Saturday, 25 July 2015

A Dress Rehearsal

20th June #19

You and me, we now have our first problem. It's a nice problem but a problem nonetheless. And this might be an issue you have with both your parents being English teachers.

The problem is this: how to start each of your entries. I've not really read back over them but I feel like (and those three words are a phrase I picked up off your mum) I'm keep starting them with... Today this and today that. Now any good English teacher knows that opening sentences shouldn't repeat themselves so this is now causing us both an unnecessary problem.

Last night (see, I've changed it) your cousin, Cole, spent the night with us. He's already three so by the time you come along he will already be your big cousin. (Which is hard to imagine because he's so little himself.)

And I suppose him staying was a bit like a dress rehearsal for me and your mum, for when you come along. To be quite honest he was really good and your mum did most of the work anyway but we learnt a few things along the way.

After showering him and baking cakes with him (well your mum did that, I'm still trying to make the most of a lie in whilst I get the chance) we took him to the park. He played on the climbing frame and the slides and then because it was raining he got his trousers (and probably pants) thoroughly soaked.

And that was lesson one for your mum and dad because we hadn't brought any spare clothes so your mum had to dry his clothes off under the hand dryer.

I think, to some extent, you might well have to get used to us both improvising. I don't know about your mum but it's definitely in my blood. Once my granddad and his friend found an old woman collapsed in the bushes. Without too much thought my granddad and his friend nipped down to his garage and reappeared with a wheel barrow, which they bundled her into before wheeling her home.

Whilst your mum was busy drying Cole I had my second parenting lesson and that involved making polite conversation with total strangers who were also parents and probably thought I was.

We watched his little boy walk towards the swings and though his dad shouted, "Cross the road properly." His little boy went through the process of looking left and right without actually looking left and right before crossing the road anyway.

Maybe today was mostly about lessons for me and your mum but him crossing the road reminded me of learning to cross the road. I can remember knowing I had to look left and right without really understanding what that meant. So I looked both ways without seeing anything.

I think this is going to be one of the puzzles that possibly we never solve. There are going to be so many things you need to understand and so many life skills we'll want to teach you and half the time you might not have any idea what we're really on about.

As teachers, I guess me and your mum are more than aware of this anyway. It happens in the classroom all the time. But we're all constantly learning and we'll learn from each other. I'm not overly worried about that.

When we took Cole on the swings, and your mum went on the swing, it seemed to wake you up and your mum had to stop. Maybe you're going to have my motion sickness.
Tonight we went to the pictures (again) to see Jurassic world, and the noise seemed to spur you into action again.

So I think what we've learnt today, other than to be better prepared when we take a little one to the park, is that you're becoming more and more present. And every time you move and every time your mum tells me she feels you, well, for once in my life, I'm genuinely lost for words. I have no way of describing how that makes both of us feel. That's the thing you’re teaching us. That invisible bond which is already there and can never be broken. 


I loved dinosaurs when I was little. I had a diplodocus (which I still have, hopefully there'll be a picture of it for you, maybe even the real thing. I have a curio shelf but maybe I need a special shelf for you for all the things I mention in what I write for you.)

My sister's class must have been studying dinosaurs and so she asked if she could put my diplodocus on their display table. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand I was proud that my dinosaur would be displayed. On the other I worried that it was out of my possession and I might never see him again.

I can remember waiting for her after school with my mum on a Friday. But I wasn't waiting for her, I was waiting for my dinosaur to be returned safely to me.

My grandpa always talked to me about possessions. He said they weren't really worth anything. You can't take them with you so don't worry too much about what you own. What you have inside is more important, he would say. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I love my 'stuff'. Me and my other grandad were both hoarders. You never know when something might come in handy and if you've thrown or given something away, it's not there should you need it. All that being the case, anything I have will be yours anyway.

And maybe Cole staying this weekend also showed me something of this. He stayed without a worry. To stay in a strange house or flat didn't seem strange to him. It took me a long time, when I was little, to feel comfortable staying anywhere but home. It made me sad.

Me and your mum want you to be comfortable staying anywhere. Equally we don't ever want you to feel like you're staying away because we don't want you at home. I suppose it's a funny balance to find. Ideally we want a camper van. We want to be able to go on adventures every weekend if possible. My grandpa used to take my dad camping with his friends quite often and we'd quite like you to experience that.

So it seems much of what I'm telling you is a contradiction today. And that's important too. I suppose there are no hard and fast rules. You have to see what's around you and make a pathway which suits your nature and makes you happy.