It’s been an odd couple of weeks. We had some concerning health news in the family. A year’s worth of social engagements seemed to arrive in a single month. My previously normal brother suddenly became obsessed by In the Night Garden’s apparent societal tensions. And my 4 year old son Dylan broke his collar bone during his last ever hour at nursery – typical.

Dealing with it all has reminded me that I’m still very much learning on the job when it comes to being a dad (often with limited success):

Seeing your kids in pain is just the worst thing ever. Despite two previous trips to A&E with Dylan, this month’s fractured collar bone was the first time I’ve ever seen him genuinely admit to being hurt. For a kid who normally insists blood from a cut finger is actually jam or who determinedly claims he was born with every bruise, it was heart-breaking to watch him tentatively moving around and telling the doctor it was a “10 out of 10 pain”. The other week, I wrote about the unrivalled annoyance of being injured myself. I take it back. This was way worse, although thankfully he’s pretty much mended now.

It’s true, no-one says goodbye to the Wottingers during In the Night Garden. This injustice has recently become something of a campaign for my younger brother, whose own son just turned one. Maybe he’s right. After all, the rarely featured HaaHoos get a goodbye, so perhaps this does belie a callous inequality. Or perhaps not. What it showed yet again is that no parent escapes this kind of shit becoming part of their life – and thinking it’s acceptable to talk about it. Don’t get me started on how Elvis Cridlington ever managed to pass the firefighting entry exam.

Sticking with that topic, the fat controller really is fat. We discovered this during a trip on a local steam railway for a Day Out with Thomas. Dylan was kind enough to tell him in person. Meanwhile, the train guard was also kind enough to respond to Dylan’s question about why his face “looked funny” with the deadpan response: skin cancer. A fun family day out for all.

At a kids’ birthday party, never judge a book by its cover. Or, rather, a magician by his temper. On Saturday, we attended the birthday party of some close friends’ daughter. To help keep the kids entertained/buy the adults a few joyous minutes actually talking to each other, they had enlisted the help of a magician. Unfortunately, he spent the first half hour giving every indication he hated children, including huffing off to get changed mid-conversation and angrily shouting “for God’s sake guys, this is impossible!” when a handful of excited four-year-olds had the temerity to venture within a few metres of his ‘setting-up area’. But when the show started, he was superb. And boy could that guy twist a balloon.

Letting a two year old try Diet Coke is not a good idea. So in my defence, my theory was that letting Nathan get a big mouthful of unexpectedly fizzy liquid would put him off soft drinks for years, thus solving a potential problem before it began. It failed. He loved it and my wife Laura turned round to see her precious toddler swigging gulp after gulp of unhealthiness. Like I said, I’m learning. Slowly.

So, a belated blog post and not the one I was expecting to write. But I guess that’s kind of appropriate. After all, I never thought the highlights of my August social calendar would be meeting a fictional station attendant with probable Type II diabetes or that I’d be stupid enough to think Coke + toddler = success.

As for Dylan, Laura and I have been waiting years (4 years 11 months to be precise) for him to slow down a bit. But when the moment arrived, it was nothing like we hoped for. It’s good to have him back.


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