Daddies Space

The Digital Daddy Club

The Digital Daddy Clubimage

The Digital Daddy Club has opened and is available for all daddies who are looking to up skill and either change to the direction of their career, change jobs to fix that work life balance, get back into work, or you’re just looking for that change. Go to our facebook page and join the group.

I have worked for Daddyjobs.co.uk since the start of September. I am a stay at home dad of two children, and that is a demanding job in itself, but that isn’t the whole of my life. It is just one aspect that enriches the life that I live. I truly believe that the role of ‘Dad’ has changed since my father and grandfather and so on.In fact according to an article in the Guardian there are indications that there are as many as 10 times more stay-at-home dads in the UK than there were a decade ago. This figure is not completely fact – it is an estimation from research completed by the Office for National Statistics. Accurate or not, it still shows that we are a growing breed.

The long established view of the stay-at-home mum is shifting to a more shared approach which has seen more dads reduce the hours of their work in order to share or take some of the responsibility of looking after our children. Hand on heart, I am proud to be part of this growing community of fathers. It is not all sweetness and roses, sometimes as we all know, being a parent can be a difficult job, and whether you’re a stay-at-home dad or mum, isolation, frustration and loneliness can be difficult to manage. That’s even forgetting the other mum/dad jobs we have looking after the house. It’s like running a mini multinational sometimes…I do have a penchant for the melodramatic occasionally.

 

Some of the facts..

 

It is not all gloom and doom though – us dads are supposedly a happy bunch. 75% of us feel lucky to able to look after the children. The study behind the Guardian article also revealed a number of emotive responses from role-reversing parents:

Of women who are the main breadwinner:

  • Four in 10 (37%) feel guilty going out to work and leaving their children
  • One in seven (15%) say they occasionally resent their partner because they have to go out to work
  • Although fewer than one in 10 (9%) say they’d actually want to swap places with their partner to be the stay-at-home parent.

Whereas men who are the stay-at-home parents say:

  • Three quarters (75%) feel lucky to be spending time with their children
  • Around a third (29%) find looking after children more rewarding than going out to work
  • Although one in 10 (10%) say looking after children makes them feel “less of a man”
  • And one in five (17%) wish they earned more so they could go out to work while their partner cared for the children.

Interestingly, I agree! I am lucky to be a stay at home dad. However, figures can also be misleading and not give the real picture. That’s another reason why we have started this. Whether you’re male or female; mum or dad, you own your own story and life – it is unique to you and as individual as your fingerprint. One of the things I have learnt since becoming a dad, a blogger, a work from homer….a grown up! Is that it is important to share knowledge and experience with people in similar situations; to find different ways of tackling situations and ideas. A lot of mums (not all) are good at this, it is one of the crucial skills that I think women are better at than men – communication. It enables them to communicate their emotions, troubles and share knowledge easily. I see it at the school gate: groups of mums gossiping away everything that is going on in their lives. It is not all gossiping though. They are sharing their stories and ideas about their kids, reaffirming their own thoughts and fears about what they’re doing. It may seem trivial, but it really is ‘good to talk’. It’s not all men though.

As I said, we are a growing breed. Like any new adventurers striding into the unknown, we take a few stumbles and go in a couple of wildly fun ‘scenic routes’. We are quick learners and problem solvers. We can be pragmatic and goal driven. These are all skills that we can use in the stay-at-home dad role. I’ve seen so many great dad blogs out there that give great advice and give honest and open stories about being the main caregiver, and what the highs and lows of that life can be. Being a stay-at-home dad does not have to mean you’re less of a man. It means we need to change the perception of what being a man means.

