Friday, 21 August 2015


Oh my!  Of all the activities you could choose to go on with a three year old, I am not sure camping for a holiday is a sensible one.

Holidays are generally considered to be periods of time where responsibility is lessened and those involved are able to relax and enjoy themselves.  Camping with a three year old does not tick these boxes.

My three year old is a particularly loud one, I believe.  He is also quite highly strung (see my previous post - I am not blaming him, I accept responsibility and this is merely an observation).  He is highly social - which makes him rather demanding of attention.

So when mummy and daddy take him and attempt to erect a tent and all the paraphernalia that will make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable it can be a quite considerable test.  Then there are the nights which are filled with very different sensory experiences as we attempt to settle him down.  The mornings, generally, begin earlier than usual (campers are early risers!) and my wife and I are not great at just 'going with it'.  We have friends that are superbly gifted at this and we admire and resent them in almost equal measures!

But, as with many things I am finding in my life, we do it because we think it will be good for Henry.  Campsite culture comes with a sense of freedom and independence, even for young children.  There is a deliberate move away from the technological distractions of modern family life (although I will admit Henry sat in the car playing a game on my wife's phone whilst we erected the tent - the previous camping trip he had walked around with a mallet 'fixing' the ground.  Our mallet has now broken).  We walked, we visited the beach.  We ate dinner on our laps and biscuits in bed.  We drank hot chocolate before bed.  We looked at stars.  I am already beginning to look back at it with more affection than I recall feeling at the time and while holidays remain as expensive as they do outside of term time (for example, see this article) camping is likely to be the forseeable future of holidaying for us. 

So I best get back to eBay to try to find that piece of equipment that does that thing that will make all of this easier.

Me and fatherhood

I think my last post started with a lament about how long it has been since I posted, and this one (over a year later) can only begin in the same manner.

The problem I have found recently is how easy it is to let life just carry you through as a passenger without any sense of steering.  The loss of my father nearly four years ago has played heavily on my mind in this intervening time and I realised around six months ago that it had begun to affect my relationship with Henry.  You could use the label depression; a GP has with me and I am now seeing a counsellor.  I am not particularly interested in labels, more trying to understand why certain choices are made and how these seem relevant or appropriate.

I hold a firm belief that children are the product of their parents, and while nature plays a role nurture is considerably more powerful.  If a child is causing problems, I would argue, you need to check for whom the behaviour is a problem, why the behaviour is occurring and what in their environment is causing it.  As a result, when Henry started to behave in a way that was a problem for me I realised I could not blame him; I had to look closely at myself.

This coincided for me, fortunately, with a course on mindfulness.  I would heartily recommend this approach.  It has not changed me dramatically, but it has made enough change to help me correct my course and get back to parenting Henry in a manner that I believe is more positive and healthy.

It is so easy to place blame elsewhere, to talk about how others affect you and the reason for bad outcomes is not within your control.  I am currently on a journey that is teaching me that I am responsible for what happens in those around me, and this includes Henry.  My parenting problems are not 'solved' (will they ever be?) by any stretch of the imagination.  A recent camping trip and a reluctant sleeper tested my resolve greatly!  But I am certainly feeling more in control.  And when things go badly, or well, I know again where to look.

This has been a bit of an introspective post, one that focuses more on me than Henry, but I will not apologise for that.  A significant part of me and fatherhood is, indeed, me.  And I believe it is important to remember that both in a critically reflective way, how am I affecting the situation around me, and with mindfulness and kindness, forgiving myself when I get it wrong.