Monday, 7 October 2019

The Time I Got Sent to the Naughty Step

The naughty step is only as powerful as the child allows it to be. I once sent my son there and 20 seconds later he came racing through the living room on his fucking bike.
I briefly tried to return him to his pleasantly carpeted penitentiary but I was far too busy giggling.
On another occasion, my lad wouldn’t go to bed and instead plonked himself down on the bottom of the stairs in defiance. I started to threaten him with a trip to the dreaded step of naughtiness.
‘IF YOU DON’T GET TO BED RIGHT NOW, I’ll, erm….’
I tailed off as I realised he was already sitting on the effing naughty step and my threat now made less sense than Welsh hip-hop.
I could see on his little face, he’d worked this out too.
He threw me a smirk that said, ‘You’ll do what, knobhead?’
I felt it crucial not to back down.
So I continued:
‘I’LL PUT YOU ON THE NAUGHTY STEP, YOUNG MAN!’
‘But I’m already on it!’ he snorted.
My brain turned to scrambled egg.
‘WELL THEN!’
I had nothing.
But like an arctic explorer who’s facing certain death unless they make a U-turn, I forged ahead regardless.
‘I WILL PICK YOU UP! AND IMMEDIATELY PUT YOU BACK DOWN ON THAT STEP! NOW GET TO BED!’
Somehow, it worked.
I just think my son just couldn’t be arsed dealing with the next-level bollocks I was waffling.
As a kid, getting sent to the naughty step is punishment.
But getting banished there as an adult is like a spa weekend.
I remember my first sentence.
There was tension building in the house. The kids were getting on our tits. I was getting on my wife’s. Our gaff felt like a semi-detached tinder box.
My son stood on the couch.
I told him to get off.
He smiled at me like Heath Ledger’s Joker.
I repeated my request, nay DEMAND for him to get off the sofa.
He laughed in my face.
I pulled the pin out of my parental hand grenade by muttering, ‘right, that’s it’ and walking towards him.
He knew he’d just booked himself a one-way ticket to the naughty step.
He tried to evade me.
I moved left, he moved right.
I moved right, he moved left.
I moved forward and he got stuck in the gap between the couch and the wall.
I started laughing.
It was piss funny. He wasn’t in danger, hadn’t hurt himself and he was trapped between soft cushions.
Now he was the angry one.
‘Right, that’s it!’ he screamed. (No idea where he got that from.)
‘Daddy - get on the naughty step, right now!’
My laughing subsided.
He was pointing to the stairs.
My wife shrugged at me.
I knew what I had to do.
I walked into the hallway, hot brew in hand while Take That’s ‘Greatest Day’ played in my head.
I parked my fat, sleep-deprived arse on that bottom step for four blissful minutes.
So invigorating was my short stay I’ve been tempted to reoffend and break parole ever since.
My 2020 stand up tour ‘Toddlergeddon’ is onsale now

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Time I Embarrassed Myself on a Bouncy Castle



