Sunday, 30 May 2010

Turtle eating monster gobbling rescue turtle.

Helen and I had just picked up Jack from nursery. On the drive home he was sat in the back of the car playing with a Ninja Turtle that Nanny had bought him the day before when he suddenly declared, I'm going to be a rescue turtle when I grow up.
Really? That sounds like a good job. Are you a turtle that rescues everyone, or do you just rescue turtles?

I just rescue the turtles from the monster that's trying to eat them up.

Ooh, sounds like they need rescuing.

I'm going to rescue them, I'll be at home, and the phone will ring. I'll pick it up and say "Hello." and they'll say "Oh help us there's a monster and he's gobbling us all up." and I'll say "I'll be there in a minute." and the I'll go out and gobble up the monster.

So you'll rescue the turtles from the turtle eating monster by eating the monster?

Yes I'll gobble him all up.

So there it is, Jack's latest career move. I wonder if there's a  turtle eating monster gobbling class at the local college.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The end of the end.

I've spent the last 6 months acting as one of 4 support and trainers to a rookie team. I've worked from home aside from a rotating week spent on-site with the team. Gradually the 4 has diminished down to me alone, and today was my last day.

Today marks the end of over 5 years employment. I've been looking forward to this day for some time now, in this job I've seen many more lows than highs. For the last 3 years I've found myself trapped in this job, I've disliked my role and more so the company but have been quite literally unable to do anything about it. I couldn't move forward, I couldn't find another job and I couldn't bear the financial consequences of just quitting. Having passed up what I truly feel was my one real opportunity to get out on what turned out to be an outrageously false promise I've twice found myself on the brink of breakdown.

When the redundancies were announced there was a lot of resentment and sadness throughout the company but in my case at least it was a light at the end of the tunnel. During this employment and all of my co-workers have been under-valued, neglected, cheated and lied to on regular basis. I've even brought up on disciplinary charges once and that time I didn't even deserve it.

But it's not all bad. As I've settled into my 6 month role as a trainer and my future plans have slowly fallen into place, I have managed to find some of the enjoyment in my work again. I put this down mostly to my trainees. While I dread my monthly office visits I do enjoy working with the team while I'm there and I dare say that I'll miss it. I'm sad to see the end of what is a strange relationship, I probably won't ever see any of them again but I hope to. Part of me wants stick around as a spectator for the next few months just to make sure they're OK, despite all the other parts screaming 'GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!'

Anyway... To the team I say farewell. The last 6 months have been enlightening. As I've worked with and gotten to know you all I've come to realize that I want go on teaching. I'm nearly thirty years old now and this is the first time I've ever had any sense of direction. So thank you all for allowing me to find and explore that role with you.

Here's to the end of what has been my longest stretch of continuous employment. I now leave the company with a great many more gray hairs, a battered spirit and a bottle of whiskey. I've learned quite a few lessons during these years that I'd just like to state here.

1. Staying positive, even if it's just finding humor in little things, can make even the worst situations bearable.
2. Take good care of your golden goose.
3. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.
4. "Compromise" is just a another way of saying everybody lost.
5. Any man who chases two rabbits will inevitably lose them both.
5. Spending all of your resource on the new, big, demanding prospects at the sacrifice of your existing customers is idiocy.
6. Cherish even the smallest victory, because it might be the only one you get.
7. Don't set your house on fire just because you're a bit cold.
8. Be wary of any man with a pig farm.

For those of you who may be wondering what I plan to do next. I'm taking the summer off. I've enrolled at Stafford University on a 4 year diploma/degree course on Computer Games Programming starting in September.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Ode to a fly.

I have sun shades on the two rear windows of my car. They've been there since a few weeks after Jack was born. Jack complains about them from time to time saying that they're either not sticking or blocking the view, other times he gets upset when I take them down because they stop the sun brighting him.

When Jack was 2 a fly had managed to get caught between the shade and the window. We were driving somewhere when Jack noticed the fly buzzing around trying to get out.

Mommy there's a bug!
Where hon?
On my window. I'm gonna squish it.
No hon, leave him alone.
Because he's not hurting anyone. Just leave him alone, we'll let him out when we stop.
You shouldn't squish bugs should you.
No you shouldn't.

A few minutes passed then we had a confession.

Mommy I squished him.
Oh honey.
I didn't mean to, I just wanted to.
Jack we told you to leave him alone.
I know but I'm sorry. He's not moving now.
No because you squished him.
Is he died?
If you squished him then he's probably died.
Is he in heaven now?
But I can still see him. This lead to what is an ongoing conversation about the soul, which Jack still struggles to understand.
Yes hon, his body it still there but his soul has gone to heaven.

The next day we were driving again and Jack noticed the fly's body was gone.

Mommy, the bug is gone.
Is he gone to heaven?
His soul has hon, yes.
But I can't see him now. He has gone to heaven.

The reason I write this is because to this day, Jack still talks about the fly. Every now and then we'll hear a little sullen remark about the fly from the back seat. It's been over a year and he still thinks about it every time he looks out the window and it still makes him sad. It's probably what ultimately lead to what I wrote about in The D Word.

