Goodbye to a Family

So a couple of days ago, we sold great-grandma Jane’s old Astra.

In a donotreply email received from D.V.L.A. today, I read this:

I remember you walking round kicking my tyres, as if you knew what you were doing!

I remember how the two of you would always wait until the kids were asleep in the back, before you tucked into the crisps and sweets.

I remember you always tuned the radio to Magic FM, you old cheese-bag!

I remember how your daughters always reached their limit around Bristol and you’d have to sing Old MacDonald for another forty miles!

I remember an Aire south of Paris; giant wind-turbines silhouetted against a flaming sunset, and a fairytale playground, corralled by long-distance lorries, where the girls ran free while you searched for the bag with the pyjamas and sleepsuits in it. And I remember thinking: I’m a proper family car!

I loved every minute, even after I knew you were going to sell me.

Good luck and drive safely, wherever you’re going.

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Goodbye Astra

We now have a big brood, MsUrbanDaddy and I. And big broods don’t fit into small cars.

It’s time to move from old hatchback to slightly newer MPV. We have been to Estate-on-Thames and S-Max-minster but some good friends have pointed us towards Touran Town and, well, we like it there.

Anyway, I thought I’d better empty out the last few bits of our stuff from the old car and get it ready for sale.

Those ‘last few bits’ turned out to be:
1 UK road map
1 notepad
4 pens
3 sticker books
2 old CBeebies magazines
7 plastic balls
1 large bag of raisins
1 bag of jelly sweets
3 nappies (unused)
2 rolls of toilet paper
1 bottle junior Paracetamol
2 packets Ibuprofen
and the spare buggy

(Note-to-self: Keep the new car tidy).
(Note to note-to-self: Fat chance!)

So last week, a VW Touran arrived (thanks Justine!) and, this week, it’s goodbye Astra. Had some good times in that car. Hope its new owner enjoys the many thousands of miles it has left in it or, failing that, fills it with a better kind of clutter.

Goodbye Astra...

Goodbye Astra!

Why Do You Get Hair In Your Nose?

“Have you washed your hands?”
“Yes”.
“With soap?”

Without warning, two damp palms are thrust towards my nose. I smell them suspiciously.

“That one doesn’t smell of soap”.
“Daddy your nose isn’t very good at smelling. I think it’s because you get hay-fever. And because you have lots of hair in your nose”.

I am somewhat winded by my eldest daughter’s observation. She, naturally, is oblivious to this.

“Daddy why do you get hair in your nose?” It’s a question I’ve raised myself, in more plaintive moments.

“Just… Daddies sometimes have hair in their noses, petal”.

“Why?”

I fix my best rictus grin and hand her her junior toothbrush.

To have children is to subscribe to mild humiliation on a continuous basis. This much I know.

How I look to my daughter

How I look to my daughter

Get Busy

The eldest comes skipping out of pre-school, waving some pieces of paper at me. It’s a school portrait in which she’s braced, ram-rod straight, smiling a vaguely terrified smile, the way you might smile if your photographer were a 6-foot bunny rabbit with the voice of Timmy Mallett. The youngest takes advantage of my distraction and pulls the pic out my hand, into the buggy. She wants to look at it, which means chew it, obviously.

In the 25 minutes it takes us to make the 5 minute walk from school, we have a discussion about funerals , a low blood-sugar tantrum and countless gentle prompts on road safety that pass in, through and out the other side. One day the youngest, who routinely ignores everything I say, will learn how to ride a scooter properly. Then things will be interesting.

Actually, things are going to be interesting a lot sooner than that. Thins are re-emerging from the loft: a carrier seat; a Phil and Ted’s cocoon. And lots of very small clothes. We are about to get very busy in our house. I’ll enjoy these relaxed school runs while I can.

 

Dear Father Jack: A Poem for my Youngest Daughter

apple babyYou like to sing in your cot.
When you sleep, you sigh
You fall over a lot
you smile with your eyes
You like to wear your wellies even when we’re inside
And you are the apple of my eye

You leaped into my world with a Fosbury flop
caramel skin, loose-curls on top
a moment so magical I laughed as I cried
you are the apple of my eye

You shout mono-syllables; a mini Father Jack
It’s fair to say that patience is the virtue that you lack
yet when we meet new people and you seem a bit shy
I know you’re the apple of my eye

I love to watch you, when you let your heart shine through
like when your sister sneezes and you’re off to get tissues or
when you stand by the stair-gate and wave me bye-bye
You are the apple of my eye

Big sis’ gets attention of a slightly different kind
perhaps because she comes out with all the funny lines
But know I love you equally, a love with no divide
you two, are the apple of my eye

Your sister had to learn how to share us with you
but sharing us is all you’ve known, it’s really nothing new, so
next year, when we hope to be a family of five
You’ll know you’re all the apples of my eye

So sing your heart out in your cot
keep snoozing with a sigh
(maybe don’t trip up so much, I hate to see you cry)
but keep your smile
and know my love is bigger than the sky
And you are the apple of my eye

Hello, I’m the Urban Daddy (no, the other one).

Okay, I’m the other, other one…

My name’s Nev, I live in London (no, the other one, in England) and I mostly blog about the astonishing variety of rings that my children run around me. If you’ve arrived at my blog from Freshly Pressed, you’re probably expecting me to understand hockey. I will let you down.

Still, I’ve written a few posts now, so, while you’re here, feel free to make a brew and have a look through. And if you want dad musings with at least the possibility of ice hockey talk, you can find the wonderful, Toronto-based Urban Daddy here.

The AntI-KEA

Kurtz contemplates another afternoon of furniture shopping

Kurtz contemplates another afternoon of furniture shopping

IKEA.

Strange, isn’t it? That so few letters can contain so much dread. Still, I have to go. And I decide to take the kids with me. It’s a weekday lunchtime, I reason to myself. It’ll probably be empty.

The gigantic twin chimneys loom into view from Purley Way, each tower shrink-wrapped at its tip in brand-loyal blue and yellow plastic, incongruous as a sweat-band on the head of the Sphinx.

Once part of Croydon Power Station, these vast relics of our industrial age give the appearance of having been tricked into their current role; targeted in some super-scaled, Dadaist prank. It takes over an hour to get from the car park to the Showroom. This is because:

  • IKEA is busy (so much for weekday lunchtime emptiness)
  • The girls need to eat first
  • Mealtimes mean mutiny

I’ve had a belly full long before lunch finishes. I am tempted to cut my losses, record a verdict of misadventure on the whole business and head home, but then I’d only have to come back. I resolve to stay loyal to the nightmare of my choice.

And so it starts – The Great Meandering. Lounges… Sofas… Bunk beds…

Bunk beds? I came for a curtain rail – why the hell am I looking at bunk beds? IKEA does this to you.

Home office… Storage solutions…

People.

Endless suburban herds shuffling around oxbow bends banked by furniture and home-ware, disoriented; distracted. Shuffle, stop, blink, talk a bit, shuffle on, upriver. A staff member offers me a shortcut and I’m at the bunk beds again. This does nothing for my state of mind.

The great herd keeps on shuffling, dazed. Bedroom… Bathroom… Kitchen… Marketplace. Stop. Graze. Move on. It suddenly occurs to me that, despite driving me up the wall, my tired, stroppy children provide the afternoon’s only evidence of sanity. They screech. They wail. They resist. They do not do dazed, shuffling acquiescence, at least not unless there’s an ice cream in it. They are the antI-KEA.

Some time later, I talk to a woman in the queue at the check-out, while our children play together. She tells me she has spent nearly 3 hours there, buying some candles.