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.

Seven weeks out

A somber celebration. Ahead of Thomas turning two at the weekend I’m so proud to say I am seven weeks out since finishing medication for Postnatal Depression.

It has been a slow and careful process that started just over seven months ago (the theme of this post is seven) and in this episode we talk about the symptoms, this difference in my first bout of PND and my second as well as what partners can do and what supports I found.

For now, the future is bright and I am so pleased to be out the other side and hopefully no U turns but I am lucky to be surrounded by an amazing group of family and friends that will help me steer straight.

Seven weeks out

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.

A New Fa(mily)d diet

Fad diets are barely a fad anymore. You open up an article online or a newspaper if you happen to be visiting a museum and some new crazy diet is being described. Plant based, because sports types say it is good for recover. Meat based, because butchers don’t like people eating nothing but vegetables. Cut out the carbs….eat nothing but carbs. Have white rice but only on a day that doesn’t end with a ‘y’. The list goes on and on.

I’m here to tell you about a new Fad Diet, one that very few people seem talk about. See the problem with all other diets is that you have to basically cut out something. No meat, or less meat. No bread, despite how that would make it impossible to have a rasher sambo. Cakes have to be avoided…for some insane reason. Pretty much the golden rule of all popular diets is to stop enjoying food.

I know there is probably some valid reason behind it…but dammit I like food.

Anyroad this new diet I am here to tell you about? Kids!

Now, I’m not saying you need to go wandering into the forest and build yourself a gingerbread house in the hope that some kids get lost because their breadcrumbs are being eaten. Mainly because who could afford to build their own bespoke house in Ireland these days? Unless the forest you had in mind was one of those fantastic ones were money grew on the trees.

No, what I am saying is having kids is the best way to lose weight and I am not even touching on the part about how breast feeding burns off loads of calories. This is a diet that applies to parents from all walks of gender.

It is really simple to do. You simply attempt to eat a normal sized meals, ones you have eaten your entire life, in sight of your little bundles of joy. Then, without any prompting, training or instructing, the kids will fill in the rest.

Take, for example, your average yogurt pot. Me, I am a big fan of hazelnut yogurts. I have been since my Nan (the grandmother on me mammy’s side) would get them for me as a treat back in the day. So now they regularly get picked up in the shop. There is about ten teaspoons in each pot, a perfect snack amount if I am being honest. Unless you happen to eat one in front of our two littles. Then those ten spoonfuls have to be doled out among three mouths. Now, I’m no Messiah so that pot doesn’t magically start making more tasty goodness and of course I shared with the kids.

Greedy little shits.

But that’s just a small example of how kids help you lose weight. If they are around you when you are eating then they reduce the size of your portions pretty damn quick. This creates a calorie intake deficit (see, there is even science in this) and you start to lose weight. Want to lose more weight? Increase the number of kids you have around you when you are trying to eat.

There also doesn’t seem to be a way to combat this. Unlike normal diets when you can have a ‘cheat day’ and go off menu, the Kid Diet ensures that cheat days don’t work. For you see in order to cheat you need to eat and if the kids are around they will want what you are eating.

Even trying different eating methods won’t help you. Such as a family dinner time when you all eat at the table together. Forget about it. What will happen here is the kids will want to eat what is on your plate first, even though it is the same food on their plate, or they will wolf down there own food and then come looking for seconds from your plate. Which, of course, a loving parent will give them because the kids are growing but still the little savages are like bottomless pits.

This very morning, before I sat down to type up this little rambling, I even tried two new tricks. I got their breakfast ready first and while they were eating it I set about making my own breakfast (a white pudding sandwich with a good cup of coffee). Right as my breakfast was done the two littles had finished all of their grub. I could sense them looking at me…like wolves waiting for their prey to let down their guard. But I am a hunter-gather somewhere in my family tree…I was ready for them.

Out popped two apples for them to munch on.

The offerings were accepted, the tiny pagan gods appeased.

I finished making my breakfast, poured out the coffee, and went over to the table to have my meal. I swear to Dagda two little heads appeared out of nowhere on either side of me. Drooling at the sight of my food.

“Did you finish your apples?”

“Shop,” the youngest said.

“We don’t have them anymore, daddy,” replied the eldest.

They kept eyeballing my food. I cut the sambo in half, then halved one of the halves. Without even being asked to, little hands swooped in like mutant vultures and grabbed the quarters. Delighted with life they both ran off, munching happily. I wasted no time in devouring my own half of breakfast before they returned.

They always return.

But why had my new tactic to bring in a cheat day to the Kid Diet (a cheat day in this instance being a day you get to eat all your own food yourself) failed this time. As I sipped at my coffee, which thankfully both kids know they will never get to drink so they don’t bother asking about it, I watched the two littles finish their ill-begotten gains. When I saw that I had been outsmarted my two tiny chess masters. Once they had finished the sandwiches, checking my plate with a sneaky glance to ensure there was no more to be stolen, they walked over to a duplo box. Taking off the lid the youngest reached inside, pulled out an untouched apple, and handed it to his sister before reaching in and taking out his own apple.

I had been played, hustled by the two cutest con-artists in the land.

While the weight just continued to fall right off me.