Just a boy

February 23, 2009

My youngest son was 6 on Friday. As is now traditional I took him and his elder brother out to eat; this time it was lunch rather than dinner but we still went to the same pizza restaurant. They both got small presents with the promise that his big present was waiting at my house. It was a nice lunch, we were all relaxed and we had a laugh.

When I left the family home he was 2. He’s not been shy about asking questions about why I no longer live with his mother, although the answers have had to be diplomatic rather than brutally honest. He is now a confident, cheeky 6 year old and I love him to bits. I sometimes forget that he’s still a little boy and maybe expect a bit too much of him. For all those times that I snap at him and tell him off when he wasn’t being that naughty I’m sorry. I hope he realises that when he’s saying “It’s not fair…” that most of the time it is fair and it’s the odd occasion that I’ve been a bit harsh on him. He is a smashing little boy, always ready to get stuck in in the kitchen and he puts his older brother to shame in the tidying up stakes.

He might be growing up fast but I have to remember that for all of that he is still just a little boy. One I’m very proud of and love very much.

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Its been quite a year already

February 20, 2009

I can’t believe it’s the third week in February and this is the first post of the year. I’ve neglected this blog so far as I’ve been thinking about doing something different and I’ve also been spending time on Twitter (if you don’t know what Twitter is then you’ve not read a paper or watched TV this year).

In terms of things I’d normally blog about a lot has happened; we’ve got rid of almost all the staff at work, there are now only two of us fulltime; the boys are growing up quickly and this is both exciting and challenging; I need an operation on my knee to trim a torn cartilage; we’re trying to get a weekend away to just be a couple rather than a pair of nervous wrecks and on top of all that my girlfriend has started a new job. Phew! Quite a year already, and it’s still only February.

Proud

November 20, 2008

A few things have made me feel really proud of people recently. The first is my youngest son who had surgery to remove a lump from his neck. He was not phased by this at all; didn’t create a fuss when they anaesthetised him, didn’t make a fuss afterwards (to the point where he actually asked to go back to school after a few days as he was missing his friends) and has taken the whole thing in his stride. The second is my girlfriend who recently lost her job; despite being treated very poorly by her employer and having grounds to complain about her treatment she has remained dignified and professional throughout.

Both of them are shining examples of how to behave when life throws a curve ball at you and I am so proud of them.

Emotional wreck

October 26, 2008

Dropping the boys back and driving away still breaks my heart. When they cling to me and tell me how much they miss me I never want to let them go. Then I feel guilty and question again whether I did the right thing. The loss associated with not seeing them and not getting to tuck them in each night is horrible and as the tears come part of me remembers just how bad it was; just how abusive it was; the year of therapy to stop thinking I deserved it. Rather than feeling guilty I should be feeling angry that I’m here but somehow never manage it.

A little reassurance needed

October 10, 2008

I picked my kids up for the weekend this evening and was met with a request that in all honesty I should have seen coming. They want me to themselves this weekend; no visits to girlfriend’s house, no going out with girlfriend, or anyone else for that matter, just me and them. I think this is a request with different aspects; partly I think they were a little bored last time they came to stay as girlfriend’s sister and boyfriend were about to emigrate to New Zealand and so we needed some adult time to say our goodbyes (put that down to unfortunate timing more than anything else) but there is also a growing realisation that daddy does have a girlfriend and they’re thinking through the consequences of that, not least that this means that daddy and mummy will not get back together. Their next question is does daddy love his girlfriend more than us.

This weekend is about them starting to understand that daddy will always love them but that daddy’s girlfriend is important too. It’s about reassuring them and having some fun but also gently explaining that they don’t have a blanket exclusivity. The emotions of 2 small boys need to be handled carefully but there are other people’s emotions to take into consideration too. It’s a complicated dynamic and there is a careful line to tread; another example of how being a weekend dad means trying to find a balance and hoping you somehow get it right.