Kids love bouncy castles. And why not? They’re bouncy and unpredictable, like Kanye West on a pogo stick.
But just like Calpol, crayons and eating your own bogeys, the allure of the bouncy castle tends to dissipate as we reach adulthood.
I’m not someone who lists ‘castle bouncing’ as a hobby these days.
My kids, on the other hand, love a good bouncy castle.
The bouncier the better.
The only thing they love more than a GOOD bouncy castle is a REALLY BAD bouncy castle. Especially those ones that haven’t undergone a decent risk assessment since mullets were cool.
In fact, the more dubious the health and safety standards appear to a casual bystander, the more keen my kids are to dive on headfirst and find the hazards.
So.
We’re at a farm park.
We’re enjoying the standard parental farm park experience - the kids are interested in everything EXCEPT the very farm animals that we just paid a whopping £37.50 to visit. (BTW - My son’s favourite animal at Chester Zoo was once the scabby pigeon in the car park. Money well spent.)
The kids want to eat their lunch.
I explain that it’s only 10.27am.
To distract them, we find the play area.
‘There’s a little bouncy castle,’ I promise them.
And that’s when I see it.
The massive, rubbery bastard.
Twice as big as any I’ve seen before and clearly filled with evil intentions, as if the breath of Beelzebub himself had been used to inflate this diabolical fortress of certain physical injury.
As we move closer, it’s clear that this is no normal bouncy castle. It’s a Hunger Games-inspired springy assault course designed to weed out the physically weakest members of society.
There’s a bunch of things to jump over, crawl under and squeeze past.
Once you’ve negotiated the obstacles, you’re then faced with a near-vertical climbing wall in order to escape.
Your reward for conquering all of this is a slide back down to freedom.
Little did I know what a destructive impact this badly inflated structure was to have on my long-term bouncy castle confidence.
I take a deep breath.
‘Come on, Daddy!’
The kids have already taken their shoes off.
I reluctantly volunteer to join them.
We jump, crawl and squeeze our way around.
We fall and help each other up.
We drag ourselves onto the home straight.
We see the steps to climb onto the top of the slide. They’re almost completely vertical.
I push both boys up and watch them jump down the slide to my wife, out of my sight.
I try to climb the steps.
But the steps are bouncy.
My feet keep slipping.
I can’t get purchase.
‘Who makes inflatable steps?’ I mutter to myself, while having another go.
I slip down again.
‘Fuck this, I need a run up’, I think, so I turn around and walk a few steps back to give myself a chance.
I notice there’s a few other people now waiting for me to get out of their way.
This time I manage to scramble to the top, enough to poke my head just above the top of the slide before slipping back down again.
My wife witnesses my pathetic attempt and shows her support by laughing at me.
I try again and tumble back to the floor.
I apologise to everyone who I’m holding up.
On my next attempt, I almost make it to the apex but by now my upper body strength has evaporated like steam from an outdoor piss so I violently crash back down again. Thankfully, I manage to get high enough for my supportive wife to once again howl at my complete ineptitude.
‘LOOK AT DADDY!’ I hear her bellow from the other side. ‘HE CAN’T GET OUT!’
My kids are now laughing at me.
I have another crack.
Same result.
Each time I try to escape I manage to momentarily poke my head into public view above the wall, for just long enough for my wife to loudly snort-laugh at me.
With each attempt I can feel myself becoming weaker and more ashamed.
By the sixth attempt I notice other people are staring and nudging others.
I try again.
The queue behind me is getting longer. I’m convinced people are talking about me under their breath.
I have another go.
My cheeks are turning crimson, a combination of exhaustion and embarrassment.
The queue is growing impatient. Struggling for breath, I address them.
‘If any of you, erm, want to go ahead of me, just, you know, feel free.’
With that, the entire queue swarms past me as I stagger the opposite way like an asthmatic salmon.
Toddlers whizz by and climb the wall with ease. An elderly lady jogs past and climbs the steps first time, throwing me a look of disdain that says, ‘I may not have any of my own teeth or hips, but at least I’m not you.’
I have another go.
Then another.
There’s a queue forming behind me again.
My OWN KIDS then sprint past me for a second time, giggling up the steps and down the slide like it’s nothing.
I’ve got to get out.
My wife is cackling like a demented hyena.
Strangers are laughing at me.
I consider going backwards and climbing out of the entrance but the threat of total humiliation stops me. I contemplate building a new life for myself inside the bouncy castle. A civilisation. A brave new world where wives show respect to their husbands even when they get stuck inside stuff that others (including small children) can easily escape.
I try again, this time channelling all of the humiliation and ridicule into my arms and legs.
Against all odds, I make it to the top of the slide.
The now sizeable viewing gallery give me a sarcastic cheer. My wife is struggling to breathe with the sheer hilarity of watching the love of her life be publicly shamed in this manner.
I roll down the slide and lie flat on my back, panting for breath.
My kids are stood over me. Pointing at me. Laughing.
I’m just relived to be a free man again.
‘Daddy?’
‘What is it, son?’
‘Where have your socks gone?’
I look at my bare feet. Both socks have come off during the struggle.
For a second, I’m broken.
I look back at my naked toes. They’ve been through so much. They deserve more.
I rise to my feet.
Disheveled.
But determined.
I cannot let this foul beast win.
My wife tries to stop me.
My kids are screaming.
I shrug them off and march back to the entrance, filled with fiery vengeance.
I know what I must do.
I stare down the entrance.
‘Those socks are mine. Give them back.’
The bouncy castle snorts in derision.
I flex each leg behind me, one after the other.
Let’s dance, motherfucker.
🤓 New blog every Tue. My new stand up show ‘TODDLERGEDDON’ is touring the UK in 2020. 

