Category Archives: Dadlife

#DadLife: Gendered Clothing

Having been male for my whole life I honestly had no idea how privileged I have been (for just about everything) but in this particular instance I wish to take a quick look at clothing. I admit to having been selfish in the past and not being too perturbed when female friends have waxed wroth on the lack of pockets in their clothing or tight, tailored jeans and many other items of clothing that force women to display their figures.

It all hit home to me fairly recently when during a daddy/daughter day I took my little gingersnap clothes shopping at a local department store (that shall remain nameless). Diving in to the toddler section and making my way to the girls section I was confronted by a wall of glitter, pinks, pastels and cloyingly banal sayings like “Too Pretty to Care”, “I’m a Little Princess!” and so on – now if these were part of a larger range that included blacks, navy blues and t-shirts with sharks saying “I’m Jawsome!” (I actually grabbed that from the boys section for her as well as a Nirvana band t-shirt*) then it would not be much of an issue, but sadly going solely by clothing currently on offer in all major stores, little girls are precious, fragile and obsessed over their looks as opposed to the boys who are supposed to be rambunctious (fantastic word) and preparing to conquer the world.

I will not lie – it made me angry! I tweeted about it and a mini tweetstorm over gendered clothing took place

The responses I received makes for some interesting reading.

Why have I written this now you may ask – well mainly because I saw news that John Lewis is introducing a gender neutral range of clothing for children in its stores – and anything that has raised the ire of Piers Morgan is more than likely something positive and good! Frankly if he is so scandalised by the thought of a store offering gender-neutral clothing then, whenever he gets on his high horse about fragile snowflakes he needs to take a look in the mirror first!

I have thought about designing my own range of clothes for my girl celebrating powerful women of history (seriously there are loads)

* I did pick up a light pink t-shirt dotted with pegasi from the girls section because it looks awesome and I am not against pinks and pastels

Dad Life: #Dadvertisement Training Day

So I was chuffed (ho ho) to be offered a Hape Train Set for review (heads up there will be a review of sorts at the end of this post!), now I had been meaning to purchase a small train set for my little ginger snap after seeing how excited she got over trains during a visit to some friends with a daughter of similar age, but then this offer came along and I thought Why not?”. So yes I am selling out for toys for my girl – for some things I have no shame!

So yesterday a lovely figure-eight train set arrived in the post (& a Battery Powered Engine No. 1).

I was able to resist ripping it open and playing with it at work because I am an adult and can restrain myself! When I got home I got an excited welcome with hugs and a demand to be picked up – until she saw the box; then nothing else mattered, she picked it up and followed me around shouting at me excitedly until we had dinner. After dinner she helped me put it together and as anyone who has a tiny toddler will know helping consists mostly of grabbing random pieces and hitting me with them then crying when I take them away. Eventually despite all the help I received the track was complete and the fun and games began. I put the batteries into the engine, pushed the on button and we were entranced!

She stood entranced for about two minutes and then shouted “Wow!” a brand new word added to her slowly growing lexicon!

There is magical something about watching a tiny train run around its tracks because she did not rip it apart as I expected, instead she stared at the train and helped it over the bridge when it got stuck and generally enjoyed just watching and playing with the loose carriage. The train and carriages are the perfect size for little hands.

The train set is aimed at ages 3+ and as the light of my life and my delight is quite a bit younger than that it gives me the perfect excuse to play with the train with her and get more daddy/daughter time – this is something that is a win for everybody!

The set is a Hape Figure-Eight Railway Set

#DadLife: 1st Day of Leave

Today marks the first day of my week off from work. The first thing my little gingersnap and I did before breakfast was watch an episode of Peppa Pig (traditions are so important).

After breakfast we walked down to our local library for a play and craft morning. This was the first time I have been able to attend a library toddler event as a parent instead of as a Librarian. I had hoped that there would be other dads in attendance but this morning I was surrounded by mums. I soon got over feeling self-consciousness as my beautiful girl is an old hand at these events, she did the rounds saying hello to the mums and her fellow toddlers.

I followed her around making sure that she shared the toys instead of grabbing and running away as she is sometimes prone to do. We then sat at the craft table to make a paper fruit plate.

By this time I had relaxed and sat down with my little one as she played with giant duplo-style blocks and fell in love with a tiny baby doll while I chatted to some of the mums about local craft activities for children at libraries and children’s centres. We all agreed that chatting to other parents is the best method of finding local activities for children, although asking at the library reference desk or checking the hoop app is also good.

On our walk home I was greeted by one of the mums who had been at the craft morning and we had a short chat about toys (she had seen some dolls like the one my girl had become besotted with at the local charity shop). For the first time it felt like I was part of the local parenting community

This enabled me to cross ‘library craft activity’ off my bucket list, now I just have story times and the summer reading challenge to look forward to!