When the job don’t fit…

One of the reasons I am a stay at home dad is because the job I was in no longer fitted around the term time hours. It is hard finding a job as a dad that has to look after the kids. When mums have said that looking after the kids was a full time job. They weren’t kidding. I think we knew that already to be honest. Most dads aren’t knuckle dragging troglodytes, in fact most of us knew the lengths to which our mothers went to look after us. It is why we are perfectly capable of doing this job, and why more and more of us are doing it. Like many mums before us, being the stay-at-home dad doesn’t confine us to a life of nappies, cleaning and food. It is important that we look after our own health and mental well being. I went through a period of adjustment the first time I did the stay-at-home dad job with my son and daughter. It took me nine months…and then I went back to work. Doing the stay-at-home job again is much better this time. I know more about what to expect and what to avoid. I now keep myself busy by blogging and working from home; keeping healthy and exercising, and making sure I keep the social life going. It is a juggling act which can be a bit heavy at times, but it is not unmanageable – it just takes a little effort …but for a big pay off.

Community

The Digital Daddy Club is a community connected via the Daddyjobs.co.uk website that we want dads to join because we know it important to connect and share experiences.

We want to make that work/life balance right for parents. Dads and mums deserve to be able to work together and have opportunities that fit around their life, and not have to fit their life around their work.

We want to give you the space to share experiences and advice, not just around jobs, but around every aspect of your lives. As much as you want to. Our ambition is to make it easier for parents to live a full life without having to sacrifice the important parts.

We will give opportunities for flexible/part time/ work from home jobs; training options and CV consultation, but most importantly the feeling of being able to control your life. Yes, queue inspirational music to that last sentence, but we really mean it.

The whole reason we started our sites and digital parent clubs is to try to change the landscape for parents who find it difficult to keep up with demands of modern day life. It shouldn’t be a case of if you can beat them join them. It should be if you can’t beat them, change their viewpoint, change the arena, change their minds.

Join the club…

Please visit the facebook page, twitter or our daddyjobs community. We’d love to hear from you, read your blogs and hear your stories.

If you’re a mum and you’re reading this, we haven’t forgotten about the mums. You can connect with our mums on our facebook page, twitter and www.mummyjobs.co.uk

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Homework Welsh Cakes

Homework Welsh Cakes

My son goes to a fantastic school which specialises in special needs education. They make sure he has the best education and he loves it. He especially loves his cooking class every week. We encourage this in the house – my kids love helping out Daddy in the kitchen. This week my son came home with his first homework of the year: Make Welsh cakes! Awesome! They even gave us a recipe to work from.

I have to admit, having in lived in Wales for 27 years, I have never cooked Welsh cakes. I have always meant to get round to ‘having a go’ but never did. So, we made these yesterday, and I have got to say that they were lovely – it was a really simple recipe and delicious. Even though I am not suppose to eat stuff like this anymore I couldn’t resist a little nibble.

As I said, I can’t lay claim to this recipe but I thought I might share, especially as I seem to be getting quite a few visitors to this site from different parts of the world, I thought it would be a nice introduction to some welsh cooking heritage.

Ingredients

225/8ox Self raising flour, sieved

110g/4oz (preferably Welsh) salted butter

1 Free range egg

Handful of Sultanas

85g/3oz caster sugar

Method

  1. Rub the butter into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the sugar, sultanas and then the egg. Mix to combine, then form a ball of dough.
  3. Roll out the pastry until it is a 5mm/1/4in thick and cut into rounds.
  4. Place in a dry frying pan on a low heat. Cook until brown, turning once.IMAG0133.jpg

It doesn’t take long and it’s a really simple recipe to do. If you have kids, they will love it! The other bonus is they are great with a cuppa of tea or coffee. All courtesy of my son’s school teachers.

Disability Hate Crime

 

My son is disabled. It is just a fact of life. He had a stroke and although this is awful, we don’t let it determine the way we live our lives. Of course there is an impact, but we don’t let it control our life, in fact I think it has enriched our lives in a lot of ways. We have experienced so many beautiful events and people that I feel have blessed us in so many unique ways. There are moments in life that are a bit harder, I am not going to lie. Whether it is having to find somewhere clean to change your disabled child when most places don’t have adequate facilities, or having to deal with people staring or making really cruel comments. Although I don’t like to focus on the negativity, I feel it is important to discuss some of the things that make it harder as well as the aspects that make it all worthwhile.

