Snow Sunday

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Snow is a childs best friend. What’s not to like? You can throw it, roll in it and as my daughter has been doing eat it (at least she was until I told her that it was full of dog wee).
Our East London neighbourhood has this Sunday afternoon come alive with happy snow vibes. The local park was full of people running about laughing, throwing snowballs and making snowmen. The park was one big snowman gallery, there was probably 30 snowmen built or being built. From the very tiny to ones that were over 6 foot. Some people had got really arty, one group making a very complex family of snowmen. A snow cat, snow dog and a snowman or rather lady huge snowy boobs! It was like a busy snowman convention. Transient snowmen who may or maynot be there in the morning, weather dependent.

Snow brought smiles to the faces of almost everyone. The men made of snow were created and they themselves created conversation. Even hard-nosed walkers of pit-bull dogs couldn’t resist this snow like love in.
There was even a Bangladeshi tv station interviewing people in the park (updating Bengali relatives back home to what they’re missing)
Even now at 6pm as the snow still falls I can still hear children’s laughter on the street, it’s a lovely thing and certainly beats police sirens and helicopters with spotlights on.
When it comes to snow England may fall apart at the seams, cancelled flights, transport mayhem etc, but we certainly know how to play with it!

And after playing in the snow what better way to end the day than a lovely roast dinner whilst listening to Jarvis Cocker on 6 music (their Sunday line up is absolutely amazing, check it). Rose finally sat down to eat after a long tantrum and Theo scoffed the lot then dipped pork crackling in his milk before eating. Yum!

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Sexism today

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Finding my blogging voice could take some time so pls do hold tight. I’m still very new to this blogging world so my page doesn’t yet look how i’d like it to, i.e a bit rubbish. And as I know virutally nothing about SEO etc, hardly anyone is reading. I may as well stop writing now, but onward I shall march
The toddler daughter was 3 years old last week. We had a lovely day with extended family at the museum of childhood in Bethnal Green which I thoroughly recommend . Being crap with birthdays, it’s taken me 3 years to actually remember her birth date. The various childrens groups we attend most days require a signature and childs d.o.b upon arrival. I was sure that a few funny looks was due to me always writing a different birth date for each child. Or at least that’s what I thought until the other day.

 

What occured in the doctors surgery made me think that perhaps the odd funny look I sometimes get is due to me being a man. My son Theo had his 12 month injections, the nurse said a friendly hello and give me a brief bit of ‘MMR’ chat.
The moment she said ‘Most children have it in the UK and America, basically all civilized countries’. I started to make a judgement on her general vibe. To continue her warmth she told me that perhaps I should phone the childrens mother and make sure it was ok to have the injection. Er, hello was I invisible or did I look under 18? Perhaps it was my pink converse and ripped jeans that made me look like a bit of a raggamuffin rude boy, irresponsible youth. But no actually it was simply because I was a guy.
“I probably wouldn’t have asked you that if you were a woman” The nurse said, probably noticing my thoughtful state.
Does any of this even matter? I’m not sure, but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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The Wind In The Willows lunchtime drama

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“Don’t lick the table!” I whispered with the firmest tone I could muster.
When it comes to visiting friends or relatives with children in tow I’m always slightly on edge. You pray that they’ll be on their best behaviour, not break anything, say or do anything inappropriate and not make too much racket. In reality I’m asking them not to be children for the duration of our visit.
You want to respect your guests house and I suppose deep down you don’t want people to assume that you’re a rubbish parent doing a terrible job.
When we visit people who have young children I’m slightly more relaxed because we’re comrades, brothers and sisters, members of a secret mason like society with secret handshakes.
Visiting older relatives not use to young children is another matter. They enjoy a quiet, peaceful and tidy life. I’m on my toes from the moment I walk through their door. I literally follow my kids around their house picking up things the moment they hit the floor.

We’ve just returned from an overnight stay with some dear relatives amazing people but fall into the above category. The last time we stayed my daughter refused to speak to anybody the whole time, holding her toddler mood firm. Not even the offer of chocolate cake could coax her out of the intense mood trance.
So when she actually started to make conversation with our hosts a few hours after arriving I was over the moon! My son had a milk spillage over dinner, but apart from that all was frighteningly smooth.
To make matters even more content at 6.30pm my daughter tells me that she is ready for bed. She never goes to sleep this early, so I was waiting for the catch, but there was none. I took her up, read a bedtime story and within minutes she was out for the count. Theo went down a few hours later and they both slept peacefully through the night.
It was so smooth that I wasn’t at all surprised to find myself faced with a lunchtime incident the following day.
We’d taken the children to see a ‘Wind in the Willows’ exhibition and decided to have lunch at the museum. The kids loved the exhibition and the delight on their faces on discovering badgers in waistcoats was priceless.

