Escape From Alcatraz

In which our reluctant hero possibly gets a little, unnecessarily, overemotional about the removal of inanimate objects from the stairs. Or something.

“My wife removed the stair gates from around the house earlier this week.”

*Sad face emoji, hashtag “making memories”*

OK, as opening lines go, these are hardly up with the opening lines of The Go-Between or Peter Pan. They probably wouldn’t make it to the Hollywood adaption of “Babysitting The Kids II – Has Anybody Seen My Slippers?” either, but keep with it.

The lifecycle of the humble stair gate may well be the closest, and simultaneously lamest, analogy for the first few years of parenting that you’ll read this week.

“We put off having any for a long time, they took a bit of getting used to and we initially tripped over them a lot, but after four years or so we can’t remember life before having them.”

I tried to warn you.

The passing of the gates marks the end of an era. Since the portable baby jails were put up, we’ve twice completed the cycle of bum-shuffling to crawling, of toddling to walking, of working out how to release the gate catches to sneaking upstairs to flood the bathroom. Again.

It also coincides with some other significant milestones. Our eldest finished school nursery ready to join reception in September, while our youngest finished playgroup ready to take his sister’s place at nursery. Most annoyingly, this also signifies the end the “Affordable Holiday” period. Goodbye sneaky newspaper trips to Butlins, hello tent at the bottom of the garden.

There’s so much change, yet we hardly notice it happening. It’s not just with the house and children either. If I had listed my hobbies and interests a few years ago, music, songwriting, football, social media and politics would have featured prominently. Possibly writing too as, believe it or not, I used to pen a funny and popular blog back in the day. It even made it to The Daily Mirror. Don’t act so surprised.

I’m fully aware that my interest in such trivial things dwindled in recent years as other priorities surfaced. However, I hadn’t realised that I had reached a point where the thing that my wife identifies as my bestest favouritest hobby or interest is “gluing things.” Blimey.

If the pen really is mightier than the sword, then the sword stuck back together with half a tube of Poundland’s finest “Tommy Walsh” brand epoxy resin must be mightier than the broken sword. Or something.

This week alone, I have glued the ironing board, the sweeper handle (not a euphemism) and the fasteners on a doll’s travel case. There’s probably other things that I’ve forgotten too. If I see a broken trumpet I reach for a tuba glue. A broken rifle? Out comes the glue gun. How do I repair a broken Eskimo home? Igloo.

Thankfully, my glue use is largely under control. This is probably just as well as I would be stuck for ideas as to how to fix it otherwise.

All of this made me ponder what other changes have occurred while my eye was off the ball and focused firmly on the workbench. These are a few of the things that I came up with.

Every Day is Wash Day
Washing used to be a weekly chore, but it now happens pretty much nightly. The kids are less than a metre tall, yet can somehow fill a machine in a morning. This is probably my second most active hobby after gluing. It takes time, dedication and a lot of washing powder.

TOP TIP: Always use the same powder if you consider changing brand as being a potentially Bold move.

Choosing a Restaurant
Gone are the days of going for a curry because you fancy a curry.

“What do you fancy? Chinese? Italian? Thai?”

“Nah. Let’s go to the Wacky Warehouse as they won’t mind the noise or having fish fingers trod into their carpet.”

Silence Used to be Golden
And it could be now, except that every time the house goes quiet you feel compelled to traipse upstairs or down the garden to head off the next inevitable disaster.

Social Media is Just Noise
I used to like spending a few minutes catching up with the Fakebooks. The odd Twitter joke game? Bring it on.

“The Codfather… #fishfilms”

The moaning about being tired, daily shots of lunch and endless selfies were exclusively compiled by my carefully selected collection of narcissists and psychopaths. Now I seem to spend half of my time asking my wife “who on earth is so and so?” as each new blurry shot of the back of a child’s head appears on my timeline.

Also, grownups, uninstall Snapchat now. It’s as much use to a middle-aged mum or dad as LinkedIn is to me as a Civil Servant.

My Body Clock is My Nemesis
I’ve always been an early riser, but, pre-little people, my inner workings would at least allow me to stay asleep for an extra hour or so. Not any longer.

“Up until 11pm you say? How’s about we wake up at ten past five. You wouldn’t want to waste Sunday now, would you?”

The Pets are “Just Pets”
The cats used to be such cute little things, with their own little personalities and traits. Now, when not being terrorised by a three year old, they’re just another two things in the house bleating about food and treats and pulling at my jumper all of the time. Such a shame.

Every Cliché About Parenting Has Become True
Fact. Probably. But as I can never be bothered reading about all those dull parenting articles and blogs, I don’t suppose that I’ll ever find out for sure.



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