Being a dad

Books, Men from the Boys by Tony Parsons Part Two

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So, as you may have seen, I finally read through the third Harry Silver book by Tony Parson. The first was good, but provoked emotions in me whilst the second felt far weaker. This one I didn’t expect to be as good as the first but I hoped for some improvement.

Harry Silver is now happy, he has his three kids, wife and a good job and all seems to be going well. Of course, in typical fashion this cannot last and things start to derail. His ex wife reappears, he loses his job and a distance starts to open up between himself and his wife as he spends more and more time with a friend of his deceased fathers.

This all felt like the standard plot of the other books, things are going well, something goes wrong and he does something stupid. Then he gets petty and selfish and things get worse before something wakes him up and the book ends happily. 

This one was no different really, with the same predictable elements occurring in order, however this added the irritation of following an argument, key event or major thing with a ‘some weeks later’ section, skipping out all that came before.

The best thing about these books is that they provoke a response in me, this is normally frustration, anger or apathy but it gets me thinking either way. This book didn’t have much of that: there were a few moments that I noted to write about but in skimming back over them it wasn’t enough to be worth the effort of expanding upon.

 
This was the only one and actually makes a lot do sense. As a ‘stepdad’ of a girl who barely sees her real dad I can certainly empathise with the suggestion blood has little to do with it. Of course that should be the case, it’s not the ability to create a child but the ability to be there and support one as he/she grows and develops. Unfortunately the main character spends the rest of the book contradicting this thought as he jealously guards his son from everyone and gets more jealous about his stepdaughters occasional time with her biological father. He also completely ignores the moment his wife suggests the same thing about his son, making him seem all the more selfish.

So overall the book was a letdown. The old men weren’t needed and the plot mostly stayed the same as previous books, with some of the same storylines repeated. It felt as though it were an unnecessary addition printed solely for the money and with no real story to tell- and certainly nothing to add to what’s gone before

 

 

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Life, eye injury part one

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so, Iv spent the last week and a bit minus an eye, and goodness hasn’t it been tough.

On Monday morning the boys flailing arms hit my face and his thumbnail caught my eye. The immediate pain suggested something was wrong and after a short time of being unable to open the eye, and the other closing in sympathy it was into the car to casualty to get it looked at. As expected the eye was scratched, the doctor telling me it was a deep gouge in the centre of my eyeline. Dosed up on codeine and ibuprofen I went home and felt sorry for myself for the day. Unable to read, watch TV, use anything bright I was bored and grumpy and fed up. 

Tuesday was more of the same- except that I had to clean the house ahead of the landlords visiting to inspect the apple trees. I was back in hospital that evening for the optometrist to take a look, at which point ‘deep gouge’ became ‘severe corneal abrasion.’ Because of the depth of the cut my eye was severely swollen and vision reduced to effectively nothing. 

At both appointments the doctor said “I’m going to put these drops in, it’ll sting for a moment but trust me it’s worth it.” My god, I have never heard such truer words; as the Oxycodone the sting was incredible, but nothing compared to the feeling of relief as suddenly all the pain was gone. The downside being the itching as it wore off.

Dosed up now on a dilating fluid (paralysing the pupil), antibiotics and the painkillers I was promised it would heal, but I could expect more pain as it did. Lovely.

A few days of feeling sorry for myself and the worry started to set in. My vision was still non existent out of the right eye and the worry that it would never return was nagging at me. Not being able to drive didn’t help as I got an insight into life as a partially sighted man. My time was spent wondering how I’d cope without an eye and whether I could do any of the things I’d normally want to do. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant couple of days.

Writers block 

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so, it’s happening again; Iv got writers block, the blog posts I have planned haven’t changed in a few weeks (maybe months) as most of them are personal posts that I just haven’t got to yet. I’m beginning to doubt some of them will ever get written.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, perhaps if I haven’t got the motivation/ inclination/ ability to write them then the reason for planning to write them isn’t there anymore- hopefully for a good reason. The issue is of course what if the reason I haven’t/ can’t/ won’t write these posts is that the underlying reason for planning the post has moved beyond my conscious thought to a deeper more damaging level. Perhaps I’m becoming neurotic.

