Being Dad

Being a father is fraught with danger…

Movie Madness April 15, 2013

What is it that I watch more of, than practically anything else?

Would it be sport? I love to watch rugby and cricket.

Might it be action movies? I do love a good war flick.

Maybe it’s documentaries? Give me a doco on Africa or sharks, and I will sit there for hours.

Sadly, it’s none of these. What I watch most of, are children’s shows. Well, specifically one in particular.

You see, children have this uncanny knack of being able to watch the same show – over, and over, and over again. Back-to-back is no problem either.

Missy doesn’t watch a large amount of TV, but when she does, it is invariably the same movie.

Peter Pan.

She adores it. She even wakes up in the morning some days, a little teary.

“What’s up, Pumpkin?”

“Peter Pan didn’t come to visit last night”

She is besotted by the story. This presents a problem for me.

1)    I have now seen it 50 times. I am sick to death of it

2)    She watches it in French, so not only am I sick of it, but also, I don’t even understand it.

But that doesn’t dissuade her. With uncanny certainty after a day out, we will get home:

“Do you want to watch a movie my little peanut?”

“Yes Daddy!”

“ ‘Something with Bruce Willis, perhaps?

(Arms crossed, pouting) “No! Peter Pan!!”

It should come as no surprise, I suppose. When my niece was a little girl, I lived in Africa. Whenever I would come home to Sydney for a visit, I would stay with her and my sister. At the time, my niece’s favourite movie was Oliver Twist. Not being a parent in those days, I made a rookie error. I expressed a keen desire to watch it with her.

What a good Uncle I was.

From then on, for several years at least, my visits were a signal to break out Oliver Twist, and watch it a minimum of twice a day.

What a nightmare I created.

I have thought about accidentally losing the Peter Pan DVD, but that would be bad, Daddy. My only hope is Missy moves onto something else. I have recently introduced her to Wallace and Gromit – now she wants a dog that can make breakfast and build a robot.  I can’t win.

 

Don’t Toy With Toys April 8, 2013

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 10:54 am
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A child’s toy – specifically their favourite cuddly ones – must be treated with both care and respect.

On many occasions, I have received a stern warning for mistreatment of little, but inanimate, friends. Apparently, when dolly needs to be put away, it is unacceptable to go for the long shot, pro-basketball style, and hurl dolly the length of the room. I also note there is no kudos given for making the shot and slotting Missy’s floppy friend, bang into the toy box.

“Three points!”

“Bad Daddy!”

Children, well Missy at least, can get particularly attached to a toy. It becomes their friend, and they can get quite irate or even mournful if it isn’t in sight at all times.

That in itself creates issues.  Missy has a bunny, “Monsieur Lapin”.  Mr. Bunny is by far her favourite thing in the world. Sure, she had the standard dozen fluffy toys that get rotated in and out of her bed on some secret schedule only she understands, but Mr. Bunny is always there. He goes to School with her, he comes on picnics, he has meals with us, and he travels in the car. Mr. Bunny must also be the most well journeyed rabbit on the planet; I should get him a frequent flyer card.

But all this travelling and playing makes Mr. Bunny quite dirty. So here it is. Missy barely lets him out of her sight, and villainously flinging him in into the washing machine would cause a riot at our house.

Of course, Mum had the answer and came swiftly to the rescue. Mr. Bunny is a popular make of toy, and so with a simple visit to the shops, Mr Bunny had a stunt double. When washing was needed, in an operation so swift and decisive you would need a super slow motion camera to properly see it, Mr. Rabbit was replaced by…Mr. Rabbit.

Well, it did work like that for quite a while until an unforeseen event occurred: ie I got involved. Missy was unexpectedly and scandalously exposed to both Monsieur Lapin and his stunt double, at the same time. Stunt double is now known as Madame Lapine.

I must say, it was quite the shock for her at first, but she soon coped with the discovery Mr. Bunny was secretly married quite well. The funny thing is she can tell these fluffy toys apart, despite the fact they are mass-produced. I was putting her to bed one night, when she announced that Madame Lapine was in attendance, when she wanted Monsieur Lapin. I, of course, tried to convince her that it was Mr Bunny, and no way was it Mrs. Bunny.

”No, silly Daddy, Mr. Bunny has a mark in his head.”

I found the other bunny, thankfully washed and dried, and on close inspection, there it was. There was a slight, almost imperceptible, stitching anomaly on the head.

She can tell them apart – oh dear.

 

The Empire Strikes Back March 25, 2013

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:50 am
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Here’s an intriguing problem.

My daughter, courtesy of my wife, is bi-lingual. She speaks French and English fluently. Being bi-lingual is not uncommon in Hong Kong, where a large percentage of children speak 2, or even 3 languages. But this is not about that, I just like to throw that in to simply boast about my little girl and my amazing wife, this is about Missy in tears on the way to school recently.

I was walking along with her, and we were chatting away. Important things occupied us that day, such as – how come ice melts in the sun? And why aren’t buses painted pink? In short, the big issues.

