Am I A Good Parent? My Pandemic Reflection.

I never questioned my parenting skills or faults before now. The pandemic has forced me to reflect on a lot of things but none more than am I a good parent? I’m extremely lucky with my girls, they definitely make the job easier. Sure, there have been times when I have wanted to put my head under a pillow and scream until I was hoarse. There has also been occasion when one or both girls have disappeared to their bedrooms to hide from me or just simply take refuge. Trying to school the children, keep them motivated, occupy them, engage them, feed them, keep them safe, cook for the them entertain them, maintain the home etc has pushed me to limits I did not know existed. The dog (Murf) has even gone backwards in the last few months following me everywhere looking for a bit of my attention.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” –Anne Frank

Parent guilt does exist. Before coronavirus, I only worried about building my career, creating a balance and managing the day to day “stuff” of the home while raising my daughters. Let’s be honest that can be stressful enough, whether you are a single parent or not, and then by the time you get home you are riddled with guilt as you feel you are neglecting your children. Just because you feel it does not mean it is true!

Children are for life, I know we all thought they would reach 18 and job done, now time for me. Pop the champagne, we have our lives back, eh no! We cannot divorce them and we just do not wake up on their 18th birthday, open the front door and wave goodbye as we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on a job very well done. The worry that we carry for our little darlings never goes away. I can’t always be there for my kids, and if they fall they have to learn to get back up themselves. The real world has a lot of disappointment and inconveniences along the journey of life. But I will always be there to talk, listen and offer advice, should they need it. If it is a simple Dad hug that is needed, well they never run out and I would travel the world to serve upon my Dad hugs.

I can see so many of my traits in my girls, even a few of the not so good ones! What Covad-19 has made me see is that they really have their own identity and that identity is developing every day. They both are very passionate about different things and I support that, even when I don’t really understand it, but that is mainly because I am Dad and fake tan, hair colouring etc are alien to me, but I embrace it all. I must be doing something right as on occasion my advice has been sought, this alway overwhelms me with fear as the wrong answer can have disastrous affects.

Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have pushed us as a family into doing things together often that we may not have done due to other family commitments. Going for bike rides around the city is one such activity. I would have always travelled to go for a cycle with the girls, somewhere with less traffic but for a large part of 2020 we have been in lockdown which has meant it is city centre for exercise. Being a typical overacting father, I had in my mind we would get ploughed by a double decker bus, die or at the very least end up in a wheelchair and it would all be my fault. We headed off with Daddy duck in front and is two ducklings behind him. Thank goodness I did not give the lecture that I had planned. They took safety very seriously and in the end they were probable more cautious than I was. My point is keeping our children safe is a job we all take seriously, and at times I thought my advice was going straight in one ear and out the other, the reality was it had not and they had learned from the previous excursions.

“When a man dies, if he can pass enthusiasm along to his children, he has left them an estate of incalculable value.” –Thomas Edison

I have one regret in life and that is smoking. When my eldest was about 7 she came home from school and said, “Daddy if you don’t stop smoking you will die and I will have no Daddy.” I love smoking and was excellent at it, 30 a day was a minimum and everyone was as good as the last. My daughter was and is right and I did quit and to this day not only did it help me to live longer, it enabled me to set a good example. More so than ever I have learned my kids pay attention to what I do, how I behave and what I say. I try desperately hard to be a good role model and it is extremely tough when you are a single Dad, trust me it is not like the movies, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan endings are not here.

I have written before about the importance of family dinners and it is the perfect opportunity to get some quality time together without modern distractions. I love hearing about their day, the good, the bad and the ugly and we get to talk about everything and as they get older we even have some heated debates as they form their own identities and beliefs. 

Recently I have heard some pretty hurtful stuff from my kids. Immediately I thought I was failing as a parent. It isn’t a failure, I’m not my daughters friend, I am the parent and they need me to be. I’ve learned to stand my ground and set boundaries and unfortunately on occasion enforced consequences. This is the part of parenting I dislike the most, being unpopular, but as a parent I have an obligation to teach my children and how are they to learn about the values our family strive for? I hope one day to hear my children instruct their children on our values and I suppose then a piece of me will live on.

To see my kids clearly, I have looked at my own past. How was I treated in the family, how was I seen? For example, was I seen as a burden? Do I see my kids as the same and feel put out by them? Do I over worry about them and smother them? Overcompensate for them by doing too much? I love my children and they do stir a curiosity within me. Most of all they make me feel happy and very grateful. I love spending time observing their little quirks, I appreciate how they express themselves and I love how they make me laugh. 

