Walking home, I’ve got a spring in my step. I’ve finished at midnight tonight, the first weekend I haven’t finished at close since I started working here. I’ve been fortunate enough to swap shifts with 2 understanding legends at work. The 2:30 and 4am finishes last week really took it out of me, and were starting to take their toll. I didn’t want to feel like I did last Sunday on my birthday weekend.
I come home, have a quick feed, take my earphones out and walk upstairs. The first thing I hear is the little one crying. I take her off Ewelina, who informs me she’s been crying since 11:30. I take her down stairs and turn on the TV in the hope it’ll distract her and settle her, it has previously. 2 O’clock and she’s finally fallen asleep again.
I’m fortunate in that Ewelina’s quite understanding and supportive, she allows me to sleep in ‘til 9:30. I wake up a lot earlier than I did last Sunday and feel pretty refreshed, those close finishes are becoming a bit much.
At 10 I’ve organised a call to my good mate Sammy Harris, who’s coaching in Japan. I’m interviewing and recording him for a podcast (more on that another time). It’s great to chat to him, it’s been years and we have some good laughs.
11:30 and we’ve wrapped up that call. I come downstairs, Ewelina is on the internet looking up car insurance and comparing. We’ve just bought a car (more on that another time). We spend another hour researching, calling and organising our insurance which we need ASAP. The kids have been wrestling, needy, and crying on and off all morning. They’ve got something that’s going around.
We had planned to go out for lunch somewhere nice, that was the main reason for swapping shifts, to spend some quality family time together. But by the time we get off the phone to insurance company and have that all sorted the kids have crashed.
I ring up an American smokehouse joint, we had been eyeing it off for months and had been saving it for a special ‘occasion’. I place the order, and 20 mins later I’m on my way back with food in hand. I walk through the door and just as a sit down at the table, we hear a cry from one of the bedrooms. We look at each with a sigh and a roll of the eyes. The little girl is up, she wants to have lunch with daddy. We scoff down the food somewhat rushed.
I’ve got to go and pick up a second-hand pram (nothing has been bought brand new) from Sheffield, and we’ve already moved the time from 1, to 2, to 3. They are expecting us. I offer to take Ori with me and leave Ewelina at home in the hope she will get some sleep. Where the pram is located is 40 minutes away and I’m running late. After 5 minutes Ori starts crying. She doesn’t stop until we get there and I take her out of the car. We pick up the pram and it’s a struggle to get it in the car whilst holding her, so I put her in the dirt, she starts to cry, she’s not feeling well poor thing and just wants to be held. Pram goes in and we walk around for a few minutes before she settles.
I put her back in the car and we head off home, she cries again ‘til about halfway into the trip home she finally crashes. I get home but decide to do another 5 minute trip around town, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet that much and just being on the road.
It’s now about 4:30 and the little man is up and at it, albeit a bit grumpy. We get a call from one of Ewelina’s friends asking if we want to come over. They’ve got a little boy, who’s older than him who Tanami loves to play with and beat up regularly. The little boy has eyes for my little princess and gives her lots of kisses every time he sees her, he adores her. I keep an eye on him. The nerve of him to try that in front of me, who knows what moves he’ll be trying to pull behind closed doors. Not on my watch buddy.
As we go past a little Polish corner store, one of what seems like 1000’s in Doncaster, I ask Ewelina to run in and grab a 4 pack. We finally sit down outside in the backyard of our friends place, it’s a beautiful sunny day in Doncaster, which I’m very grateful for. Ewelina passes me my beer
“Why the bloody hell did you get San Miguel!?!”. I know it’s my birthday but I don’t need to be splashing out on the fancy beer (after writing this, the next time I go into work they had bought me a dozen bottles of San Miguel. Oh the irony!).
‘Zubr’, my Polish beer tastes fine by me.
“The Polish beer was more expensive. It must be because it’s at the Polish shop. You know I wouldn’t buy it unless it was”.
She knows me well.
It’s a beautiful day and the weather is great, but it’s hardly what you’d call serenity. Tanami is in a biting phase and his little friend is on the receiving end of a few of these unfortunately. I’m getting up every 30 seconds to tell him off for trying to take whatever the other little boy wants to play with or use. Hose, toy trucks, car, the bike, scooter. Anything. If his friend has it, well Tanami wants it too, and he’ll do whatever he wants to get it.