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Once in the cafe, my daughter asked to go in a high-chair then demanded out once in it, she then changed her mind once more, firmly stating that she definitely wanted in (it was like some sort of boardroom takeover discussion). But then her foot got stuck in the bottom of the chair, que loud screeching which led to raised eyebrows and disapproving looks throughout the room (always just what you need in these type of situation).
When everybody had settled down with lunch placed before them, Rose decided that she wanted to eat a packet of crisps and nothing else would suffice.
“Come on Rose, your brother is eating his lunch, it looks really yummy.” I pleaded.
“No, don’t like it, I want crisps.”
The conversation stayed on this theme for a few minutes as I tried to stay calm. My calmness disappeared when she threw herself underneath the table whilst flapping her arms and legs about like a parrot having an epileptic fit.
During the whole time I was more than aware of the busy lunchtime hum around me. I felt personally responsible for ruining peoples lunches and felt like going up to each and every person to apologise for the mini drama. I could also tell them that she’s usually a brilliant toddler and that I’m an ok dad.
“Here you go then, here’s the crisps”. I told her firmly. My discipline was a complete joke really as I’d done everything that they say not to, i.e. give in to your childs demands, bribe them with junk food.
Rubbish parenting, I put my hands up, i’m guilty as charged.
I could’ve gone down a different route but that lunchtime I took the easy way out for a peaceful lunch.
What would you’ve done?

I’ve got 99 problems but a city ain’t 1.

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The question ‘Should we leave London?’ arose soon after the arrival of our daughter Rose.  When Theo came the answer seemed obvious.  Of course we have to leave London.   It’s not a good place for children everybody told us.  Children need fields to run around, fresh air etc.  Then there was the crime, overcrowding and lets not even get started on schools.
The panic set in like a Daily Mail reader worrying about immigrants ‘taking our jobs’.  If we stayed in London would our kids end up knife fighting at weekends and rioting during the week?  There was concern.
After the initial panic we sat down, took a deep breath and tried to think things through in a calm and level headed manner.  Why did we come to London in the first place?  Would the way it’s enriched our lives do the same for our children?  Can children and cities co-exist positively?

Upon arriving in London I was immediately blinded by it’s colour and audacity.  A hectic metropolis full of bright lights and shiny takeaway joints. Dixy, Tennessee and Kennedy fried chicken all battling out for business.
I’d never imagined that such a multi-cultural place existed.  I was suddenly surrounded by people of every shade, creed and nationality.  New types of people, language and colour gradually created through an unforseen social experiment.
Global minds, local souls.

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In our area we’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to toddler groups. Each day there’s a different type of group in the morning and afternoon.  Music, sport, play, art etc etc and all free!  The children get to play with children from an array of different cultural / religious backgrounds, all the kids having the time of their lives.

Margaret Thatcher famously said that there was no such thing as society.  She was wrong.  Whether you live in North, South, East or West we are all in a sprawling, filthy, difficult, wondrous mess together, our place, our messed up, vibrant society.  A metropolis made up of a collection of villages, yet joined unusually like Siamese twins who share their vital organs but have different personalities.  The difference between places is amazing, Chiswick has a notably different character than Wood Green and Hoxton is definitely not Peckham.  But difference breeds familiarity.  The Edgware road runs about ten miles from Mable Arch to Edgware, centre to suburbs, connecting three boroughs, and at least 20 identifiable ethnic communities, but it’s all London and we are all Londoners.  Nobody thinks of himself or herself as a Hackneyite etc you live in London, regardless of place, you’re a Londoner, you belong even if only on a temporary basis.  Don’t misunderstand me, in many ways I love Devon (where I’m from), but I’m personally more suited to a place that’s got hundreds of languages, just as many cuisine’s, and probably more problems.

