Ready, steady, ride…

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 22.00.19

I wonder what your very first memory is. Various moments of my early life are there in my mind, albeit rather vaguely: I remember visiting Mrs Bell’s sweet shop at the end of our road when I was a toddler, and shouting “bananas!” really loudly with my grandmother when we walked under the railway bridge on the way to the park.  But the one, single moment that really sticks out is the day we moved house, when I was three, to the place where my parents have now lived for nearly 30 years.

It was there that I grew up, climbing the apple tree, playing football (very badly) and exploring in the woods. And it was just outside that house that I vividly remember learning to ride my bike without stabilisers. I can recall the smell, the sights, the reassuring presence of my dad by my side, as if it were yesterday. There he was, pretending to hold the back of the saddle until that moment when I realised that, yes, I was indeed riding on my own – all the way to the gate at the bottom of the lane.

This week, my children are staying with my mum and dad, while my wife and I are at opposite ends of the country. Today, in the very same summer sunshine that accompanied my first ever bike ride in 1988, and with the same man by his side, my little boy also rode free for the first time.

Somehow, nearly 30 years have passed since my dad jogged by my side, encouraging me with his enthusiastic words – and ensuring I didn’t career head-first into a hedge. He’s now speaking those same words of encouragement to his grandson, and my son will no doubt grow up with this memory etched firmly on his mind, just like his dad did.

Looking at my boy beaming with pride as he realises what he’s achieved, it’s only natural to feel that our kids really do grow up too fast. But sometimes, it also feels like we do, too.

The passage of time…

photo

“You do realise there are only 21 weeks until we start playing Christmas carols on the radio, don’t you?” So said a colleague of mine other day, much to the consternation of everyone else in the office.

The passage of time is something I’ve been reflecting on recently: next week, I’ll have been working at my company for ten years – and shortly after, it’s my ninth wedding anniversary (mental note to self: your dad’s decision to buy your mum a bumper roll of cling film as a gift is not an example that should ever be followed). But the thing that’s really made me feel old is the fact that tomorrow, my son celebrates his sixth birthday.

Exactly six years ago to the minute, my wife and I were sitting in our little one-bedroomed flat, trying to decide whether or not to go into hospital again. Mrs J had already been in labour for about twelve hours; we’d made a trip to St. George’s in Tooting once already but instead of being told to push, my wife was instructed simply to go back home and have a bath. Nearly 24 hours after that, our son finally arrived into the world; a tiny, fragile, beautiful little baby whose existence changed the shape of our family forever.

Fast forward on to today, and this little bundle of vulnerability has become a football-playing, practical joke-making, inquisitive boy, who recently wrote on his school report that his target for next year is “to persevere with difficult things a bit more” (I don’t think I could even spell persevere correctly until I was doing my GCSEs). My son is closer to being in double figures than he is to the day of his birth – and, without wanting to wish his childhood away, I’d imagine his teenage years will be here quicker than you can say “it’s SO unfair, Dad” and slam the door behind you in a fit of misunderstood angst.

I hope I get the privilege of seeing my boy celebrate a great many more birthdays. But no matter how old he gets, there’ll always be a part of me that still thinks of him as that 8-pounds-and-12-ounces new creation, blinking at his first experience of daylight and calmly lying on his mum’s chest, starting to take stock of the world around him.

Happy birthday, lad. You’re going to have a great time being six, and I’m going to keep on having even more fun being your dad. Just don’t get any older too quickly.

Waiting for my Wotsits…

Peter Rabbit

Here’s a universal truth about parenting, which I was reminded of last night: when you have young children and you’re in a rush, your kids will nearly always choose that moment to ask you seemingly inane questions, complain that they need the toilet, or find some other way of making you late for whatever you were planning to do. But the other thing that was also brought home to me yesterday is this: the experience of being delayed by young children should be cherished, even if it drives you completely mad at the time.

Last night, I arrived home with rather a lot on my mind. This weekend is my busiest time of the year at work (if one more person asks me what I’m doing for the “Easter break”, I think I might hit them) and although I was really pleased to see my three kids before they went to bed, I was also tired, hungry and, let’s be honest, a little bit irritable. As I walked through the door, my eldest two greeted me like I’d just returned from fighting a war, which immediately improved my mood; but still, I was quite keen to crack on with their bedtime routine and get them off to sleep quickly.