We’ve been there almost an hour before we decide it’s time to head home. I finish the last of my beer, it’s now hot. We get home and Ewelina takes Ori for a bath and to put to bed. I take Tanami to go and park the car. I park about 5 minutes walk away, that way I don’t have to pay for a parking permit out the front of my place. There’s a beautiful park near our house that we must walk through to get home from the car. It’s such beautiful weather that we take our time and do a bit of exploring. It’s great having some quiet time with just myself and the little man. It doesn’t happen that often now that Oriana is on the scene. I sense sometimes he gets a bit jealous and frustrated because she’s always getting picked up and held as she can’t walk yet, so quality us time, although rare, is great.
It’s now 7:30 and he has some dinner and is bathed. We sit down in front of the TV and watch some cartoons. I’m too exhausted, and so is Ewelina to cook dinner. She can’t even be bothered eating. I have a mince and cheese toasted sandwich. An oldie but a goodie.
Tanami goes to bed about 8:30 and so do we. It’s been a long day. Enjoyable? Maybe… Maybe not. But I’m grateful as I got to spend it with my family and the weather was spot on, a rarity in the UK.
Tuesday is my actual birthday. Ewelina proposed that we go out for dinner. My mum bought me some books and had sent over some money for us to take ourselves out for dinner. I couldn’t think of anything worse. Ewelina doesn’t get home til 6. Ori goes proper mad from about 5:30 until 7 when she goes to sleep. Getting them bathed and dressed and then having to take them out for dinner. No thanks, that’s not my idea of fun ha.
Ewelina spoils me and allows me to sleep in til 7:45 on my birthday. I can’t believe that this time is now considered a sleep in. What has become of my life?!
I have a few coffees and Ewelina leaves for work at 8:30. I put Ori down for her first nap of the day.
I do some housework and some chores before finally making myself a cup of coffee. I sit down on the couch and before I even put the cup to my lips Ori is calling out- you’ve got to be shitting me. I go upstairs and bring her down and prepare some food for them both. I get a Facetime from my parents and talk to them for 40 minutes. By the time 40 minutes is done, the kids are going mad. I tell the parents, gotta go, got to get the kids out of the house.
It takes me about 20 minutes to prepare some snacks, 2 water bottles, 2 milk bottles, get nappies changed and dress them up. I put them in the pram and grab my phone. Oh no, 2 missed calls from Ewelina’s parents and they are calling again. For the love of God!!!!!! Why now!?!?! AAARRRGGGGGHHHH!!! I give them a quick call, lots of smiling and nodding. Her dad tries to speak English, her mum doesn’t speak English, and my Polish has been going backwards since I stopped going to classes. It’s not even 5 minutes, but that’s enough for them to wish me happy birthday. The kids are starting to get going again, they’re in the pram, they know they are meant to be going for a walk. They want their walk, I owe them a walk, and they want to go now! Like right now. Enough talking!!! I tell Ewelina’s parents I have to go; the kids are going mad. I’m not sure if they understood but I think they got the message.
Finally, we are on our way to town and they have settled, earphones in and enjoy the weather. Donny has turned it on for me again, really spoiling me, maybe it’s trying to change my thoughts on it. It’ll take more than a few days of sunshine I can tell you that.
We are off for a special treat, seeing as though it’s my birthday. We are off to get milkshakes. The milkshake isn’t so much the treat itself as seeing the little man’s face with a milkshake in hand, it’s like his crack cocaine, he loves it, addicted to it, and once he has it he doesn’t want to share. He claps whenever he sees them coming. Doesn’t even take his mouth off the straw when he needs a breath, just stops sucking, leaves his mouth there and looks at you from the corner of his eye, with his head down. I literally have to yank them out of his clutch to get some, and after my first mouthful he’s pulling it back off me.
We walk into ‘Burgers and Shakes’ have a quick look at the menu before taking the kids up to the counter to order, table service isn’t common in the UK. I’m carrying Ori, Tanami is following. Order put through. With other arm, I grab a high chair and take it back to the table. I can hear Tanami screaming, look over he’s at the high chairs, he wants one. Put Ori in high chair, run back and grab one for Tanami. Bring back to the table and put him in. Starts screaming again. Wants to be strapped in, safety first, but only when it suits him.