So fly, if you're out there reading this. Jack is very sorry he squashed you.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The D-word.

We try not to mislead Jack. By that I mean we try not to tell him all the things you hear about parents telling their kids. Things like 'if you keep making that face it'll get stuck that way.' or 'if you swallow apple seeds then apple trees will grow out of your ears.' On the other hand we have no problem telling him about Santa Clause or the magic dust that keeps the monsters away. I suppose it's hypocritical in a way but I guess it's just us wanting him to both be a kid but be educated and realistic at the same time. Mostly, we don't want Jack to be afraid to ask us anything, we don't want any taboo subjects in our house.

After his bath tonight Jack started thinking asking Helen some questions. I heard them talking while I tidied up in the bathroom. He asked her how people die.
"Lots of different ways honey, sometimes it's old age, sometimes it's things like getting squished by a car."
What happens with old age?
"Well when you get really old, eventually your body just, falls apart. Stops working."
Will I die someday?
"Everybody dies eventually. But it's nothing you need to worry about honey, you've got a long long time."

The conversation continued in a similar fashion for a few minutes. When I entered the room Jack was in tears. He told us both that he didn't want to die and that he was scared of his body. Just hearing the conversation was too much to bare, so I went in and told him that he didn't need to worry about it because he was never going to die, never ever. I'm not sure if he really believed me but it calmed him down eventually.

Jack has been thinking about death a lot lately. We don't really know why. We have talked a little about it before, more so recently, death is a part of life so we chose not to avoid discussing it with him when he started asking questions. I suppose everyone must go through a phase where they thinking about the big subjects, I remember when I was a kid I went through a phase where I was afraid to go to sleep for fear that I wouldn't wake up, or that I'd wake up buried alive. I'm just not very happy that Jack seems to be tackling this one at three.

So I guess we've changed our minds about this particular subject... and you know what, to hell with it. Death isn't something that I want Jack to think about, ever. It breaks my heart to think of death being anywhere near Jack, and it's even worse knowing that he's thinking about it in any context either.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Indiana Jack

We went to Becky Falls in Devon on May Bank Holiday. It's kind of a wilderness preserve and woodlands park smashed together. There's a small petting zoo and some falconry. The main showpiece is obviously the waterfall to which is about a thirty minute hike. It's honestly one of the better days out that we've been on. Jack loved petting the bunnies and a goat licked his chin and nibbled his collar. He realized in the car on the way home that technically the goat had tried to eat him... The hike to the falls is a bit bland because most of the wildlife they promote as viewable on the trail is actually the random local wildlife of the area. So they're smart enough to not be around when people are. The falls themselves are a bit of a let down, but that might just be because I've seen a lot of water falls in my day. There was one thing that really made the whole thing worth while though, that was The Challenge.

The Challenge is simple. You collect a free card at the gift shop. On this card is a chart of a bunch of different pictures of animals and flowers found in the area. You then take the card and go one of the trails looking for posts. Each post has a box containing a stamp and an arrow pointing which direction to go. When you find the post you use its attached stamp to stamp the matching picture on your card. Once all stamps are collected a prize is won. The prize is a choice of the same kinds of things that you can purchase for twenty-five tickets or less at a video arcade. Jack already had his eye on one prize bin in particular.

I've honestly never seen Jack take something so seriously in his whole life. After he got a fix on what it was he was looking for he became obsessed. He ran along the trail looking for the posts, he'd spot each on and shout out its location. When we'd caught him up he'd have already read the directional arrow and worked out which direction we needed to go next.

As soon as the stamp was on the card he'd set off again, with or without us. One by one he found all the posts himself, and more or less guided us along the trail as well. With each post located he grew more confident and more excited about completing the challenge and getting the prize.

About half way through. We came across a family who were blocking the path. Jack wasted no time in approaching them 'Excuse me, we're trying to win a prize.' They all laughed and asked him about the prize but Jack wasn't very conversational, he wormed his way between them and ran down the path. What he was really saying was, 'Get out of the way, you're holding up the expedition, there's a prize on the line.'

Over the second half the trail started to get a bit gnarly with roots and Jack's pace was becoming a concern. Helen asked him to slow down and walk normally to which he replied. 'No, I'm in charge. I'll run.' Shortly after that he tripped and decided that he should maybe slow down a bit but that didn't in anyway change the pecking order. A few minutes later Helen and I found ourselves in the front of the line after Jack took a minor detour to look for creatures. Once he noticed we were ahead of him he quickly caught me up, stated 'Excuse me, I'm in charge' and pushed his way past Helen and I.

We completed the challenge, we collected all the stamps and Jack got his prize, a tiny green bouncy ball... His leadership faded somewhat after that until soon he was just his usual self. In the car on the way back to the campsite Helen and I talked about his being 'in charge' as this isn't the first time we've heard this, Jack heard us talking and declared 'I am in charge, I am... I'm in charge, of eating, pooing and all kind of things. I eat, and poo, and eat and poo.'

All in all it was a great day out. We spotted a wild horse on the way in, I've never seen a horse outside of captivity before, or even really considered it. We got to meet an pet one of the resident owls, Mrs. Merlin, and we learned something about Jack. Jack is a treasure hunter.