Category Archives: Kids

Poppa popper


I’ll tell you something: I don’t like McDonalds. Never have.


It’s not that I’d advocate bombing the place or even campaigning against it. It’s just I feel it stands for a lot of things I dislike: the de-personalisation of serving & eating food, Corporate infiltration in the everyday lives of people, false and insincere advertising, homogenisation/ making everything the same all over the world according to the big book of the double arches, bland buildings inside & out, bland decor, bland & barely-edible lowest-common denominator “food” short on sustenance and taste/big on stamping home the message (over and over) that McDonalds is fun fun FUN. If you’re not in, you’re not in. The Catch-em-while-they’re-young marketing reminds me of nothing but the Hitler Youth. Well that’s not entirely true -it also reminds me of another company I hate with a vengeance for much the same reasons, but I won’t rant on about Disney right now. That’s nothing to do with this tale.


I’m not here to force my opinions (for that is all they are) on you, but to tell you of something funny:


Mrs. Rumm burst her appendix two weeks ago. Hilarious I know, but that’s not the funny part, honest.

Mrs. Rumm had her appendix removed and I had to take care of her and the two kids for two whole weeks (not finished yet) virtually 24hrs a day. They’re a demanding lot.

So, although I also hate bland & brainless movies for children as much as I hate feeding them sub-standard food, you must forgive me if I breathed a sigh of relief when Mrs. Rumm volunteered to take them to Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang during the week.

Alright, I had to drive them there -and I had to do the shopping while they were at it, but I still exhaled more in those two hours than a reversed hoover (is it a myth that some can be set to blow/ not suck? I’ve never seen one -I want one now!).

Honestly, living with them these past two weeks (and running) is like having a family of Vietnamese boat people move into your home and follow you about as you try to steal a quiet moment in the bathroom.
As lovely and rewarding as that may be, it’s just a bit difficult to adapt to in short order.


Anyway, we arranged to meet afterwards for some food in the food-court.
When I got there, the kids already had theirs on a tray and Mrs. Rumm was trying to lift ours from the counter at Eddie Rockets.
I took the tray and we sat.

We set out the food and immediately I was struck by the measly portions the kids had. Near-white, limp chips and half a dozen plastic-looking flattened chicken-droppings were buried in their containers under a packet of sugary-looking raisins and a large plastic assembly dinosaur.
“Sheesh, Eddie Rockets has gone downhill” I thought as I munched into an enormous & quite tasty chicken breast burger (I’m not a complete tree-hugger y’know).


It was only halfway through the meal when I commented on the substandard and truly unacceptable ‘food’ the kids had. “How come they make one type of chips for adults and another type for the kids?” I asked, puzzled.

Of course, that shows you how observant I really am: Mrs. Rumm had bought the kids’ grub first in McDonalds, then ours. Only then did I notice the balloon-on-sticks they both had with a big bloated Ronald McDonald waving and sneering at me.

“Nyeh nyeh,” he sneered. “You can run, but you cannot hide your children -they’re all mine!”


I swear I haven’t felt so disgusted and cheated in years. Quite recently we had finally saved enough to have our driveway ‘done’. Unfortunately we were done more than the drive. It’s not a complete disaster (but will be in a short time), but nothing was right with it. The whole thing will have to be dug up and redone at some stage I’m still convinced. Four grand down the drain. If we had a decent drain.

But the point is, I felt worse sitting across from my two corporate-embossed, indoctrinated, brainwashed offspring in that instant than I did when I first saw the state of the drive.


Red-faced, I grabbed the dinosaurs and tried to stuff them into my pockets. They were too big. I promised the kids they weren’t having them. The older one knew enough not to complain, but the boy put up a fight.

Did I over-react? I still don’t think so. If only more parents actually stopped to think and actually looked at what is being passed-off as food in this place (and others) we wouldn’t be captives to such a corporate world. Not that corporations are intrinsically evil you understand, but we need to be more discerning because it is in every corporation’s interest to look after its own bottom-line. If more people found their slop unacceptable then the corporation (whichever corporation is in question) would quickly raise their standards.