I got inspired to write this post by a new report on the BBC this morning – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41600137. It’s titled ‘ Disabled children hate crime reports increasing’ and it details how children (yes children!) faced with prejudiced and despicable acts of hate. I would like to say that this is not common, and in my experience it is not. This article focuses on one family who has a 23 month old daughter who ‘has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, which causes her head to swell. It means at one point Lydia’s head was double its natural size. She also has cerebral palsy and is fed through a tube.’. Before we had J I would have thought it impossible that anyone could victimise a baby – a vulnerable, innocent child who can’t defend themselves. It is unconscionable to think any human being can do this, yet it happens more often than you think. The article states:

.

Overall the number of disability hate crimes increased by 101%, from 1,531 in 2014-15, to 3,079 in 2016-17.

3079 cases of disability hate crime is one year! This is a shocking statistic for most, however I don’t find it surprising. Why? Because we have experienced it ourselves on a number of occasions. It may not be as bad as some, but it can still hurt.

When our son was born it was the most amazing event of our lives. He was diagnosed with having had a stroke a few days after birth and with epilepsy a few months later. It was a traumatic time in our lives, but we have a great life. It is full of love, fun and laughter the majority of time. He has overcome so many obstacles so far. We were told he wouldn’t walk, or talk, or do very much at all. He does have trouble walking so he uses a wheelchair when he can’t walk. He does have trouble with his communication and he is hard to understand. He has gone through long periods of selective mutism which impacts on his education. He has uncontrolled epilepsy which means he will need surgery at some point soon. Do you know what though, he still smiles through it all. He plays with his sister all the time, he makes our family so rich with love and experiences, I could only hope every family has a son as wonderful and as strong and determined as him. You can tell – I am quite taken with him. Just like any father would be. I would honestly give my life for him. If I could have had the stroke instead, I would have. My wife says the same. We can’t change that, and we wouldn’t change him for the world. Yes, we would like him to have it easier, but that’s life. You can’t change it. However, I think we need to educate people better about disability and difference. Hate crimes are avoidable through education. I don’t just mean at school either. We are educated every day – by our experiences; our interactions with different people, cultures and communities; by our parents and family, even by the people who we don’t get on with. We all need to learn acceptance of difference and disability. It’s easy for me to say I know, but it is our unique differences that make us interesting and worthwhile.

I was going to write this post a while ago but didn’t get round to it until reading that article today. It reminded me of a situation I dealt with last week whilst visiting our local Tesco Cafe. My son was getting over a ten day illness and my mother and I decided it would be nice to get J out for a well deserved treat. It was also one for myself as I was a dishevelled, knackered, exhausted mess after a very long few days. Tesco cafe isn’t the most glamourous of treats, but it is one J is familiar with and enjoys. He doesn’t always like new places and we wanted him to feel comfortable. We are used to people staring. Seeing a child in a wheelchair isn’t uncommon but people tend to stare anyway. That’s not what bothers me. It is the looks of fear and occasional disgust. I just don’t get it. Unfortunately, many people can’t hide the feeling from their faces. For example, I know when I am on the wrong side of my wife – her face says it all, even if her words don’t. I imagine I am the same. Well, on this Tesco visit we had the usual stares. It was busy though and the cafe was rammed. So much so we had to try to squeeze through spaces to get J’s wheelchair to our seats. This is where we encountered the looks of disgust. Maybe, this was just out of inconvenience as we had to ask them to get past. Don’t get me wrong, most people are willing to move and are helpful, but there are enough people out there where this is not the case. Just one person can make you feel annoyed unfortunately. It’s not fair as it is not our, or his fault. We also had two young women come to sit behind us, J was sitting in his wheelchair, and that he was a bit messy because he was eating and this can be a little bit of a challenge for him – especially to stay relatively clean. Needless to say, they didn’t like this and made the most awful look at J and his wheelchair, mumbled a few comments under their breath and then decided to move to the other side of the cafe. I mean the other side as well. They couldn’t have moved further away. It upset my mother and I was annoyed, but I thought it better not to react. We have had this experience numerous times and I always find it a really strange event. I think it is ignorance and a lack of understanding. Most people who get to know my son find him to be awesome. I mean awesome! He is a little shy when he meets someone new but when he eventually comes round he is always smiling.

