ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


Leave a comment

New blog post – Parents of our time

Childhood does not last forever, so I should be enjoying the boys now.

http://www.changingdad.com/parents-of-our-time/

As many of you may know my ChangingDad blog had moved from WordPress onto another site, but with the same changingdad.com url. This will mean that the updates and notifications that you have signed up for will not automatically go out, although I will be posting links out from here for a while.

I hope that you will continue to enjoy my blog in its new place, and if you would like to get notifications in future you can follow me on:

Twitter – @changingdad

or

http://www.facebook.com/changingdad

I really enjoy writing my blog, and I hope that you will continue to enjoy it.

Thanks and best wishes

Simon


Leave a comment

A Short Song About Death

 

One of the strategies that we have employed to try to avoid bedtime shenanigans is to get the boys to sing their own songs in bed rather than us singing to them. This is because our singing seemed to have become something of a catalyst for boisterousness, perhaps it is a commentary on the standard of our singing.

Anyway getting the boys to sing their own songs seems to settle them better and, quite unexpectedly, gave us an insight into what was on their mind. We get to hear about what they have done during the day, and in Sam’s case who he has been playing with at nursery. What we had not bargained for was Jake’s meditation on family and death, which went something like this:

We are family and we’re very happy

We love doing things together

Daddy is the oldest and Mummy is next

So Daddy will die first, and then Mummy next

And then Sam and me will have to look after each other.

As you can imagine Karen and me were a little bit stunned by this diversion from what Jake had had for school dinner, and we quickly moved to say that we hoped that it would be a long time before this happened so Jake and Sam would be old enough to look after each other and themselves.

I knew that children, and if reports are correct, especially boys have a particular interest in death, but this caught me off guard completely; and also brought up all sorts of emotions.

You will notice from the song that we were at first very taken by Jake’s lines about being a family and doing things together. I thought it was lovely that he showed his feelings in this way through words that would suggest that he is very content with family life, and it really told me that Karen and me must be doing something right to instil those feelings in him.

The next bit tells me that he does understand the concept of death, something that he probably took from the death of my father two years ago when Jake was just four. He understands that when you die you are not around anymore, but not in a particularly sad or negative way, probably because although I mourned my father’s passing, his death did not have a significant impact on family life.

So while Jake clearly has some anxiety about Karen and me not being around to look after Sam and him, the way he sang the song suggested that he was not too aware of what it would be like should we not be around anymore. Or was he linking the two parts of the song together, saying that if we are not around to look after them we would not be a happy family any more? I have only just realised this as I write, and wished I could have asked him at the time.

What it certainly did make me think of at the time was about both my own mortality and my role as a father, and how different our family would be if any one of us was to not be around. It made me realise how important we all are to our family dynamic, and how quickly and how massively the boys have had an impact on my life.

Meanwhile I, in return, have had to go through a huge amount of change in realising my role as a father, and Jake’s song made me realise what an impact I have on their lives; what a big part I have in bringing them up – a huge responsibility.

Like most of the revelations that I talk about in this blog this one seems to be pretty obvious when I think about it, yet it is far from so when one gets lost in the day to day maelstrom of family life; and it takes a short five line song from my five year old to help me see my situation in a new way.


Leave a comment

Post-holiday blues or the start of something big?

DSC_1026

We have just come back from two weeks’ holiday and it is safe to say that we all had a great time. This was confirmed to me when the boys, and especially Jake, were acting very strangely on the way home. It took some time to find out why this was, but Jake eventually told us that he was sad that our holiday was over.

This made me both happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it showed that he had really enjoyed himself, but sad because it took me back to the great holidays I recall from my own childhood. This is because Jake’s reaction reminded me of my own, perhaps when I was a little older, response of being really upset in the car on the way back and having a little cry to myself when we got home. I had my own pang of sadness this week when I saw the familiar streets, buildings and buses around our home. It suddenly hit me that we were not away any more.

For me, and clearly Jake too, there is something very special about being away from home in an environment that is different from that we experience everyday; it somehow removes us from the stresses and strains of everyday life especially if, as I did (well most of the time), we switch of the data roaming and resist the temptation to go online. It marks a freedom from our normal daily lives.

That is perhaps why coming back home is so hard no matter how good our daily lives might be. Jake and me seem not to be alone in this as the BBC recently reported on the things we like least about coming back off holiday. We find that we somehow want to maintain the holiday spell and not see it disappear into the past.

This is perhaps particularly the case this year when the weather has been so good, and the summer has been more like those that we tend to remember from our own childhood. True I do remember sitting in a static caravan, rain pouring down the windows and playing board games to pass the time. More often, though, I remember days on the beach, swimming in the sea, walks through sunlit woods and bright promenades, melting ice cream and ‘helping’ with the harvest on my Uncle’s farm. I remember the sort of summer we had this year.

DSC_1202

Having time away also allows us to reflect about those things that we do and do not like about our lives. Can we make our daily lives more like those we spent on holiday, or at least carry something over from our break? Do we want to find a new job? Could we be spending more time with our families like we did over the summer? Or does that thought just fill us with dread? Did we not get a break yet really need one?

Whatever the answers to these questions, for me this is a more significant time for change and potential that in the New Year. Our children move on, whether it is to a new class, new school, on to University or into the employment market; and there is a sense of possibility and of making a new start. As parents this may mean some adjustments too, but perhaps it is also time to grasp the nettle and make more significant changes while our batteries are recharged and our resilience is higher.

DSC_1066

As for Jake, one week on he is already planning next year’s holiday by pouring over the map from the theme park we went to this summer, seeing what new vistas a growth spurt will open up; and he is now very excited about going back to school in Year 1. Sam too is looking forward a new year in the top class at nursery. For them change cannot come quickly enough.