The 2 milkshakes arrive and there is lots of standing on the seats (he didn’t want to sit in the high chair anymore) clapping, yelling and pointing at the milkshakes. We start to take it in turns of sharing the milkshake, he has 3 mouthfuls, I have 1- it’s his birthday and all… No wait it’s mine! I decide to give some to Ori to see if she likes it. She LOVES it! She starts screaming and waving her hands when she goes too long without any. We now have 3 people taking it in turns sharing the 1 straw. Picture 3 hungry hyenas eating… A rat.
It can’t all be done at the same time, it’s anarchy.
Milkshakes are finally finished, and I simply let them go… I have a bad habit of doing this in restaurants and cafes. I just hope that people realise I’m Australian and assume that’s what all Australians do with their kids, let them run around loose and go mad. I’ve been a little considerate though, I made sure I went early, before the lunchtime rush so that I didn’t disrupt the masses.
Time to leave, Ori in pram, I tell Tanami to stand on the pram.
– Come on mate, stand on the pram please
– Mate, I’m telling ya, not asking you now.
The boys really starting to make a scene in the shopping centre, I’m in a good mood at the moment, so I’m not impatient or frustrated… on this occasion. I laugh and smile. “Haha cheeky little bastard” I think to myself. He’s now at the age where he realises making a scene in public is likely to increase his chances of getting his way. I’ve left his blue strap at home. This is one of the best things I have bought, instead of a harness it goes around his and my wrist and it stretches to about a metre, brilliant!
– You can walk if you hold daddy’s hand.
He reaches out and grabs my hand. We have come to a compromise.
We get back home, shoes off, jumpers off, I put a few things away and make the milks. We all walk upstairs, I tell him to go jump on mummy and daddy’s bed. I put Ori in the cot. I go to the toilet and by the time I walk back and check on them, Ori is asleep, Tanami has his eyes open but is settled- I’ve worked hard to ensure that it’s usually like this.
I make a cup of coffee and enjoy the silence of the house. I don’t think I truly appreciated silence until I had kids. I’d always enjoyed it, but not appreciated it to the degree I do now.
I put on some country music and begin to write this blog article (it takes me 4 attempts).
An hour later, the little one is up. I go up and grab her out of the cot. We wrestle on the double bed next to the cot for 5 minutes. We do this every day after her 2nd nap when Tanami is asleep. She loves it and gets so excited when I throw her on the bed, she’s crawling away and laughing. She loves it when daddy is silly with her.
We hang out for the next hour, I prepare a smoothie for when Tanami wakes up. When he does we blend up the smoothie, drink up and then it’s prepping the kids for a trip to the park- got to make the most of this beautiful weather. There’s a great playground right near the house and I allow Tanami to go and play there whilst I take Ori to outside the playground and sit under a tree so she can crawl around on the grass.
We’ve now been there for an hour and I’m just about to get the kids sorted and head home when Ewelina’s friend’s husband calls. He wants to catch up at the park. He’s finished work today and wants to meet up with his little boy. I’m reluctant, it’s now 4:15 and I was going to go home and clean the house and do a few more chores. I ask what time he has in mind? 5:15 he says. Aaaahhhhh that’s a killer!
I’m reluctant to catch up as from 5:30 Oriana goes crazy pretty much until she goes to bed, almost 2 hours. Tanami starts to get a bit aggressive and boisterous too, so I want to take them home and settle them a bit. But this is the first time he has called me and I have an inkling Ewelina and his wife have manufactured this. He is not a ‘natural’ with the whole parenting thing, it simply doesn’t come naturally to him, plain and simple. He rarely takes his little fella out by himself for that reason, so his wife wants me to take him under my wing. The first time I met them was at the park with the 2 kids and I started to get talking to them because they were Polish and our boys were of similar age. The look of amazement and astonishment when I told them I had both kids by myself was priceless. They kept looking around, like they almost didn’t believe me.
I think his wife occasionally compares him to me, which I definitely don’t agree with. I don’t think comparison is healthy in any relationship, for any reason, it can really hurt confidence. He’s building a house back in Poland, so there’s one obvious life skill that he would quite quickly outshine me, and if Ewelina compared his capability to mine in regard to something like that I’d get jack of that quite quickly and let her know about it too. It’s not his fault that the whole parenting thing didn’t come to him, but I know he will get better and probably quickly as he is willing to try and give it a go, which has been spurred on by my presence.