There is a positive to this story though.A big positive. I think it happened for a reason as well. I am a great believer in that. We met a lovely lady whose name evades me as I am writing this. She sat behind us and she gave us and J a nice big, welcoming smile as she came to sit down. Without warning she said ‘Hi’. Wow just wow, a stranger who is willing to say hi and smile! It came as a jolt. So often nowadays we live our lives without really impacting each other. I love saying good morning to people in the street and smiling – it is a great way to spread a bit of happiness, although it is sparsely reciprocated. She then asked if she could say hello to J. I couldn’t help but say yes. She came over and sat on a chair in front of J and told us to ignore the stares and spoke directly to J. The worried look on his face soon evaporated and a smile lit up his face. If I could have given her the Nobel peace prize there and then, I would have. What a wonderful lady! It is moments and encounters like these that give me hope. After a little conversation we learned that she had a son, older than J, who had autism, and that she loved speaking to children who were like him. In that moment she gave me hope that people are inherently good, and that experience teaches us to be kind to each other. She left us much happier than when we had sat down. The treat that we had was not the cakes or coffee that we had consumed, it was the chance encounter we had had with a like minded human being. I wish this sort of experience on everyone. It has stuck with me since it happened. It will definitely be something I will try to reproduce for someone else. It made our day!

The article also shone light on more vocal encounters, with people making direct comments either face to face or online. This is less common in my experience but still happens. I experienced it when my son was a lot younger and I was also with my daughter. It was an older lady in a supermarket. I know, I am there a lot – I could pitch a tent there, it would be easier and save petrol! An older lady came up to us and spoke to our 18 month old daughter. She said she was lovely and beautiful. What a lovely thing to say, I agree. However, when discussion turned to J, her face changed to horror. I was surprised, he looks like any normal child, if you didn’t know he had a stroke and was not in a wheelchair you wouldn’t guess that he was different in anyway. His wheelchair was obviously the problem as she decided to say ‘he’s not right is he!’, the disgust on her face was ‘HD’. I was in shock, I did not know how to respond to be honest. This sweet, little old lady had just sucker punched me. She carried on after that as well. She even followed us round the shop further clarifying how wrong he was!!! I had to tell her to go away. I honestly couldn’t believe it. People were looking on, not saying anything though, but looking on, interested in our exchange. This woman really opened my eyes to how some people can be unnecessarily cruel. My son was coming up three so hopefully he won’t remember it. I will, forever. I do forgive her ignorance, but I cannot forget how hurtful her comments were. I have told people about this situation and always get the same reaction of horror and disbelief. I could let these type of occurrences change the way we live our life, yet I will never let that happen. I know most people are kind, generous and accepting. I want to teach my kids that. We just need to educate and change the attitudes of people that have not yet learnt the nuances of accepting difference.

The latter part of the article states something really troubling:

Amanda Batten of the Disabled Children’s Partnership said the findings echo a new survey it carried out of nearly 2,700 parents of disabled children which revealed hate crime and abuse was commonplace.

“Families often feel like they can’t go into busy public spaces or post images onto social media for fear of being publicly shamed or having to be submitted to people telling them that their child must lack quality of life because of their disability.

“The idea that so many parents and children with a disability are facing such a lack of support and outright abuse from the general public is truly heart breaking.”

