Monday, June 29, 2015

The Bottle Of Sand

I picked my son up today and he was holding this.

When I asked him what it was he said, "Daddy - I know a way that you can go blind and feel really tired." Me too, Owen. "Look Daddy - all you have to do is shake this Daddy." Absolutely no way I'm turning around. And this is a five year old we're talking about here. And five year old boys have a tendency to run about waving the thing like a dog flinging around a rope toy. Thankfully he was holding that bottle of sand.

Of course at that point - in those milliseconds before I responded - I was filled with the dread that in seven our eight years that little deviant will be ravaged by hormones. He's already gone through quite a severe nipple-obsession phase. If you were in five feet of that boy he'd engineer some way to flick his fingers right over them. Or worse - actually yank the damn things. Many a Reding Club Monday ended rather awkwardly when one of the mothers I was attempting to befriend would get down to his level and ask him his name. Right now that's progressed to remarking very loudly if he's seen someone with boobs, Quite frankly I feel terrible for that man at the pool this weekend. Last thing that poor bastard wanted was to hear a child yelling across the water that there's a man a) with huge boobs, (absolutely mortifying)  and b) "trying to eat me!" (hence the boobs, you see). God I can only imagine he'd explode if he'd seen the things I've seen. And he hasn't. Not in his house.

Of course now he's graduated to the utmost conviction that all things arse-related are hysterical. I've obviously mentioned that what seems to be every eight word is either "bum cheeks" or the unpleasant "butt". He also does that appalling thing of seeking you out in the house - in just his underpants (which he's stripped down to in secret)  just to point his arse at you - like an amorous baboon - only to then make a sharp raspberry noise. I can tell you right now - that guy who gets stuck inside a chicken in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has a lot to answer for.  And there was you thinking I was going to say Flesh Gordon, But arse obsessed he is. Thankfully in that I-can-see-bellybuttons-in-the-Littlewoods-catalog way.

But soon - oh God too soon - he'll be overcome with teenageness. A deeply unpleasant, rampaging surge of hormonal nonsense. The sort that leads young men to spend inordinate amounts of time in the bathroom. To the degree where their mothers convince themselves that their innocent little boys probably have an upset stomach. Every day. Right after school. And to then attempt an inordinate amount of deeply, regrettable (....sort of) self-abuse. Hiding in his room. Learning that absurd lie from someone at school that sticking your willy between the mattress and the box spring is a good idea. Sneaking a look at his parents copy of Emmanuel 2 a ridiculous number of times - and then cunningly rewinding the videotape back to exactly where it was before so brilliantly looking at 1970s French naughtiness. Being caught by his mother mid-silliness and then slumping to the floor - pretending to have an asthma attack. Being caught again - because he just doesn't bloody learn - and leaping into the wardrobe and refusing to explain what on earth is going on despite mother's protestations. And then pretending to have an asthma attack. You know - the sort of thing that happens to every teenage boy (ahem...).

Apparently not though. Apparently it's just a bottle of "magic potion." That if you drink you'll "go blind and get slowness". Again - I asked if it's because it's cursed with magic. A spell cast upon it by an evil wizard - determined to destroy his nemesis with the darkest magic (the kind you spell "magyck" if you're the kind of saddo who plays games that involve cards). A curse, so black and shadowy that all who even so much as utter the name of its creator are driven mad. Left in trembling ruins at the fear that has possessed their dreams at the very thought of the dark beast that uttered the spell. Eventually unable to resist the maddening lust to gurgle the contents of that mysteriously warped bottle. At which point the spell takes hold. Leaving them blind. Ruined. Destroyed.

"No Daddy - it's because my teacher says the paint on the sand might have lead paint on ti."

Fair enough then.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Tongue Twister and The Laughing Cavalier

Evelyn:When you grow up you shouldn't have to do some of the things you do Daddy.
Me: Like what honey?
Evelyn: Well - like shaving. Or showering And going to the toilet.
Me: I'm fairly certain if I stop doing those that other people wouldn't like me very much.
Evelyn: So....who likes you right now?
Me: Cheers Evelyn.....thanks very much.


I ask my kids often what they want to be when they grow up. 

This coming from me is somewhat hilarious. But let’s ignore that bit. My son often says a construction worker. That’s after being ludicrous and using a five year old grasp of profanity, of course. No Owen – a Bum Cheek Inspector isn’t a real job. I sometimes suggest to him that he be a proctologist. Then delight in explaining to him that for a living there are people who every day deal with other people's sick bottoms. He hasn’t committed to that idea as of yet. He has mentioned an Ice Cream Tester too. And playing Minecraft. I will admit I took a teeny amount of glee in telling him that in a year no-one is gong to give a shti about Minecraft. Especially me. Not too much though - he likes it and it's relatively harmless. I did just ask him again. And he came up with nothing. His sister seems to know what his interests are though.


My daughter though is quite clear. She wants to be a meteorologist. Preferably one that does storm chasing. So not the shiny, Today Show types that are dolled up for camera and find a puddle to canoe about in. But one of these lunatics that for non-celebrity/television glory purposes wanders into the heart of the tornado. Outside of that she’d like to be a, “volcano scientist.” Which from what I can tell means she wants to live near Mount. St. Helens. Obviously I won't be showing her Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton driving through the lava in Dante's Peak anytime soon. Although I think even her five year old brother would cry "bollocks!" at that bit where Brosnan puts a coat over his hand so he can stick his hand in the lava.

Every night I have my kids we slump down on the bed to read. At the moment they have four books that they are mildly obsessed with. Here -:

In olden days people read things called "books"
  The top left book is part of the Dork series. My daughter loves that because she gets to write in it. I suppose technically it's her first diary. Although she has umpteen notebooks that she's filled with all sorts already. Quite often she'll sit around copying her favorite parts of books that she's reading. Or writing out recipes of things she wants to bake for me "with your special flour, Daddy." The top right book is Jack Prelutsky's collection of poems, riddles and things like that called It's Raining Pigs and Noodles. It includes the rather excellent -:

Burp
The bottom right book was a gift for my kids that we got in the mail. It's The Super Smelly Alien. It has scratch-and-sniff pads on some of the pages. And let me tell you - this book are absolutely rank. My son - the little bastard - enjoys nothing more than grabbing this thing, giving the inside page a scratch and then surprising me by squishing it into my nose. It's got that deep, lingering stench of toenail grunge and Limburger cheese. The sort of smell foot fetish people presumably like. Regardless, my kids love that book. And so do I. 