While my wife was settling our youngest, I set about reading a story to the other two. I rattled through it fairly quickly, even missing out some of the pages without the kids noticing. After all, I figured, we’d read Fireman Sam’s Christmas Adventure hundreds of times before – and I’m so bored of it now. Then came the time to tuck them both in. As far as I was concerned, I’d be downstairs within a few minutes, cracking open a beer and munching my way through the half-eaten packet of Wotsits I’d spied when I arrived home. The reality, however, was rather different.

In recent months, my five-year-old son has developed an evermore complex bedtime routine. At the tender age of three, the only teddy he ever wanted to take to bed with him was Rabs (our rather ‘street’ name for Peter Rabbit). Now, however, there’s a whole extended family of fluffy toys that have to be individually put in his bed, tucked in, and kissed goodnight. As he placed each teddy in a very exacting and meticulous way, so I became increasingly infuriated about how long it was taking.

I internalised my frustration as best I could – but when, after 10 minutes of this charade, it then transpired that Rabs was missing, I felt a completely disproportionate sense of annoyance. Thankfully, I still managed to keep this mainly hidden from view, all the time reminding myself that it really wasn’t a big issue to wait another 10 minutes for my bottle of Peroni and slightly stale crisps.

Eventually, it was time to give my son and daughter a kiss goodnight, and turn out the light. As I leant over his bunk bed, my little boy gave me a huge hug, looked me in the eyes and asked with absolute sincerity: “Dad, will you still love me – even when I’m a grown up?”

At that moment, I was very powerfully reminded of the fact that our kids’ childhoods really are very precious. I should treasure the innocence of my five-year-old – a boy who is only content at bedtime when he knows his teddies are happy, and who quizzically wonders whether his dad will stop loving him the minute he turns 18 (I’m sure there’ll be moments in his teenage years when I’ll want to momentarily imprison him, but my love for him will always remain constant). In a few short years, the teddies will be discarded, the goodnight kiss will be replaced by a mumbled “night”, and Fireman Sam’s Christmas Adventure won’t even make it off the bookshelf in December. So, for now, I need to remember to take life at my children’s pace, and not wish away their early years.

The only thing I am going to insist on, though, is that no one ever buys any of my children another teddy or cuddly toy. From my perspective, Rabs and his mates are more than enough to contend with already – and in future, I really don’t want to have to wait any longer for my Wotsits.

World “AARGH, how do you make a prince costume?” Day

World Book Day

Last week, I made a new discovery: as a parent, there are few things that can strike fear into your inner being so much as the phrase “World Book Day”.  All across the land, dads and mums were busy trying to enact minor miracles with old bed sheets, charity shop discoveries and PVA glue, as the dreaded day loomed.

For a five-year-old, going to school dressed as your favourite character is a lovely idea.  In theory, that is.  With us parents, though, it’s an entirely different story: when you’ve been at work all day and you’re still up at midnight piecing together a Gruffalo costume, the appeal of World Book Day is far from obvious.

Our son was very clear about what he wanted to be: a “really cool prince”, complete with a red sash.  Relatively simple – or so we thought.  However, we hadn’t bargained on the fact that this outfit apparently needed to be a carbon copy of the one worn by “the prince at school” – who, after considerable interrogation, turned out to be a character in a cartoon his class had watched recently.  Our little boy was very exacting in his demands, and we were left in no doubt that if we created something sub-standard, it would be an unmitigated disaster.

My wife set about making the costume in question: the sewing machine was duly brought down from the loft (we have a sewing machine?  Who knew?), various items of clothing were cut into pieces, and in the early hours of the morning the task was finished.  Or so we thought.

As we wandered up to bed, it was time for that lovely nightly ritual of tucking the kids in and giving them a kiss goodnight.  It’s always my favourite time of the day: even if bathtime and bedtime have been a disastrous combination of misbehaviour, tears and tantrums, when my children are asleep they cannot fail to look anything other than absolutely angelic.  As I rearranged our eldest daughter’s duvet and snuggled her up with her teddies, so my wife tucked our son in and whispered “love you; night night”.  All was calm, all was still – until he sat bolt upright in his bed, looked her straight in the eyes and exclaimed: “is my costume done?  You know, REALLY done, with a sword and everything?”