Suddenly, Missy gets a little teary, so I picked her up as we walked along. “What’s the matter, my princess?” I enquired, giving her a reassuring cuddle.

“I don’t want to go to a French school.”

“Really?” I was a bit perplexed, as she adores her teacher and usually loves going.

“Why not?”

“I want to speak Japanese”.

OK… so… where did that come from??

We don’t have any Japanese friends. Sure, we’ve been to Japan, but Missy was a one-year-old and could barely speak any language then. So what prompted her suddenly wanting to ‘speak’ Japanese?

Who knows how little minds work? She was convinced a while ago that apples might kill her, or so it seamed. Then one day, she calmly picked up a slice, and away she went. We had a tantrum last week – because her dress didn’t “twirl” sufficiently when she spun around. “I’m not like a princess”, she wailed. You got that right, girl.

Later, my wife and I had a chat about her sudden yearning to embrace all that is Nippon, you know the conversations you have: realizing this is a serious concern for a 3.5 year-old, but unable to discuss it without hysterical laughter. Japanese?!? We think it might stem from her favourite boy at school; a pleasant little chap whose mother is Korean. Possibly, Missy had just confused the language when this lady talks to her son before class.

But be that as it may, that morning, poor old single-lingual dad (despite the best efforts of my French teacher) had to reach deep down to find a Japanese word to placate Missy.

“Kon-ichi-wa” I pronounced poorly, but proudly. “I think it means hello”.

The crisis was averted. We got to school.

“Bonjour Missy”, her teacher said as we walked in.

“Konichiwa”, came the solemn reply. Missy’s teacher looked at me; I shrugged.

“C’est la vie”.

 

“Go to the Naughty Corner!” March 18, 2013

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 9:01 am
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It’s an exclamation many parents have uttered, shouted, hissed through gritted teeth or even commanded, Moses like – to their children.

So what do you do when your child says it to you?

I admit; I was a little naughty. Drinking from the carton, licking my knife, leaving dirty clothes on the floor, putting my feet on the coffee table. Yep, I probably did deserve a bit of reflection time in the corner.

But should my 3 year-old be allowed to administer justice?

Apparently, she thinks so. At her pre-school, her teacher had a little word with us recently. Now firstly, my little cherub is a true believer in following the rules. That’s a good thing. Sure she is as naughty as any kid her age, but she honestly prefers, at least at school, to do what the teacher asks. I will qualify that – because with me, she much prefers to do the opposite of what I ask.

The problem lay here: In her class there are several boys. If you have boys, you will know this: Boys like to be naughty. They like to run around and see just how many things they can break. That’s not a criticism – as an adult boy, I’m the same. It’s most interesting to know whether that square peg can, in fact, make it into that round hole if you hammer hard enough, and it’s fun to see what happens when two things are banged together, repeatedly.

Missy’s problem is she tries to get the boys to stop being naughty. She somehow got the impression she had been anointed the class sheriff. This occasionally involved manhandling the little lads to get them to behave. Not a good idea on many levels.

Firstly Missy is no wrestler, and little boys, especially 3 year-old ones, are tough. They are use to rough and tumble. They don’t think a perfect afternoon involves pretend tea and pretty dresses.  For them, the perfect afternoon involves running at full speed and crashing into something.

Secondly, she is – much to her disappointment – not the sheriff. Classroom discipline is not in her job description.

But like most things, after we sat her down and explained it was not her affair, she reluctantly accepted that the teacher was in charge, and little girls are not dispensers’ of justice.

So it all ended reasonably well. Missy was relieved of her self-imposed title of class gendarme before any damage was done, or any of the boys thumped her (truly, a remarkable level of tolerance from them, I might add).

For me, however, some facts remain: It appears I am inherently naughty, and must still be sent to the corner, on a regular basis.

I hate having to sit on that little chair.

 

Nuggets, Sir?? March 11, 2013

There are many changes to your life when you have children. None of them will kill you, I promise. And there just isn’t anything that would cause me to reconsider bringing Missy into the world for a second, (well to be more accurate, idly standing by while my wife spent 38 hours bringing her into the world). That’s primarily because my daughter gives me such a face widening, eye sparkling, hoot of a time. There is nothing she could say or do that could possibly change that.  (Check back in 15 years when she dents my car, for an update on that statement.)

And besides the joy bit, having a little person around gives me the perfect opportunity to order and eat kids meals.

I mean, who doesn’t just love a chicken nugget? When you’re an adult, it’s not the done thing to go out to dinner and order what you genuinely want.

“The Duck à l’Orange my darling? Wonderful choice. I think I’ll have a glass of Beaujolais and the fish fingers and chips.”

With a child in the picture, I can go out, order Missy the macaroni & cheese (maybe without the Beaujolais) – and appropriately grimace when she leaves most of it for me to eat. My outward angst hiding my internal pleasure – “yahoooo! Leftover mac and cheese!”

