Why the penguin’s knee? Do penguins even have knees? By the time I’ve answered these questions I think I’ll have explained the whole blog!
Right so I was driving around with my children – specifically two out of three boys. They’ll be referred to here as Youngest, Eldest and Middlest. I feel quite strongly about internet privacy and as the boys are all under eighteen I won’t refer to them by name. I know they could probably now go to Google and get it all deleted. And I know there’s an element of hypocrisy as I’m blogging about my parenting which means I’ll need to talk about my children. But on the other hand I see everything as shades of grey – not black and white. I think this way I can blog about what I want and not compromise the family too much!
Anyway, this particular morning, we’d found nothing for breakfast in the fridge, so we headed off to a supermarket cafe for brunch. (Good tip, train your children to think a trip out to the supermarket cafe is a treat – saves pounds!). Well, three of us did, as Eldest is nearly 12, so going to Synagogue every Saturday morning so he’ll be relaxed for his Bar Mitzvah. Hold on, another quick digression is in order. My lovely wife, referred to here as The Wife is Jewish, but I’m not (Pagan, that’s a whole other post!). When we first decided to start a family, we agreed that as Judaism is matrilineal our children would be regarded as Jewish. So we decided to do the whole thing properly up to Bar Mitzvah, at which point we’d be able to have a sensible conversation with said child about what they really believed and how they wanted to live their life.
Where was I? Oh, yes, so me and the youngest two were on the way to the cafe. These two are totally different in temperament from their older brother – they tend to be almost always physically active. They go to gym and swimming. They climb, they run, they jump, pretty much all the time, everywhere. Youngest has just had his sixth birthday and Middlest is nine and a September baby which means he’s the oldest (but shortest) in his class. And because of this temperament, Youngest’s knee is a complete mess at the moment. He went to school in shorts, then slipped over on some gravel and predictably shredded his knee. Blood, and tears, but we only heard (and saw) about it when we got home. This has caused quite a lot of fuss over the past few days. Sometimes he charges around like normal, jumping and running like a good’un. Then he realises that he’s injured and limps and demands Calpol and carry-cuddles.
So there we were, driving to the supermarket and discussing knees, when someone asked “What’s the Welsh for knee?”, This isn’t quite such a weird question as we do actually live in Wales. Admittedly it’s about the most English part of Wales – it’s about half-an-hour past the Severn Bridge. And I was born in Surrey and went to university in Kent where I met The Wife. We then settled in Kent for about twenty years. But she was originally from around here, and her Mum still lives here, so we decided to move back in the middle of 2011. Well, it was back for The Wife and a complete change for me. Although, having spent over 40 years giving it a go, I wanted to move out of the South East. So, here we are in South Wales. It’s very weird for me as it’s somewhere we’ve come for holidays and to see the in-laws for over twenty years and now I’m living here.
I am fascinated by everything and drive the kids mad by checking anything they ask about on Wikipedia. So, inevitably, I only lasted a couple of years in a country with two languages before I got fed up with only being able to read half of the words around me. (OK, probably more than half, as I said this isn’t very Welsh Wales, but still.) So, on the back of a big government push, I signed up for a Welsh class. Here, I must hold my hand up and admit to an ulterior motive. I know what children are like, and they are all learning Welsh. I could see a time in the future when they’d have a secret language which Mum & Dad couldn’t understand. So I thought I’d get the drop on them! Actually it worked better than I could’ve imagined, because now Dad’s all enthusiastic about speaking Welsh, so it’s suddenly not cool.
Where was I? Oh, yes, the Welsh for “knee”. When we got to the cafe, I got my iPhone out and fired up the app to find out the answer. “pen-glin” is the answer. But anyway this led to the obvious question, “Do penguins have knees?” I encourage this sort of leaping from subject to subject conversations – it’s one of my favourite things about talking to the kids. I love watching the way their brains connect odd subjects together and make links where a grown-up might not see them.
So, this is the title of the Blog. I’ve shortened it from “Do Penguins have knees?” to “The Penguin’s Knee” to make it easier to remember and also to make my twitter name shorter! This blog is intended to be a look inside the family to see what our life is like. As well as being a full-time house-husband (hate that phrase but stay-at-home-Dad doesn’t do it for me either. Home maker is kind of cool, but also has American overtones.) We are fortunate enough that The Wife earns enough money to keep the family together and I stay at home and support her. Very much a 1950s style nuclear family, just turned completely on its head!
This style of family and parenting is my main reason for writing this blog. I haven’t read anything anywhere that I feel properly captures what it’s like to be a stay at home Dad. They seem to be written as a very London-centric thing in the newspapers and tend to play up the conflict with snotty Mums at the school gate and emphasise how temporary it is and how the Dad wishes they could go back to work. Or you get the even more annoying stereotype of the clumsy Dad who breaks everything. Or even the cool Dad where everyday is an amazing adventure! Hopefully this blog will lift the lid on a more rounded version of the family, with the Dad as the main care-giver and the Mum as the main bread-winner. As my children are all in school, that’s the area of parenting that I’ll be mainly focussing on, with some early years stories sprinkled in to add a bit of variety.
The other thing I do with my time is write – mostly articles for books and magazines but also novels, all of which are as-yet unpublished! And now this blog, just to keep my brain ticking over. But, as a writer, I expect to be paid for crafting my words. So, from the outset, this blog will be monetised (another horrible word). I’ll try to keep the intrusion to a minimum, and please let me know via comments if I do something that makes it unreadable. Personally I dislike those hover over in line link adverts which break up the flow of reading a blog. And, if I am ever fortunate enough to either get offered some freebies, or be asked to blog about a subject, I’ll do my best to flag it up in the article and remain as objective as possible.
So, that’s about the size of it – a quick tour around our family. I haven’t even touched on my attempts to be Cool Dad by learning how to write mods for Minecraft or my fascination with prehistory that leads me to drag the kids all over the place to look at stones sticking out of the ground! Please feel free to come and have a browse around. Even better, like some posts and leave some comments. Writer and full time parent are possibly two of the loneliest professions, so a bit of interaction will cheer me up!
PS Yes, I did go and check Google and as I suspected, penguins do indeed have knees. They have a joint somewhere between ankle and hip, but they are hidden (and kept warm) behind all feathers.