Not one person or family should feel that they can’t go into busy public spaces, or post pictures of their loved ones on social media. I write my blog as a way of keeping myself busy and productive whilst being a stay at home dad. There’s no agenda for me. I just wanted to write. I find it fun. However, with this topic I hope that it opens the eyes and the hearts of someone who finds it hard to accept difference. Having worked in a school for five years helping to educate teenagers, I have learnt that you have to open an honest conversation to really engage people about changing attitudes and preconceptions. I would be happy if only one person read this and that helped them understand. The next time you see a person who is different try to make a positive impact. If you stare, why not make it a positive experience for them – smile, start a conversation, say a simple hello. It makes a difference, trust me.

I am happy to say there is a campaign launched under the hashtag #secretlivesofus by the Disabled Children’s Partnership which aims to challenge and break the barriers that disabled children and their families face. You can sign up here http://bit.ly/2t590Yw if you want. You can follow them on twitter as well https://twitter.com/DCPcampaign .

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

Apparently, bread is about 30,000 years old!! I love it but have been put off it in recent years in an attempt not to commit carbicide. I do allow myself one slice a day with a poached egg in the morning. It’s my favourite start to the day.

Like many people, I tend to buy my bread from the local supermarket, or as I have done in the past – buy an expensive bread maker in an attempt to get that home baked bread smell in the house that everyone loves. You can’t beat it. When visiting St.Fagans on a school visit, the best part was smelling the baking bread whilst walking by the bakers there. Hopefully, the bakers is still there and if so, it’s worth the trip.

Regardless of your views on the healthiness of bread, you can’t deny that a good bit of bread adds a bit of happiness to your day. It does mine.

I’ve never really made bread from scratch. As I ,mentioned, I’ve always decided to buy it from the shop – it’s easier, more convenient, and ultimately less hassle and consistently the right shape and size. So, why did I decide to start making my own bread. It’s probably cheaper buying it in the shop, but it definitely isn’t as satisfying as making your own loaf. It’s a great activity to help you spend time you can spend cooking with your kids too! This week I made Poppy Seed bread with my four year old and she loved it. It was an awesome way to fill Sunday afternoon. The look of satisfaction and pride on her face was worth the extra bit of effort. Bread Friends Forever!!

The fact of the matter is, like with all cooking, practise makes perfect. I didn’t get it right first time, but after a few attempts my bread is tastier than the ones I buy from the shop. I urge you all to give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? Here’s one you can try:

Daddy’s Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Homemade Bread

Ingredients

500g Strong White Bread Flour (You can get 1.5kg for less than a £1)

250ml of warm water (I just combine half boiling and half cold water)

25ml Rapeseed Oil (You can use olive oil if you prefer)

15g Sea Salt

6-10 Black, Pitted Olives (Sliced and Diced)

6-10 Sun Dried Tomatoes (Sliced and Diced)

1 Sachet of Fast Acting Yeast

Method

  1. Combine The the flour, yeast and salt. Mix well, but be careful not to put the salt directly onto the yeast. I put the yeast in first, mix and then add the salt.
  2. Add the liquids and mix, then knead until they combine to form a smooth, elastic dough.
  3. Rest in the mixing bowl for 30 mins. Make sure it is covered with food wrap or a tea towel.
  4. Use some flour to dust a clean work surface. Scrap out the dough with a plastic spatula. You can use your hands if you want. You now need to knead your dough for about 15-20 mins. See this video for an example of how to knead bread dough.
  5. You know it is done when it is almost see through when stretched. I usually hold it up to the window or kitchen light.IMAG0032.jpg
  6. Place back into the mixing bowl to rest for 1 hour. It will double in size and smell slightly fermented when it’s done. Preheat your oven to 220C (200 for fan assisted), Gas mark 7 or 425 F. I have a bake setting on my oven so I don’t have to use a fan. I find this gives a better result.
  7. Knock out the dough by flattening hit out with your palms and then use your fingers to poke dimples in the dough.
  8. Now add the olives and sun-dried tomatoes by layering and folding.
  9. Place in a loaf tin or shape into a rectangle on baking paper. Put in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-35 mins.
  10. When baked correctly your bread should sound hollow when tapped. Place your loaf on a cooling rack until cold.