My personalities definitely changed, I’m less relaxed and calm on a day to day basis, I get frustrated more easily and my brain seems to fog over at time when previously it would have done its weird thing and kept me functioning. Of course tiredness comes into this- I haven’t had a decent nights sleep in years (part and parcel of being a parent). Early wake ups are a regular occurrence and daytime naps are a long forgotten student luxury. I could go to bed early yet my brain won’t allow it; Rox goes to bed between 9-10:30 on a normal day (abnormal days far earlier, game of thrones days later) and it should be easy to go with her and drop off, yet by that point Iv spent so much time watching kids TV or playing with toys that I need some time to myself to reestablish some balance. This means 11, 12, 1 o’clock I’m into bed knowing full well by six I’ll be up again. And that’s assuming no nighttime wake ups from the kids- and occasionally Rox.

My patience, calm, logical behaviour has been completely distorted by having children around, there is no patient time, no calm time, no logical action beyond a child’s warped logic. It’s become apparent that my brain is not compatible with having children, all of the required planning whilst allowing for complete spontaneity and chaos is a complete shift away from anything I have ever done. Even now I know I’m trying to create a suitable analogy yet I just can’t find one, my time in various retail jobs should be an easy point of reference but the spontaneity is accounted for, the chaos doesn’t happen beyond anticipated ‘busy periods.’ It just doesn’t fit. What makes it harder is the shifts- there are no warning signs for an increase/ decrease in activity- it just happens.

At this point I have nothing else to write. That writers block kicking in midway through a thought process. Funnily enough this is another issue Iv been having- attention span. Iv started and not finished books, blog posts, painting projects. I’ll be sat watching TV and feeling agitated and with a need to move. I leave the room and look in the fridge ‘just in case’ some exciting new food has materialised.

Yep, maybe you see the problem.
So let me know- what do YOU want me to write about? Comment with a topic and we’ll see if we can kickstart my writing.

Life, more late night waffling emergency services

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so, I’m sat here again at the top of the stairs because the boys not sleeping. I just came home from my gaming club to find Rox doubled up in tears and in pain due to stabbing pains in her side and chest. A quick call to the utterly pointless 111 service and an out of hours doctor is going to call us back. 

“I know it hurts but I have to ask, have you been to West Africa recently?”

“Sob, cry sniffle”

“Is that a yes or a no?”

I get the idea behind the service, it’s there to avoid clogging up the 999 call centres with non emergency calls, an excellent idea. Except nobody seems to be able to determine what constitutes a ‘non emergency’ call. Leaving it to the entirely subjective callers is pointless, anyone worried about a loved one is going to be more inclined to call the emergency services ‘just in case’ and who can blame them? The staff in the 111 call centres can’t be trusted to get it right,  if they don’t recommend an ambulance, or a recall to 999 and the patient suffers complications then there’s a compensation claim on its way. And all the leaflets iv seen that attempt to clarify the difference between an emergency and a ‘non emergency’ seem to rely on the patient having a medical background and being able to diagnose themselves

Broken leg? 999

Sprained ankle? Doctors or 111

Well what about the broken legs that feel fine at the moment but tomorrow you’re going to wake up black and blue?

In the last few months we’ve called the 111 service three times (and 999 no times) 

– once because Myles’ fingernail bed was swollen and we thought he’d shut it in a door. Get to A and E right away

– once because Myles woke with a temperature of 42 Centigrade. Doctor out right away

– and now. Doctor coming to see you (even though the pain has now passed)

Conversations with anyone else who have used the service suggest the same thing. Anecdotally, from our time in Cardiff we know the ambulance service was under more pressure because of ‘precautionary’ action by the 111 team than before it existed.

