the wrong one and depending on ‘how apart they are’ would have A) told him where the right one was or Z) Breathed fire at him for being so stupid while terror jogged his memory to pick up the right one anyway. Here our experiences would differ. Someone would have to wake the royal security guards who in reality would’ve been in a worse knot than William. The long range papped photo of said beefcake being beaten out the driveway with the tens machine she borrowed when he asked if she was feeling well wouldnt be a pleasant image.

William seems the independent type, so I wasn’t surprised that he reportedly drove his missis to the hospital himself. It seemed quite a swish spot to come into the world, and the reported free wifi along with the extra channels on the room tv would have been music to the ears of a lady in labour. I’m sure that knowing she could have free access to her iMessages without eating into her data allowance would’ve made the labour all the more pleasant. William would certainly have deferred the medical duties to those more qualified while he had a look at the sports channel at whatever premiership preview was on at 6 in the morning.

… Would he ffff…

It would’ve been the same for them as it is for any of us, except they would’ve been surrounded by all sorts of classy facilities that no woman in labour, or her terrified partner would even consider using. (I assure my wife if she reads this that at no time did I notice that there was also free wifi in the hospital we attended, and I did not have a moment to notice that although access to the broadband was shared, the speeds were quite impressive).

William being the responsible helicopter pilot would’ve been given a job. Me? I was put in charge of making sure the water in the jug had ice cubes in it, and at no time was the glass on my missis’ locker to be empty. He’d have stared at that glass and that jug, not because of any fear of his wife, but because when a midwife who means business issues an instruction, you hop, and hop lively.

I’m sure Kate would’nt have spoken to William in a way one would expect one to speak. He’d have been f***in told that he should’ve moved the f***in pillow by now and if he was going to stand there and look like a stupid f***er then he should OH SH*T ANOTHER ONE.. etc. He’d have felt his roundy wedding ring being gradually moulded into his now flat fingers and he wouldnt have mentioned that inconvenience because nobody wants to see the second in line to the throne being fed a gas and air tube with one hand while having his eyes gouged with the other one.

The personal security men who’ve stayed for the duration would look into the room at the bewildered buachaill and figured that he had started this so he could finish it himself. They would’ve had no desire to leave the hospital through the nearest window either.

When HRH Jnr arrived, I’d like to think they had a few hours with no royalty to just welcome their child into their little family. Its a precious few hours and I hope it wasn’t messed with.

Skipping forward a few hours, Im sure William was consumed by one single thought. The car seat. He has staff for this kind of thing but would he have the guts to put the seat in the car in front of the world’s media? The boy did, and thats why I have respect for him. He single handedly opened the door while executing a magnificent wrist swivel to position the isofix perfectly over the little locks which would have stared at him and said.. ‘We are going to ruin your day butty..’. One ignored the pressure and one slotted home that seat with the confidence of a man who’d driven the child in circles to get him to sleep a thousand times. 10/10 for winning the car seat battle.

A week on, how do they feel? Well if the rumours that they’ve no nanny to help are true, they feel like the rest of us feel after a week of new baby. They feel like they’ve been on the razzledazzle for a long weekend and are now experiencing the hangover of a lifetime while being attached to a human alarm clock with no respect for parental fatigue. William won’t have changed his clothes in 3 days unless they’ve been puked on and Kate won’t have seen that hairdresser in a while.

The security men, well they’ve been trained in the art of moving nappies to the black bin with serious speed should the contents make it onto the floor and be forgotten about. They’ll be wearing tshirts now because they can’t temperature test bottles on their wrist if they’re talking into their cufflinks.

His highness junior will not be seen as third in line to the throne. He’s grabbed power by the British liathróidí and in that house, wherever it is, he’s in charge.. and anyone who felt anyway royal last week, is having their regal asses handed to them by the 8lb 6 head of that state.

.. And all going well, they’re loving every minute of it.

Meanwhile in an office with no windows somewhere, a royal correspondent stares into a mug of tea.. and wonders whether it might yet be time to put a tent on the lawn of HRH Jnr’s school.. and the circus continues.

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There’s Poo in my Dinner…

Its been a great ‘ol week. Thanks to the wonders of cheap internal flights, modern grandparents, and my bestest friend the M9 motorway, we got to be there for the wedding of two dear friends who have started their married blissful life in temperatures of 20+c and blue skies.

Meanwhile we’d left offspring 1 and 2 in the capable hands of her grandparents. Her highness junior spent time at her favourite pastime in the world.. scanning the shopping, while his smallness just watched, ate, slept and filled nappies. A blissful existence.

Having a chance to relax has recharged the batteries before the big weekend of toilet training ahead. We’ve read the books, bought the equipment and we are ready. We’ve discussed the concept at length with she who must be trained and we get the sense that we’re all ready for the game. We have star stickers, charts, night pants and multipacks of knickers for princesses (I’ve been told they’re for princesses.. who am I to argue?) Unfortunately all of the necessary talk of poo and wee has spilled.. ahem.. into other areas of life.

Its not great when you go to a concert and seeing portaloos immediately wonder how you’d manage with a two year old who needed to go NOW. When life revolves around a two year old and her fast growing understudy, its hard to switch off parent mode. It makes you feel old beyond your years. The feeling of concern when the pissed chap who’s now a clear burden to his mates has his laces tied together and after 10 minutes hasnt managed to sort it out.

The urge to intervene is strong with the lad who in a similar situation has been attacked by his vest, and is now stuck in the sleeve hole and unable to stand up. The girl with stars on her face that clearly, unlike the bold boys, has been a very well behaved person to get so many stars stuck to her head by whoever gives out the stars in her house.