So having children has its ups and downs. Sure, sleeping 8 hours a night is a distant memory, as is travelling without 60 kg of luggage, (1kg kindly reserved for me). But then there is the patter of little feet at 7am…and a little kiss to wake up to. Opening my eyes, a bright eyed 3 foot tall person is gently stroking my face.

“Good morning Daddy”.

“Good morning my Princess. How would you like mini hamburgers for lunch?

(Disclaimer: Aforementioned morning that sounds like a ‘Sound of Music’ moment – has actually happened just once; generally wake up time at our house is much closer to the Omaha Beach scene from ‘Saving Private Ryan’).

 

Sick children February 25, 2013

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 4:21 am
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Apart from an adult male with a dose of “Man-Flu”, there is nothing more taxing on a family than a sick child.  Mums usually bear the brunt of any household malady, primarily due to the pleasing evolutionary twist that sick children only want their mummies. This dates back to early Cro-Magnon days when ill youngsters were much safer staying in the cave with mum than tramping around the savannah with dad – while he searched for alcoholic berries.

Now days of course, the drive thru bottle shop has replaced a lot of the tramping and savannah issues. But regardless, sick kids are just safer with their mums. Ladies, evolution doesn’t lie.

This inalienable fact certainly does not, however, stop me, and most fathers, from interfering. Men are fixers. “Problem with the dishwasher, Darling? Let me just get the hammer out”. I’m not suggesting I actually fix things, but I like to pretend I can. So generally, when appliances break, my wife immediately dials the repairman.

“Well, water isn’t draining, and there’s a large hole in the panel door…..yes, it’s about the size of a hammer…”

Sometimes I try to fix my wife’s lousy day.

“Hard day with Missy, Darling? What you need is beer and a DVD. How does ‘We Were Soldiers’ sound? And while your up, I’ll have a beer too, thanks. Now, what’s for dinner?”

So when Missy gets sick, which is thankfully not particularly often, my wife circles the wagons. She has thermometers and elixirs to hand – entertains and cuddles Missy when she needs full attention and leaves her be when she needs to vent her sickly frustration or just wants some alone time.

I usually wander in, try to tickle Missy when she is angry, ignore her when she is fragile, and talk incessantly to her while Cinderella is on the TV. Think of me as the spanner, and my household as the works. I suspect many dads are in the same boat here.

Sick kiddies are delicate and must be handled in a similar fashion to a freshly dug-up grenade – i.e. VERY carefully.  Generally, mums are just better at it. (I will make an exception here for stay-at-home-dads). So next time Missy is sick, I think I will come home – and interfere.

Men don’t learn Ladies; we are the product of millions of years of evolution. Just accept it.

 

If it Looks Like Poo, and Smells Like Poo: Chances Are: It Is Poo. February 18, 2013

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 4:36 am
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For the purpose of this post, “#1” will signify wee, (or “pee” if you’re American) and “#2” will signify poo. This is in keeping with international conventions and standards.

I know children who are potty trained at 2 years old, or even younger. My daughter is not amongst them.

I will qualify that statement, of course. After all, if she ever reads this when she is 20, (doubtful), I don’t want to traumatize her any more than simply being my daughter has already.

Missy is potty trained for #1’s. She has been for a while. Sure there is an occasional relapse, but the reality is, I can’t honestly say I haven’t had the occasional “slip-up”. (I blame beer).

It’s just #2’s. She just seems to like – for want of a better way of putting it – popping a poo out in a nappy.  As she only wears nappies at night, we have developed quite the night-time ritual.

Once ready for bed, my wife or I sit her down and explain all about “pooping in the potty”. She looks at us, nods in agreement, says she doesn’t have to go, gets into bed – and – pops one out in her nappy.  Granted she is quite good about telling us, and so we generally avoid any nappy leaking in the bed issues – and she keeps us on the hook by announcing “maybe tomorrow” she will come to the potty party, so to speak.

So is there a proper time kids should be toilet trained? In my opinion – not really. I do know from a relative who is a highly respected Obstetrician that toilet training girls too early, may lead to medical issues later in life. But be that as it may, as a layman, the issue for me is the typical one of fear. Fear my child is behind the curve in some way.

Over the 3 and-a-bit years of Missy’s life, I have (mostly) turned around my irrational angst and competitive parenting of the past. When she walked, talked and started using a fork, are all, I now know, irrelevant. Kids do things at their own speed. Some walk early, some talk late, some grow tall and some eat great. Oh the poetry of life. Well the amateur rhymes of life, at least.

So Missy likes to poo in a nappy – so what? If I could get someone to clean me up, I might be the same (note to wife: is the answer still no??).  All too soon, children grow up and enter a world where they are pushed and pulled in all directions. Their time as a “kid” is oh so short. Sure, you can’t have a 13 year-old walking around in a nappy, but for me, I am trying to be more aware of Missy’s age, and the appropriateness (or not) of imposing things on her that just don’t matter.

While it’s true I won’t be able to boastfully pull out pictures of toilet-accomplished poo’s from my wallet to show other parents (much to their relief), it’s a small price to pay for letting my little girl be…a little girl.

 

 
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