The Cynical Dad – Family

I look at my kids, tearing strips off each other, and I wonder how long it’s going to last.

Not this particular fight (where 2 are arguing over who kicked who first), but this phase of not being able to stand each other’s presence.

I cast my mind back to when I was growing up, fighting with my 3 sisters. God, we used to really go at each other, particularly those either side of me. I see the same pattern with my 3 – eldest and youngest get on OK but any other combination causes eruptions.

We would fight over all the usual things – invading ‘my space’ in the back of the car, someone setting foot in the wrong bedroom and the classic ‘she recorded over MY tape!’ (cassette or VHS, take your pick).

While the subject matter has changed over the years, the vitriol with which siblings attack each other hasn’t lessened. Again, I wonder when my sisters and I evolved from mortal enemies hating each other to actually wanting to spend time with each other.

I cannot stress enough the importance of family, especially when you have kids.

You rely heavily on your own parents for advice and babysitting. Both my mother and my mother in-law have always been there to provide relief and sanctuary, not to mention allow for the occasional night out.

And both my father and father in-law have become the stereotypical granddads; keenly interested in their grandsons’ sporting achievements, while doting on their granddaughters. My sisters have become more than friends – they are advisors and psychotherapists.

We all have friends we tell stuff to. And then we have close friends we tell difficult and personal things to. But with family – you can tell them all the really messed up shit.

And they generally won’t judge you for it. OK, they will, but they’ll still accept it and you and move on. OK, that’s partly because they have to, but mostly it’s because they’ve seen you at your best and at your worst; when you’ve been carefree, innocent and happy; and when you’ve been broken and at your lowest. Well my family has anyway.

I hope you’re lucky enough to have a family that’s been there for you too.

They say you don’t get to choose your family, and until I find a legal loophole proving otherwise, I’ll agree with that statement. But I also have to say I wouldn’t swap mine for a minute, even if the youngest is still spoiled…

 

The Cynical Dad – Never Work with Children or Animals

This past week brought a whole plethora of crap, so if it’s OK with everyone, I’m just going to have a bit of a rant.

Firstly, illness hit our house, quickly followed by bad parenting.

On Thursday, middle child awoke (was woken by me) saying he felt like he was going to get sick. After the holidays, travel, back to school, etc., I figured he was run down, so let him stay at home for the day. By the evening he was back to normal, so I said he’d be fine to go to school again Friday. Good parenting, right?

WRONG!

On Friday morning, said middle child was tired but OK, and so was packed off to school along with the youngest. Eldest said he was now feeling unwell, so he stayed home.

At the time I thought maybe he’d caught whatever middle child had the previous day. In hindsight, I think he may be due for an Oscar nomination.

Anyway, by 9 am I had 3 missed calls from the school and 1 from my mother telling me middle child had puked in school and had to come home. I went from great parent nursing 2 children back to health, to terrible parent duped by one child into a day off while sending the actually sick child to school!

The weekend was survived with no other major incidents. Monday morning rolled around again as it tends to do. After rousing the older 2 and leaving them to get ready for school, I awoke the smallest monster. I came back down to find middle child in tears, holding a now empty box of chocolates (“fancy” ones he got for Christmas).

Naturally eldest was accused (wouldn’t be the first time), but he vehemently denied it. On closer inspection, there were teeth marks in the box.

Now while I have often accused my children of being savages, I don’t think any of them are feral enough to open a box with their teeth.

Realisation dawned that the beloved dog had eaten 6 luxury chocolates during the night! A quick call to the vet meant a day sitting watching the dog for signs of a reaction (i.e. death!). The damn dog was fine and happy out with the attention!

To round off a crappy day, I had to attend the middle child’s Parent-Teacher meeting. Sitting in line time after time to be told, “He’s getting on fine, could work a little harder on the study”.

  1. I live with him – I know what he’s like.
  2. He’s in 1st year, what young lad at that age couldn’t study a bit harder?! They’ve been in school for 12 weeks!! How much damage/genius potential can they have shown in 12 weeks?!! Just tell me he’s grand and move it along. I know they have a job to do, but really, two and a half hours and I still didn’t meet all the teachers?!

So this morning I ended up cursing at a rabbit because it wouldn’t go back into its hutch while I was freezing in a mini-blizzard, all the while contemplating where I might get a “good” sieve.

I used to play in a band. I used to think I was cool. God, what happened?

I Won’t Say it Again!

I’ve heard tell of a woman who only says things once.

She has five kids and never repeats herself.

Imagine that?

I would pay money to actually see this legend of a woman in action, to sit in her house for the day taking notes. She could make a fortune running master classes!

Or maybe it’s just another urban myth. Like Bigfoot or the perfect family day out. Because honestly;

How is it possible?? I repeat the same damn phrases every damn day:

 

“Stop picking your nose”

“Please don’t feck your socks into the far corners of the room”

“Go back in, flush the loo and WASH YOUR HANDS!”