I’m not sure what the benefit is, the staff are date collectors, they aren’t medical professionals. And why the need to two numbers, why not just invest the same money in increasing the 999 call centre staff numbers? You’ll end up with as many staff as currently, but all calls and actions will be centralised. It also prevents the possibility that a percieved ‘non emergency’ becomes more serious due to the delays in getting the correct services in the correct places.

Oh, and I’m not say on the landing for fun, all the excitement has disturbed the boy and he’s going through a weird seperation anxiety thing meaning I have to sit here until he’s asleep or he’ll start screaming. Not that iv got anything better to do whilst I wait for the out of hours doctor to come, poke Rox a bit and say “make an appointment with your GP and if it gets worse beforehand call us.”

Pointless.

Is baa baa (insert colour here) sheep more offensive than black?

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So, the other day Myles came home from nursery singing. It was a nursery rhyme I’m familiar with from my childhood- it’s amazing just how many nursery rhymes I don’t/didn’t know.

Baa baa white sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes sir, yes sir,

Three bags full, 

One for the master, one for the dame

And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Wait a minute.

Myles what was that song? He sings it again, this time with a blue sheep.

Seriously? I’d heard the rumours over the years that the use of the word black in the rhyme had been deemed offensive and so would be changed but ignored it as Daily Mail fearmomgering. Apparently I was wrong; a quick google revealed its now considered to be baa baa rainbow sheep with the colour changing from song to song with little importance. Now, on the face of it it isn’t that big a deal, it exposes children to more expression and helps with colours etc etc (plus adds a little variety- a godsend when singing nursery rhymes with children).

Further googling (and a little Wikipedia reading) revealed that the links between the rhyme and slavery are largely imagined by retrospective analysis- the taxation within the wool trade in the 1700s seemingly more likely. This was a revelation to me, I’d always been under the impression that it was a slavery related rhyme (I may have to check some other rhymes of dubious content) but that simply makes the whole idea of changing the word black to alternates.

When the suggestion was that the word black was changed to remove the slavery connotations it was at least suggestive of some consideration by someone somewhere (misguided though it may have been). Having said that, I don’t feel there’s any reason for a black person to be ashamed of slavery (as a white person with no links to slavery that’s probably easy to say). On top of that surely it’s more offensive to pretend it never happene by opening up a full spectrum of colours of sheep- made all the more ridiculous by the fact sheep are white, brown or black (I’m not aware of blue, pink or yellow).

Removing the innacurate slavery links it’s simply a black sheep- it happens to be black. Should the word ‘black’ be removed from everyday usage? No of course it shouldn’t. The rhyme has been around along time (with many evolutions along the way) and when it originated I doubt any thought was put into colour- certainly not bright rainbow colours.

Holiday in cardiff last day burgers and hoagies

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Day one here

Day two here

Day three here

Day four here

so, last day in Cardiff and after a slightly noisier night from the rooms around us I wake up leisurely and potter about with starting a new book and doing a monstrous poo after yesterday’s food. 

Just as I finish packing the suitcase rox wakes and we get sorted to head out for lunch. After seemingly wandering for hours through ‘just this one shop’ we finally got to urban tap house- a fairly new micro brewery burger place- which offers a new special burger every Thursday.

I had the special 

  

Sundried tomato and black olive chicken with chorizo Mayo and Cajun red pepper wings. It was really good.

Rox had The Big Welsh

 

Beef with Caerphilly cheese and leeks.

And she was pleased to discover the side of onion rings with big ones (she hates small ones)

 

 

I also managed to try a missed ale from Monday (still about fifteen I missed), the Cwtch.

  

Next up the long drive home, though actually it was clear all the way and we made it home whilst the kids were still out with my mum, giving us a good few minutes to settle in.

They arrived and we had a couple of hours of chaos as the excitement at seeing daddyn(and mummy) bubbled over.