Covad-19, Online Dating, A Guide For Women By A Man.

Covad-19 is still here and lockdowns have been in place for some time now. Online dating sites are exploding with users looking for love, or are they? I’ve survived on planet Earth for 50 years and had my fare share of dates as I progressed through the decades. In recent days my boredom got me thinking about the various different types of males that exist and how they portray themselves to women. Men talk to men about their strategies in finding the ideal woman, whether it is for one night, one week, month, year or lifetime. Essentially we are a predictable creatures with various personalties. Because men don’t use these strategies with other men we can get along with each other in harmony. I understand how this fact may worry women, but we, men just ignore it and move on.

waterfall of love

When you sign up to an online website the possibilities seem endless, it is an exciting and interesting experience. So much choice appears in front of you as you swipe left or right, believing love is just around the next corner. But them suddenly there is not as many matches as you first thought, and you begin to dig a little deeper into the profile of the matches you have made and suddenly you see a pattern and not every possibility is worth pursuing. Now you begin to concentrate on how they have written their bios, question the profile pictures they have chosen and how they engage in conversation. At this stage you know not all of them are worth chatting to, let alone considering to meet for a coffee, but then it depends exactly what you are looking for at the time you enter the unknown world of online dating. For those of you who are about to embark into the unknown these are some of the characters you will meet, for those of you whom already have been online no doubt you have met these guys.

The online newbie: That was me. I had absolutely no game plan, I didn’t know what I wanted and talked to everybody that I matched with. I thought at the very least if they had bothered to swap right, I at least should have the manners to say hello and introduce myself. Some questions posed to me I tried to dodge as I thought it was a bit forward or why would someone ask me that considering I haven’t met them. In hindsight I would avoid me, I did not have a clue what I wanted or why I was even online. My suggestion is delete me you are only wasting your time and energy.

The Romantic: I have a friend who epitomises this. This dude has love tattooed on the brain, he really believes in love and Valentine day tops Christmas. He quotes songs and maybe even poetry to the point it may make you want to vomit. Everybody is superficial in todays world, he tells you. His profile picture is of him in the sunset or with a dog rubbing noses and if he is on a yoga mat, run for the hills. Oh he does do yoga. You will alway get a good morning and a goodnight. If you meet, he more than likely will come on too strong, you will tell him to slow down but he argues how perfect you are for one another. He is not in a rush to get you undressed and into bed, he is playing the long game, you will have an eternity to make love. Soulmates who’s astrological signs are completely in line. Your phone will beep all day as he texts you question after question, this guy is in a rush to know everything about you. You may be interested in this and even enjoy it but it will end in tears, usual his!

The middle-aged hero: the adventurer on steroids: This overactive male runs, walks, cycles, etc. He has passed 40 and in a mid-life crisis, the bucket list is full and he is in a rush to achieve goals. Balding or simply just turning grey, this man is charming. Profile picture is with his niece or nephew or somebody else’s kids and more than likely there is a dog thrown in for good measures. You needs to know he likes kids and maybe even yours, despite his complete lack of commitment to settling down with you. This guy wants you to think he is mature and values you and is interested in a good conversation. Yes, you will do for the current adventure he is on, this is a man-child and he is jumping off that cliff to avoid responsibility. If this is something that interests you treat it like the car you want but makes no sense, take it for a test drive and bring it back!

The player: This guy is online with the sole purpose of getting you into bed and once that is done he is dust! It is casual and it is just sex. He will complement you and say all the right things till you are naked and conquered then it is goodbye and you are deleted. The photos of him shirtless or his muscles bulging out of a tee-shirt are gone and you just have the memories. This guy will make little effort, but you are keen and will do the traveling, you have maybe three dates to get your clothes off before he has moved on to his next victim. Be careful, this guy will push your boundaries until you yield or run. I hope you run for the hills. But perhaps you want a fling with no strings attached.

The married or in a relationship guy: This cheater will hunt his prey either from distance or without a picture, or maybe a picture disguising he’s true identity. Discretion is a necessity on his bio, this dude is a serial cheater and everything is planned, organised, he is premeditated. No morals exist, he wants casual, it is that simple. 

Just divorced/separated: This poor guy is vulnerable, it’s a tough place for him, but he is horny. He just wants someone to like him and go out with him and feel like he is in a relationship again, oh and have sex. This guy dated last when online dating didn’t exist. If you are up for a rebound this is more than likely your guy, even though this is not his intentions. He is still processing what happened in his last relationship and blaming her for all the years wasted. 