So, the only one I blame in this really is you -whoever you are.
I blame the people who pay money to corporations that provide an inadequate service or product.
So, really what I felt at this point was self-loathing. *I* am the type of person who sanctions this kind of abusive, thoughtless, careless, plastic material substitute for any sort of genuine love or happiness.

Do you really care for your loved ones? Then show it by buying this!

Happy Meal me hole.


Right. I promised something funny. I digress. Mea culpa…


I tossed the plastic toys in the bin as I dumped the wrappers, but you’ll have to forgive me for not popping their balloons. We left the food-court, me somewhat in front.
I felt like a cowardly silent conscientious objector parent in Nazi Germany, forced to grin and bear it as his kids waved the nazi flag. I couldn’t bare to be near them.


The next morning, the balloons were burst and lay on the floor, still clinging to the end of their plastic sticks. Of course, the children immediately blamed me for it. And they were right to.

There were other bits, but this is all I found when taking the photo


It’s not how it looks. Honest. Let me explain.

…You see, that (following) day was April 1st. My older child had been eagerly asking for the past two months “what are you going to do on April 1st, daddy?”

I had no idea. But after they went to bed on March 31st and I thought of those banners to all I hate silently shouting their triumphalist message of domination over my dearly-beloved I immediately knew what I had to do…

I bid farewell to Mrs. Rumm (careful not to tell her my plan) and drove to the nearest shop still open at that hour. I needed a red balloon and a pink one. The multi-coloured packet had no pinks, so I had to buy a packet of pink ones as well. I also spotted “LED Balloons” -they light up you know. Had to have those too.


In the car park outside the shop, a middle-aged lady had parked next to my car and remained in her seat as I climbed into mine. We eyed each other carefully. She didn’t want to leave her 5 year old jalopy in case I robbed it. I didn’t want to blow up two balloons and pop them with her sitting there looking at me. It was a curious standoff.

I feigned busyness. Of course I could have waited to blow them up at home, but Mrs. Rumm would have come to examine the cause of the two bangs. It’s true I could have stopped the car on the way, but pulling over to the side of the road to blow up and pop two balloons could potentially grow its own legs in this already-too-long tale.


So, without looking, but still feeling a pair of granny eyeballs boring a hole in the side of my head, I set about blowing up the first balloon. The red one.

I finished and she still sat there. I blew up the pink one. It was my intention to pop them there and then, but felt I might have Jessica Fletcher tapping at my window in no time, unable to contain her curiosity, so instead I started the engine and pulled away. Just then she left her car and proceeded into the shop. Undoubtedly she was on her own April 1st mission. Far be it for me to question the girl.


So I was on my way home with two unpopped balloons. If I waited until I pulled up outside Mrs. Rumm might hear them from the bedroom window which overlooked the parking spot. Another dilemma! And you think you have it tough!

Stopped at a red light, I reached over without looking and clamped my hand over one balloon. It put up a somewhat short-lived pliant struggle, but soon succumbed to my greater strength and determination. A passerby snapped her head round as she crossed the road, but found nothing but a pair of cold impassive eyes staring back at her.

The light turned green and I was off. Remorseless now I burst the second without passion or incident as I drove.


I pulled up outside the house and there were some moments of tense fumbling in the dark as I attempted to recover all the bits from around & below the passenger seat. It was touch and go for a while there.
“Evidence” you know! It’s precisely this kind of sloppiness that Columbo  capitalises on time and again.


Inside, I found the McD balloons on the floor in the front room precisely where they had been left. I wasted no time in unfastening each from its staff and attaching my ruptured replacements.

I left them right inside the door where the kids would be unable to miss them first thing in the morning. I went to bed that night in quite an excited state.


Twice I dreamt of the kids bursting into the bedroom, crying and waving their sticks with balloon pieces hanging forlornly from the tops.  The second time when I woke it was just getting bright outside. Roughly 6:30AM by my reckoning. They usually arose before seven. No work or school today.

Right on time, or a little after, they awoke and went downstairs within minutes of each other sometime around seven.

