The many ways a life can unravel

I get a lot of people coming up to me for a chat when I’m with my daughter, so it wasn’t a surprise when we were sat in the cafe and a woman, perhaps in her sixties, wandered over to us. Her opening gambit was to stare at my daughter in a mildly unnerving manner, which worried me a little, but when she started talking to me it was the usual questions “what’s her name?”, “how old is she?” and so on.  This woman had a tendency to repeat herself, and her memory seemed like it might to be starting to go a little, but it wasn’t the difficult conversation with the crazy stranger I had been concerned it might be.

A few minutes later, a man she was with, a little younger, wandered over too, his conversational skills consisting mainly of non-sequiters like “we’ve been to Derby on holiday”, but he was pleasant enough, and my daughter happily munched away on her croissant while I chatted with these strangers. Presently the man wandered off, and the woman seemed as if she was going to leave too, but changed her mind. She started to talk about the man, it becoming apparent he was her son. “He has that Aspergers, have you heard of it?” “It was hard, because they didn’t know for a long time” “It was hard”, she kept repeating.

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Number two is on the way

A strange trip to the hospital with my wife this week. The receptionist assumed that I was the one there for the appointment. Not only that, but he also thought my wife was answering all of his questions on my behalf, and actually stopped to ask her to let me answer myself. Now, my wife does have a first name which can be either male or female, but given that the appointment was for an ultrasound, my wife is clearly pregnant, and she had handed him a folder of maternity notes, this seemed a strange assumption to make. He was at least suitably embarrassed when he realised. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying we have another baby on the way.

Lots of people keep telling us that “the second one is easier”, but, being honest, I’m finding it hard to see how dealing with a tiny baby can be easier when you also have an energetic/attention seeking/grumpy (delete as applicable) toddler on your hands. A few weeks back I happened to bump into an old school friend who had just had his second child. He was in that manically tired state of mind that comes with a tiny baby at home, and his advice was “don’t do it”. I think he was joking, but it’s hard to be entirely sure.

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Get Confident, Stupid (or how not to build your child’s self esteem).

I worry sometimes, about my daughter’s confidence. Like most worries about our children, this is rooted in my own experiences. I was always a pretty shy kid, as far back as I can remember. I was apparently terribly upset when my mum used to drop me off at nursery, and I seem to remember being happier playing by myself than joining in with the other kids. At primary school, this didn’t affect me much. It was a small school and everyone pretty much muddled along together without forming groups or cliques.

Middle school was a different matter, massive and overwhelming, and I retreated into my shell even more. Still, I had my little group of friends to play football and computer games with, which helped me worry less about the shyness I felt in larger groups. It was as a teenager though that my confidence really disappeared. I drifted away from one group of friends, and never really felt like I found another. At this crucial stage of life I felt alone, unimportant, insignificant.

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Bringing up a child in the time of Trump

This is not primarily a political blog, but in times like these ignoring the political situation should not be an option. The first week or so of Donald Trump’s presidency has been worse than I possibly imagined, and my expectations were extremely low. More concerning even than any of the individual policies he has put in place, is the disregard for the rule of law and the constitution. It is also very apparent that our own government here in the UK is not going to do anything to stand up to him, regardless of what he does.

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So I joined a few thousand of my fellow citizens at a march in Leeds last night, protesting against Trump’s travel ban, the man himself and our governments craven subservience. I’ve been cynical in the past of marches, protests and petitions, believing there is little chance of them having any impact. I’ve come to realise though that, although protesting has only a tiny chance of making a difference, sitting on my arse doing nothing has absolutely zero chance of making a difference, so I know which I’d rather be doing right now.

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Even Toddlers Love The Beatles

When we moved into our new house earlier this year, we also bought a good-quality record player for the first time. You’d think a decent stereo set up would be fairly essential for a music blogger, but unlike some of my friends with strong opinions on speaker cables and stands, I’m hardly an audiophile. Still, I have to admit I love the sound, especially compared to the tinny faux-vintage all-in-one piece of crap we used to have. Surprisingly though, I’ve not been the member of the household getting the most pleasure out of the record player, as my 2 year old daughter is absolutely fascinated with it.

She has had her own Fisher Price record player since her first birthday (thanks Auntie Jen!) so she kind of understood the concept of these pieces of plastic spinning round and producing music, but now she’s starting to take an interest in our records. To her, music is for dancing to more than listening to, and when a song comes on which isn’t suitably danceable, she’ll demand “I want big music”, although what she considers to be big music can be quite hard to predict. If a ballad or a slow song comes she’ll ask “Is this a sad song?” and put on a pretend sad-face.

For pretty much every song she’ll ask “What’s this song about, what’s this song about?” So we have to be pretty careful what we choose to play to her. Either that or just lie, which is always a handy parenting option. I’ve not yet tried to explain the argument that a song can be said to be about whatever the listener perceives it to be about, so her interpretation that the song is about a jumping dog is equally valid as my interpretation that it’s about a psychedelic drug trip. That may have to wait until she’s 3 or 4.

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