Monday, 23 September 2019

The Time I Screamed at my Kids

Before my kids arrived I swore I’d never shout at them. But choosing how to approach parenthood before your kids are born is like a caterpillar deciding what kind of butterfly they’re gonna be while they’re still building the cocoon.
‘I’ll still do loads of charity work, of course. And I’ll be REALLY nice to moths too, even though they’ll probably hate me because I’ll be so bloody gorgeous.’
Theory and reality are like sugar and shit.
I’ve raised my voice to my kids more times than I can count. Often just to shout ‘STOP SHOUTING!’ which I’m aware doesn’t set a great example.
‘You should NEVER shout at your kids.’
And that’s fine. In theory.
Because everything’s fine in theory.
The Slimfast diet is a piece of piss until day two when you’ve had three hours sleep and someone offers you a Wagon Wheel.
Of course, I never WANT to shout at them. I love them more than words can describe. But those you love are also the ones blessed with the innate ability to boil your piss quicker than a Travelodge kettle.
In a perfect world, I’d never HAVE to shout at them. Ideally, if there was a problem we’d all sit down over a fresh chai latte and discuss the issue like grown-ups before returning to each other’s fabulous company. But unfortunately, when they’re about to slam your iPad in the fridge door I generally find that loud shrieking works far more effectively than softly spoken explanations.
I do try to explain afterwards. Even when my kids’ refusal to accept logic makes flat-earthers look like Dr Spock.
So, despite my efforts to always remain calm and use reason, I have raised my voice to my children.
Plenty of times.
But I’ve never SCREAMED before.
Until last week.
I was tired. And grumpy.
They were loud.
And annoying.
We were late for the dentist. They did not grasp the gravity of the situation, which irritated me further.
Kids don’t give a shit that you’re late. They have no concept of time. They’re like some weird inter-dimensional species that exists on a different plane to the rest of us.
To my kids, the phrase ‘we’re late’ simply translates as ‘please start dancing.’ They could not give less shits if they’d just given away the very last of their shits in an attempt to win the annual shit-giving competition at the local fete.
The volume of my voice was on the rise.
‘Come on! We’re going to be late!’
My son’s reaction was like every other child faced with information that they deem unimportant.
‘Daddy - does this affect me personally? In this moment? Nope. Come back when you have biscuits.’
So, we’re in the bathroom going through the daily farce of toothbrushing.
I’m barking instructions like an ineffective spin class instructor while they ignore me and fiddle with their privates.
‘We’re running really late here, boys!’
One loudly announces that he needs a poo. We’re so late by now that I’m tempted to treat this as a hoax but there’s a sense of urgency in his voice that tells me that to ignore this would be catastrophic. So I help him climb onto the toilet and he begins to defecate, both into the commode and all over our ever-dwindling chances of being on time.
Almost instantly, the other one decides that he’d also like a slice of the poo pie. (One of the beautiful thing about twins is that the bowel movements of one often act as an early-warning system for the other.) We’re a one-toilet-household so I scramble around for the emergency potty. It’s not in the bathroom.
Inexplicably I remember that it’s in the garden.
I run downstairs to fetch the potty. The backdoor is locked and I can’t find the key. He’s shouting that he’s going to poo his pants. I feel like I’m on the Crystal Maze. I smile at the irony that whilst I can’t open our back door, he’s struggling to keep his shut. But then he’s crying that ‘the poo is coming’ so I run back upstairs, fully prepared to hold him over the bath or out the window like those dirty Tudor bastards used to do. But then I notice the back door key on the floor of the bathroom so I pick it up, leg it back downstairs, unlock the back door, grab the potty, tip an inch of (what I hope is) rainwater out and rush back upstairs, all the while shouting ‘HOLD ON SON! DADDY’S COMING!’