I waited. Silence. The telly went on. Mrs. Rumm stirred but stayed, nursing her wounds.

How could they have missed them!?? Were my plans foiled by the indifference and fickle interest of children? As much as I wished it could be true, I must admit I wished it wasn’t. At the same time I thought the fact I had two dreams of the same scene meant it now couldn’t possibly come true. Experience has taught me to expect the unexpected. How would this scene change when it happened? If at all.?

An hour later I was starting to doze again when I heard angry footsteps on the stairs. The door burst open. It was the kids. They waved their little plastic sticks with sad looking burst balloon bits hanging from the tops. They were angry, shouting and half-crying. Just as I had dreamt twice. It was too perfect.

“Daddy! You burst our balloons!” they cried.

“Did you?” Mrs. Rumm gasped, believing it without needing a reply.

I reached for my phone camera next to the bed and took this photo:



“Why would you immediately blame me for your popped balloons?” I enquired.

“That is pure evil,” announced Mrs. Rumm, unconvinced.


Anxious that nothing be said that can’t be taken back I caved.
“Fool fool fool, the first of April!” I sang, pointing at everyone. There was a pregnant pause as they tried to work out where precisely the trick lay. Was bursting the balloons the joke?


“They’re under the stairs!” I explained.


“Ohhh!” laughed the four year old and ran to recover them.

“No! It’s a trick!” laughed the eight year old, calling him back. It’s a terrible thing to not know when to trust your father. Funny though. 🙂


Of course they were under the stairs. I’m not that bad. Pop a kid’s balloon? Moi!?

No, I had the kids do that themselves…


Downstairs, I told them I had an offer to make. I held aloft their two balloons in one hand and a pin in the other.

“I want you to pop your balloons,” I stated.

“No way!” they cried.

“…and in return I’ll give you one of these!” then I put down the pin and held up the uninflated LED balloons.

There was a silence as they assessed the offer. I pulled the cord on one balloon and the LED lit up. Before I even had time to blow it up my daughter grabbed the pin and popped her balloon. My son then took the pin and as he stuck it in, I told him “think of Ronald McDonald when you do that!”


It was a minor victory and a happy, happy time. 🙂


Tough Beans

It’s never the big things that get to us. Well, maybe it is, but the small things can be just as upsetting…

I bought two beanbags a couple of months ago. The first time “the cousins” called round, a week or two later, all the kids had a diving match on them. As a result both bags were somewhat deflated and virtually unusable. I/ we had sore backs and sore arses from sitting on them/ on the floor thereafter. So I filled one with the other and resolved to buy some more ‘beans’ soon. Today, over a month later, I went and bought those beans. It didn’t have to be today, but well, if not today then when?

They came in a clear-plastic bag around 5ft tall/ 2ft wide.
25euros -sheesh! But that’s not the worst of it. I haven’t even begun -patience!

I brought the bag home and set it against the wall in the room nearest the front door. As one does.

I didn’t have much time before I had to collect my son from school, so I forgot about the bag o’beans. As one does.

Went and picked him up, then returned home. I had also forgotten his friend was coming with us today. No problem there.

So we get in the door, put down the bags, etc. and within 2 minutes there was a call for me to come quickly… You no doubt guessed it… the bag o’beans had sprung not one but two holes -one in the middle, the other near the bottom. Clearly my son had taken it upon himself to play punch bags (as his friend intimated, but I didn’t want to hear any more at that time).

I tried resting it in a position where the beans stopped pouring out, but though I was successful eventually, my actions increased the flow in the short-term. I wanted to cry. I kind of surprised myself at how upset I was. Yes it was distressing, but ultimately it’s a small problem I know.

Still I was very near real tears and feelings of total inadequacy. I scolded the boy of course -somewhat vociferously as you can imagine. He was cowed by this, but it must be said he wasn’t too bothered. His friend however looked like he wanted to go home, so I closed the door to that room and told them not to go in there for the rest of the day.