Actually that reminds me - I was given some rather lovely margarita candies last week. No alcohol of course - just that unmistakeable flavor. I tried to offer one to a coworker who is a tee totaller. As in always has been. She doesn't know what margaritas taste like. And she was vaguely reluctant to give them ago on the off chance this was somehow capitulating to drinking alcohol in some way. So I assured her that no - nothing along those lines. I went with "It'd be like pork flavored candy for Jews"That seemed to work.

The last book is The Ultimate Atlas of Almost Everything. That thing is apparently $45 brand new. We got it at a Goodwill for fifty cents. That's pretty much the only reason I go to Goodwill. My kids love this book. Granted it is fifteen years old now so it's a tad out of date. But they like reading about ancient civilizations or how zeugens form in deserts. Plus it has lots of bits about weather patterns like tornadoes and earthquakes. And my daughter loves those. She has probably six or seven books of her own about weather. And I don't mean the ones aimed at seven year old kids. It never ceases to amaze me when she starts randomly regailing me with the F-scale categorization of tornadoes, where they tend to be more frequent and that this was all developed by Dr. Fujita (she told me all that). I will admit that a small part of me (no jokes please) would like her to be adrift in that fantasy of what little kids tend to say they want to be. But with her enthusiasm at her age it's lear she'll either end up running the National Weather Service. Or becoming a super villain and taking over Tokyo with a tsunami. Either/or.  

I don’t really call wanting to be anything when I was younger. Obviously the usual trope of ridiculous things. Possibly a spy, footballer who played in a rock band. Something realistic. As long as it was something that could emphasize how my not-remotely-unique brand of whiny, mopey teenage boy nonsense was misunderstood and should be seen as enormously appealing sexy. But as far as careers went there's nothing specific that I can recall. Outside of possibly a history teacher. I was quite interested in that for a while when I was about sixteen. Mind you at fifteen I was also quite interested in Katie Puckrick, drinking in playgrounds with people I didn’t much like and and trying to look desperately moody at all times. 

Nobody should ever trust a teenage boy. Their entire thought process is preoccupied with frantic masturbation and trying to emulate the behavior of deeply suspect people. Admittedly it’s because you’re searching for your own identity. But it’s interesting that the process of doing that is by finding the characteristics of other people you don’t know and trying to adapt them as your own. I recall a long litany of musicians that were in what you might call the Complaint Rock genre. All led by profoundly ridiculous drug addicts, in the main. Kurt Cobain. Shannon Hoon. Scott Weiland. Layne Stayley. Eddie Vedder. Three of them are dead. Quite how the third one isn’t is a total mystery. And the last one - not that I know them of course - is someone I've gone from idolosing to finding mostly annoying. I recall one of my developmental epiphanies at a Pearl Jam concert watching a band I dearly adored for years. And realizing that affinity – the “we’re all depressed and in a unique group together – the “you can totally identify with me” that oozed out of Vedder was incredibly teenage. And in a man in his thirties it was suddenly really stark. Standing on stage, in little boy shorts and t-shirt, forcing his eyes into a scowl that a four year old emphasizes because they can’t use their words properly. Moaning. Endlessly. I mean Jesus – he’s hardly the Laughing Cavalier. But the whining was just relentless. Then he started saying this profound, whinging statement. Just like at the last show I’d heard him at. Word for Word.And I went home and put Groove Is In The Heart on and cheered the fuck up.


I'm hoping my son doesn't meander through that miserable period with as much force and intent as I did. Thankfully he's a strangely delighted boy from the moment he wakes up to the moment I tell him it's time to go up the wooden hill. Mostly. When he's off it's incredibly obvious. His sister has the ability to go from delighted to raging, mental case in a split second. But him - he will linger with a thought or an idea and then slide slowly into a funk that will grip him for an hour or so. Then it's like a switch goes off and he's his usual, smiley, shiny self. I actually caught him in a moment of misery dropping his sister at school las week. Nine times out of ten he would pull the most ridiculous face here. But not that morning.He was in a mid-morning mood.

"Get back in the car and drive chauffeur"
It's definitely got the echoes of this.

Eddie Vedder
Still - going back to when he's older and him licking everything. The boy's got skillz.


Friday, June 26, 2015

The Japanese Hipster

My son made me an iPad.

I showed up to pick my son up today and his teacher had turned his classroom into a sweatshop. As I opened the door I saw a room full of busy kids. Heads down. Concentrating on the fine details of the devices they were making. Careful to attach the smaller parts without breaking anything. All as their teacher strolled between them repeating that they were all doing very well - and if they finished on time they'd win a prize. Presumably to be allowed to suck water from the communal sweat-sponge used to mop the child-slaves foreheads - solely to avoid their sweat dripping onto the circuit boards below. Okay maybe I'm slightly exaggerating. But my son really did make me an iPad. And all the the kids were making them too. Not one of those awful Apple ones made in Chinese sweatshops by 14 year olds. Oh no. I had mine made by a five year old out of pink card and beans. Just look at it. That thing would sell for thousands on Etsy.

At least my screen won't crack
Today my daughter was sent to school completely over-dressed. It was 110 degrees at one point. Yet she was sent in a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt. Actually that's not quite accurate. My daughter says she went to school dressed "as a Japanese person." It's alright, don't worry - it's not as flagrantly racist as you might think. Apparently the kids at her Boys and Girls Club were told to dress as different cultures for a competition. That could be lots of fun. Sounds harmless in principle. But lets be honest - this is Maricopa County, Arizona. That could have gone horrifyingly wrong. I would not have been surprised to have found one kid showing up in a Nazi uniform, a few Three Amigo's outfits and another kid going all out and arriving "blacked up." Instead though everyone was just wandering abut the Club in weird mismatched clothes that blatantly didn't fit.

I'd love to show you my daughter in the clothes she picked out. But the minute she walked through the door when we got back to mine she did that thing that only kids and perpetually single men do when they get home. Meaning she stripped down to her knickers and vegged out on the couch scratching herself.  Not to fear though - here's her "Japanese girl" outfit on the bedroom floor.