A sword?  We hadn’t realised he needed a sword.  So, the following morning, having set the alarm extra-early, I found myself at our kitchen table surrounded by various cereal boxes, a roll of tin foil and some Sellotape which would only come off in tiny strands.  The pressure I felt was nothing short of immense: never mind the meeting with four senior colleagues at work later that morning; this was the moment that really mattered.  I kept calm, though, and before long had managed to create this:

Costume

My son went out the door very happily, and loved every minute of this special day.  His school was relatively relaxed about it, too: I’m personally relieved that our son’s teacher refuses to give out a Best Dressed Child award for World Book Day.  It’s stressful enough as it is, without the added pressure of having to create something prizewinning.

As for next year, I’m already gearing myself up for a challenge.  Upon seeing her brother in all his finery, our three-year-old – who starts school in September – declared: “when I’m in Year R, I’m going to dress up as James and the Giant Peach.”  Looks like we might be keeping that sewing machine out for the long-term…

Diary of a Desperate Dad: The Book

New year's resolutions

I’ve never been one to go in for new year’s resolutions: primarily because I’m quite lazy, but also because I like the idea of doing good things on impulse, rather than setting a series of annual challenges which will almost certainly result in despondency by 1st February.  At the end of 2012, however, I broke with tradition and wrote myself a list of targets I wanted to achieve during the following 12 months.  It read like this:

  1. Join gym (might be too expensive?  If so, go for a run once a week)
  2. Cook more stuff from scratch (N.B. fresh stuff with veg)
  3. Write a book?

I’ve utterly failed with Number 1: we’ve now lived in our village for well over two years and I still haven’t unpacked the box with my trainers in.  Number 2 has been an ever-so-slight success, if you can count the time I made a really weird vegetable soup with a mixture of parsnips, green beans and parsley.  And as for Number 3, well, against all the odds, I’m astonished to say that over a year after setting myself the goal of writing a book, I’ve actually gone and done it.

The question mark surrounding this particular resolution was included because ironically, I thought it would be the least achievable one.  But over a glass of wine with a publisher friend of mine one evening, I found myself discussing parenting books – specifically, the fact that the only ‘dad books’ I’d ever read all came from the ‘Woah! Your missus is pregnant and you’re going to have a child and now you can’t get bladdered!’ perspective.  Pretty tedious, given that most dads-to-be aren’t like that at all.  Her response?  “You should try writing the book you wish had been around when you were about to become a dad.”  So, never one to disobey orders, I did exactly that.

Fast forward on to today, and I’m both surprised and delighted that this is now a reality:

Book

Diary of a Desperate Dad, published by Elliott and Thompson, documents what it’s really like to be a parent to three little people.  There are absolutely no expert tips here; after all, I’m blagging my way through this crazy parenting journey just as much as everyone else.  And anyway, the idea of ‘parenting experts’ is a slightly dubious one: do you know of anyone who would describe their mum or dad as an ‘expert parent’?

In the book, there’s a chapter on how to prepare for fatherhood, as well as one on what to do when your partner goes into labour.  After that, you’ll find a section focusing on the kinds of things you can expect from your newborn in those early days.  This isn’t just a book about pregnancy and childbirth, though: there are chapters on The Daily Grind (how do you cope with life now that it’s impossible to go to the toilet on your own, and your shoulder permanently smells of baby sick?), another called I’m Going to Count to Three (what’s the deal with disciplining children?), and then the one my wife is particularly delighted I’ve written: No Sex Please, We’re Parents.

The book is based on this blog – and if you have a few quid to spare you can pre-order it in all the usual places, or read more about it here:

http://eandtbooks.com/news/diary-desperate-dad-top-london-blog-1392810615

It’s a (hopefully) uplifting, realistic and honest guide to life as a dad by someone who, just like you, is muddling on through, hasn’t had a proper night’s sleep since about 1984, and still can’t get the buggy to steer in the right direction when he’s in a hurry.

Which century are we in exactly?

Cinderella

With the exception of the rail replacement bus service that greeted my return to work, I had quite a good day today.  I left the house with a spring in my step, actually enjoyed being back in the office, and was treated to a hero’s welcome from my three kids when I eventually made it home tonight.  But since then, everything’s gone downhill – and it’s all thanks to the discovery of this:

Sports Direct

What you see there, ladies and gentlemen, is an item that, according to The Sun’s Deputy Political Editor, Steve Hawkes (@steve_hawkes), is apparently on sale in Sports Direct.  Because as we all know, in 21st century Britain it’s entirely appropriate to tell our daughters that a dustpan and brush is for girls.  It would be be silly to dream that my two daughters might one day become actors, or doctors, or butchers or bakers or candlestick makers if that’s really what they had their hearts set upon.  Instead, I should just take them down to Sports Direct, point at what’s on display, and explain that, you know, dreams are all very well for boys, but the best they can hope for is to one day reach the lofty status of a modern-day Cinderella.