Holiday

September 3, 2008

This year my holiday with the boys was a little different; my girlfriend came along too. This wasn’t as straightforward as it might be as my ex insisted that she meet her before she got to go on holiday with the boys. The meeting seemed to go remarkably well by all accounts and we all headed up north to the North Yorkshire coast, Filey to be exact. We had a great week, my parents came to stay for a few days (2 nights turned into 3), I had the best birthday in years and the weather was mostly kind. The best bit by far was seeing how the 4 of us got on so well. No arguments, no shouting, just great fun and a lot of laughs. Nickelback’s Rockstar became the holiday sing-a-long song in the car and it was great to have something that was "ours". Staying in a caravan brought back lots of childhood memories as did scrambling around in the rock pools. The boys loved this aspect of it and were asking when they could go back as soon as we left. It’s really nice to see your kids enjoying the things you used to enjoy at their age and even better seeing them enjoy themselves outside, in the fresh air without a computer or PSP in sight. All in all it was a huge success. Can’t wait to do it again.

A Big Step

November 11, 2007

Today was a big day for me. Today, me and the boys went out for lunch with my girlfriend. OK, my Mum and Dad were there as well and that made it a bit easier but even allowing for that, today was a big step along the road to some sort of normality. I know there are other single dads that introduce their kids to every girlfriend but I’m not like that. We’ve been seeing each other for well over a year and it’s taken a lot of soul searching (do atheists have souls to search?) to get to this point. It might sound really strange but today felt normal, it wasn’t “best behaviour” from the boys, there was no “making an effort”, it just worked and I write this almost in tears – just not sure if it’s from relief or from the realisation that things just might be alright after all.

Holiday with the boys

August 28, 2007

Last week was my holiday with the boys. We spent the week at my parents, or more accurately at the boys’ grandparents as that’s where the main focus of attention is. (When my mum starts adding “oh, it’ll be nice to see you too” to the end of sentences you realise your main purpose is to be transport).

The weather wasn’t great but we made the most of it. The boys were fascinated with the local museums, especially the one with the wooly mammoth in it! Their favourite day wasn’t the trip to the coast, or the trip to the cinema – it was the day spent with my best friend’s kids. We walked to the park, fed the ducks, had an ice-cream and played off-ground-tig. Back at their house they played Star Wars and Playmobil Knights – simple things that don’t cost a lot of money but to two small children are the best parts of the holiday and the day they spoke most about. There’s a lesson there I think…

Father’s Day

June 18, 2007

I had the boys yesterday, to celebrate Father’s Day. Quite what we’re celebrating I’m not sure but it was an excuse to have another day with the boys.

I know the traditional thing is to go out for lunch etc but when your boys are small they’re not really at the enjoying a leisurely lunch stage. So we spent the day walking in the woods, colouring, watching Harry Potter (thankfully the younger of them is not a cat, otherwise his curiosity, in the form as asking as many questions as possible about what is going on, might be going on or might happen next may have led to his demise), wrestling and playing football in the park. All in all a great day. Was it different to any other Sunday? Not really, just today I consiously thought about how lucky I am to have two great kids, rather than just being unconsiously aware of it.

Birthdays

April 30, 2007

Today is my son’s birthday. I should have had them to stay this last weekend but my ex decided that she’d have his birthday party on my weekend. Anway, I get to see them tonight and take them out to eat. I am fully expecting the same situation as last year; his presents will be taken with us to the restaurant and opened there. You might as well put up a neon sign saying “separated Dad and kids” over our table, but as long he has a great time then no harm done, or is there?

Christmas and birthdays are a source of disagreement, anger, frustration and recrimination these days. As the kids don’t live with me I rely on their mother “playing fair” with access. This is a folorn hope. Getting to see my own children on their birthdays is a battle, getting to see them over Christmas a bigger battle. The first Christmas I was told in no uncertain terms that I would not be seeing them on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Last year was better in that I picked them up on Boxing Day but only had them for a couple of days. What impact does this have on the children? The battles are always about whether or not I get to see them, not about if they get to see me. They need and want contact with me as much as I need and want it with them. This bit seems to get forgotten all too easily.