I like to serve this bread with LPR Friendly Bruschetta. I will put the recipe up soon. Promise.

On A Side Note.

I love YouTube for cooking tutorials. Here’s one I like about kneading dough. There are many chefs and videos out there. I like Chef Eric Arrouzé, his videos are simple and easy to follow and I love French cuisine. He’s got loads of other recipes you might like on his YouTube channel. It’s worth checking out.

My Summer As A Stay At Home Dad

My Summer As A ‘Stay At Home Dad’ – Blog 003

It’s been awhile since I wrote my first two blogs. A couple of months. It’s not that I have been lazy – just too busy. The summer was a crazy mess of holidays and keeping the kids entertained. I have got to say it was the best summer yet. We had two holidays. Yes, I feel very blessed to say that we had two holidays. One was an ill-fated, rained out caravan holiday and the other was a 30 degree stunner in Crete. It was brilliant!!!

I ‘accidentally’ bid on a caravan holiday in a charity auction back last year. It was our first caravan holiday, and probably our last. The location was spectacular and the caravan wasn’t too bad. It’s just that caravanning is just not for us. It rained for 90% of the time and the kids couldn’t cope with being stuck in a tin can. Needless to say, we won’t be doing that again anytime soon. Unless nostalgia bites and we think it will be okay next time. I think my main issue is that I am a little bit larger and a little bit taller than most people than caravan. My feet hung about two feet off the end of the bed, meaning that I didn’t get hardly any sleep. For some strange reason the lack of year round heating in the tin can meant that there was a slight dampness in the air, resulting in my asthma playing up and me feeling like I was breathing through a damp cloth for three days. Fun! Looking on the bright side, we now know not to do that again. To be totally honest, we were grateful that we had this holiday and that the money we paid went to a really worthy charity who helped us for many years with our son, and we know that if we more caravan goers we would have enjoyed it far more as the setting was brilliant and it was a good caravan that had been donated by a very kind and generous family. My hat goes off to them. 

Thankfully, we had booked a week away in Crete, Greece. This is our last holiday away for a while. Due to giving up the day job, money is going to be a little more sparse than in previous years, so our usual week away in the ‘Med’ is going to be more of pipe dream for a little while. This holiday was our last big getaway before our son goes through his assessment for a pot

ential brain surgery. A lot was riding on this one. It didn’t disappoint. It was honestly amazing. The weather was perfect, the food was unbelievable, and more importantly, the memories we created as a family were unforgettable. My two children finally got over their fear of the swimming pool and I enjoyed

dunking them in the water more than what’s acceptable. Payback at last! Without giving you every last detail, it was absolutely incredible.

Not one to have a moan, I must talk about one aspect of the holiday that was gobsmackingly awful. Gatwick was awful on the way back. Their special assistance service resulted in me having to carry my heavy, sleeping, nearly 6 year old son from the plane to passport control and on to baggage in order to collect his wheelchair, which coincidentally came through last. To use a ‘Welshism’ – I was tamping. We have flown to several airports and never had a problem. When flying back to Cardiff from Spain last year the service we had was excellent. We were even allowed to meet the pilots and my son got to sit in the Pilot’s chair while we waited for our escort through to baggage collection. The wheelchair was delivered to the plane so I didn’t have to carry my son and our every need was taken care of. It could not be faulted. We thought thought that the Uk’s No 1 airport would give us something similar. It clearly fell well beneath expectations. Needless to say we shall avoid Gatwick when travelling abroad again.

I have to say that being a stay at home dad this summer has been amazing. It’s gone far too quick and I was ready for the children to go back to school – basically so I can get some energy back. I am pretty sure that this year’s summer will be one I will remember clearly and will be one of the best. If not, I have some great summers to come.

