The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Monday, 27 May 2013

My Kids Have Turned Me Into A Criminal

The (Bank Holiday) Weekend Picture No. 48

The Crime Scene

It all started back on 31st March. Since then my criminal activity has threatened to take over my life. It has led to me lying, covering my tracks and jumping at the sound of approaching footsteps.

I am not proud of myself.

But, equally, I do not feel that I am totally to blame for this life of crime into which I have found myself thrust. Like so many who have gone before me I feel that the root cause of my criminal behaviour is not found within my nature but within the nurture that my family have provided.

In this case I blame my kids.

In March my 3 growing children were given a mountain of chocolate to celebrate Jesus's resurrection. I even wrote a post about the quantity of sweet stuffs with which they had been blessed.

Now, when I was a growing kid a ton of chocolate would have been an excuse for me to gorge myself until I was hyperactive and then sick on Mum's favourite rug. I was a normal child with a consideration for others.

My children are not like that.

The picture above is the chocolate that remains in our house TODAY - 8 weeks later!!

They still have chocolate - 8 weeks on. How does that happen?

So, for the past 8 weeks I have been bothered by the gnawing hunger that comes when you are within feet of unclaimed chocolate which my children have (no doubt) deliberately left within reach of their weak willed father.

And, for the past 8 weeks I have been nibbling at the edges of their eggs, their bunnies and their assorted Easter orientated treats and, like the hardened criminal I am, covering my tracks (or tooth marks).

And yet, still we have chocolate left in the house.

Do these kids have no consideration? Do they not realise what they are doing to their own father?

Speak soon (unless they catch me first)

PS You may have noticed that I have a new badge on my blog this week. I am in the final of the BiBs Family Blogger of the Year Award - Wahoo!! Thankyou so much to everybody who voted for me. The decision will be made on the 21st June - so watch this space, cross your fingers and send large wads of cash to the judges (the last comment was clearly a joke) You can find out more about the award and the quality competition I am up against by clicking here.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

When You're There, Be There

The Weekend Picture No. 47
I love my iphone and I love my kids.
I love spending time with my kids and I am rarely, if ever parted from my iphone.
In fact, if I am parted from my iphone then I tend to come out all in a fluster.
I am often, on the other hand, parted from my kids. And I am rarely to be found all of a fluster when I am parted from them.
As a result, I was challenged this morning by the minister at my church when he relayed some advice he had been given this week.
"When you are with your kids, are you really with them? Or is your attention distracted by the device in your pocket/ on your coffee table."
That challenged me because I often find myself distracted by emails pinging in, breaking news stories on my Sky News App or by tweets and other equally vital missives from the outside world that have found me because my iphone has made me permanently available. Or rather, because I have allowed my iphone to make me permanently available.
So, I have made a pledge. When I am with my kids and my lovely wife my iphone will have to play second fiddle. It may find itself being shut in a drawer or even being switched off.
When I am with them - I will really be with them.
The outside world can wait.
Speak soon

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Helping Your Teen Revise

The sun made a brief appearance approximately 1 week ago, the hayfever sprites have started to play havoc with your nostrils and wasps have returned to ruin your picnics.

All these phenomena can only indicate one thing:

Exams are here.

And with exams comes revision.

Some parents are born lucky. Their children take to revision like ducks take to water. Those parents can skip this post, pat themselves on the back and pour themselves a long, cold G+T to celebrate instead. But for the rest of us - this is the Dad Etc guide to helping your teen revise for their summer exams.

1. Find them a place to study

Routine is really important to establish early for the studying teen - and routine includes studying in the same place as much as possible where their books and stationary are easy to hand. If they're lucky it will be a desk in the bedroom - if not a quiet space at a table downstairs. Commit that space to them for the duration of the revision period.

2. Help them to plan their study

It's really important that teens have a study plan that they stick to. Help them create a revision timetable by identifying the subjects that need the most work - this website might help - and then hold them accountable. Display the timetable on the kitchen fridge and speak to them about how it went each night.

3. Make sure they make time to play

Revision for exams can become all encompassing - however - Jack was not a dull boy because he found time to play alongside his 9-5 drudgery. Make sure your teen is taking time off - for some that will be easier than others!

4. Build in praise and reward

The weeks of revision can stretch before your teen like the Sahara before a parched explorer without an oasis in sight. Look for opportunities to praise and reward your teen. Buy in their favourite treats, rent their favourite movie, cook them their favourite meal. A little goes a long way in incentivising the revising teen.

5. Partner with them

Revising is a solitary and sometimes frustrating task. It is so much easier when you know that there is someone else going through it with you. Promise to partner with your teen in their revision. Offer to test them, learn with them and learn from them (one of the most effective techniques to reinforce learning is to teach another - offer to be their pupil). Talk to them about their progress every day and walk their revision walk with them.

Good luck to you both!

Speak soon

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Joy and Pain of Saving

The Weekend Picture No. 46

M with her prize
The Signs of Spring have different attitudes to money. M is a saver. She likes to scrimp and save, watch the pennies and hoard great piles of copper coins in the hope that they will turn into a treasure of great worth given the passage of time.