I know what you're thinking. "That doesn't look anything like the outfits that I've seen the Japanese girls wearing on Pornhub Gavin." Thankfully not. Actually I don't even know what you'd call that style. When I look at that I hear Black Moth Super Rainbow and Agitation Free. Mind you the only thing I thought when I picked her up was that her mother had been a bit lax letting her wander out of the house in this heat in that. I'm all for embracing my daughter's wonderful sense of self expression. But sometimes a seven year old isn't best to be aware that eight hours wearing that can be exhausting. Still - despite looking exhausted from being too hot she still seemed quite happy to have dressed up. And here's the kicker. She won. Can you even imagine how diabolically shit the other outfits were for my daughter to show up looking like a strawberry Hipster and saying she looks Japanese? I did ask her what made her think it looked Japanese. And she said she had no idea. She just showed up there in the weirdest clothes she could find at 6.30 this morning and one of the staff told her that she looked Japanese.

Actually the whole cultural sensitivity reminded me of that weird way that corporate America teaches "Diversity in the Workplace". And trust me - for reasons that baffle me all corporate programs like this randomly capitalize certain words without any seeming rhyme or reason. I can't count the number of human resource training programs/webinars I've been through that start off by pointing out that everyone is the same and should be afforded equal respect, equality and not be treated differently. Only to then point out why all these other people are totally different from white, straight people.

Cultural sensitivity has never been a problem for me. I don't care where you're from. I love you all. Unless you're from Cork in Ireland. And then only because I cant understand a bloody word you;re saying. Rather my issue in a work environment is I sometimes think that because something is funny that it means it's completely okay to go ahead and do it. From constantly leaving a Pregnancy Bible on coworkers desks when they're taking a day off. Complete with Post It note attached stating, "read up to page 118 before 20 week scan" - and always putting away before they came back to work. Then enjoying their confusion as person after person asked them if they were pregnant. Or the time when I teased a coworker -who at 34 claimed she was too old to have babies - by putting an enormous poster on her office wall of a sad face with the phrase "my womb is grey" on it. And probably worst being the absolute evil joy I would get anytime an office birthday/baby congratulations card was passed around and landed on my desk. From the very mild writing of, "I'm deeply sorry this is happening to you" on my Director's wedding card. To the absolutely very wrong of getting a coworkers baby shower card and writing "Nobody is more delighted than I am to find out that the baby isn't mine. All the best - Dad" on it.

But thankfully I don't do that sort of thing anymore. Nobody with a face this innocent could possibly get up to mischief.





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Wait

I've been thinking a lot about those long months when I didn't see my children.


When I was fifteen I woke up in the middle of the night and I knew what the meaning of life was. Not all life. Just mine. The very purpose of being. I had it. Just an average, unexceptional fifteen year old. But I woke up knowing why I was here. What I was supposed  to do. How everything in the world fits together in collected, little rows like blades of grass. But more importantly than that - I felt it. So in truth it's wrong to say I knew what it was. Because I hadn't learned anything. I certainly hadn't earned it. And strictly speaking I didn't really even know it. But I absolutely felt it. Content to slip back to sleep. But when I woke up I'd forgotten what it was. You have no idea how irritating that has been.

I often have a dream that I'm in a car. I'm not aware of movement. I'm just aware that I'm inside the car. With my kids. And it's about to crash. It's an apocryphal statement that if you dream of falling you'll wake up before you hit the bottom. Because if you do then supposedly you'll die. But in my dreams I always hit the bottom. I always slip in the pool and drown. I always crash the car. And after I do that's not when I wake up. I just carry on. Swiftly on to the next nightmare. That's how they go. Banal. Repetitive. Consecutive vanilla-nightmare after vanilla-nightmare. Until they move on to something newer and much more creatively frightening. Nowadays the dream inside the car itself isn't frightening. I almost find my feet - figuring out fast which nightmare I'm in. It must have happened a thousand times now. If I'm honest a lot more. But the moment of impact still feels viscerally real. Aware that in seconds that I'll hit the oncoming vehicle in front. Unable to move. Unavoidable. Dealing with the aftermath.

But instead of the silent numbness - waiting for the now familiar, almost boring smash of death - I've started frantically looking for my phone. Desperately trying to call someone. To have them know that my last thoughts were of them. And thinking with a palpable sense of urgency, "how quickly can I dial them?" So that they know that the last thoughts I have are just of them. Because I want them to know in that ultimate moment - the understood last moment - that I needed to talk to them. That they're everything. But I can't find my phone. Not in time. Not before the crash. That's the new nightmare. That it'll all end without me getting the chance to simply say something. For years not even knowing who the fuck I was actually frantic to call. Not enough time to wait. Just never enough time.

During the first few weeks of not seeing my kids every minute dragged along thickly. Heavy and sluggish. Every space inside that minute filled with me entirely aware of the time. Crammed right into the all four corners of each sixty second period. One of the worst feelings in the world is to miss someone. The constant, unending nag of it invades every, single moment of your day. But knowing the person on the other end feels the same way means - in an odd way - that the feeling comes from a very good place. As long as you can tell them so they know how much you miss them - and that you wish you could talk to them - it makes it a little easier to wait to speak to them again. What got me through was my daughter. Randomly chirping up and just saying, "I miss you Daddy." But not tinged with sadness. Always said in a happy sense. She called me for about thirty seconds in June just to tell me she missed me. And the joy in her telling me confused me so much that I had to ask her why she seemed so happy yet was saying something that hurt so much. And she told me - in that way that it was entirely obvious to her - that she got to tell me herself. And that made her really happy. So why would she be sad?

I guffed on and on in a different post about how it took a long time for me to figure some things out. Who I am. What I'd been. And yes - in thick, syrupy, cliched-terms - where I'm going. During those long months I was also sat waiting to find out a few other things. Frankly, fucking horrible things that I could only learn about by waiting. And how that after coming through a whole host of things - most of which very, very few people know about - in a compressed time period that I've come out to where I am now and feel good. Contentedly aware that I've all this space in front of me. Not crippled by those weighty moments. That call from my daughter massively shaped that feeling. That knowing. She knew the real purpose of that moment wasn't to tell me she felt dreadful. But to tell me that in that very moment she was happy. It was all in the context. And how she chose to value those moments. And while I didn't know when I'd see them again - I knew it was just a case of waiting.