Sugar daddy: Rich and interested in the younger lady. Be aware after some time you will be traded in.

The tourist: Only here for a new nights and does not want to spend any time alone. It is a hookup so do not fool yourself. It does what it says on the tin!

The lunatic: This guy is screwed up and should be nowhere near a dating site or a woman. He needs time out. This guy will come across committed, responsible, well dressed and very presentable. Give him time and all this issues will surface, be it trust or commitment ones. This man has baggage and his probably still in love with his ex. He will claim to be the perfect guy and probably need to be in control of everything, the alpha male or at least the wanna be alpha. He is well versed and possibly read the books on how to get a woman. All is profile pictures seem normal and I have no doubt his bio has been researched and probably copied from earlier research. This narcissist sociopath will drive you insane. I hope you never meet him because he is hard to spot at the beginning.

The commitment dude: This guy has a bit of everything in him from the above mentioned. He will make the effort to engage when communicating with you, he knows from experience this is a process and he is not afraid to put in the work. This guy is genuine and if after he meets you and does not remain in contact it is because he feels it was not a good match and not because he was trying to use you for sex. He understands it is impossible to have a relationship with every woman, if he meets the right woman he will put the effort in. He wants to fall in love and have a meaningful relationship, emotionally and physically. He is not scared to put himself out and won’t loose faith.

Listen! Covad-19 Will Change Us Forever Unless We Social Distance. Time To Stand Together.

The public health crisis threatens each of the 7.8 billion people on Earth. Each day brings a “new and tragic milestone”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. As I write this there are currently Coronavirus Cases: 345,338, deaths have reached 14,925 and 99,541 have recovered. Please click the link to view as I can guarantee this figure has dramatically risen. Covad-19 is spreading faster than we can track or test. Public life is grinding to a halt. And yet many people seem unfazed by the Coronavirus.

Covad-19 is taking over the world
“I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

While governments have and continue to issue guidelines for older and high risk citizens we are beginning to witness our politicians to give more definitive advice on how we need to isolate and social distance if we are to defeat Covad-19. Reflecting on the weekend that just passed there seems to be ongoing selfish and reckless behaviour during this pandemic. This will speed up the spread of the virus which will definitely impact the older and more vulnerable people in our communities and add to the workload, danger and stress of our medical professionals. 

Information tells us the virus appears dramatically less fatal for those citizens under the age of 50. The guidelines and strategies of governments is easy and simple to understand: if low-risk people don’t socially distance, then the whole containment process is not effective. Putting it in layman terms it is like playing Russian roulette with our elderly and sick, you are pointing the gun at them and pressing the trigger if you do not social distance.

I understand that people are stressed, scared and want to socialise, but look at what happened in China and Italy by people not social distancing. It is a tough ask and I am sure some people find it confronting but we all have to do our bit. Do people not find it threatening, I imagine if there were F-16s, Shenyang Y-5s, Sukhoi SU-34s or Hawk T1s flying overhead things would be very different and people would be off our streets. It is up to us adults to ensure we abide by the recommendations set out by our governments and the World Health Organisation. But too many people including our youths are disregarding the social distance measures in our communities and not only putting themselves at risk putting older and vulnerable people at risk. Pointing the gun at them and pulling the trigger, it is that serious. The majority of us are doing the right thing but to that minority you need to listen to the advice, this is life and death! If these measures are not adhered we will go into lockdown and this battle will go on for a lot longer.

Businesses have closed down for our benefit and my heart goes out to these people who have spent years building it from scratch and this virus is having a devastating effect on them economically. Our medical professionals are working day and night to save our loved ones, these sacrifices are for us and yet some people are ignoring the guidelines and putting lives at risk. Shame on these people. A more draconian measure will be introduced because of these idiots. Social distancing is a responsibility and in todays modern world we have access to Skype, FaceTime, text messaging and lots more other methods to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones. Perhaps these are understandable human reactions to this massive uncertain crisis, but it is a weak justification for a choice that puts one’s short-term enjoyment ahead of peoples health and possible lives.