I slide the potty across the bathroom floor with inch-perfect precision, like a curling gold medalist who’s forgotten his puck. Just as the potty comes to a standstill, my lad plonks himself down. It’s a beautiful moment. He immediately makes an unusual rasping sound, as if his arse is warmly congratulating me on getting back in time.
Just as I start to feel a hint of warm parental smugness, I accidentally lock eyes with the one on the toilet. He’s squeezing something out and gives me his full poo-face.
Nobody needs that.
I move my gaze back to my other son on the potty but he’s also now mid-dump. He joins his brother in staring into my soul as he releases his chocolate hostage.
I step back to avoid the stench and yearn for a simpler time when dentist appointments were kept and family members didn’t eyeball me while they shat.
‘Boys, I know you need to do your poos but we’re going to be late!’
One on the toilet. One on the potty.
Tick tock.
From out of nowhere, the one on the toilet states with absolute confidence that he would like to view his brother’s poo. His brother refuses, in a move that makes me strangely proud.
The one on the toilet flies into a rage that suggests he’s not only furious but also wounded by the fact his brother has shunned him from a private assessment of his fresh jobby.
To keep the peace, I consider for a brief moment asking his brother to show him his poo as it would be a ‘nice thing to do.’ But it wouldn’t, would it? It’s a fucking outrageous request and he’s well within his rights to point blank refuse.
In the middle of the screaming, they start slapping each other. That’s right - they’re having a scrap. One from the potty and one from the toilet.
‘BOYS! STOP IT!’
I break up the bathroom brawl and take a deep breath to calm myself down. I then silently vow to never again take a deep breath in the same room as two defecating infants.
As their time-sapping, semi-violent double shite enters it’s fifth minute, I decide to run downstairs to grab their shoes.
One starts repeating that he’s ‘FINISHED!’ but before I can get back upstairs, he leaps off the toilet and starts moving sideways across the landing on all fours, like some rare species of shitty-arsed crab.
‘Get back in the bathroom!’
He’s not listening to me. His brother’s giggles from the bathroom are egging him on.
‘GET BACK IN THE BATHROOM - NOW!’
With that, he sits down. His leaking, unwiped, rusty hoop making direct contact with the landing carpet.
And that’s when my screaming started.
‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! DON’T SIT THERE! I TOLD YOU TO GET BACK IN THE BATHROOM! OH GOD, THERE’S POO EVERYWHERE!’
They’re staring at me.
‘BOYS! WE ARE SO LATE! AND YOU’VE BEEN MESSING ABOUT ALL MORNING!’
The dam has burst.
‘LOOK AT THIS MESS!’
Every petty grievance in my sleep-deprived head is now queueing up to get an airing.
‘YOU GOT UP FAR TOO EARLY AGAIN THIS MORNING! AND YOU DON’T LISTEN TO DADDY WHEN HE’S TALKING TO YOU!’
But they are listening. They’re listening intently because I’m screaming at them.
Louder and louder. More words. More noise. More nonsense.
They look upset.
This is horrible.
I take a deep breath to continue my rant but now they’re both staring at me, confused and afraid.
The tension suffocates me.
Am I the worst dad in the world?
And sometimes, just sometimes, the universe gives you precisely what you need.
Because at that exact moment, the one still perched on the potty leaned slightly to his left, glanced at the ceiling and squeezed out a bottom burp that sounded exactly like the beginning of 90’s chart hit ‘Mambo Number 5’.
And we all laughed our heads off. For ages. When the giggles subsided we all apologised to one another.
Everything was forgotten.
Well, almost everything.
I’ll never forget that lousy gut feeling when I screamed.
Oh, and the massive shit stain on the landing carpet which will probably be there till we move house.
🤓 New blog every Tue on my FB page. My brand new stand up show ‘TODDLERGEDDON’ is touring the UK in 2020. 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The Secret Diary of a 4 Year Old