“Don’t take your hair down, it’ll get full of knots and you will scream the house down when I brush it out at bedtime” (queue screaming at bedtime)

“Stop touching the telly. Stop touching the telly. Stop touching the telly”

“Don’t stand on that, you’ll break it”

 

And every time I say “I won’t tell you again!”  we all know fine well I will in about five minutes.

IT’S EXHAUSTING.

But why are kids designed this way? Genuinely? Animals only need to be told a few times then they don’t repeat the behaviour. So why do our little humans just keep on doing it??

Some days ‘the eyebrow’ works but it can get very achey stuck in a high arch while your child stares at you figuring out the message you’re trying to convey as they lean over the arm of the couch eating a jam sandwich, standing on a toy and hitting their sister.

And then other days I get wholeheartedly sick of the sound of my own voice, like a broken record scratching over and over. I’m hoarse come bedtime after nagging and moaning all day.

Those days can break you.

I know a lot of parenting is ‘pick your battles’ but when it’s the basics like hygiene or not damaging their siblings, you can’t pick and choose; the shittier part of the job just has to be done.

Over,

and over,

and over.

(Until we manage to track down where that lady lives…)

The Cynical Dad – Questions

So, as parents, we generally lead our children to believe that we have all the answers (and yes, “Just coz!” counts as an answer).

But do we?

Let me help you out here – no. No we do not. In fact, I have many questions myself; some to do with parenting, some just general wonderingments.

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Please help a guy out and post some answers in the comments section below! Best answers WIN (my admiration).

How is it children, specifically teenage boys, who spend all their days pressing buttons on phones and Playstations cannot use the same movement to flush a toilet or turn off a light switch?

How often do children change their minds about the foods they like, and would they care to let us parents in on this schedule so we can adjust shopping and meals accordingly?

Are they programmed at birth to know when you are just starting to relax/go to the bathroom/have a shower?

And do they get together to synchronise and plan who’s going to interrupt with a ridiculous request next?

When did they change how addition is taught in schools? Seriously, it’s addition. One of the few things in their homework I am confident I can help with. Apparently “carrying the 1” is not the done thing anymore. And don’t get me started on Letterland vs Phonics!

When did teenagers going to discos start dressing like 20 year old hookers going to discos?? I know I sound old and grumpy but back in my day, girls (and boys actually!) wore baggy jumpers and Wrangler jeans. I understand that times and fashions move on, but somewhere between completely covered up and barely covering the essentials would be good.

I’m hoping that it goes full circle and we’re back to Nirvana t-shirts and stone-washed jeans by the time my youngest and only daughter gets to that stage.

How do food companies get away with making two of the exact same product, slapping a well-known brand name on one, a shop label on the other and charging two massively different prices??

Why do kids “prefer” the branded products despite showing them that they’re the same as the own-brand versions? (Actually, this one probably answers the question above – the kids have the real buying power).

Has anyone ever actually caught their death from going outside or to bed with wet hair? I’d like to see that coroner’s report – “Cause of Death: The eejit didn’t listen to Mammy”

How does Google Maps work? Really. How does my phone know where I am, tell a satellite somewhere up there, know where I want to go and get an answer, again from outer space?? And still be able to show my daughter videos of other kids opening surprise eggs at the same time???

What a world we live in.

The Nine Rules of Sisterhood

Since the dawn of time there has been the inexplicable bond of sisters.

I am very close to my own sister, so I was chuffed to bits when my second baby was a girl, a little sister for my eldest.

Sadly, my eldest wasn’t as thrilled as I was for, ooooh, about two years?

But now I can see the bond starting to form, and they too are learning what it means to be sisters:

1. The total delight at seeing your sister get into trouble, revelling in smug smiles and licking up to your parents to highlight just how much of a shit your sister has been. There’s nothing quite like it!

2. Then there is the unbreakable bond of misery as you go down together, cursing your parents and your totally unfair, unhappy lives!

3. It is perfectly acceptable to play the blame game to save yourself. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there after all, and it’s up to you to teach your sister that.

4. At home, you can ignore, deny or slam the door on your sister to your heart’s content. In unknown territory, however, blood is thicker than water and you will cling to each other like Velcro.

5. There exists a unique and bitter hatred between sisters when a game is not being played correctly.

6. There are also the many, many in-jokes that nobody else will ever get, and that will drive your parents crazy with the incessant giggling.

7. It is your birth right to slag off and give out about your sister. But God help any other person that tries to do it! Wagons will be circled…

8. They say ‘neither a borrower or a lender be’. Unless it’s your sister then you can take, take, take to your heart’s content!

9. But remember, no one else has lived the childhood you have, and that is the unbreakable bond of sisterhood.