I dash back to the house, take a load of clothes off the line, hang another load out, jump on net to check out Indian menu, order dinner and wash the dishes. Hopefully the house looks half respectable for when Ewelina comes home. Back to the park for the 5:15 man date, think the dads in “What to expect when you’re expecting”.
6:15 and Ewelina calls, where am I!?! Indian is awaiting us as we get home. Dinner is a crazy event tonight, as I knew it would be. Oriana is usually bathed by the time Ewelina comes home so that she only has to have dinner, settle and milk before bed. Both kids are grubby, they’ve been in the playground twice today and were playing out the back in the dirt as I hung out the clothes and washed the dishes. Lots of crying and tantrums over dinner. Ewelina doesn’t even get to finish her dinner, Ori is going that crazy she needs to be bathed ASAP. She bathes her, I prepare the milk.
7:15 and she’s finally down. Ewelina returns to finally finish her dinner and then it’s Tanami’s turn for a bath and the clean-up begins of the dinner. Thank god, we didn’t cook tonight!!
8:30 after watching a bit of Fireman Sam on TV (it’s always, always on the cartoon channel) Tanami is finally off to bed. He’s exhausted, it’s been an exciting day and he goes down without too much of a scene. We do a quick tidy up of the nappies, toys and dirty clothes and sweeping up left over food. Anyone would think a bomb had hit this place… Again.
9 O’clock and Ewelina wants to sit down and have some ‘us’ time. With no family or close friends around, there is very, very limited ‘us’ time. Ori has bought daddy a bottle of Red for his birthday, she knows daddy well and hopefully it’s a cheapish one. But I’m too exhausted to drink a wine. I don’t even feel like alcohol at all, but Ewelina insists and so walks across the road to get me 1 beer from the Iraqi bloke who runs the Polish shop- work that one out.
45 minutes after some much needed alone time and I can barely keep my eyes open. I’m on wake up duty so I want to get some shut eye after my eventful day. It’s not my birthday tomorrow so back to a regular stay at home daddy day.
You may be thinking… What the bloody hell was the point of him running us through his days? Just to inform us that it was his birthday and we should wish him a belated birthday?
No… I purposely put this out a good while after the birthday, so don’t bother.
I was working at the bar a few weekends ago doing the rounds and making sure the people of Doncaster were safe (I’m joking- I was picking up glasses or picking up plates). When I came across these 2 attractive girls having cocktails together, they had caught the eye of all of the young lads around them at some stage and had even managed to get their eyes to veer away from the screen showing the football. When I say together, they were in each other’s presence. They were both on their phones and about the only time they would engage with each other was to show the other something, that I assumed, to be of interest to the one who had discovered it. They barely talked to each other apart from that, and came across as though they had the personality of a door knob, and not a fancy one at that.
About the 3rd time I walked past them, the music was blaring and the beat pumping. All of a sudden one of them starts to record a snapchat video and they start bouncing around like they are in a rap star video having the time of their life. I thought to myself
You fucking LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSEEEERRRSSSS!!!
They were trying to create this perception to their snapchat followers that they were having the time of their life in their 10 second recording. I knew we as a society were becoming unbelievably vain and self absorbed with social media, but this was ridiculous, beyond a joke.
So the point of my post is to show you that my birthday/s weren’t perfect. There was no beautiful family, kids behaving perfectly, without Tanami spilling food on his shirt with his first bite, sun out, on a picnic rug sitting there all civilised like having lunch together with a perfect photo filtered at least a dozen time after being analysed, narrowed down and selected from the 97 that were taken and put up on Facebook or Instagram, with all the hashtags looking like a fucking modern day Brady Bunch.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we even have a family photo of all 4 of us looking at the camera, let alone with clean clothes and smiling. Every time we try it’s like Tanami knows and on cue he flips it and does the Harry Houdini, I’ve never seen anything like it. Doesn’t mind photos, but family photos? Nope screw you guys, not on my watch.
It wasn’t ‘great’, but it was still pretty bloody good. I was lucky enough to spend it with my little family, the sun was out, and I didn’t have to cook dinner, and I’ll take that…