MONDAY
Demanded to wear socks AND sandals to the park. Mummy said that I couldn’t as it ‘wasn’t the done thing’ so I reminded the inflexible hag that I wasn’t planning on poncing down the catwalks of Milan or wowing the party girls of Manhattan’s Upper East Side in this fucking ensemble. I was simply visiting a subpar, surburban playground in the North of England to ‘arse about for a bit’ and if I wanted to dress like a 57 year old virgin then I bloody well would do.

TUESDAY
Daddy is so sluggish first thing. That’s when I’m at my peak. Zipping about. Making plans. Ploughing through breakables. Keep up, old scrote.

WEDNESDAY
Wanted to be a shark so wore my swimming fin all day. Got told to remove it when I went for a dump but thankfully my arse stepped up with a rousing rendition of the theme from ‘Jaws’ to ensure the shark motif remained uninterrupted.

THURSDAY
Daddy explained to me that if someone is ever annoying me I must never rise to it and should simply walk away. I took his words very seriously and left the room.

FRIDAY
Last day at nursery today. Didn’t feel sad at all - was too excited about starting school. But then Daddy started acting all mopish and sad about me growing up until his plague of unease eventually infected me. A hoover of joy, that man.

SATURDAY
Have started experimenting with shyness. It’s handy when the Big People start asking you to repeat some of the comedy bits you’ve been working on at home in front of complete strangers. (eg. Generic Muscle Man, the robot dance, etc.) I refuse to do requests. If you want the hits, wait for the encore.

SUNDAY
Got into a scuffle with some random at the soft play. We both wanted to keep pressing the same unresponsive button on an unplugged vending machine and things got heated. I gave him a bit of verbal and the smirking twat pushed me ever so slightly. I retaliated with utter fury and nudged him back a teeny tiny bit. We then tried to have an actual fist fight but quickly realised we were both highly inept at violence so started tickling each other instead. Ended up having a great laugh and arranged to meet for a pint next week.

🔥 New blog every Tue. My 2020 UK tour ‘Toddlergeddon’ is onsale now

Friday, 23 August 2019

The Time I Went to Soft Play (During School Holidays)



We went to the soft play last week. It was meant to be fun. It was more like the Dunkirk landings.

The day went south as we entered the car park. There was a massive queue outside. So we joined it. And stood in the rain. Just to get inside this spongy, bottomless pit of bastards.

My first instinct was to turn myself and the boys around, hoping they wouldn’t notice that we’d driven all the way to the soft play, parked at the soft play and were now waiting outside the soft play.

But it would’ve been easier to talk down a pair of rabid Doberman who’ve not eaten in two days and have spotted the postman’s arse through the letterbox.

‘Shall we go somewhere else boys?’

My withdrawal attempt wasn’t just optimistic. It was moronic and has since been filed under: ’Parenting Errors of Extreme Fuckwittery.’ (Other notable entries include: turning the TV off without prior warning and offering beverages from incorrectly coloured beakers.)

I scrapped my extraction plan. We had no choice but to forge ahead. I gripped my boys’ hands and went to the happy place in my mind.

*Breathe deeply, Sam. You’re not at the soft play right now. You’re lying on the white beach of a beautiful Caribbean island. You’re sipping a cocktail. The tide is lapping against your toes. Feel that sun beating onto your face. Mmmm, lovely. And look! A butterfly! It’s beautiful! Hang on, that’s not a butterfly. That’s a wasp. Looks angry too. Proper pissed off. It’s coming at your face! FUCKING LEG IT!*

An unbroken scream from inside jolted me back to reality. The scream appeared to be a group effort - as one reached the end of their breath another kid took up the mantle - and it pierced through the air like a rusty drill.

We paid our £14.50 entry fee (a bargain to visit the bowels of Hell) and shuffled forwards. I nervously surveyed the carnage that awaited us. It looked like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory if the Oompa Loompa’s had rioted over poor working conditions.

Loads of the other kids seemed older. Much older. Some of them looked positively ANCIENT compared to my four year old twins. I stared in disbelief at one older kid with an iPhone and facial hair before realising it was someone’s dad.

A ten year-old sprinted past and punched his friend in the back of the head, spraying fizzy drink across the floor. A six year old came racing out of nowhere and slipped on the newly-formed carbonated river, crying for his mum as he skidded headfirst into a bunch of people.

Everywhere I looked there were toddlers tripping over, children diving onto each other and kids spilling endlessly out of crawl tunnels like the Viet Cong with Fruit Shoots.

We pushed our way over to the slide that was now resembling an aircraft evacuation device. Bodies flying everywhere. Adults losing their grip on both offspring and reality. 
Some random kid asked me to pick him up and in the melee I coldly replied, ‘I’m sorry but no…’ as if he was trying to sell me a timeshare holiday.

We fought our way to the top of a slide when one of mine decided that he didn’t want to go down after all. I grabbed him and his brother and squawked, ‘NONE OF US DO, MATE’ as we toppled downwards with less grace than a family of hippos who bought each other roller boots for Christmas.

At the bottom we twatted straight into a backlog of kids who had decided that a busy slide was the perfect place to chill out and shoot the breeze.

Then my boys started fighting amongst themselves.

Brilliant.

I sternly asked if they wanted to go home, realising that I had literally zero control over the situation and would have to go along with whatever they said.

‘Yes, Daddy.’

Without giving them time to consider the consequences of their answer we were racing for our freedom. After a quick (and embarrassing) return to get their shoes, we were back in the car.

‘That was fun,’ said absolutely no-one, as we drove home in silence. #makingmemories

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