And waiting is just a thing. It can feel heavy and too large to get around. But step back and it's just a thing. And out in front of it is this huge stretch of everything else that comes after it. That knowing has changed how I feel in the middle of  moment when I'm just waiting. Even when I'm aware that I'm going to have to wait for a lot of time to pass and a lot of things to happen. Now it seems so infinitesimal. Not worthless. That's precisely the opposite of what my daughter taught me. But what will come is so large and holds so much worth that the sluggish, sticky, dragging, weighty seconds of waiting are far more bearable. And you get to actually act in that moment. Not just passing it to get to the later that you really want.

And there's no better example of than Dr. Seuss's Waiting Room. How - when you're stuck in a bad moment - that it's just a moment before something else. Slap bang in the middle of Oh The Places You'll Go is one of the most lucid, poetic explanations of the drag you could ever read. Beautifully articulating that feeling - that you can't see past the Wait. And we all have them. But that beyond it there's so much. 


Which all ties back to that feeling when I was fifteen. I not going to pretend I've had some strange epiphany and I know the meaning of life. That's not only massively self-aggrandizing. But it's seriously mental. It's the sort of thing people who collect their own shit, or who have written something they call, "My Manifesto" say (I was quite tempted to call this entry My Manifesto just for the ridiculousness that would bring). Of course I don't know that. But I think I understand what the feeling means. I remember that feeling. The focused, warm glow. The feeling that every cell in my body was vibrating. All in one chorus together. As if filled with a knowing, unfailing purpose. All ready to erupt away. Twenty-plus years of somewhat remembering that feeling. Hearing it like a faint echo. Glancing it briefly. Like a photograph's negative. Feeling it burn inside with the intense purity of loneliness. All that time waiting to figure out what the hell it was.

And I really do feel that feeling. And it feels pretty fucking good. And it's not actually fair to say I figured it out. Someone else helped me find it. But for me - figuring out that there's all this stuff way out in front has been really valuable. And that all that stuff way out before is of inherent value too. All that space filled. And all that new space to fill. I certainly don't mean the short, pithy emotionless statement, "everything always works out in the end." Because everything always works out way, way before the end. It's more a case of feeling that any moment of waiting for things to pass - that would usually feel crushed by the size of it all - just doesn't cripple me like it used to. It's just a thing. It's incredibly relieving to know that when you fall into the Waiting Room that you can actually embrace every moment of it - even the uncomfortable parts. Step back a bit and see the bigger picture. It's just a tiny moment. Yes it's valuable. But it just depends how you look at it. Not waiting for the better to come. The "better" will come anyway. So safe in the knowledge that you aren't really waiting at all.

Wow - that reeks so much of existential philosophy in places I can literally hear Prof. Brian Cox wretching.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Mutton Muncher

Owen and Evelyn: (singing repeatedly for the entire drive home): Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows!!!!

Ten minutes later

Owen and Evelyn (screaming like a brutal, metal band)" PINK FLUFFY UNICORNS DANCING ON RAINBOWS OF DEATH!!!!



Every now and again I meet people who cannot understand a bloody word I say. Completely thrown off by the fact that whilst I appear to be speaking English, I'm doing so in a deliberately different way. As if what I'm doing is a weak attempt at a funny voice. Which really isn't the case. If it was I'd pick country Southern - not whatever my own voice is. Which is amusing really because I've been relentlessly obsessed with The Walking Dead that now my inner monologue is stuck on Backwoods Georgia. An absurd number of times per day I find myself muttering in Daryl Dixon. Or - more ironically considering - in a purposefully, irate Rick Grimes.

I picked up my son today and needed to know something. And while speaking to both of my son's teachers I inadvertently referred to him as Oboe. One of them gave me the suspicious look as if to say, ".....I don't think he's his real dad - he doesn't even know his name." The other completely blanked. And did that thing where - because I spoke with an accent - asked the other teacher, "what did he just say?" I then felt compelled to go all fumbly and middle class. Think every Richard Curtis movie ever. And tried to explain that I tend to call him Oboe. Ending with the I'm-not-even sheepish, "...it's sort of like his nickname."

The one teacher (the one who now thinks I might be an imposter trying to smuggle off a child from school) then gave me that look that she found the name I call my son kind of pathetic. And to a degree I do know what she means. I've cringed when overhearing someone calling their kids their own pet names. I almost felt the need to let her know the history. That the very first nickname he had was when he was rolling around the living room demented when he was about two. For a solid month I called him The Insanity Orb. Then anything that began with an O. The worst of which was, "O Lordy Lordy." Somehow I landed on Oboe and he's been that ever since. His sister warmed the very sinews of my heart once when she started calling him The Littlest Oboe. But I am aware that you have to be careful with a nickname. They can last forever. One small incident. One tiny event and you can be lumbered with an appalling nickname (there is no better evidence of this than Greg Davies' very funny bit on nicknames - the Baghdad one is classic.) I've been a callous victim to this myself. Even recently. One or two slightly iffy pronunciations and the revelation that I went to university in Swansea. That was all it took. Before I knew it I found myself - after meeting a whole host of lovely English people in Las Vegas - walking through The Bellagio while they called me Shadwell. At least it didn't descend to something even worse.l ike The Mutton Muncher. Which I imagine is racist.

My friend's Secret Crush

Anyway - the pretext of this whole entry is this Father's Day card Owen made for me.


Almost everything about that card is wrong. I certainly don't have a dodgy, 1980s RAF mustache like that. I mean look at it. It looks like the Batman bat signal gone all hairy for Movember. And a green tie with a blue shirt? That's possibly the most offensive thing anyone has ever suggested about me. I haven't even mentioned his actual answers to the Dad questions. It's entirely fantasy. And that's the point. Owen knows it's all wrong. I suspected as much. He's started doing something I'm not all that happy with on principle. But annoyed too that it's funny at the same time. That is - he's flagrantly making crap up.

His sister did something similar when she was five. As in once I picked her up from school and it turned out she'd told her teacher that her real parents had died in a war in Europe. From smoking. Like we'd perished in a bizarre incident during the Bosnian conflict. I recall being over the top about not having been involved at all with Salvo Milosevic. A bit derogatory in trying to clarify that I'm aware of the stereotype that American knowledge of world geography is pitiful - so best point out that England and Serbia aren't the same place at all. Then pointing out I didn't smoke. Her teacher had then reassured me that it's a really good thing that she has her imagination. At which point she let me know that every single morning Evelyn would tell the whole class about the insane adventures she'd get up to at home with her Dad. Clearly fanciful, made up stories. About how her dad is really a superhero. Who sometimes wears a black leotard and a yellow cape. And how she and daddy once hid in the leaf pile in the front yard in just their underpants and a cape (as a disguise so nobody would recognize them as superheroes) until the mailman came. Then threw bread rolls at them because she'd once told Daddy she was Celiac. And Daddy said the stale, hamburger buns would be like kryptonite and then they could steal all the mail. I tried quite hard to not look utterly guilty at that one. But the fact was I worked damn hard to have my kids use their imagination as much as possible.