A half hour later or so (after I calmed down) I thought I’d take another look. “Sure how bad could it be?” …As soon as I opened the door again, I again felt depressingly helpless. It’s not that the whole bag had emptied across the floor, but it was clear anything I might do to clear it was going to result in more spillage. I got an extra-large black plastic bag from another room and lifted the bag o’beans into it, which of course saw more spurts of tiny aero-beans everywhere.

I could now hear it pouring into the black bag at an alarming rate, but at least it was into the bag now and not on the floor. “How did you manage to make those holes?” I demanded to know, at last feeling like I might be able to handle the answer. “He dived onto it!” his friend pronounced (with serious and weighty glee).

This set me off again, pleading with the 4 year old (5 in a couple of months) to have mercy on his poor father, threatening him with consequences should he not mend his ways, yelping at his lack of undivided concern at the melting of the universe his actions had set into motion.

Just then I thought of something… I was supposed to pick up my daughter at 3PM! I rushed to the kitchen and you can imagine my sheer and utter panic as I saw the time… 3:22!


To put it mildly, the boys were bundled into the car and a new trail of blazing rubber was burnt through the road. It usually takes 10 minutes to get to the school. I don’t know how long it did take, but 3:22 itself was 20 minutes too late -and I wasn’t even there yet!

She was the last one left, but thankfully a mother of another child had waited with her. I couldn’t even begin to explain why I was late (although I tried -and failed). “Sure don’t worry -it happens to us all” said the mother with a cheery wave.

On the way home, my daughter began with the “where were you?s” and I just wanted to die. What made me feel even worse (like an infinite mandelbrot set, dig deeper and this thing has layers on layers that never end and each one is as stupid and pointless as the last) was that I had updated the firmware on my phone earlier that morning. Usually an alarm goes off at 2:45 to remind me to pick her up, but because of this update the alarm had been wiped.

Stoopid is as stoopid does and believe me today was me at my STOOOPID WORST. It was the perfect storm of Mischeviousness + Stoopidity + Timing + Lack of Timing + Sheer Panic +Bad Luck.

And today is only Monday.

The Postman Always Rings.. or not

I ordered Eyepet the other day for PlayStation3 from It’s a virtual pet type thing -for the kids. For Christmas you understand. I know it’s too damn early for that, but it was 30euros including the camera …55 euros locally. No competition. I figured it’ll only get harder/ more expensive as time draws nigh, so best grab it while it’s there at a good price.

Also, with the postal strike in Britain I wasn’t sure if it’d be delayed (I’m not in Britain, but I didn’t know where it might come from you see), so I wasn’t being totally silly.

Anyway, I ordered on Tuesday last week. The kids were off school for the week for mid-term break. Thursday morning I was in the shower when I half-heard my young boy (4) shouting through the door.
I switched off and asked him to repeat what he said…

“Y’know that pet thing we saw for the PS3 on the telly last night!? …IT’S HERE! IT REALLY IS! THE POSTMAN GAVE IT TO US!” He jumped up and down with the slightly-open box in his excited little arms.

I read him the riot act of course …”Capital offence to open someone else’s post -you know you can go to jail for it,” etc. before later coming back with an explanation…
They (he and his sister) knew my friend was in hospital. I told them he asked me to get Eyepet for his nephew’s birthday because he couldn’t. Suitably chastened by their misdeed my kids were happy to buy that line. Phew! 🙂

Despite my anger I was kind of half-proud at the boy’s ingenuity in getting the package open just enough to make out what it was. His sister (8) is adamant she had nothing to do with it (apart from pointing instructions no doubt).

Treated or Tricked?

I was talking to a mother yesterday who had been trick-or-treating with six kids.

They called to one house where a little old lady came out and distributed five packets of crisps (that’s chips to our American cousins). To the sixth kid she gave a banana.

The kid accepted the gift and said nothing. He quietly hung his head and held his mother’s hand as they made their way from the house.

“I don’t even like bananas!” he finally cried out from a well of sadness.


A day spent not learning anything new is a day wasted. With that in mind here’s what I learnt today:

When browsing through drawers in the kitchen, if you come across an open packet of sweets or chocolate make sure you keep the drawer open as you examine further, otherwise you might forget which drawer they came from.

