‘Dad, is Santa real?’

SantaBoy Wonder: ‘Dad, is Santa really real?’

Me: ‘Why do you ask?’

BW: ‘That man walking into the shop said he wasn’t real.’

Me: ‘Did he now. He probably meant a man on the tele pretending in a film. That’s allowed, it’s not the real Santa, it’s just pretend.’

BW: ‘You said the Santa I saw the other day was the real one, the one who gave me the yo-yo.’

Me: ‘That’s right, he talked to you about what you wanted, didn’t he? And then you got a letter from Santa a few days later saying he knew you were doing well at school and he’d seen some presents wrapped up by the elves with your name on them.’

BW: ‘But we had a Santa man at school yesterday, who asked me what I wanted. But he wasn’t real. He didn’t wear glasses and I could see his dark beard underneath his pretend white one.’

Me: ‘Right… well that was probably one of the teachers pretending as it was your Christmas party. That’s allowed as well. We had a pretend one at my work party the other day, someone dressed up to get us in the Christmas mood.’

BW: ‘So, the Santa who gave me a yo-yo was real but not the others?’

Me: ‘Lots of people dress up as Santa, on the tele and for parties. They’re allowed to do that. But the Santa we took you to see, he wore glasses didn’t he, his beard was white and he knew you wanted a light sabre and some dinosaurs, so he must have got your letter.’

BW: ‘At school, the teachers said that Christmas isn’t actually about Santa. It’s about Baby Jesus.’

Me: ‘Did they now. Well, that’s a whole other story, son. A whole other story.’



Growing up quickly: 3 quotes

Boy in bankTHEY SAY kids grow up fast nowadays. Our 4-year-old son, Boy Wonder, is certainly acting beyond his tender years. In the last 24 hours, he’s made some startling comments.

Firstly, he was acting the Big Man around the house. His sister dared to play with his Batcave, earning a What-you-talking-about-Willis pout (one for the older reader) and a solemn promise:

You touch that again, little girl, and I’ll slice you up!

Charming. Then he discussed his romantic potential with his Mum, the Duchess:

BW: Mummy, what happens if no one wants to be my wife, no one loves me?
D: Of course someone will want to be your wife. You’re a lovely, handsome man, with lots of friends. You’ll be fighting them off.
BW: Oh well, if no one wants me, I’ll be married to my job.

Where did he get that idea from? Finally, our little life planner was today thinking about our national obsession, brutally declaring:

Mummy, when you and Daddy die I’m going to live in your house.

Our little boy. All set to be a gun-slinging, property-owning workaholic.


Bye-bye to Batman: Our daughter’s first words

Little girl communicatingOUR DAUGHTER has cleared her throat and started to speak. I think Boy Wonder did the same at this point as well, although it’s hard to remember a time when he wasn’t talking fluently.

When Little Buddha was born, I fell for the ruse that she’d reach all of the big milestones much earlier than her brother because she’d learn from him and she’s a girl. Well, she walked at 15 months, just like him, and, like I said, I think her brother started talking at 18 months as well.

Modern parenting is very competitive, of course, with the Middle Class Mafia filling gastropubs and cafes with stories about how their golden progeny had a full set of teeth in the womb and were able to recite Paradise Lost by their first birthdays.

We fell for it first time round, measuring Boy Wonder against bullshit criteria and continually worrying he wasn’t developing quickly enough. It got so crazy that we read he should know 200 words by the age of two and, yes, we sat down one night and actually quantified his vocabulary. He was fine, okay, good, brilliant.

This time we’re relaxed about it. Little Buddha has been communicating for months, with gestures, expressions, nods and shakes of the head. Now she’s talking, singing, imitating. So, to celebrate – and remember – in chronological order here’s her wonderfully random first 10 words:

  1. Bye-bye
  2. Hiya!
  3. Babba
  4. Cheetah
  5. Noddy
  6. Dada
  7. Mama
  8. Ta
  9. More
  10. Batman

My groom speech

Six years ago today, the Duchess and I got married. Here’s my groom speech from the Big Day:

Good evening and welcome to North Yorkshire. Now most of you probably know that I work in PR so I’d like to categorically confirm that the following statements are completely true and devoid of any exaggeration or embellishment.

Welcome to the Crab and Lobster – not, as rumour has it, named in honour of marriage. You know, a sideways move for one; the other, meanwhile, just can’t stop giving it that [imitate pincer movements]. I’d like to think that it does represent the marriage to come: comfortable, relaxed, a little bit quirky and comes with range of strange but curious implements.

I’d like to thank Chris for his kind words – and, of course, for allowing me to take his marvellous daughter off his hands. The first time I met Chris and Val was certainly memorable. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and we went round their house for a barbeque. After Chris had taken a sharp elbow in the ribs from Val for greeting me with a ‘Wotcha Dave’ – Dave being Karen’s ex-boyfriend, tall, dark, glasses so easy mistake to make but no hard feelings… hey, Trigger – we made our way into the back garden to share a few beers while the meat cooked.

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It’s my 40th birthday next month and the Duchess has been plotting. I get in the car today and Boy Wonder tells me…

‘Daddy, we got you a Batman birthday card!’

‘That’s nice, thank you,’ I say, looking at a half-frowning, half-smiling Duchess.

She looks at Boy Wonder in the rear-view mirror. ‘That’s the last time I involve you in a surprise for anyone, mister,’ she pretends to scold him.

I mimic pulling the words out of my ears and invite Boy Wonder to give them one big heave. ‘I wonder what card you’ve got me for my birthday,’ I say extravagantly, using all of my meagre acting skills. ‘Can’t wait to find out!’

Boy Wonder beckons me towards him and I lean back as far as I can. He reduces his voice to a whisper. ‘It’s alright, Daddy, I’ll tell you now. It’s a Batman card.’


Santa wolf

Our three-year-old boy loves Frozen Planet and is excited about Christmas for the first real time this year. Just as I was putting him to bed, he announced a new mash-up: Santa Wolf.

‘What noise does he make?’ I asked him.

‘He goes like this, Daddy: Ho ho ho harooooooo!’


Father and son

Boy Wonder: ‘Daddy, I’ve got brown eyes.’

Me: ‘That’s right.’

BW: ‘And you’ve got brown eyes.’

Me: I have, that’s right. We’ve both got brown eyes.’

BW: ‘My baby sister has got blue eyes.’

Me: ‘She has, lovely blue eyes.’

BW: ‘And my Mummy has got blue eyes as well.’

Me: ‘She does, well spotted.’

BW: ‘Baby sister doesn’t have brown eyes like Daddy. I’ve got brown eyes like Daddy.’