Which Owen does do. Except he has taken to a strategy of making things up in a very dry, trust-me-this-is-true way.Such as lying about drawing a can of poo on that fan he made. And when I first started picking him up from school I caught him telling a group of other kids on the playground that, "my daddy's bum is broken so he's going to die." And on this Father's Day card - he was beyond giddy that his teacher thought I worked at Walmart. He didn't make it obvious he was lying. She really did think I worked there. Which hurt her brain slightly because she also knew that I didn't from other conversations we'd had. Which is partly where my conversation with them today came from. Just a little reminder that no - Daddy doesn't work at Walmart. And no - Daddy isn't 20. And yes - Daddy does know there is no apostrophe in "tomato's." Which is when I learned that when he gave those answers he did so very sincerely.

I've come to learn that Owen really is a talker. The woman who was the very first person who looked after him other than me would often say that the shy, doe-eyed thing he'd do was such bullshit. Because I'd close the door after dropping him off and he wouldn't stop yappering away until I pulled up in the car. And he does that at school now too. And good Lord he's a witty little bastard at times. He still tells the world's worst jokes. None of which make any sense at all. All of which he finds hysterical. But when he's in the mood he is frighteningly sharp. No better example was when a kid was mildly bullying him on the playground for being younger than him. Which went...

Fat six year old to my son: You're not a man like me. You're a baby.
Owen: You look like you ate a baby.


I won't lie - my heart melted a little.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Medussa and The Yeast Infection

My son always says he wants a bath instead of a shower.

His argument is that he doesn't like getting his head wet. Then he sits in the bath - while it's 115 degrees outside, mind you - and pours cup fulls of water on his own head. Actually, he has blown the whole "I don't like getting water on my face" nonsense. With going to the water parks and splash pads all around here he's more than happy to let city water plunge straight into his eyes. And woe betide we pass one of the sprinklers that dot the suburban landscape to keep tiny stretches of grass growing in the desert. Because he's face first into that as well. But apparently showers are completely different. I'm assuming because unlike the playground there aren't twenty seven other screaming people there. I can always fix that of course. One well-timed Craigslist ad and that bathroom will be teeming with people.

Actually instead I've been on a quest to find soap that he likes. He'll use mine - but thinks it smells weird. Predictably he said it smells like rotten eggs. Then rotten flesh (don't worry - it's a Minecraft thing. Honest.....) After a bit of prodding he changed his mind and said it smells like flour and rotten fish. Which - for whatever reason - sound like the main ingredients to make your own yeast infection. Instead he quite likes the one I got his sister. Because it smells like jam. Which is fair enough. I imagine a lot of people would quite like that. My shower soap has a drawing of a mountain on it covered in snow. So I either smell like a bear or Eddie The Eagle. Who strikes me as the kind of person who'd not only be delighted to smell like a yeast infection, but also be the first to sign up for my Craiglist Shower Debacle. Yeah. Let's scrap that idea. Personally I'd go for Nutella soap if they had it. Actually let's be honest - Nutella itself would be fine. Mmmmnnngggg.

I should mention too that my little almost-eight year old girl has that common problem of often having hair like that looks like Medusa's. After she's been rolling in pigeon shit. And electrocuted. And now has rats living in it (actually I Google imaged rat's nest and had a quick chuckle as this came up top trumps). I am entirely puzzled how someone can go to sleep at night - not move an inch - but still wake up with with the back of her head looking like a bowl of spaghetti. That's been rolled in pigeon shit. Which would be fine if brushing it was easy. Bless her little mismatched (sigh.....) cotton socks - she does try. Every morning I hand her a brush in the house (and then a different one in the car to see if we can get the bits she's missed) and I hear that reliable, dragged-scraping. Like someone trying to rake a bramble bush. I'll chip in too and she never moans. I'm not one of those "oh it doesn't hurt - stop whining" types that you see wrenching a brush through their kids hair. I'll have her brush through it once. And then, if needs be, I'll give it a run through as well. And she sits happily while I do it. She's also got de-tangling spray. Actually two types. One for before you take a shower and one to use right before you brush. And two brushes. The one in my car is a run-of-the-mill hairbrush. But the one in my house looks like a medieval sex aid.

Now with Quadruple-Action Stimulation
She's also got a tube of something called Marc Anthony's Curl Envy. Firstly - that sounds like a medical condition he has where he's ragingly jealous of how some people can curl out a perfect walnut whip-esque/Mr. Whippy ice cream poo. Secondly - he looks like this. Which is almost exactly the same close-up of-zombies-in-The-Walking-Dead eating-intestines look my daughter's hair has when she wakes up.

Hair Expert.
This is where I realize that as flamboyantly unmasculine as I am in some ways, what she needs is a girly, female influence in her life. No offense to her mother - but she's hardly what you'd call feminine. That's not a slight. It's a character description - and one she's proud of. And in no way am I banging on about how girls should be girly and boys should be boy-y (I have no idea what the male equivalent for that is). I just mean the simple understanding of someone who knows what growing up into a young woman feels like (EDITOR: this would be a really good place to make a joke about how you've also grown into a woman, but in a totally different way). How that feels. The context of it. Obviously I don't have that viewpoint. Even of something small like wanting to have pretty hair. And that it feels good to have it. You know - being a girl.

The irony in that is that she already feels that way. She often says happily that she feels very pretty. And that's wonderful. She is a disturbingly pretty girl. And she's the one exploring that development. Always picking out a dress to wear. Matching it (.....kind of) with little decorative bracelets, rings or necklaces. Interested in makeup and nail polish. Pointing out clothes at the store she thinks are pretty. But then not having that helpful, guiding influence to tell her that her blood-red Mexican summer dress doesn't really pop in the way she thinks it might when paired with her Zumba-style dance boots on and hair like a hay bail. But we'll get there.

I could just shave her head. And nobody wins there. I've seen her with very little hair as a baby. She has a phrenologists wet-dream of a bumpy head. She looked like Michael Stipe and Voldermort's baby. So yes. Actually I might leave her to find her own way around makeup and femininity.She's doing alright really.