Coronavirus is creating a world that is less free and not as open as we were last month. I do not think it had to resort to this but because of incompetent leadership, inadequate planning we now find ourselves on a new and worrying road. Coronavirus will continue to have a devastating negative effect on our economies and it will increase tensions between countries. Since the end of the World War 2 America has been the international leader (and done an amazing job worldwide) but because of its governments incompetence and self-interest there will be a shift of power and perhaps we saw this coming and history proves to us there is always a change in power over the centuries.  International alliances have been poor and inept, if the two most powerful countries, China and America cannot put to one side their differences and stop blaming each other they might be more credible in the eyes of the world that looks to them during this crisis. The European Union has failed its members and not been able to provide assistance to its five hundred million citizens!

social distancing
“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

The media in all its forms have shown to us mere citizens that there are so many examples of the power of the human spirit and kindness of us ordinary people demonstrating leadership, resilience, kindness, empathy, love and being selfless during this pandemic, that gives me hope for all of us occupying planet Earth that we will prevail and we will beat Covad-19.

Our Children, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and the War Years

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) like the Second World War is a time of huge upheaval for our children and of course, us the adults. Whilst our towns and cities aren’t being evacuated we are adjusting to separation from friends and family. Many Grandparents and those who are vulnerable are scared and because of the threat posed we can’t visit to give them a hug of reassurance. There are no bombing raids and no threat of our men heading to war with the possibility of not returning. But this is a time where we must take precautions and adapt quickly and humanely with respect and empathy. Like the war, we will win but there will be disruption and shortages which will continue long after Covid-19 has left our boarders. This will have a long lasting effect on our children.

Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.     
William Shakespeare

It is terrible to live in fear with the possibility you will loose someone that you love, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Unlike the war years we don’t have to wait for the postman, we have social media and communication is live whether by phone, text or video. I believe following Covid-19 will be our best history lesson! 

The threat of the Coronavirus is here and unlike the war the battleground is not being played out in Europe, Africa and Asia it is world-wide and will affect all of us. We are not trying to defeat Nazism but something far worse, something we can’t see, something hidden. We have a responsibility as family members, neighbours, colleagues, christians and humans to come together and unite to fight this virus. We can learn from the war years, In 1938 when war seemed imminent some precautions were put in place for instance air raid shelters were distributed, gas masks were issued and night-time blackouts were planned. Today it is social distancing, washing our hands, ensuring those who are at high risk remain at home and the washing of hands. We know what we must do to slow this Covad-19 down. The one big difference is there are no B52s overhead and no bombings just now a deadly silence, the battlefield is very different and we are all on the frontline. But we are lucky there are no mass evacuations of children, this virus holds no prejudice of race, religion, sex or nationality. There is no ‘Kindertransport’, to escape Natzi persecution. The British Government in September began a huge evacuation of children from towns and cities. Most kids travelled with their schools and lived with foster parents, an adventure today most children would dislike. Thankfully we have the control of our children’s destiny and remain with them to guide them through and beyond Covad-19.

Our children don’t have to live under the constant threat of invasion, our fear is Coronavirus. Thankfully the information to date on this virus is our young are at low risk and I hope this remains the fact and they will get to fight another day. Unlike the Children during the war years where many were killed at the hands of violence. 

Today our homes are built to our needs, and in many respects we take a lot for granted. At a flick of a button we have heat, water, television and of course the internet. War time homes may have looked similar on the outside but inside many families had outside toilets and a bathroom didn’t exist for most. Children often shared beds with their brother/sister or even their parents. In war ravaged Europe many homes were destroyed and families left homeless. Today, our governments are desperately trying to fight this virus and package economic resources to give many of us some breathing space as employment dries up. We may still have our homes but the fear of loosing them is very real.

The Coronavirus has completely disrupted the education of our children. Our teachers are working hard using the technology we have available to keep some sort of normality and of course ensuring are children are still engaged in their studies no matter what stage of school they are at. I have hovered up all of the help from our educators and during the so called school week have my daughters up and ready for home school. My patience will be tested and of writing this I have not suspended or expelled any of my two pupils.

Never give in.. never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force.. never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.     
Winston Churchill

As of today I am going to introduce a diary for my girls to keep. I hope it will be a valuable history lesson and something in decades to come they can share and look back on and learn from. My Grandfather was prisoner of war for five years and his diary is kept in a museum, those times illustrate a truly horrific period in our history and I pray the times ahead for us will not be the same.

I look forward to the end of Coronavirus and celebrating how all of us made a vital contribution to beating it. Most of all I look forward to the change this will force upon us and the reminder of the responsibilities we have as parents, friends, neighbours, relatives and humans. Stay safe!