…I’m not saying it was me, but luckily I was able to quickly spin it… “Well if you managed to forget which drawer you left your Maltesers in, obviously you don’t have a clear recollection of how many of them you ate!”

HA! GAME SET AND MATCH! TAKE THAT FOUR YEAR OLD! You need to be sharper on your toes than that when you start school tomorrow!

Incidentally, apropos of nothing in particular, did you know Maltesers float in tea? Pop four or five of them in your cup and spoon them out individually for chocolaty goodness. While the drawer is open.



I was shopping yesterday with the kids. The younger one (4) was starting to get a bit annoying so I plucked him up and stuck him in the trolley seat. He still fits. Just about. He starts school at the end of this month, so you can imagine he’s not pleased when I do this.



Anyway, he got over it and soon settled down.


When we reached the checkout there was a short queue so we found ourselves looking into each other’s eyes. He was laughing quietly to himself as he looked at me.


“One day you will,” he nodded with a big grin on his face.


“One day I will what?” I asked him, stumped.


“One day you will hate me.”
He said it, still nodding and smiling, like he found it a wise and amusing prediction.


“What!?” I gasped, laughing slightly nervously. “Why would I hate you one day??”


He paused, then with perfect timing said


“…because I will be the best gamer.”


Poker Rankings

My brother-in-law was sitting in the kitchen a while ago when he noticed a deck of cards on the table. He picked them up and the first five cards he turned over made a full-house. Happy with himself he laughed then asked what beats a full-house.

My daughter (8) piped up: “A royal flush!”

We both laughed at her knowledge, but she wasn’t finished.

“Four of a kind…”

“A straight flush.”

Just when we thought she was done she added

“…and if you’re playing with jokers you could have five of a kind.”

Confession: I didn’t teach her the rules, but I did discover she had dug out this poker-hands table a few days ago that I made up some time ago (mainly because I can never remember the answer to questions like “what beats a full-house?”

Continue reading Poker Rankings

10,000 to 1

The following isn’t funny or anything like that -just somewhat interesting…

I passed the kitchen table a while ago and noticed a small piece of paper with some writing on it. I picked it up and there was my Bankcard PIN number staring back at me, in my (7 year old) daughter’s handwriting.

I’m very careful with this number and never let anyone else see when I’m keying it in and never write it down anywhere. It’s not a ‘straightforward/ obvious’ number such as 1234.

I called out and found her in the front room. Showing her the piece of paper, I asked what it meant. Immediately she grew annoyed and didn’t want to say anything about it. Of course I insisted. Finally she confessed: It’s the password she chose for some Nintendo DS game.

I asked how come she chose that number.

…Obviously I can’t tell you what number it is/was, or her reasons for each digit, but suffice to say she did indeed have a reason for each digit -although one of her reasons was slightly ‘wrong’.

Her reasons are not the same as mine.

She has no idea I’ve been using the same number for a number of years.

Is it purely coincidence she chose the 4-digit number I’m probably most familiar with? Must be. I can’t think how else she chose it -and it’s not like she deliberately chose it because of its link with me.

This is a new DS game and her first time choosing a 4-digit code for anything that I know of, so it’s not like she has chosen lots of codes before. By my reckoning the odds of her picking those 4 digits in that order are 10,000 to 1 (0000 – 9999).

Strange but true.

More Kidstalk

My son, Jack, turned 4 last week.

The other day as we watched TV (I think The Simpsons was on -nothing to do with anything) Jack cheerily said “sure we’ll never get dead?”

I don’t think he was waiting for an answer. He was happy to leave it at that.

Lucy (aged 7) turned to me with a knowing smile and said “Daddy, will you tell him or will I?”

I didn’t ask her to expand on what she might tell him.

It was a funny and sad moment. An excellent combination I find. 🙂

– – – – – – – – – – –

Last night as I was dressing Jack for bed, he hung his head and quietly asked “Sure fuck off boyo isn’t a nice thing to say?”

I shook my head and told him no it’s not. He seemed happy to know it.