I can already hear the cries of “you’re overreacting” – but am I?  In a world where we already know that girls are so often at a disadvantage, and that boys’ views of them are tainted by all sorts of unhelpful imagery and everyday sexism, why on earth are some people buying this stuff?

The myth of a ‘perfect family Christmas’…

Keep calm

“Snow is falling, all around us.”  Well, it’s not, is it?  Let’s be honest: it never, EVER snows at Christmas.

“Children playing, having fun.”  Really?  Two of mine have spent this week being sick, and the other one is fretting about the fact that he might not remember his lines in the school nativity play tomorrow.

“Tis the season, for love and understanding.”  Or, to be more accurate, the season for being in the office till late, wondering how on earth you’re going to get everything finished.  And when it comes to ‘understanding’ within a family, that’s easier said than done.  I’m still not convinced my gran has forgiven me for failing to pay in the £10 cheque she sent me in June.

The more Christmas looms, the more I realise my own inadequacies as a parent.  Every film, TV programme and advert paints an idyllic picture of family life – but behind closed doors, there’s a baby trying to climb inside the dishwasher, a 3-year-old who thinks it would be a great idea to draw a Christmas tree on the kitchen cupboard, and a 5-year-old who’s so worried about delivering the line “We’re going to Bethlehem”, you’d think he was auditioning for RADA (to be fair, he’s obviously VERY talented, having beaten every other boy in his class to the role of Joseph.  And no, I’m not competitive at all).

This is our first Christmas with three children – and to be honest, if we can get to the big day without having some kind of meltdown, it’ll be a miracle on a par with the virgin birth.  In a moment of madness, no doubt brought about by a sleepless night, we thought it would be a good idea to host ten adults on Christmas Day.  We’d just about got our heads round what we were cooking (answer: turkey, and lots of it) when my dad phoned with a classic question:

“I’ve been thinking…”, he rather ominously announced.  “Are we having turkey on Christmas Day?”

I confirmed his suspicions.

“Do you think we should have duck as well?”

Clearly not.

“I’d quite like duck.”

That’s nice.  But you’re not having duck.  We don’t have room in the oven for a duck.

“No problem.  Tell you what, I’ll just part-cook it at home, then we can finish it off in your oven when we arrive.  Everyone else can have turkey, and I’ll have my own little plate of duck.”

YOU’RE NOT HAVING DUCK.

All this is exacerbated by the fact that in my day job, Christmas is the most manic time of the year.  There are seemingly endless carol concerts to attend and special programmes to make, all of which result in even less time than usual to write cards or buy presents.  Yesterday, we reached the low point of running out of toilet roll – so frankly, I’m not sure how we can be expected to write loving messages to our nearest and dearest when we don’t even have the ability to defecate with dignity.

I’ve decided: in our house, we’re not going to try to live up to some unachievable festive ideal.  Apologies in advance, but we won’t be sending any Christmas cards (except to my gran, to thank her for that ten quid in the summer).  We will see no shame in cooking stuff out of a packet, and if we manage to get out of our pyjamas by midday during the holidays, we’ll consider it a bonus.  And while the world around us insists this coming weekend should be about “feeding the cake” (IT’S NOT A MAMMAL) and making your own Christmas wreath, I’m going to escape to Paris for two nights with my wife, to celebrate her 30th birthday in the presence of ABSOLUTELY NO CHILDREN WHATSOEVER (well, none of our own, at least).

Given that we’re going to Paris, I might even pick up a confit de canard for my dad.  He can have it on Boxing Day.

The truth about cowboys…

The Magnificent Seven

My little boy, who still seems very little to me, is now in Year 1 at school.  I still find this hard to believe: the memory of squeamishly cutting the cord when he was born is there in my mind, ever present, as if it happened only yesterday.  Can he really be five years old already?