If we were to move for the sake of our children they’d probably move back as soon as they were old enough anyway!
Although after saying all of this, it looks like we are going to sell up and move from Zone 2 to Zone 4 which is almost suburban living.  This isn’t out of choice but rather what can we get for our $.
Of course it’s all about personal choice, perhaps by writing this i’m trying to convince myself that i’m making the correct decision.  City living with children will bring up many challenges such as the school issue but we’ll deal with them as they arise and as long as the kids are happy it’s all good.

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Don’t be a dummy

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I’ve always held a strong anti dummy / pacifier stance. I couldn’t stand seeing a baby with its mouth filled full of neon plastic. Lazy parenting was my assumption.
Several reports conclude that they can cause delayed speech as well as dental problems.
But alas, viewpoints can and do change. I suppose now I should include myself in that lazy parent group.

Our daughter Rose escaped the strong pull of the pacifier. She almost joined the ranks of addicts but as much as her mother begged / moaned, I held strong. The heaviest temptation was always around the 4am mark when the baby had been crying for a couple of hours and we both held clumps of hair in our hands, along with bloodshot eyes. But regardless of a few nights like this, we eventually came through unscathed until it ceased being an issue.
Theo was a completely different kettle of fish. Unlike Rose who like her namesake was full of gentle sweetness regarding settling down and sleeping. Poor Theo often had a hard time getting himself fully relaxed.
We tried everything, gentle singing, stories, dim lights, rocking him etc etc. In the end after a particularly difficult night it was decided that we’d try out a dummy / pacifier.
Of course Theo embraced it like a long lost brother. The immediate delight was a little scary!

We have rules though. He is only allowed to use it when we put him down to sleep. It’s kept in a little box beside the bed and tempting as it sometimes is, it’s never used for any other purpose. Now instead of crying for what seems like hours, we put him down with the dummy in his mouth. The result is instant quiet and calm. His face is blissful. I can’t help thinking that this is much better for him than all that time spent stressed out refusing to go down. Or perhaps i’m using this viewpoint to justify my dummy u-turn?

The time has now come for him to move on, give up the dummy and kick the habit. Do we make him go cold turkey or slowly wean him off (maybe give it to him only for the night sleep?). Apparently its much easier to wean them off a pacifier than it is their own thumb. This is great news because I use to have a real bad thumb sucking addiction when i was a young child (along with a rag I use to carry around which i named ‘Goo-Ga’) but that’s a completely different story.

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New years eve to seagulls in one swoop

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This is my first ever post in my first ever blog. Last night whilst thinking about starting a blog, millions of words anxiously begged to be let out. Now finally ready to write, they’ve made a hasty retreat back into the depths of safety.

I’ll put finger to keyboard and see where it leads.

New years eve has come and gone and for the second year running i awoke on new years day with no hangover.  Gone are the days when new years eve consisted of doing a gig, drinking as much as possible, doing another then going on to an after party in a dark, smoky warehouse dancing till dawn.  On the plus side there’s no waking up full of remorse and regret.

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Hangovers and children are not a good mix and never will be.  Luckily this year I got offered an early gig (8pm-11pm) which was ideal.  Vicki came to meet me with a couple of friends and come 12 o’clock we were out on the street looking at Big Ben and the wonderful fireworks.  They lit up the sky like Baghdad and left a smell like a smouldering match factory.  We might’ve stayed in the venue where i was djing, but after my last tune which was Ray Charles’s ‘i’ve got a woman’ the next DJ started straying into David Guetta territory which was our cue to leave.

After toasting the new year with a bottle of champange drunk out of plastic cups we headed to Ronnie Scotts jazz club where a friend of ours and were treated to complimentary entry n drinks.

We were back home by about 4am which for NYE is very sensible.

We enjoyed a relaxing late breakfast before picking up the kids from their Uncle and Aunts house.

So today is day one, back to reality after the Xmas break.  Vicki was back to work and I was back to trying to keep kaos to a minimum.  I’ve already forgot to re book Theo’s injections but we did manage to get to the library and returned the late books.  The Twinkle Twinkle book along with the TV remote went AWOL for many weeks but mysteriously reappeared just before i was about to throw in the towel and admit all the library lady.

Tomorrow we’re going to feed the ducks along the canal.  There’s a huge mound of uneaten bread feastering away in the bread bin which we need to get rid of before the mould takes over the kitchen.  Unfortunately the ducks territory has been overtaken by millions of seagulls.  Like the urban fox, they’ve sussed out that life in London is easy pickings.

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