The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #7: So Macho

DSC_4363Last year for Christmas we gave our oldest son a simple MP3 player. We went through our music collection and filled it with happy pop songs that we felt he would enjoy – and enjoy them he does.

Very quickly he learnt some of the lyrics and he merrily sings along – often at the top of his voice – and very quickly we realised the error of our ways.

We are gay dads and without considering it we had filled our young son’s gift with VERY ‘gay man’ music.

Immediately his favourite song became ‘it’s raining men’, closely followed by ‘dancing queen’, ‘YMCA’ and ironically, ‘So Macho’.

I have never been under the illusion that I have a cool taste in music, which is fortunate because if I ever had been it would have been quashed when my nephews reached the age when they could express their feelings about it; it was often clearly stated that I like ‘sad old gay man’s music’.

And here I am passing it on to my son.

I am the first to scream about the merits of gay adoption, but even I have to acknowledge that when it comes to music, there could be a real downside for our children.

I am now going to take my tongue out of my cheek to go and ‘daddy dance’ around the Christmas tree to something very butch…where is that K D Lang CD?

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #6: A three and a half year old describes Christmas.

Photo by Lili Gooch

Photo by Lili Gooch

I don’t want to tell anyone about Christmas because you’re not my friend because you won’t let me blow the silver blower because the dog doesn’t like it.

 

Christmas is all about – I love my headphones – my people coming like Gran-Gran and Nanna and my cousins.

 

I like Christmas because little FlatOut – my friend FlatOut – is squeaking and he likes Christmas because he likes to help everyone. And Billy doesn’t look Christmassy because he hasn’t got a Christmas hat – can we get him one from the shops?

 

Everyone comes at Christmas, don’t they? At Christmas Eve my friends are coming – and my pink table can be the table for all the guys at Christmas. And Lily will need a comfy chair – can I put it there ready for Christmas now? Please? I just want to make it look like it needs to be so everyone can sit on my table and sit next to me for Christmas. Why not now?

 

But I’ve already told you all about Christmas, Daddy. Stop asking me.

 

Yes, oh and there are presents for Christmas, that’s correct. Because we get presents and can I look at what’s in those presents? Please, Daddy. OK – well I don’t want to wait. But OK.

 

Can you wipe my nose?

 

And the Snowman – I love that. That’s for Christmas as well, isn’t it Daddy? I love it – they sing in the sky – it’s so good isn’t it? It’s my favourite in the world. But I love Fungus the Bogeyman too because he’s so sticky at Christmas.

 

There’s roast chicken for Christmas, cake, I love cake, don’t I?

 

And Father Christmas comes and gives us presents, he’s red – that’s my favourite colour. And I can watch Rex at Christmas Eve. You know Rex. Rex, Daddy, Rex. This one here – Rex. Yes Shrek – that’s what I said.

 

And Christmas is pretty; it’s pretty at Christmas. And our tree is good and so magical for Christmas. And look – there’s a Father Christmas candle hiding behind that card map. And that’s what friends are for.

 

At Christmas everyone is friends together. I do like Christmas; I do Daddy.

 

But I don’t want to tell you any more about Christmas, because you can think on your own, can’t you, Daddy. So just do that, ok?

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #5: Did they make the effort?

Image 5Did they make the effort?

Did they decorate the house or even buy you presents?

Did they make the day feel as wonderful as it should, did they make it feel special at all?

Do you have any memories of your Christmases before we became a forever family? Memories to hold on to and cherish as children should have.

Or was the neglect every day of the year?

We can hope that it wasn’t, hope that on this special day your needs were put before theirs. Hope that Christmas broke through the alcohol and drugs and brought out parenting they were incapable of the rest of the year.

Everything in your life has changed now and we will make sure that your Christmases will be how you both deserve them to be and hopefully they will be valued and remembered for many years to come.

Merry Christmas our Sons, our light, our life and Merry Christmas to your troubled birth parents who brought you into the world and without whom we could not be the family that we are.

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #4: Christmas Party Games you never played before you had children…

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  1. Name that stain Being a parent apparently means accruing a large knowledge of cleaning products and how best to combine them. I can’t make a Martini but I sure can combine Vanish, Napisan and bicarbonate of soda to get melted chocolate coins out of the sofa
  2. 56 wipe pick-up The rules are self-explanatory here, just insert whichever item you would prefer your child(ren) didn’t dismantle and throw around the lounge whilst you had the audacity to go upstairs and brush your teeth
  3. Midnight tag “you get up”. “No you, I just went”. “I will give you a tenner”…..
  1. Sniff those trousers Is it wee? Is it poo? No it’s just dribble, we’re good
  2. Race the dog to the vomit A particularly charming game where one of your children has thrown up and the Labrador will ‘clean it up’ if you don’t get there first
  3. Car seat bingo What is your child eating? The only clue is that they retrieved it from down of the side of their car seat
  4. The stood-on-a-piece-of-lego party dance No explanation required
  5. Supermarket sweep – where before you were perhaps one to stop and compare prices as you made your way round Tesco, now you dash round à la Linford Christie to avoid small child meltdown
  6. Pudding roulette – they ate a lot at dinner and it’s been a very exciting day, plus you don’t want to play the Labrador game again…
  7. Patience – Of course, you played it before you had children but it turns out it ain’t a card game

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #3: Not this year’s festive favourite.