As our kids grow up, us parents have to permanently adjust to new situations: there’s the whole ‘THEY CAN EAT SOLIDS!’ and ‘THEY CAN POO IN THE POTTY!’ stuff, which is either deliriously exciting or rather tedious depending on your point of view – and then, when they get a little older, we have to deal with the practice of letting go and allowing other adults to also shape our little ones’ lives and experiences.

I tend to take a fairly relaxed view of this kind of thing, figuring that it’s a good idea for my children to be influenced by other, more responsible adults than me.  Admittedly, when my own dad encouraged my son to light the fireworks on Bonfire Night I was slightly more protective than usual (I know what my own father can be like with his attitude to safety: this was the man who once left the cover off the cesspit, which certainly didn’t amuse my mum when she fell straight into it and was left clinging to the vegetable patch in order to avoid getting completely submerged) but on the whole, I like to see my children learning from other adults.

This is never more the case that when it comes to my son’s experience at school.  It’s been great to hear about the ways in which he’s learning about the world, and to occasionally be able to watch him discovering something completely new myself (although I fear he still hasn’t got over his encounter with Neanderthal Woman at the National History Museum):

NHM

I did, however, have mild cause for concern recently when it came to the subject of his education.  Flicking through what was on television on Sunday afternoon, I came across The Magnificent Seven – a sure-fire hit for a five-year-old boy.  He gleefully watched the cowboys on-screen and, a moment later, some rather evil-looking men appeared, brandishing guns.

 “I know who they are, Dad,” my son confidently declared. 

I let him explain… 

“THEY…are the Catholics.”

I was sure I must have misheard him.  Nope…

“The Catholics, Dad.  They’ve got guns.”

What had his teachers been telling him?  I needed to know more about my five-year-old’s unfounded religious bigotry.  Tempted as I was to call his mum into the room to continue the conversation from hereon in, I thought I should bite the bullet (if you’ll pardon the pun).  

“That’s interesting.  Why do you think they’re Catholics?”

“Because they’ve got guns and they’re going to kill the king.”

After a little more gentle questioning, it transpired that his class had been learning about the Gunpowder Plot at school.  The men on the screen had guns.  Therefore, they must be Catholics.  End of story.  Life really is wonderfully simple when you’re only five years old.

We talked about cowboys for a bit, and about Catholics for a little longer.  My boy now knows they’re not necessarily one and the same.  So, the lady he spends six hours a day with every weekday is not, on closer examination, teaching him anything fundamentally intolerant – which is a relief, to be honest, because we’ve only got 10 minutes with her at parents’ evening next week, and that really wouldn’t be long enough to discuss our son’s spelling test AND her views on inciting religious hatred. 

Oh, to be a pensioner…

Old woman

It would be fair to say that there’s not a lot in common between my octogenarian grandmother and my three-year-old daughter – but they do share some similarities, mainly by virtue of how old they both are.  Have you ever noticed how only the very old and the very young feel the need to tell you their exact age  (“I’m eighty four!”, “I’m three–and–three–quarters!”, and the like)?  Those at the extremes of the age spectrum can also get away with being extremely rude to other people, given that it can supposedly be explained away by the fact that they’re either past the point of no return or have yet to understand how they should behave.  Never more so than with food: they have no qualms about being really fussy about what they will or won’t eat, and nor are they afraid of telling whoever’s cooked it that it’s a bit dry/cold/hot/not as good as the one someone else makes.

I was pondering all this the other day, thinking about what age is the best to be, EVER.  I’m quite looking forward to being a pensioner, for all the reasons outlined above; however, whilst I’m sure there are many advantages to being a lairy old man, I reckon life really doesn’t get much better than when you’re aged three – especially if, as in the case with our three-year-old, your older brother is also your best mate.

We have three kids, the youngest of whom is frankly so smiley and easy we’re very glad we had her last, otherwise she’d have lulled us into a totally false sense of security before any siblings came on the scene.  But, for all the sleepless nights and general chaos caused by our first two so far in their little lives, I wouldn’t change it for a moment.  And now that they’re a little older, it’s amazing to see their friendship and closeness together grow stronger and stronger.  Our three-year-old looks up to her big brother like he’s some kind of superhero, and he completely adores her.

Happy kids

Is it always this way, though?  NO CHANCE.

Despite the fact that they’re best buddies, and we have all sorts of photos which perpetuate the fallacy that our home is a permanently harmonious one, the reality is often rather different.

