Is it 2018 already?

Most of the rest of the population probably think this too, but I am confident that my last four months have passed more quickly than most.  This is of course because I have now been through the first third of my “year off” with two kids under four (although very soon one will no longer be under four).  The good bits of Christmas are already a distant memory; my probation is over and rookie errors can no longer be forgiven.  The bleak months of winter stretch ahead of me, seemingly unendingly, punctuated by baby groups and endless trips to and from nursery.  I bloody hate January; in years past I would get one or two weeks skiing in to null the crapness but there is zero chance of that.  Just realised that I am moaning a lot, despite the unbelievable opportunity I am currently enjoying.  I cannot deny that I am looking forward to summer but my moaning is helping me to get motivated to make the best of the dwindling time (eight or nine months) I have left as a stay at home dad, which I know is an extreme privilege.  If it goes anywhere near as quickly as the last four months, I had best get on with enjoying it.

The last month or so has seen a really interesting development in the kids, as the younger (21 months) becomes yet more strong minded every day.  Despite being fiercely independent (“the dictator”), she adores her big sister and apes virtually everything that the elder daughter does.  Nothing unusual there, but her behaviour is often reciprocated by said elder daughter who frequently wants to copy what the younger is doing / watching / saying / eating and so on.  FOMO?  I was not ready for this, but the result is that I am developing an acute sense of diplomacy and foresight – every request must be considered on the merits of its likely effect on the other child.  Example, from dinner time – “May I have a napkin please?” – seems fine (and very commendable), but if I allow this then #2 will also demand a napkin.  #2 wears a bib – incompatible with a napkin, plus she can only just manage cutlery and the hand-to-mouth challenge that comes with it – and we have a finite supply of napkins (four I think).  Paper serviette?  That will last 30 seconds before being eaten or shredded.  Any other solution?  Don’t think so.  Request for napkin declined.  Ten seconds pass.  #1 then asks for a bib… you get the picture.  Hilarious and excellent training in diplomacy and negotiation for my future career, whatever that might be.  But every situation is a virtual tinderbox.

I am not going to bang on about Christmas and how magical it all was – the world has had enough of Christmas plus I am threaders with the unrelenting and growing commercialisation of the festival, but this is not time for that particular rant.  But we had a great time, particularly with #1.  I prefer to look forward to 2018 and the challenges, but more importantly opportunities (for the kids and me), that will emerge – not least school for #1.  This particular event should mark the end of my year in charge so is a great head-mark to keep in mind.  She is looking forward to school and certainly needs to stop eating chocolate ice cream.

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Previously I mentioned Movember and my long standing aspiration to grow a mo (having been unfairly denied by the Queen’s Regulations for the Royal Navy for the last 17 years).  It didn’t go so well – I learnt too late that I couldn’t just shave off the rest of my beard and leave a mo – I had to start afresh.  Having had a beard for nearly two years, facial hair is sloooooow to grow once shaved off.  Add to this the fact I didn’t even start until 8 November and the result was pretty shabby by the time I took this on 21 November (note unimpressed / embarassed look on #2’s face when presented with weak Blue Steel pose), by which time I had had enough and it had to go.  So the only New Year’s Resolution is to do Movember properly this year.

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