Dear Dave

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Dear Dave,

Those sound like some excellent resolutions. To get more sleep, drink less coffee and wear less vomit are, indeed, noble aims. Unfortunately, you have a fifteen-month-old.

Basically, you're stuffed.

Perhaps next year, eh?

As usual, I haven't come up with any resolutions myself. If something's worth doing, it's worth doing whatever the date. Thinking up things specially at New Year doesn't seem like a great idea. If I'm not inspired by a plan, then starting it in the depths of winter during the holiday chaos isn't exactly going to give it a large chance of success. Now is not the time to lose weight or attempt to be less snappy with the kids.

I suppose I did (totally coincidentally) think of something worth doing yesterday anyway. Not so much a New Year resolution as a Christmas Sale resolution. These aren't as common as New Year resolutions, admittedly, but I suspect they might catch on. Maybe not everyone's going to have a seasonal epiphany in the menswear department of Debenhams but, what with the confusion of crowds and deals and Credit Crunch uncertainty, I doubt that I was the only person at the shops who suddenly wondered what they were doing.

I wasn't buying clothes, obviously - that would have made twice in the past twelve months. (After my shopping trip at Easter, I shouldn't need to buy anything other than a few pairs of socks until Fraser is at secondary school.) Nope, I was browsing through the half-price toys that had spilled over from the department next door. There were licensed cuddly toys, simple board games, brightly coloured plastic steering wheels and a remote controlled helicopter.

The helicopter was vaguely tempting but it didn't have a price tag on it. Besides, Marie isn't quite old enough yet and the boys wouldn't be interested in it for more than a few minutes before sloping off to play the Wii. Doubtless those few minutes would contain a fair amount of fun but they'd also contain some arguing, quite a lot of frustrated bickering and a small explosion.

It didn't really seem worth it.

Then it struck me that none of the other items were of interest at all. This was a peculiar thought. Not so very long ago, I'd have rifled through the garish tat, hunting out educational bargains to set bleeping and flashing before my children in an effort to stimulate them. These days I'm pretty sure that extra stimulation is not required - sometimes it feels like I'd be better off shutting them all in a darkened room in order to get them to calm down.

Most of the toys on offer were beneath my kids and the others we have plenty of already. Lewis has enough cuddly toys to start his own carnival stall, Marie got a whole book of simple board games for Christmas and Fraser has long-since moved onto the kind of plastic wheel which you have to put a wireless controller in and then use to steer Mario round a race track.

It turns out that I no longer have small children - I simply have children. It's a change that seems to have taken an age to achieve and yet has still managed to creep up on me. Maybe Mike's right. Maybe I need to start thinking about what I'm going to do once Marie starts school in August.

After nine years of being a housedad 24/7, I will have time on my hands. People may even expect me to go back to my old job. This is nonsense, of course. It's been such a while since I left LBO that I've forgotten where the toilets are, let alone how to write a complex data retrieval program for a Large Banking Organisation that functions smoothly without bringing the world's financial system to its knees. Although this isn't so much of an issue as it would have been a few months ago, someone will still need to take care of the kids after school, in the holidays and when they're sick, and that might as well be me.

I won't have time for a 9 to 5 job. I will have some time, however. I will have a chance to explore new career paths and dabble in fresh possibilities. Perhaps this is an opportunity. Disregarding childcare related expertise, all my skills have atrophied. I'm not tied down by up-to-date qualifications. I could do anything!

As I wandered the upper floor of Debenhams, I started to feel disoriented, overcome by the frightening array of potential options available to me. That said, I may just have been dizzy from walking around the escalators in the same direction for twenty minutes, killing time while waiting for Sarah to finish her shopping and appear for lunch.

Then I had another revelation that cheered me up - I don't need a plan for August at all. I need a plan for the following August. I can keep myself busy for a year. There are untold chores to be done around the house. Decorating, cleaning, tidying, organising - there's plenty to get stuck into. The loft needs cleared out; the garden requires a tactical nuclear strike. If worst comes worst, I can always take some time to buy more clothes. You know, smart ones without vomit that would be suitable for interviews.

It's possible I might even have the occasional day where I relax and don't achieve much besides eating biscuits and playing the Xbox.

Yep, I can certainly 'keep myself busy' for a year once all the children are at school. It's only after Marie begins Primary 2 that I'll feel some pressure to justify my subsistence and contribute financially to the household. I hasten to add that this pressure won't be from Sarah but will mainly be internal guilt fuelled by well-meaning acquaintances asking what I've been doing in my 'spare' time. Nonetheless, it will start to get to me.

I suppose we could always have more children to keep me occupied. I'm maybe reaching the stage where that thought doesn't instantly give me a nervous twitch. The other day, friends came round to visit and show off their young baby and I unexpectedly got a strange desire to give it a cuddle...

Then again, when I was actually holding it, I noticed there was dribble coming out one end and at the other there was a feeling which wasn't quite damp but was definitely warm and humid. The kid started to cry because I wasn't entirely holding it at the angle it preferred and it was already hungry, tired and sitting in pee. I noticed I was referring to it as 'it'.

I quickly returned the adorable little bundle to its mum.

So, yeah, maybe I should look into a new career. I'm not going to be a housedad forever. There's no rush but I definitely need to work on a plan. I need to try and think what I want to do and figure out how to achieve it - who to talk to, what training to do, where to go, what to change and when to do it. And I can create this plan happy in the knowledge that I don't really need to go through with any of it yet.

I guess, when it comes down to it, my Christmas Sale resolution for this year is to work hard on coming up with some proper resolutions for next year. Can't be too hard...

...can it?

Yours in a woman's world,


PS Good luck with the sleep. Happy New Year!


MD said...

Happy New Year! I am not a resolutions person, but then I haven't heard of "a New Year's Resolution" until I moved to the US. I tend to think that if I want to make changes, then I should do it when I see the real need for it, and not tie it to a specific date. But it sounds like there are changes coming anyway, so my New Year's wish to you is to figure it out in the best way possible. And of course "New Year, New Happiness, New Health" as they say in my country.

DadsDinner said...

Sounds good.

New Year, New Happiness, New Health to yourself and all DadsDinner readers!