#DadLife: Park Life

My little ginger snap and I have been working on a regular Saturday morning (7am) trip to our local park. This gives my lovely Mrs a chance to sleep uninterrupted by our creaking couch and excited shouts of “Peppa Peeeg!”

I make her a bottle, put a banana in my jacket pocket and we stop off at our local Costa for a latte (for me) and a take-out toasted breakfast bloomer. Apart from morning dog walkers wandering around the recreation ground the children’s play area is usually deserted at this time of the morning.

We start off by sitting down on one of the benches and sharing the bloomer a third for her and two thirds for me and we drink our drinks and then she has her ‘nana – having chatted to a friend of mine whose child is of an age with my little ginge I think that small children have an affinity for bananas that is difficult to put into words. She is good at sharing though and will physically try and fore mushed banana into my mouth if I do not take some willingly.

For several weekends now her main fascination has been with the children’s obstacle course, she is still too small to do it but walks around the course looking at the various obstacles going “oooh” and sitting on the bits that are low enough. Lately she has been trying out beginner geocaching by picking up pebbles and putting them in places that you would not normally expect to find them at the playground.

When she starts wandering heaven help me if my concentration falters – even for a second for she will take off, and she can move rapidly, even on her little legs. I sometimes lag back purposefully and if she notices that I am not keeping pace with her she will turn around and shout at me until I catch up. Sometimes she will head towards one of the gates and if I cannot catch her in time she will try to open it and get into the larger park.

Once she has been suitably distracted she will do a circuit of the playground’s other attractions, down two of the smaller slides, round the merry-go-round and spinning wheel then crawling around the toy train and finally the see-saw with interludes sitting in the little playhouse where she will put wood chips on the table and tell me about them when I sit with her.

She is changing so rapidly, she alternates between demanding her freedom and chasing me away very vocally when she wants to do things on her own then wanting to be picked up and lifted on to whatever she wants to play on. She is at the size where I can still sweep her up and throw her into the air and catch her safely while she screams with laughter and nuzzles into my neck for a cuddle.

I have heard tell that these moments pass by so quickly that I am taking every opportunity to spend time with her while everything is new and exciting – even a quick visit to the park!

#DadLife: Visiting the Library

It is one of life’s ironies that although I am a librarian I do not take my little ginger snap to the library that often. That joy falls to my lovely wife who treks her up to the library several times a week for toddler time, baby rhyme time and sundry craft activities. To be completely honest – this makes me a bit jealous as once upon a time I was a Children’s Librarian in my first Library job (Fish Hoek Public Library) and I have seen how much fun these activities can be!

My daughter loves the library, each time we walk past she points and starts shouting at me at this time it is still hard to understand what she is saying but I imagine it is something along the lines of “No you fool I want to go in *there*” and then she bursts into tears as we carry on walking. This is not, you understand, a form of mental torture I subject my child to, rather it is because that whenever we go past, the library is already closed.

However on Saturday morning while waiting for the car to be washed we had a bit of time so we popped in to our local library (Chislehurst), The moment we went through the doors she started fighting to get out of the pram and made excited noises, the moment her feet hit the floor she ran straight for the Children’s Library.

She grabbed a book off the parenting shelf and brought it proudly to me, it was a book on potty-training which made me wonder if she was trying to tell me something. She then started running round the shelves grabbing books, seemingly at random then plonked herself down and started looking at them. I am always amazed at how carefully she turns the pages – until she gets excited, then I have to step in to make sure that she does not accidentally pull pages out. So far the worst she has done is remove a date-stamp label but I live in fear of having to take a toddlerised book to the library desk.

I love the Library – when I was small my mother took my brothers and I for a visit to our local library every week. It gives me a sense of enormous well-being that we are continuing this tradition with our daughter.

DadLife: Waking up & Peppa Pig

My little gingersnap woke up perky and vocal at 5:45 this morning.

We are currently weaning her off what she calls “boobas” so I am on morning milk call. I am not by nature a morning person, but having a gorgeous smiling child bouncing excitedly at the baby gate does wonders for motivation at springing up to face the day.

After a quick nappy change (her not me) I prepare a bottle of milk and we settle down on the couch for a feed and a cuddle.

Her request this morning is for Peppa Pig – actually it is this most mornings! Hler excited “Bebba Beeeg” is impossible to resist.

Peppa is her favourite cultural icon for littlies. The Mrs and I have watched so much of it we have developed a weird fascination with it, we are both convinced that local workaholic Miss Rabbit is having an affair with her twin sister’s husband Mr Rabbit – I mean it is pretty obvious as they do work together in some of Miss Rabbit’s jobs and you seldom see Mr & Mrs Rabbit together.

This is just a theory brought on by overexposure to a kiddy cartoon.

If I end up jumping in muddy puddles it is probably time to lock me away!