She thinks she's beautiful like this.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

This Land Is Their Land

A month or so ago I grabbed my phone to take a photo of a lizard I could see on the wall outside my apartment.

I remember years ago seeing Steven Irwin over-excitedly state that eight out the ten most dangerous reptiles in the world lived in Australia. Then - gurning with genuine misplaced pride - he went on to gush that they were also loose in his house. Not only that but he gave the distinct impression that he had absolutely no choice in the matter. They'd just wandered in. And there was bugger all he could do about it. Then - as he wandered around his basement with a headlamp on hoping to bump into one or two of them - I remember thinking, "why the fuck haven't you moved?" Of course the answer to that was that he lived in Australia - an entire country that screams "you're not supposed to live here." I'm fairly good with geography and world culture. So if I'm not mistaken it's my impression that the Australian outback is a massive, uninhabitable wasteland that is riddled with killer Drop Bears, demented car gangs and of course, Joe Mangle. More importantly though is it was Steve Irwin. Nobody would have been surprised to have flicked Animal Planet on and seen Irwin enthusiastically guff out, "Look I'm penetrating this Gila monster!!"If anyone would have dangled their willy in a pond filled with Candiru it would have been Irwin.

"The fish in my urethra is THIS BIG!!!"
Now of course I live in Arizona. A vast, mostly uninhabitable wasteland. Which is also riddled with freakish creatures that clearly should not have been let onto the Ark. Believe whatever you like about the Old Testament. But the notion that Noah didn't open up a closet one day and find a scorpion or a cockroach and didn't immediately burn the entire boat makes no sense to me. I'm not aware so much of demented car gangs. I am aware that everyone seems to have bought a personalized license plate. And that indicating seems to be illegal in Arizona. Haven't  seen a 1973 Ford XB Falcon though.  I do live quite close to an Outback Steakhouse though.

A friend of mine told me about something called roof rats. Which I obviously thought they'd made up. There's too much alliteration there for those to be real. Then weirdly a day or so later my daughter mentioned that her mother had to cut down an orange tree in the yard because the neighbor has roof rats. It's an odd feeling to learn from a seven year old that instead of squirrels we now in a place where there are rats seen bounding about in trees. Also the first sentence in that link reeks of the prejudicial aspect of Maricopa County, Arizona - ramming home the point that this pestilence is foreign and shouldn't be here. Go on. Read the bit about them being "an undesirable colonist" and try not to think about a Fox News report about Mexicans. 

A very, very white man

I've had all kinds of people tell me about finding scorpions in their house. And that I should buy one of those black lights they use on Criminal Minds to find where all the semen and blood had been spattered at a crime scene before the serial killer cleaned it all up. Apparently then you can see any hidden in your house without having to wander about looking for them. You know - in that way that people in horror movies do when they hear a gurgling, growl in the basement so decide to go nervously look for it in just their knickers. I haven't come across any. And I literally mean I haven't seen any. That's not a call back to the Criminal Minds black light reference. Plus I live in an apartment building that you wouldn't necessarily call upscale. I'm loathe to get a blacklight and turn it on in here because I wouldn't be remotely surprised to find a pentagram drawn on the ceiling in jizz (really - some people can ejaculate that high) signed by Joe Mangle.

Anyhoo - I was sat in my living room one day and saw some movement on the wall outside. Now - I've been in this place long enough to know if I see something move out of the corner of my eye that I need to get up and grab the five gallon drum of Deltamethrin and spray gun that I felt the need to buy. First up - let's be clear. I do NOT have cockroaches. Right after I moved in I did get freaked out when I found a weirdly-behaving beetle thing running around. Then a few weeks later another one. That was enough for me - I called the apartment office and told them to come sort it out.

Some of you may know that I once bought a house filled with bees. As in the entire wall cavity on one side was choc-a-bloc with honeycomb. So many bees in fact that after having someone come and take away seven (yes.....seven) bee hives over a period of time, that when I was remodeling and hit the windowsill with a hammer that hundreds of honey bees started leaking through the cracks in the sill. More bee hives were removed. Bees kept coming back. And I went from being the tolerant, even-minded person I was (aware of the current plight of honey bee populations - which in hindsight was simply explainable on the basis that they'd all moved to my house) to going the Israeli Option. That being when you feel attacked by a tiny subset group you react by not just destroying it, but also burning all the surrounding ten-square mile region to ashen-dust regardless of whatever else is there. In short - one day I found another bee swarm in my house so I ripped the entire exterior wall off. Then all of them. Right down to the struts and studs. And got my neighbor Larry to come over and we sprayed unpronounceable, chemical evil on everything. And then - just fort good measure - I set fire to the barn/aircraft hangar thing a half-mile up the hill on my property just in case. Basically I went mental. Think John Goodman in The Big Lebowski and you're probably in the right ball park.

Anyway - the point is now if I think bugs are invading my home I know deep inside that I must destroy them all. And the neighbors. And - fuck it - let's just set fire to Scottsdale as well. On this occasion though I don't own my place. So I can't go ripping open walls or deciding to replace the entire kitchen and bathroom on the basis that whilst I'm at it I can also murder anything I find. So I called the apartment office instead. Gave them a lot of, "goodness me and golly gosh" Hugh Grant foppishness and that was that. Next morning a delightful man showed up with a scuba-tank filled with Bug Death. Think John Goodman in Arachnophobia. First thing he said when I opened the door was, "well - you don't have roaches." When I asked how he knew he gruesomely told me, "oh - you'd know." Apparently if you have those they smell unmistakeable. Then he wandered around every room spraying along the ground of all four walls. After a few "so what did you see?" questions he confidently told me that what I saw are annoying but not roaches. Then asked if I had seen a roach at all. I said I wasn't sure. Again he laughed that I'd know if I'd seen a roach.

So. Every now and again I'll see these annoying bugs in my place. The dude that sprayed said that they basically come in from another apartment. One where the person there really doesn't give a shit. But - and underline with fat, bold marker pen - definitely not cockroaches. And when I do I kill them. Then spray the entire apartment and clean everything with bleach (can't get that fucking pentagram off the ceiling though). Then the guy told me to get a cat. Apparently they work better than anything for all your HUMANS NOT WELCOME creatures of Arizona. It certainly explains the ridiculous number of wild cats you see. Seriously- it's mental. So maybe soon enough. Not in this neighborhood though. Would just seem like I'd be leaving the poor bugger to chill in his own filth.

