Snotcicle

I’ve always loved how, if you look hard enough, nearly every season has a story or legend somewhere in the world. Even regions that don’t celebrate the same as their global neighbors have some sort of myth or tale that they tell, so that they can get in on the fun everyone is having.

There are the obvious ones, such as Santa and the Easter Bunny, that have been fully commercialized and then the less known ones (in so far as they may not be known outside of the culture they are from) such as Ne-bin.

Go on, Google that last one so you can say ‘Today, I learned.’

What they don’t tell you when you become a parent, however, is that you all get brought into another batch of myths and legends for different seasons.

Such as the legend of Snotsicle.

Snotsicle is a hilarious creature, that people rarely see if they don’t have kids. He comes out around Cold and Flu season (because sticking to the pattern of actual seasons is of course not something that happens in Parent World). This is actually part of the fun in and of itself. Not only do you not know when Snotsicle may make a visit, you don’t know when the season will land. Sometimes it happens right alongside an actual season and makes some sense, so middle of winter sort of thing. Other times the season will rock up during a heatwave in the height of summer, because…reasons.

But the legend is the same when told from parent to parent as they cry into their seventh coffee in the past four hours, the magical go-juice that keeps them awake long enough to witness Snotsicle arriving. When you get told that some kid who your own offspring were in contact with has a cold, you know that the season is upon you.

But who is this Snotsicle I don’t hear you ask since this is a written article so how would I know what you are saying when you read it. Snotsicle is the little creature that lives in the nose of all the children of the world. Waiting for the right season, whenever that may land in the actual grand scheme of things, to spring forth and cause chaos for all.

Or, to be more accurate, the adults.

See children apparently can make enough mucus and snot in their heads to feed Snotsicle when the creature hibernates. It’s the only logical explanation, consider what happens when Snotsicle arrives.

All will be calm and quiet throughout the house, no creature will be stirring safe for the click of a computer mouse. Then right as the adult has work to be done, a sneeze, an achoo, and panic has begun.

Only this morning I was sitting with Nugget having breakfast when she sneezed and two large, green, snot lines shot out of her nostrils faster than Space X rocket taking off. She dropped her spoon, looked over at me with eyes with with terror, and started panicking.

“Help!” she snapped.

I reached over and grabbed the nearest tea towel because I’m the dad, not the mum. Mums would run out, get some tissue, balms, creams. Everything and anything to make the nose wiping a smooth and relaxing process. Dads are practical. You need to get that gunk wiped away as fast as it arrived with as much absorption as you can get.

“But this is just a rehash of that story you told before,” you’re no doubt saying now. Once again I have to guess since I have no idea what you are actually saying while you read this.

You would be right in making that assumption, except the legend of Snotsicle is such that it differs ever so slight. You see, once Nugget sneezed I thought I was in the clear. Until the second sneeze happened, this time though coming from the living room. A sneeze, followed by three more in rapid-fire succession. Since Jellybean is never one to be outdone by his sister, his mantra is that lyric ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ – and he takes that mantra very seriously. Running into the living room I was just in time to see that Snotsicle had jump noses, two bulbous danglers hanging from the cherub nose of my little boy. I was not, however, in time to put towel to nostril and remove Snotsicle.

Jellybean looked up and me and smiled.

“Nose,” he said, before turning and smashing his face into the back cushion of the sofa.

The end result being the cushion now looked like a snotty Turin Shroud, while the boy’s face looked like he had been Frenching with Slimer from Ghostbusters for twenty minutes. Many wet wipes later all is clean, but I keep looking at the cushion and wondering.

Is Snotsicle in there? Waiting for the sofa to sneeze and come out again? After all every season needs a legend, that’s what makes them fun.

Daddy Daughter Night

When we were expecting our first child to arrive we were asked the same question on a regular basis. A question I’m sure every expectant parent gets asked: which one do you want?

Hilarious, considering you don’t really have a lot of control over whether you get a boy or a girl. You can follow all the old wives tales, modify your diet because some website said it ensures the gender will go one way or the other, but at the end of it all you get what you get and you love them from second one of seeing them.

I used to joke with the lady friend that I’d prefer a boy for a our first, because boys are easier to train. Oh how we laugh at such a foolish statement now. Train a child…wishful thinking.

In reality though I gave the same answer to the question every time it was asked. That I honestly didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl, so long as they were happy and healthy that was the main thing. We got blessed on that front twice, despite the fact that you’d swear the younger of our pair was unhappy for the first few months of his life.

Ah early parenthood – such a magical time.

Anyroad deep down I would always wonder if I would be a better father to a boy first instead of a girl. Or maybe a girl before we had a boy. It is the standard self doubt that all parents go through, I have no doubt. What if the girl is a lover of dancing and you have two left feet? What if the boy is a football nut and you can’t stand the sport? What if the girl is into mixed martial arts? And so on and so on, the list of doubts is endless. The point was that I just wanted to be the best dad these kids got and considering they got me they were being dealt a rough deal to begin with.

Then upon seeing Nugget’s face all that left my mind and I just said ‘Screw it I will be the best me that I can be and that will in turn be the best dad for her.’

For you see the ‘best me’ has, over the years, evolved into this mad bastard who literally doesn’t give a shit about how the world perceives him so long as his actions entertain others, hurt nobody and don’t cause problems for those around. Sort of like having Deadpool as my spirit animal.

We fast forward a few years and Nugget has her first ‘girls night’ with her mummy and loved every minute of it. There was juice in fancy glasses, face masks, jellies, something on the telly and, most importantly, no boys. She loved it but being a child who never likes to see, or be, left out of things she asked for a similar night to take place. A daddy-daughter night.