DSC_4359I think it’s fair to say I am not this year’s festive favourite!
The reason being we have decided to try and have the Christmas we want for ourselves and our children – rather than a (vain) attempt to balance everyone else’s desires with our own.
We are seeing all our family, just not on Christmas Day or Boxing Day…
My Christmases up to now have always felt like snatched moments of joy in a sea of obligation. The dynamic hasn’t exactly been uplifting. I don’t want our children to be saying the same when they are adults. It also feels like a unique opportunity in the year to regroup, spend a period of special time together when the outside world really does retreat a little. It could even be a bit restorative – and boy would that be great.
My mother feels my approach is selfish. She wants to spend Christmas with her children and grandchildren. I understand that and am sorry, but realised I am getting better at prioritising my own sanity and the needs of my primary family of four. She can’t really grasp the turbulence of our daily life, especially at this time of year, or the value of moments like Christmas on our long road towards secure attachment. And hey, if the kids are really challenging, there’s always somewhere to run! Happy Christmas!!

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #2: Christmas Memories

Image 3The most powerful memories of my early childhood are around Christmas, most specifically waking up on Christmas morning.

Not so unusual I guess, waking to a pile of Presents delivered by Santa, Presents I had wanted and asked for in my Xmas letter to the North Pole, others that surprised me and delighted me.

However, it’s more than just the presents that had an impact on my Christmas mornings.

We went to bed at our usual 7pm in a house devoid of any signs of Christmas – no decorations, no tree, no Christmas lights, not even cards displayed (just a pile that had been gradually growing larger day by day over the previous few weeks), we fell asleep leaving a house that was the same as every other night.

Regardless we were all full of excitement and anticipation – and we were never disappointed.

For we woke on Christmas morning to a house that had been transformed – we got up to Christmas.

To all its glittery, tinsely, sparkely and tacky wonder.

There was a huge tree (that usually touched the ceiling???)and was full of baubles, full of tinsel and full of much loved decorations that we cherished and were excited to see after a year of being packed away.

We were dazzled by lights – so many lights. Lights that made the tree come alive and greet us as we entered the room and lights in places that transformed our oh so familiar sitting room into something spectacular in our young – and in hindsight – easy to please eyes.

The amazing spectacle, the mystery of Santa having visited our house while we slept and the wonder that was Christmas suddenly in our home has left memories that are still as sharp over four decades later, that still fill me with a warmth and delight as if reliving the experience all over again.

In my childhood Christmas started on the 25th December and still hasn’t ended over 4 decades later.
P.S – As an adult I wondered how on earth my parents had achieved all that they had after we children had gone to bed, now as a busy parent I am even more bewildered and I realise – and totally appreciate – just what an effort they went to.

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #1: Twinkle in the Sky

20121201_130647Christmas can often be a time for reflection on what went before.

“Auntie, your baby is a twinkle in the sky.” had said my beautiful, little freckly niece soon after my summer wedding.
I will never forget those words. The winter that followed was tough. It was freezing, the country covered in snow.
I sat at my office desk, consumed in my own darkness of winter blues and post wedding blues, but mainly coming to terms with my doctor’s news that having children of my own would not be a good idea. I had no idea a twinkle in the sky was about to enter this world, my son, and in the hospital just around the corner from my work.

There are no words to truly describe those days of introductions. Those moments that are like gold dust to me now.
The moment when I first saw this smiley, beautiful, brown eyed boy. When I stroked his soft black hair. How he didn’t mind getting in the car with two complete strangers to go to the park for hours at a time as we all got to know one another. How it felt to hold his small, warm hand in mine and the moment when he held out his other one to my husband and we walked those first steps together, hand in hand, as a family. Or how his cheekiness started to emerge when he bent down and tickled my feet, saying “ickle, ickle!”.

But there is one moment I will never forget. We were coming to the end of our bedtime routine.Having finished our story, usually Perter Rabbit, my son in my arms, him gulping back the last of his bottle while holding his essential fleece blanket. As I starred into his chocolate eyes I began to run my fingers along his brows, gently over his eyelid, his little nose, stroking his soft chubby cheeks. His eyes didn’t leave mine.
Then he lifted his own hand and ran his small fingers along my brows, touching my eyelids, nose and face.

The tear drops which trickled down were filled with boundless love for this child, for my son, and they were also tears of my grief and darkness leaving me.

My niece was right! My baby was a twinkle in the sky, the brightest and twinkliest one; and with the hands of many, it landed in our laps, into our hearts and is our world.

Merry Christmas everyone!