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Beaches and bedtime stories

Mrs Daddy – Swimming, Lego and Bedtime stories


Sunday 27th January 2002


7.10 am TBT comes in looking for me

Rather than disturb Darlingest I go along with him. Somehow we all end up getting dressed. This throws TBT for a while as he is convinced it must be a school day. I am glad to play along, get them dressed and back to the swimming pool. Zozo takes the lead, though having to chose her outfits is beyond my abilities as a man; I refuse to offer her a choice of three tops and three pairs of trousers, fortuitously I fine her a top that she will ear. Getting out of her pyjamas has to be timed, 6 and a half seconds. She is dressed in under two minutes. TBT won’t race, but I help him get dressed.

It still takes us over an hour to get out of the house. Arriving at Newhaven Pool we find the training pool could be closed from 9.00 for an hour for classes. luckily we have a manager who sees the injustice of my turning up to find the kids pool potentially closed while only adults are allowed in the big pool. A lane is put in and we get to enjoy woggles, playing ‘crocodile’ and ‘sharks’, having TBT do ‘Lara Croft’ arms while hopping towards me on one foot, or swimming with his woggle while trying to grab my toes. We are out of the pool just before 10.00. It takes another half hour to get dried and changed. I just manage to get a family cubicle. I place the woggles in a booth while l I open the lockers. I return to find it engaged. I am not pleased. The guy leaves. ‘There were just two woggles’ he says as some kind of excuse. I want to make some sarcastic remark. How could he Woggles have got there? On their own? I resist. Carrot and red pepper pieces are offered. TBT wants something else. Zozo isn’t too cuffed either. When I say I’ll eat them all myself they relent. I’m against anything from the vending machines too. In the car they both eat the bananas that are on offer.

11.00 a.m. Back Home

Darlingest had had some freaky dream and had no idea where we were when she woke. I had hoped she’d have enjoyed the lie in, instead she got up. Zozo wants the rabbits out. Then the hamster. I want to get some shopping in. I’m also constantly thinking about when I will write or when I might get down to the sea to enjoy the storm – and write about it. A piece of ‘homework’ I have been set by the ‘Grange Writers’ in Lewes is also bugging me. I have to take a story I am working on then chose a colour and focus on this to eek out the story. I’ve had white on my mind for days, but feel grey would be more appropriate for ‘The Time Telescope’ and the day Alfie discovers the TT in the Martello Tower.

I find myself on the old PC in the kids bedroom. They want to do ‘I.T. Essentials’. The format is crude, and necessitates that an adult reads out the instructions, but it proves engaging for both TBT and Zozo for an hour while Darlingest gets lunch ready. This software is copyrighted 1993! It has educational value though for typing, reading and IT skills. The maths is absurd … a test on binary numbers 1 I guess it is supposed t tie in to an IT theme so the whole thing is aimed at far older children. Both TBT and Zozo prove very agile with the mouse and they are learning their way around teh keyboard. It doesn’t hold TBT for that long, he goes off to do something else. He gets out a Junior Scrabble board and begins to match the letters. I sit between them, trying to supervise both in equal measure as Zozo goes through both levels of ‘Find it’ and TBT gets beyond identifying the four letters of his name (he is three and seven months old).

After lunch I retire

Up too late last night, no caffeine to speak off. I need to dose. Half an hour in I am woken by Zozo in a panic. She admits to peeing on the floor, is apologetic, not upset. I clear up. She is so sorry. She says it several times and helps me tidy up. It appears she was so taken by the challenge of I.T. Essentials that she couldn’t pull herself away from the screen. I try to pick up where I left off with the children but they start to fight and I start to loose it. I had offered a trip to the Martello Tower earlier. This doesn’t materialise. I still want to get out and get the fish I need for the week ahead. They both want to come. Any hope of sitting alone in the wind and rain is scuppered. Darlingest gets TBT in front of the Mac doing a Pokemon game while Zozo and I head back for Newhaven.

Newhaven Breakwater and the impact of a Detox

The local quayside Fishmongers (Newhaven) is not open. I thought they were open until 4.00 p.m. We head for Newhaven Breakwater ad a brief look out at the storm. The tide is out, so even with this wind there is nothing coming over the breakwater, last stop Sainsbury’s. Puling up by the Parents with Kids parking spots I’m irritated to see a guy take such as space – not only does he have no kids, but he is a Sainsbury’s employee. I’m in a real ‘Granny’ frame of mind. This is what happens when I am sober. I become an irritable nitpicker. It isn’t just part of the Detox, this is how I was as a kids.) I wonder if I’ll come across this character in the supermarket. Sticking to the ‘No’ sweats theme of the day I do not let Zozo have sweets or crisps, nor does she get a magazine. We do however get a set of pictures taken in a Photo-Me booth.

4.25 p.m.The calming tones of medieval songs

Zozo requested , ‘Something to get us going’, had he chirped up TBT would have asked for ‘Batman’ by U2, luckily he is fully engaged with the prospects of a Lego building challenge. On goes ‘What Sweeter Love’ from English Heritage, a medley of strumming, drumming, and song-like humming. The dance Guilhem IX is jolly, and short. We soon slip into claming tunes and tones that are enough to engage that fraction of their minds that might otherwise tend towards trouble.

Lego Building Competition

I put up three choices for their Lego Build. Before I have a chance to take a suggestion Zozo says, ‘Cake’. I hesitate. It seems such a silly idea. But I capitulate, why not? I’m about to make a sane suggestion for the second choice like a rocket or tower when TBT chirps up with ‘Guns’. I explain that you have to choose between a choice of three. Before I suggest a third idea TBT says he will make a ‘cake gun’. This I’d like to see. ‘It could fire cake’, I suggest. i go on to describe a film in which the children have guns that fire ice-cream. (You see kids know far better what will intrigue them than an adult). TBT wants to see ‘Bugsy Mallone’. Not tomorrow, but now. I distract them with their third choice. Zozo and I think what I can be. Meanwhile TBT is already building something. Zozo makes the choice, ‘a house’ she suggests. By now TBT has made a gun. I only came up with this game in order to allow me to get on with some cooking uninterrupted. I try to get TBT to make more guns, special guns … anything I get the timer and say they have 30 minutes to build something, that’s lots of time to make something really good. At last they get stuck in better still they work together. Half an hour later all is quiet. They have gone upstairs to dress up in order to play characters in the house they have made, the are Action Man and Action Girl. By now supper is imminent. I set them up in front of ‘Spy Kids’. They have to see the trailer and they have to stop and reply bits in the trailer, let alone in the film that I could have missed from the kitchen. In between all of this I get cream of mushroom soup on the make, brown rice ready and their suppers (vegetarian sausage, backed beans and toast for her, a lamb chop, corn for him, and chips for both of them).

Read to TBT

I tuck TBT in beside in bed and read him four stories. Next door Zozo is starting to read on her own.

‘I wish I was a Witch’ by Dug Steer and Dan Spender, illustrated by Teri Gower

‘Here Comes the Rain’ by Charlotte Voake (Walker Books)

‘The Ugly Ducking’ retold and illustrated by Ian Beck

‘Charlie and the Tyler at the Seaside’ by Helen Craig

As I complete this mammoth day I consider the value of containing a story to a single day, for example, keeping the ‘Time Telescope’ to this time frame.

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