Today I bring you the Daddy and Dad update live from the office at Mum and Dad's (AKA Grandma Jenny and Grandpa Mark's). They live in a lovely house in rural Warwickshire, a house may I add with plenty of room for the boys to dash about in, which is marvellous for the boys (I say marvellous through a sarcastic false smile in a Kenneth Williams voice) as our cosy but well appointed house in the city provides less room and therefore less opportunity for skidding, running about and causing a general nuisance of one's self.
And making a general nuisance appears to be on the menu; currently both boys are in the living room, bouncing an enormous inflatable ball dangerously close to grandpa's expensive Sony telly - naturally I've given up on my futile attempts to stop it and I've sensibly retreated quietly upstairs to the office with a coffee. Just a minute; I detect a bottom sliding down the stairs. "GET OFF YOUR BOTTOM NOW OR YOU WILL BURN YOUR BACK ON THE CARPET AGAIN". That deserved a shouty one rather than whispery. Of course, dashing about, scrapping, sliding down stairs on bottom and related behaviour is perfectly acceptable to the boys' grandparents as, and I will elaborate on this in a minute, their benchmark of acceptable behaviour is different to ours.
(Note, I have no qualifications in childcare, nay a clue what I'm talking about so please take this with a pinch of salt (followed by a shot of tequila and a slice of lemon))
Now. Before I begin my hugely scientific behavioural analysis of Richard and Lyall (currently fighting over a Monopoly dollar in the living room), I must reassure my parents who I know read this blog that you are wonderful, fantastic grandparents, doing a marvellous job with Lyall and Richard and we are absolutely happy (thrilled, in fact) for you to take the boys off our hands at short notice/whenever you like; the more often the better, in fact I might pop to the pub and return to this later.
Two pints of Stella and a rainy walk back along the canal later. Where was I?
At home, Dad and I are fairly strict with the boys. As mentioned in previous updates, the boys thrive within a system of clear and concise rules and routines. Therefore the benchmark of acceptable behaviour at home is maintained at a high standard. The 'no' rules are in force; try breaking one of them at your peril - the naughty step is waiting.
At Grandma and Grandpa's house the benchmark of acceptable behaviour is discounted, on sale, if you will and the boys have snapped it up and are extremely satisfied with their purchase, thank you very much; no returns. The trouble is that the boys are bright; they like to test the water in new households, quite deliberately, and are fully aware of the opportunity that Grandma and Grandpa's house presents. Take a look, if you will at the graph (fig.1) up at the top of the screen there.
Time of day along the bottom, behaviour score (0-35) along the side. Take the blue line. This represents the boys' behaviour during an average day, say, a Monday during half term. After getting up, the boys expel a little energy; mess about a little at breakfast but then improve with a little persistent naggery through lunchtime (under the bribe of a dessert after lunch) when they are at the day's best. It's then a gradual decline throughout the afternoon as they start to get tired and hungry until a low point around 4:15pm (which incidentally is when they usually arrive home from school), at which time they will start to test our patience, like holding a finger in the wind, by standing on the other's foot perhaps, or maybe a little poke or kick in full parental view. A spell on the naughty step then improves matters, before dinner, a cuddle on the sofa in-front of the One Show, story and bed. The top black line illustrates our benchmark.
The orange line is a very good day. This would usually occur as a result of an enormous bribe; a spell on the Playstation or a trip to Alton Towers for instance may incentivise a great day of helpfulness and smiles. To be honest, we haven't actually experienced an orange day yet, but it will happen, possibly, one day. (Clearly never).
Now, the grey line (not grey to represent your age, Mum and Dad - it was a Powerpoint default) is a day at Grandma and Grandpa's house, or perhaps a day out with friends and their parents. The bottom black line illustrates the boys' behaviour benchmark there. Off to a fairly average start, things rapidly decline as the shiny wooden floorboards plus cotton one-piece pyjamas make for a thrilling toboggan ride across the living room. Daddy (me) arrives downstairs with a yawn and coffee in hand only to be barged out of the way on the stairs by a boy who's dashing back up the stairs, probably to fetch Grandma's hairdryer which (in their defense) does make for a rather splendid assault rifle. I scream at said boy to return the hairdryer back to Grandma's dresser, as clearly it's not a toy, only to receive the death stare from Grandpa, who's pottering around in the kitchen, brandishing a bread knife in his hand while Richard swings around him like a fireman's pole. I grumble and decide to take coffee back upstairs to the safety of the spare bedroom where I sit for half an hour, playing on Candy Crush until things start to quieten down. An activity simultaneously involving both paint and Playdoh appear to have improved the general level of conduct up to an average day's poor and behaviour then plateaus for the rest of the afternoon. Bribes don't work because the boys have already had anything I could use as collateral so I pop into town for couple of hours on my own. Ignorance is bliss. Dinner and bed time routine are noisy but effective; I try to bite my lip during dinner as telling the boys to sit forward and keep hands away from face triggers a nasty stare from Grandma that I've only previously received from uptight librarians. Once boys are in bed, an atmosphere remains for an hour or two which provokes a feeling of mild guilt (perhaps I shouldn't have shouted "GET OFF THAT REMOTE CONTROL" quite so furiously during remote control tug-of-war earlier), after which three glasses of Grandpa's delicious french wine and an episode of Miranda seems to significantly improve the climate. All is forgiven.
I dedicate this blog post to my lovely Mum and Dad, Mark and Jenny (who are within their right to ground me for a week after this); as I alluded to earlier, they are doing an absolutely fantastic job. We love you - don't change anything.