Don't mind me.

Which leads me to seeing that lizard wobbling along on the wall outside. I've seen a few cute, little gecko things buzzing around places I've been. And the odd chuckwalla. And for whatever, innate selective reason I don't think they're creepy or invading. So I grabbed my phone, turned the camera on and went to take a picture. And HOLY FUCK NO. Unmistakeable is right. I'm not kidding - this cockroach was the size of a child's shoe. And I was taken over. No - it wasn't in my house. And no - it wasn't even touching my building. But I methodically went and picked up that five-gallon drum of Bug Massacre and wandered outside and made sure that fucker was dead. And that the entire wall was dead. And the surrounding walls of my building. Then went inside and sprayed EVERYTHING.

To be fair I've met a lot of people born and raised here who say they've never seen roaches or scorpions.  So that's nice. And more importantly - I'm moving in a month. To somewhere where I very quickly brought up the aspect of home invaders. I didn't phrase it as "I'm sure you won't mind if I deliberately burn this entire suburban block down." But the essence of that was in there. Plus I've been very much assured I'm not going to be seeing weird lizards, creepy crawly evil or roof rats there. And I better not. Or at least they better hope not. Or I may have to unleash...

Just to be clear - I am not threatening to jizz on the ceiling


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Time

I didn’t see my kids for 7 months. 

Bar a few days in the middle of that. I visited them in Arizona to keep up a tradition of seeing them on my birthday (and pretending it was theirs). And also to see if Arizona in summer really does feel like you’ve been set on fire whilst Satan spunks his fiery evil man-tapioca all over you. And yes - the Dark One did indeed chuck his horrible muck all over me. Those seven months felt like a much longer stretch of time. The summer of last year was an agony. I lived two thousand miles from my own children. And while there were some reasons for that - it still wasn't my decision. I struggled with not having much of any say in that choice. And despite doing some simple things to keep in contact – goofy emails with my daughter, Skype whenever we could, mailing a turtle back and forth, calling and hoping their mother would just hand over the phone – there was a disconnect. One I wasn't in control of. Amplified by every day that I didn’t see them. That disconnect is obviously understandable. Imagine not seeing your kids when you ached to see them. Some of you may not need to imagine not seeing those you need to hold to feel complete. 

But In a tortured sense it has helped me a great deal. I became a better father. And I believe I've become a much better person. I went through a very strange self-analysis during the last year of my marriage. My ex and I had very different reasons for divorcing. Admittedly during and afterwards some of those reasons became more well known. And we knew a very long time before it ended that we were going our separate ways. I’m not really a big advocate for airing dirty laundry in public (and I’m aware that for some who have read this for a few years that there are a lot of, “I wonder what the hell happened with that?” moments). So there's a delicate balance when you want to talk about changing as a person and a dad without publicly flogging a dead horse.

I’m also a very strong believer in the principle of Don’t Lie. That’s Rule Number One. To anyone who knew me as a young teenager that's the complete opposite. I was a total bullshitter then. Then I became something else. A guarded man. Now I genuinely feel uncomfortable if I think I've been misleading. That came from figuring out if I was a failed dad as well as a failed husband. And it demands a great transparency of yourself. I’ve had people tell me – not many to be fair – that the openness with which I talk about a few things means I might be vulnerable. But that’s just not possible. I own me. I decide if I’m happy. I decide how I feel about my life. Not out of deciding to do so. But because that’s innate and organic. Of course it was a journey to get to a point where the instinctive reaction is to be open and honest. And frankly getting divorced massively helped me get there. So many people hold convictions, beliefs and ideals but forget how they actually came to them. That's how I was. Realizing years before I actually did get divorced that there was an inevitable end meant I had to figure out who I was. It meant addressing so many of things about myself that I frankly didn't like very much.

I used to tell small lies. Nothing big. Just small, “just leave me be” lies. When I came to terms with the fact I did this it made me realize these lies are infinitely worse than bigger ones. Because there’s no need for them. But they’re said anyway. For no gain - but just because you want to be left alone. More than anything they're an intentional method of building a divide. To deliberately create a distance. And in hindsight I realized that all of those little lies were buried underneath an enormous, all-encompassing lie. The nuance of a life conducted to protect the status quo. And in my marriage only the pretend, everything-is-fine life my ex and I stumbled through for years and years was carried out because we thought we were doing the right thing. I hold a lot of shame for that. Anyone who has come out the other end of a dead marriage knows precisely what I mean. After our divorce both my ex and I marveled at how the hell we let it go on that long. All that time.

Nowadays - I will not lie. That’s not to say I’m abrasive and stark with the truth. That’s to say that I’m comfortable in who I am – what I’ve been – and where I truly feel I’m going.To know that I can be honest about my flaws, failings and mistakes. Free to just be honest. I say a lot that I love my flaws. And for those that I adore - I genuinely love theirs. There are moments when I catch myself though, of course. But my word can I see them so clearly and the implications they would have. If I can’t give the people I love and care about my own honesty - then I can’t have their trust. And that's the most valuable thing you can have. And I'm certainly not some heroic, virtuous exemplar of the truth. It just means I'm me as much as I can be. The stark dichotomy between a forced, pretend-me from years ago that I built to protect my kids, and what I am now is enormous.

I used to pretty much keep to myself. Yes I had a blog that seemingly had me spilling all sorts of details all over it. And while it was honest and open it was still selective. But in my real, tangible life I was still quite private. I'd take Oboe to library groups and playgrounds. And through him I'd have friendships that were very much channeled through him. But none of my own. I saw no real value in it. And I didn't see that as  a parent without worthwhile, adult friendships that I was setting a bad example. After the kids left this changed a lot. That head-down method of walking around just lifted. I started meeting people's eyes. Smiling a lot. Not as an effort. But because I thought about it and had that epiphany that I was alone in the crowd. One day I was walking through my office and realized there were hundreds of people that I encountered every single day. All doing this unspoken, agreed ritual of nodding instead of communicating. Slightly smiling. But never actually connecting. I had that epiphany and realized what every single person really wants is to make a connection with other people. Everyone craves intimacy. Different levels of it of course. But those shared connections are what make you feel wholly, truly human. Happy. I spent months after that talking to everyone. And meaning it. To be fair I did get a few, “what the fuck does this lunatic want?” reactions. Or the weird assumption that single men who drive a minivan without seemingly having children, and who talk to random people are either looking for people to keep in a well or crafting an alibi for the true, despicable evil they must be planning. Luckily I was starkly different in upstate NY to everyone else. I was the English guy. So quite a lot of the time it got passed off as, “oh he’s foreign – he doesn't know any better.” I still remember being told by someone I chatted with, "....you actually listened to me." With remarked surprise. That says a huge amount about how people go about their days.