E on the other hand is a spender. Money burns holes in the size of her pockets the size of Moshi Monster collecting cards. She is a sucker for keeping up with the Joneses and would far rather spend her cash than save.

Until this weekend it has appeared that E's spend today, worry tomorrow attitude has reaped dividends as she can boast the latest Blott rubber and other brand specific moulded plastic items whilst M has slipped behind the times as she squirrelled away pocket money and birthday/ xmas earnings in her Enormous Crocodile money box and avoided toy shops and other emporia of temptation.

That is until this weekend when The Kindle arrived!

M has been saving up for a Kindle for as long as she has been on this planet. She loves reading and spotted a friend with one 200 years ago and has ever since set her heart on owning this most unlikely of 10 year old "must-have gadgets" She reached her £69 target on Wednesday (when she found a £10 note from Christmas in a forgotten corner of her bedroom). We immediately paid for it.It arrived on Saturday! M can't take her nose out of it.

Is E proud of her sister's saving habits?
Has E been inspired to take a leaf out of M's book and start saving for a rainy day?

Has she heck!

E can't bear it.

E wants a Kindle and E wants one now. She does not want to save "because it will take ages".

Her brand specific plastic moulded items have been forgotten and replaced in her affections by The Kindle!

It's tough growing up.

Speak soon

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Terrific Tomatoes!

The Weekend Picture No. 45

They're growing Dad!
We have been enjoying the unseasonable bank holiday sunshine this weekend. As soon bank holiday comes round we join the hordes at our local DIY superstore, don gardening gloves and paint specked clothes and do something useful in the garden

This weekend we have been mostly cutting grass, weeding flower beds and killing ants.

E and I have also been lovingly tending the tomato plants we have been growing as part of Heinz Tomato Ketchup's Grow Your Own campaign. They sent us seeds, a watering can and a natty pair of branded gloves - all modelled by the green fingered E - and have set us the challenge of growing our own tomatoes.

Well, not being one to shirk the challenge of communing with nature and producing a bountiful harvest, I have enlisted the kids to help me grow tomatoes and will keep you updated as to our progress over the coming months - Heinz have promised us a reward if we do so - so it's everything to play for!

Speak soon

PS I am delighted to announce that Dad Etc has been shortlisted for the Brilliance in BloggingFamily Blogger Award run by Britmums - Thank you everybody who has voted for me already. I am up against some very tough competition (15 mummy bloggers and me - it takes a brave man!) so would be eternally in your debt if you felt that this blog was worth a vote. You can vote by clicking on the button on the top right of the page or by clicking here. There is only a week left to cast your vote so please don't delay but vote today - it takes a matter of seconds and would make my life complete. Thank you so much - and fingers crossed.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Screaming Child on Public Transport Dilemma

The perfect scene for a 4 year old tantrum
 Picture the scene.

A packed commuter train out of London. Not a seat left to be had. Rain teeming down outside. Passengers immersed in newspapers or electronic devices.

You join the train with your 4 year old.

You have just had a great day doing London's sights - Natural History Museum, 10 minutes on a double decker bus and then an additive packed tea at Burger King, Waterloo. It has been a memorable day.

But days like that come with small print. You are exhausted. You would like nothing better now than to sit on one of those occupied seats and fall asleep reading Metro's "Guilty Pleasures". But, a) there is nowhere to sit, b) 4 year old is wide awake and c) Since another kid pressed the "please let me off the bus" button on the double decker he has been in one of those moods. Nothing has been good enough.

The train is not blue. The Burger King meal toy was the wrong variety and he has just remembered that you said no to buying him the roaring dinosaur at the Natural History museum shop.

So, he kicks off. He complains about the colour of the train, he asks for another sweet and then when it becomes clear that you are not going to do anything to meet either of these perfectly reasonable demands he launches into a high pitched, peak volume tirade about how unfair everything is.

How do you respond?

I ask the question because this is the situation which faced my Dad on the way home from London recently. He was stood next to the father who was the object of said tirade on a packed train out of Waterloo station.

The father's response was not to snap back at his son with the righteous fury of a weary parent, nor was it to admonish the boy in any way whatsoever. Rather, the dad's response to his son's tirade was to ignore him.

The son eventually got the message and calmed down - but my dad had to endure the screaming which ensued whilst the message got through.

But, is that the right thing to do in a packed commuter train? By ignoring the child, was this well intentioned father actually subjecting the rest of the train to an ear bashing which a) they did not deserve and b) ruined their journey home?

Should we modify our disciplinary strategies to the situations in which we find ourselves? Or is consistency the key?

Speak soon

PS I am delighted to announce that Dad Etc has been shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging Family Blogger Award run by Britmums - hence the rather flashy looking button at the top of the Blog. I am up against some very tough competition (15 mummy bloggers and me - it takes a brave man!) so would be eternally in your debt if you felt that this blog was worth a vote. You can vote by clicking on the button above or by clicking here. Thank you so much - and fingers crossed.
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