We now live in a world where the impression we give of our own parenting to everyone else is an increasingly sanitised one.  In the 1980s, the done thing was to take a few photos of your family, put them in an album, and leave it on the shelf somewhere to gather dust (my mum also kept my umbilical cord in a photo album, but I suspect that would never be classed as normal behaviour, no matter what the decade).  Nowadays, everyone’s Facebooking and Instagramming pictures of their happy children, with nostalgic hues of colour around the borders of the photos to give them a feel of some idyllic snapshot of a bygone age.  A quick scroll through my Facebook news feed reveals babies sleeping soundly, siblings sat eating ice cream together, and glorious family walks in the autumn sunshine.  Everyone’s smiling, everyone’s happy, every parent seems to want to give you the impression that it’s all rose-tinted and glass-half-full where they are.  All of which can make you feel completely inadequate when your children have begun the day by refusing to wear any underwear or threatening to flush their sibling’s favourite teddy down the toilet.

Young kids – or at least, the young kids who live in my house – regularly fight, bicker and cause all sorts of ridiculous arguments over something you or I would describe as completely inconsequential.  Nevertheless, I’m left in no doubt that there are an awful lot of benefits to being little.  That sweet spot between toddler age and going to school is a particularly wonderful time: no responsibilities, days filled with fun and, in the case of my middle one, a big brother who, most of the time at least, loves to keep her entertained.

What’s more, when it all gets a bit too much, it’s entirely acceptable for a three-year-old to go and have some time out in the laundry basket – something I think those of us who are a little older wouldn’t object to doing, either, given half the chance…

M

What’s in a name?

Road Rage

For the last few weeks, I’m pretty sure that about 70% of my conversations with my eldest two kids have revolved around names.  In particular, not calling other people names that are completely inappropriate.  This ranges from their descriptions of me (as my two-year-old calls out “have a good day at work, Farty Pants!” every single morning, I can only be thankful that we’re not anywhere public) through to how they talk about other relatives (“Grandad’s a scallywag”, “Hello Mr Underpants” – you get the picture).

It’s a tough one, this: you want your kids to have fun and be able to mess around, but when their primary name for you is inspired by flatulence you know you need to start to draw some boundaries.  The problem, of course – as with all aspects of parenting – is that you have to practise what you preach.  There’s no point doing the pious get-down-on-their-level-and-explain-what’s-right-and-wrong thing unless they then look at you and then see someone who’s a model of manners and respect.

Most of the time, I like to think I’m a relatively polite and friendly individual, not particularly prone to anger or inappropriate language.  Note my use of the word ‘Most’.  Today was one of those exceptions to the norm…

Everything was going so well: as a family, we were being gloriously antisocial, hanging out together and doing all sorts of fun Saturday morning activities – pottering about, sorting the garden, that kind of thing.  Me and the eldest two headed off to the dump at one point, and even the struggle to get a cumbersome piece of old furniture out of the car on my own didn’t dampen my spirits.  The drive home was sunny, there was the smell of summer in the air, and everyone seemed to be very glass-half-full about life.  Everyone except the old man in the car behind us…

As we arrived home, he hooted his horn.  And then, in very quick succession, he did it again.  And again.  All because I was reversing into our drive, and he wanted to get past.  Shaking his wizened fist at me, and with the look of a villain from a Roald Dahl story, he instantly managed to fire up a torrent of anger and indignance within me.

I couldn’t quite believe he was getting cross about the fact that I’d arrived at my destination (what did he expect me to do?  Continue to wherever he was going and park just in front of his chosen space?) and I’m not proud of the behaviour that followed.  Although I am quite proud of the fact that I only swore under my breath.

The main issue in all this is that the kids rejoiced in telling their mum about “that STUPID IDIOT” on the drive home.  In a remarkable show of memory, they happily relayed every single one of my descriptions of the septuagenarian road-rager, before going on to tell me how it wasn’t really nice to say nasty things about other people or call them names.  Well, quite.

I guess it’s not all bad: after all, it’s surely important for your kids to see you arguing occasionally, or getting cross, or not doing the right thing.  Just as they’re learning about the world around them as they grow up, so we’re learning how to parent as we go along – and it’s healthy for them to know we’re not perfect.

Whether or not it’s healthy for my two-year-old to now know the phrase “silly arse” is another question altogether…

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