ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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A tale of two Mondays

For several years now I have had one day per week when I have looked after the boys. This is, firstly, so I can spend more time with them, and, secondly, to help Karen to get some work done (she has a weekday with them, too). Since we have moved house two things have changed, I have moved the day from Friday to Monday, and I now just have Sam for most of the day since Jake has started school. The last two Mondays could not have been more different.

The first Monday was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to take Sam on a long walk exploring the local countryside. It was an amazing day exploring new footpaths and looking at lots of great things on the way. The route that I had chosen followed a river and we had great fun looking at the water, and what was in it. Part of the way followed not one but two train lines, so Sam had a whale of a time looking for trains, shrieking with delight when one went past, something that involved much waving. We encountered a heard of cows, and Sam tried to count them and made mooing noises. We sang endless verses of ‘Wheels on the Bus’, ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’, and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Sam spent some time looking at the books we had brought along, and playing with the few toys he had chosen to bring with him.

After a while he fell asleep and I had a quiet coffee beside a lake before heading off again. Once he woke up we went into the city on the tram (something he loves) where he entertained some of the other passengers with his antics. We had lunch in a cafe where he was entertaining me with his cheeky smile, and we then went home on the train; which he waved off at our local station and was very happy to get a wave and a toot back from the driver.

Contrast this with the following Monday. For a start the weather could not have been more different. It was sheeting down with rain and was due to do so all day. Rather than get cabin fever in the house I thought it would be a good idea to drive to one of Sam’s favourite museums. The motorway was terrible with massive amounts of spray coming off the cars and lorries, and it was not long before we began to get warning signs of trouble ahead. So we got off the motorway and tried to get to the museum using back roads. A bit annoying, but Sam fell asleep and all seemed well. Suddenly there was a loud vomiting noise from the back seat followed by a cry and a little voice saying “Daddy. Weetabix.”. At that very moment I joined a traffic jam on a road with high hedges and nowhere to stop with poor Sam in the back continuing to be sick.

When I finally did manage to stop, with the rain still pouring down there was certainly more than Weetabix in Sam’s lap. I managed to get him out of his car seat and plonked him on the ground, forgetting that he had taken his shoes off earlier. So there he was crying away covered in sick from neck to toe standing in a puddle with no shoes on, in what I realised was the car park of a well known baby product warehouse (oh the irony). Not my finest parenting moment, but surely that was as bad as it would get.

It seemed so as I quickly went about changing him and getting him warm and dry so that I could then clean his car seat. It was at that moment that I realised that there were no wipes in the changing bag. After a short period of swearing under my breath (we ALWAYS have wipes in the changing bag) I cleaned things up as much as I could with Sam’s dirty clothes, popped him in Jake’s car seat and headed off for a covered car park where I could get us sorted out more and try to exorcise some of the smell from the inside of the car, the museum trip well and truly abandoned.

While perhaps at the extremes, these were two not untypical days in the life of a parent, and I have certainly found that life has become less predictable since I became a Dad. With children life is rarely dull, and requires me to find new ways of doing things, develop new skills, and makes me more resourceful.

Looking back now, both days were special in their own way, and were certainly memorable. Let’s see what next Monday brings, but I have to get the smell of last Monday out of my nose first.


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Road Trip

I’ve been away this week, hence the absence of blog posts (no internet connection – I know how did I cope?). I’ve been with the family up at my late Father’s house sorting furniture for our own house move next month (and more on this at a later date). This required that I hire a van to bring the stuff back.

I love driving vans, there’s something about being higher up than most other road users that I find quite compelling: you can see more of the world around you, and you get a better view of the traffic. This was not the case on the way there, however, as I drove through a huge thunderstorm coming over the Pennine Hills, but I was certainly glad to have the van as most car drivers had to stop, so fierce was the weather.

The journey back was a much more sedate affair and I really enjoyed driving along with Jake in the cab beside me. He was very excited to be there and on the way we had a few chats about a drawing of a pirate ship that I’d done for him earlier in the day (I needed to add a plank), and about what he was going to do when he got home (get his kite out), before he drifted off to sleep.

As my mind wandered a little I began to think about the reason I enjoy these road trips so much. When I was a boy my Dad had a job as a lorry driver, delivering oil and petrol around the North West of England and North Wales. Every now and again during the school holidays he would take me out in the lorry delivering to great places such as airports, factories, hospitals and hotels. These places also seemed huge and endlessly fascinating to an eight year old, especially as I got to see the parts of them that most people didn’t get to see: the boiler rooms, loading bays, and control towers. I thought that my Dad had the best job in the world.

But it was not the destinations that stayed in my mind the most, nor the great views over the hedgerows, not even the brilliant lorries that he used to drive (and I can close my eyes and still see the inside of many of the cabs). Rather it was the little adventures and encounters we had on the way, at transport cafes, with employees at the places he delivered to, and when we occasionally broke down – we once brought an entire town to a standstill. It was a glimpse into a completely different world, my Dad’s world, a grown up world, a world that seemed so alien and far away.

So I completely understood why Jake was so excited to come into the van with me today, and I hope that (before he went to sleep) he has taken some memories that will stay with him for many years to come. Let’s hope that there are many more trips that he and Sam will take with us that will leave their indelible mark on them, and help them to get to know more about the world around them.