Now the great thing about being somebody who doesn’t care about how they are perceived so long as it brings joy to those I care about I was all in. Face masks, sweets, orange juice in a champagne glass (Is this what the people of Bel-Air living like?), something on Netflix and time with my kid. What’s not to love about that?

I’m writing this article having just had our third such night. We even upped the ante a little and used hair chalk to colour our hair blue, just for added fun. A bit of chilling, jelly babies and cuddles. A night well spent.

The bit that makes it all worthwhile, though, was when, after tucking her into bed, she reached up and wrapped her little arms around my neck. I got the tightest squeeze you’d ever get and a ‘I had so much fun daddy. I love you. See you in the morning.’ whispered into my ear.

I’m regularly accused of having a blackhole in my chest that pumps some sort of sludge around my veins. But if that little thanks didn’t melt my stone heart nothing would…and of course it did.

Sure isn’t she already planning and plotting for her next daddy-daughter night.

Coded Letters

I feel like I am Alan Turing these days. Not because I work in the IT industry. Nor because I reckon I am anywhere near as smart as he was (I mean come on the guy was coming up with an insanely complex method to break Nazi codes before computers were even really a thing. That takes next level smarts). No it is because of how Nugget has started her latest after-creche/pre-bed hobby: keeping up with her correspondences.

This might not seem like anything too out there, after all she is a crazy friendly kid. The bit that might be strange about the entire affair, however, is that she can’t write for shit.

I don’t mean in the ‘oh look at the little hipster thinking she is writing the next great Irish novel’ sort of writing…I mean she literally cannot write. They have only started doing letters in her Montessori in the last few months and in typical child-like innocence the shapes are correct, but in random ways. For some reason the ‘L’ in her name is always drawn like a ‘7’, no matter how many times you explain to her why that isn’t the correct way. I even tried getting her to just do a lowercase L instead, which she grasped the concept of pretty quickly. Until I caught her adding a little bit of flare to the top of it when she didn’t think we were looking.

Kids…can’t teach ’em, can’t send them back for a refund.

But why do I feel like Mr. Turing? Well it’s because I have to remember all the crazy stuff she writes down on the paper. You see sometimes these letters are given out to her friends in school…and she then gets back similar scribbles on paper the next day. Sometimes these letters need to be given to the mammy or a grandparent, but of course Nugget has forgotten what the letter is meant to say so it falls to daddy to recall it. Then you get those letters destined for her live-in fairy, Fizzlesticks, but these have to be read out loud before bed because sometimes Fizzlesticks doesn’t read the letter before morning time.

Yep, Nugget has figured out how to ensure that her important thoughts are read by her fairy on the rare occasion mummy and daddy forget to take the letter away before they collapse into bed.

I’m not even sure if Alan Turing would be any good at doing any decryption on these letters, however. Each scribble is identical to the one before, the only difference being the colour of crayon used and where Nugget signs her name.

Still, it is entertaining each night (yes, this is now basically a nightly activity) to see her stretched out on the mat in the kitchen with sheets of paper. Writing away, speaking out the words that she clearly thinks she is writing down. The stories that get shared between herself and her friends are hilariously innocent. If email hadn’t killed the pen-pal star I reckon she would be doing that as a hobby in her teenage years.

Hobby Time

As stupid as this post might sound, it’s important for parents to get a little down time. Particularly if those parents have hobbies. Raising kids is equal parts insanity and joy, with a dash of questioning what you did with all your spare time pre-kids since post-kids. People tend to have hobbies, things that bring them happiness outside of what they do during the week to pay the bills and all that boring adult crap.

Post-kids hobbies and social lives are definitely the two things that suffer the most. In fact you’d almost feel like printing off some ‘Missing Person’ posters and putting them around the place in the hope somebody can find them for you again.

They never do, by the way. Those are gone forever.

But if you’re lucky to have a partner in parenting that supports your hobbies, while having some of their own, then you can pretend to still be young and carefree. All you need to do is barter hobby time back and forth.

With me and Karen there are a collection of hobbies. We both run. I write comedy books and have recently started kayaking. Karen was heavily involved with the local drama group. There are others, but these are the ones that are time consuming.

When I tell people in work that I manage to run about four 5K runs each week they look at me like I have told them the moon is made from cheese. They can’t figure out how a father of two has time to run. The answer is simple, Karen and I trade off bedtime with the kids.

See the night that Karen goes running, I take the bed duties. Both changed, teeth brushed, story read and tucked into bed. While Karen goes out for her run. Then the next night we swap around and I run for freedom (at least twenty five minutes of it) while herself deals with the terror twins.

But that’s just a system, it can be bent. Like today for example. Tonight was my shift to put the kids down (not in the ‘old dog’ sort of way, but the thought has crossed my mind) but I had a day-from-hell in work. I was in a stinker, worse than a stinker I was just down right in shitty form. To which Karen goes ‘Why don’t you go out in your kayak and I will do bedtime tonight’.

Let me tell you I didn’t need to be asked twice. I was floating up and down on the water without a care in  the world while I left Karen to put chaos 1 and 2 (as we affectionately  call them when they are in ‘hair pull out’ mode).

Bliss.

The important thing though is to know that while the bedtime system works for parental units, it has to be flexible. When Karen was involved in the play I had a few back-to-back nights of putting the terror twins down for the night. That’s just how you roll and as long as both parents roll that way you can keep a glimmer of sanity in your head.

Just long enough so that when somebody wakes up a 3am screaming because she can’t find her dolly you don’t immediately consider mass murder.