When I started this blog years ago it was intended to track my thoughts about dating and not really all that much more besides. I’d never done it before, and needed to find a way to process things without paying for a therapist. The title for it sort of popped into my head out of the blue and I went with it without all that much thought. I’m a dad who is dating; seemed obvious at the time.
As I’ve gotten more involved in the worlds of Twitter and Instagram, though, I’ve found myself bringing up my kids more and more as they are such a massive part of my life. Half the time they are away with their mum, which is when I get to concentrate on me and me alone, but the other half of the time they are my day and night. I work my entire life around them, so I thought it might be timely to introduce them a little bit.
To mix things up I’ll do so in alphabetical order, for no other reason than it amuses me to a micro degree. First up is my eldest daughter. A confident, sharp 15 year old (as of right now), she was the one who changed everything for me. I’d not been planning to have children at all until my late twenties or early thirties, but thanks to a six-week “memory lapse” by my ex we ended up accidentally conceiving when I was 23. Whilst it wasn’t the worst thing in the world as children had always been a dream for me, it certainly wasn’t expected and threw life into a bit of a spin.
Since then she has obviously grown far beyond my wildest hopes and dreams, physically as well as figuratively. Clocking in at about 5′ 10″ she towers over her mother and isn’t all that far behind me. I do worry sometimes about the struggles she may have if, like so many women, she wants to find someone taller than her, but there’s literally nothing I can do about it other than prepare her to overcome those struggles.
A curious mix of confidence and shyness, she is happy to lock herself in her room reading books and watching Korean sitcoms (Nope, I have no idea how that happened either…) though is also the one most likely to want to bring friends back after school to jump on the trampoline and talk about boys. More on how I handle those issues another time…
Following her in the name-order stakes is her youngest sibling, my six year old boy. He was the one who completed the set and will be my final biological child, and I couldn’t ask for much more. So opposite to his biggest sister in so many ways, he is a typical six year old in that he is easily distracted, often over excited and has no respect for his own safety.
It’s so easy to pigeonhole children in so many ways, so I try to avoid ever reinforcing some of the things that others point out as differences between him and the rest of them. He has no fear at all about asking for the bill at restaurants, or checking where I am in the park before running away, or just playing in the garden all by himself. I don’t want him to feel pressured into being the family jester, though he is ridiculously funny at times and is almost always happy to perform his latest idea of a joke or stunt. I want him to discover his own personality in its own right, rather than merely as whatever is different to the other three.
Helping him along that journey is his older sister, who is now nine and one of the sweetest children you’ll ever meet. I know most parents are biologically programmed to be biased, but she really is. With the effortless beauty of youth that has seen photographers asking me to take her modelling (which, to date, I’ve not done) she also has a smile and a giggle that will melt the stoniest of hearts. Described in terms beyond glowing by her teachers, she’s super, super smart as well, and is constantly surrounded by a group of friends tighter than any I’ve ever experienced myself.
At the moment she wants to be a teacher when she grows up, so I regularly find her with 30 of her teddies lined up in her room while she writes lesson plans on a whiteboard and shows them the latest powerpoint lesson she has put together explaining grammar or maths. She has handmade registers, letters to and from the teddies parents and even gets me in as the headteacher to deliver the occasional assembly. Even if she doesn’t end up going into that profession, she’s already showing signs of academic excellence that will take her far, and the personal relationship aptitude that will mean she’ll never be alone on whatever journey she chooses to take.
Finally is my eldest son, who is thirteen at the moment. Without having much experience of it, I’d guess he was typical of many teenage boys today in that he loves a bit of Fortnite/Terraria/whatever-the-latest-game-of-the-moment-is but is also typical of boys of the past in that he also loves going out riding his bike and playing football. One of the brightest in his class, he too manages to bridge that divide between being smart without coming across as geeky or nerdy, which for someone with a mind as curious as he has is no mean feat. Not that there’s anything wrong with being those things, of course (I certainly was), but he doesn’t fit into an archetypal box, instead showing it’s able to be all of those things he wants to be at the same time.
The four of them have a sort of balance in place and combine in different ways at different times as works best in the true sitcom format. Generally speaking the older two are closer with each other than they are with their younger siblings, but that’s to be expected as there are five and four years respectively between my two girls and my two boys. As they get older that gap will matter less, but when it’s a sizeable chunk of your life it means everything.
And yes, I fully appreciate that I’ve been a little gushing with positive things when I talk about them, but that’s simply because they really are amazing kids. I’m one of seven, with about twenty-five first cousins and god knows how many more if you go slightly beyond that, and as I’m one of the oldest I’ve grown up around kids so have seen the full range of good and bad behaviour. There are countless debates about whether or not kids are good or bad at heart, but what’s for sure is that some kids, whether by nature or nurture, are little shits. I’m lucky enough that – at the moment – my kids definitely aren’t.
And when I say lucky, I of course mean that I’ve spent literally years getting them to this point. Not alone – their mother takes just as much of a share of the credit for this as I do – but having good kids now means I started doing something right a decade and a half ago. They know when to push back and when to accept that my decision is final, they know how to relax and have fun and when it’s time to buckle down and work hard. They’re not perfect, but then again neither am I and nor could I expect them to be. But they’re all trying to get better, not because I expect or demand it but because they want to be, and that’s all I can hope for.
Anyway, that’s them; the four most important things in the world to me by a distance. I’m going to be writing about them a little more, so thought I should do some introductions. That’s all!