Bedtime done, tidying done and a sit down to my last cardiff treat. Picked up this morning from New York Deli- the White House Special Hoagie

 

A footlong roll filled to the brim with chicken, pastrami, salami, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, gherkins and a spicy sauce. This one doesn’t offer salad because there just isn’t enough room for any. I’ve eaten the lot and now feel stuffed.

Beds next… 

 

Being a dad, a late night ramble

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So, it’s 2am and I’m awake. Iv been awake pretty much since midnight. There was a time of course when this would be bedtime, if I was even back yet from whichever club or pub or party I was drowning my liver in.

Now of course I’m a parent things are different, I can’t be out like that because I have neither the funds nor the energy, plus the kids need looked after too. When I look back at the late nights and the drinking to excess I wonder where the energy came from. The truth is it didn’t, I’d be home at three, four o’clock and then sleep until lunch time, or on the days I was able to crawl out of bed for uni (or work) I’d have a catch up day of rest at some point. But now of course the sleeping in is our- a daughter who insists on waking between six and seven and waking her neither prevents that. As for ‘rest’ days it’s never going to happen. 

So why am I up? And why was I up several times last night, and several the night before? The boy. Something has changed and it doesn’t feel like a positive change.

He’s clingy, and he seems to have developed separation anxiety. So now at bedtime we have screams, if he wakes up at night we have screams. No longer will he play independently in a separate room, he instead follows me around like a lost dog, whining if I try to leave him somewhere or having a tantrum if close a stair gate with him on the other side.

The days are hard, I can’t even move out of his field of vision without a whine or a “daddy wait” and because he’s so tired he’s got no patience (he isn’t the only one) so tantrums and tears are more frequent. But the real issue is the nights, such as now; I’m sat in the doorway of our room because it’s the furthest I can get away from Myles before the screaming and shouting starts. He’s led there now with his eyes open, just watching me. If I move amy further away he’ll be at his gate screaming. And this has become the norm this last week.

Iv been tired before, very tired. But this is a whole new level of torture, broken fractured sleep, early mornings, days completely bereft of a moments space or peace have left me here feeling fairly hopeless and on the edge of exhaustion.

I’m not alone of course, Rox was awake for an hour of the time tonight. She has work tomorrow so she’s asleep again now, though due to her issues she’ll be just as tired. It’d be really easy (and sometimes is) to be frustrated at her tiredness, she sleeps longer and deeper than I do, she falls to sleep more easily, she naps more, she gets more lie ins (a particular bone of contention) partly because she just doesn’t wake up and partly because habitually i get up and sort the kids. Add into this the reduced wakings by the children due to the depth of her sleep and really there’s no reason at all for her to be tired. Aside from the fact she has physical issues that make her more tired, she’s always been a sleepy person and her bodies become used to regular napping.

She does what she can, although tomorrow at 830 she’ll be out the door to work and free from the whining and tears (although as a dental hygienist maybe not).

For now, the boys staring at me, I’m stuck here, cold exhausted and uncomfortable and I just don’t know what to do next. If I move he starts crying and we start the process again, if I stay here I may just lose my mind. It reminds me of a time when I was working nights at Sainsbury’s, I’d been doing overtime so was tired, and every night had been the same- working the same stock onto the same shelves whilst the day staff had seemingly done somewhere between nothing and everything they could to make my job harder.

I picked a box from the cage, found its shelf space and sat on the floor to put it out. On emptying the box I had a moment where my head emptied and i thought to myself “I could just stay here, not get up again and refuse to move.” I then proceeded to sit there for some time in an essentially black state of mind. It’s probably the closest insight Iv had into how a mental breakdown can occur. That’s pretty much how I feel now, I’m sat here, I’m tired, and there’s little to no chance of me moving anytime soon (more by necessity currently). 

So what can I do about it? Well actually very little. The internets full of ‘wisdom’ and ‘advice’ on dealing with the separation anxiety but it’s either crap, unreasonable or lots of words essentially meaning ‘suck it up.’ Im exhausted, and no doubt tomorrow night I will be even more exhausted.