Parenting changes your head, and it takes a few days to adjust to the idea when you’re away that every child’s cry isn’t a call for your assistance, and to take yourself off edge.. although I still fear that the girl who dropped a cigarette in the straw would cause a fire and then where would we be!?

Relax. At 32 years old, its safe to say your youth hasn’t abandoned you, but the standards antics of a pair of children under three can make a father over sensitive and in clear need of unwinding.

Suitably unwound, we look into the weekend of toilet training with the hope that we’ll be giving out stars. I do look forward to the passing of this little phase though. As I write, there’s been a complaint from our little lady that she cannot eat her dinner as there’s poo in it. It turns out that by poo, she meant carrots.. both equally disgusting it would seem.

Onwards and upwards.

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First Day at School

In the last few weeks, things have been busy settling the new resident into the family, and making sure that the self described princess is helped along the way to accepting the new way of life for all of us. Its very easy when a new baby arrives to take your eye off the amazing little steps forward that a 2 year old is making. One small step for the princess was a huge step for Daddy-kind. The first day at play school.

Now lets be straight.. It was an induction day. It lasted an hour. It was the beginning of two playschool years. To me though, it was an epic milestone in my own life, mainly because of how she prepared for it. 5 minutes ago, my little girl came into the world and we scrambled together a different life that we really enjoy. Now, to see her walking around the kitchen looking for her sunglasses before going to school and complaining about the wisp of curly hair that wouldn’t stay out of her eyes.. I took a second to myself to just watch. My little baby wasn’t so little anymore. She has her own little opinions and requirements which rapidly become demands for anyone who isnt on their toes to catch them early enough. Off we wandered to the local montessori school to hear all about the routines and day to day happenings that we’ll soon become familiar with. I looked down, and she was gone. The lump in my throat soon disappeared when I saw her harassing some poor boy who clearly didnt want his hair dried. I thought about calling him over and explaining that if he just played along for 2 minutes, something else would catch her attention and he could move on with his plan to make some calls on a plastic phone. There was business to attend to, but my daughter felt he should be more worried about his shaggy hair. I soon realised that I wasn’t required and I wandered off to a quiet corner to listen to the information chat for parents. Shortly it was all over and everyone had dry hair, mainly because of the turbo psshheeewwwww noise that my daughter roared at each customer to hurry the process up.

We wandered home and she went for a nap, happy in the knowledge that her future classmates and teachers had been left with salon quality hair. Me, I had a coffee and another little think. It was a tiny event, but it proved to me that I can’t slow this lady down. Ive got to keep stopping to have that little look, not to miss these little things.

I started to think ahead then and that was my mistake for that hour. I’m interested and probably too much so, in the fate of our country and what goes on outside our doors. I somehow was reminded of the last time when I was in an airport and saw a woman and a young man, clearly her son, wrapped together at departures and both grief stricken. I knew by watching that this chap was leaving his home and that neither of them wanted this to happen. It is a great thing if somebody decides to see the world and live elsewhere for them to be able to do so. But, if its forced on someone it is a tearing apart of family; the thing that I hold dearest. If you listen to the news every day, you hear about the events that happen outside our doors. Some people care, some don’t. My fear is that we’re on a path that will allow a small proportion of the people in our society to send more and more of our kids to airport departures, while they pull another billion “out of their arse”. I think I often sound like a cranky old man when I give out about the pint of stout that Ireland is.. the creamy bit at the top that sits carefully above the generally plain bit underneath. Maybe the first day at school will explain why it makes me cranky.

I hope that when the time comes, our country will be a place that treats its citizens with respect, unlike now, and that its citizens wouldn’t stand to allow things to go back to the way they are today.

I don’t want to bring the hairdressing princess to departures.

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My Son..

Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable  ~Plato

And so, his highness has arrived. I owe a lot to my amazing wife who once again went through the barriers which I’m not sure I can imagine. Any future irreverent comments towards the process of labour should be taken with the pinch of salt intended. She showed olympic grade stamina and if having babies was an olympic sport, she’d be standing on the podium, gas and air tube in one hand, waving at the crowd with the other.

As would I. I was spectacular. The duties of the man during the labour process are immense. I filled a thousand glasses of icey water, walked a thousand laps of the corridor providing physical and mental support, and fetched all manner of products that no man wants to see. Years ago, the Irish soccer team had a kitman called Charlie O’Leary. Much of the success of Italia ’90 was later attributed to his supreme management of socks, shorts, bags, jerseys, water bottles etc. Last Friday night, I was my wife’s personal Charlie O’Leary.. and win against Romania we did. Both Charlie and I take our kitman responsibilities seriously.

Much like his sister, my son has arrived with clear expectations. He expects us to eat standing up, not to sleep much, and to treat a visit the bathroom in the same way as you’d treat a trip to Barbados. He’s doing all the things he should do and he’s doing just fine.

His sister on the other hand, is a little unsure. She’s two and a half now and up to last week, she was the centre of all attention in the house. She’s a little put out. Although she’s already trying to feed and advise the little man, she did almost ask him to leave when she saw her Peppa Pig blanket on his cot. How dare he.

And so, we’re all learning fast. Myself and Mam are a little better informed this time, but reminding her highness junior that she hasn’t lost any of our affection is a challenge in herself. Yesterday we expressed our love by buying her a hoola hoop. It worked.

There really is no parenting manual that will say.. the solution to this childhood issue is a hoola hoop. We live, we learn.

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