I used to avoid things. Not out of keeping the peace or cowardice. Partly, of course. But because I told myself that I was impulsive. Which quite often is code for, “if you don’t deal with the emotional aspect of a situation except for in that tiny, controlled, fleeting moment then you can’t get hurt.” You can’t burn your hands if you don’t actually pick the thing up. Almost everyone I know has a painful, burning issue they don’t want to deal with. And it’s entirely their prerogative not to deal with it. The why is their own business. It’s usually always a valid one. And it’s not like I heroically decided done day to deal with my own issues. That’s not how life works. That’s not how a failing marriage works. It just isn’t. But that example I was setting for my kids seemed like such a protective way to not hurt them from things. And it did entirely the opposite. One day my daughter came to me and told me that her mother and I don't talk to each other very nicely. We didn't yell. We barely talked for 18 months. But when we did it was robotic and artificial. Crafted with this idea that doing that would prolong whatever it was we were doing. Not hurt the kids. Not provoke each other. And it didn't work. We didn't work. And all those little moments of coldness that we thought hid that from our kids seemed like the right thing at the time. But Evelyn noticed. Nobody could have convinced us otherwise. When we sat in silence over dinner - and my daughter would ask if we were fighting. And we'd both say no. Because the lie seemed right. All those weekends when we'd patently avoid each other with Dad Saturday. Or them going off with their mother for the day. And my son blankly asking why the other parent didn't come too. And we'd smile and think telling him it was better was true. Knowing that together we just weren't very good parents. A bad team. Teaching my kids that too. Thinking that showing our kids we loved them but not each other was okay. Avoiding the issue. All that time.   

I used to have opinions that actually affected my behavior. All as I thought of myself as tolerant, liberal and open-minded. A dad without stresses or struggles. And in many ways I was. But in hindsight I held values on some things that required no need for that at all. I sometimes see posts from here and can't relate to the person that wrote impassioned, judgmental tracts about the most asinine wank. Blathering on about drinking as if I was a fucking puritan. Or couching parents who both worked as "making a choice" and then making backhanded criticisms of it. Opinions about everything without any seeming reason. I mean for fuck sake - I didn’t even have a phone for so long because I held tight to a negative, emotional feeling toward them which stemmed from…..

And that’s really the point. I don’t even know. I held principles and values to support a way of living that essentially shrouded the actual problem. Which was my ex and I were very unhappy. We adored our children. I adored staying home to raise them. And I adored everything I provided for my family. A house that I built. A home that was paid for. A future. Except it was a Big Lie. And holding fast to a lie was essential in that time. And suffocating my own sense of who I was for fear that if I actually breathed the world in I’d admit the Big Lie was hurting all four of us. We were woefully unhappy and always had been. Constantly building up a life. Hoping that at some point something would happen and it wouldn't be miserable. And held up by that massive, painful thought – if this ends my kids will suffer for it. 

Then it ended. And we both wanted it to. For entirely different reasons. But after some painful approaches we both really did want it to. We were both okay with entering the unknown. The day before we weren't. Then we woke up. And we spent a lot of time figuring out how to do it. Changing how we interacted. Released from the burden of pretending. And then - that ended. And my ex wife moved two thousand miles with my kids. And those seven months spread out like what seemed an insurmountable desert that couldn't be crossed. All that time. Too much time.

And then something really bizarre happened. I knew I'd changed. Grown is such a cliched, shitty word. And I don't want to paint this picture of a man entirely the opposite of what he was a year before. It's not like I was a deadbeat dad. I was never ragingly angry or distant. I'd like to think I was always a pretty good dad. I wasn't trying to repair a relationship damaged by something odd, like betrayal or drunkenness. There was nothing like that. They just moved away. And during that time I figured out who I really was. And that day I arrived on Halloween everything just clicked right back into place. It was so obviously right that I was there. Their dad. As I'd always been.

But it was certainly interesting to see my ex wife double take when she expected a reaction or behavior that likely would have come spilling out three years before  And it just didn't come. Or puzzled that I didn't seem in any way frustrated by those opinionated things I had been for years. Surprised that I was so sincerely personable with parents bringing their kids trick or treating. Talking and wanting too. And more important - surprised that I seemed genuinely happy. There was only one area where I completely stumbled after I arrived. I knew I'd changed. All that time. But for some idiotic reason it just didn't compute that seven months in the life of two kids aged seven and four (at the time) is a gargantuan period of time. 

I didn't get that they had also changed. Wandered down that same path of figuring themselves out that I had. It took a talk from another parent - one who'd been through the changes in kids - to get it to click in my brain that I shouldn't be trying to reestablish the old days. The laughs and the respect. How I learned from them and they learned from me. But to embrace the new, wonderful age that they are. Because a three year old and a four year old aren't the same person. Let alone one who was in a borken held-together family and one now who has two parents happier than he'd ever actually known them. I was bizarrely unaware that all that time maintaining the status quo had been punctured - and rightly - to allow their mum and dad to be better parents apart. And that we'd changed. Figured ourselves out. Blossomed really. But then I'd expected them to not really have changed either.

I'm a strangely happy man. I don't feel like Iv'e got it together. I know I have. Not ego. Not arrogance. Just comfort. Knowing that going through plenty of shit - and happy in a weird way to have done so - and still being happy is a good thing. I love my kids. I love what we have now. I love how I can be myself - feel genuine and honest for them. With anyone. I And weirdly - despite everything - I hope their mum is happy and that she also feels like she's a better parent too. Because we spent too much time holding up a bad example. And yes - nobody could have shown us that was the case until we were strong enough to see otherwise. And yes - now I understand that each moment holds so much more meaning. Not to be passed over. Not to just get through until something different happens. That whatever is occurring in that time holds a value that should be cherished too. That spills over into other parts of my life too. Not looking too far ahead to a time when things will be different. But appreciating what is good about that moment. 

I still wish they'd not drop fucking crumbs all down the back of the couch though....