The Elephant In The Room

I sat down on Wednesday last week thinking about what to write for this week’s blog post. I have been working on writing some of the recipes I promised some friends I would write down, but was a bit ‘stumped’ on which thing I should write about first.

As any great man would do, I asked someone else…Twitter. Thankfully @MuddlyMum came up with the suggestion:

Elephants!!

I loved this idea – but what to write? I often try to come up with ideas when walking my two dogs. One, the older one, is a labrador called Ollie and the other munchkin is a Bullpei called Lola. They are mental just like my kids. Taking them for a walk provides me with a time when I have no distraction and I have spent many a dark night plodding the pathways around my hometown of Bridgend pondering the day’s events, even the odd existential crisis or two. Taking the dogs on a walk resulted in leaving my iPad unattended for an hour, in which my lovely kids (I am not sure which one) decided to post this blog unfinished. I still managed to get two likes – maybe people thought I was being ironic in some way, or they wanted to make me feel good. Either way, I laughed a little and thought I may as well get to writing that at some point.

I first thought I’d write about my experiences of being on an Elephant sanctuary in Goa. That was an amazing experience by the way, but I came to the conclusion that story would be worth a separate post when I’ve dug out the old photos for proof I actually did go. To be honest, it’s an age ago since that happened and I thought I had better figure out what I could remember before I tackled that trip down nostalgia lane. In the end, I came to the conclusion that I would write about the English proverb: The Elephant In the Room.

We have all been in that situation, whereby the whole room want to talk about something or someone but can’t seem to get it out of our brains, and subsequently our mouths. I can be like that sometimes, although apparently I can be a bit more outspoken on times, which inevitably leads to awkward silences and gasps. I tend to keep it at bay more often that not. In my youth I always got into trouble at work for opening my mouth when I shouldn’t and have since then become more accustomed to observing the elephant than trying to tackling the beast head-on. It’s worked out well as I don’t offend people as often anymore. I must be growing up…or something like that. I kind of hope I go the other way as I get older and come full circle. A right of passage into becoming a grumpy old git.

Anyway, I will get to the point. As a parent of a disabled child, and one who is often ill and has many challenges to face, I often get asked when meeting new people, what’s wrong with him? Or what’s his disability? The git in me, that comes out every now and then, is often tempted to say there’s nothing wrong with him! He is perfect in every way. It’s the truth. Well mostly, except for when he constantly ignores me or when he wants the third or fourth Babybel. To get back to the point, I can often see the difficulty in this situation and the embarrassment of the person asking. It’s not their fault. It’s human nature – you can see a child/person is a little bit different and you’re intrigued to find out about their story and what is their life is like. It is no different to asking a personal question to any other family or person. What makes this situation so awkward? Why do some people not ask, when you can see it is what is on their mind? I have come to the conclusion that most people are genuinely interested and I always honestly answer and tell them all they need to know. The people who can’t bring themselves to ask, or ask it in curiously awkward manner are trying not to offend. Isn’t that amazing! Genuinely, I love this: a person, that doesn’t know you, wanting to make sure that you are happy and not insulted unintentionally. We need to acknowledge the situation, put people at ease and thank them for the question. I like to initiate the conversation, to help them out a bit. I like to focus on all the amazing things my son has done. How his resilience and determination shines through. It is an inspiration to myself, my family and friends and the people he meets. I will also talk about his sister and how amazing she is with him. I like to be positive and see the good in people. Cynicism is a cruel position to view the world from. It is a poison that is all-encompassing once it takes hold, and trying not to sound to cliché – the world is a better place half full of optimists, than a world half full of pessimists.

There are so many situations that the elephant in the room gets in the way of good friendships and relationships. I had a member of staff that was a muslim in a previous job. I found it fascinating as a catholic: I had gone to catholic school; been to a catholic church for many years, but did not have much knowledge about other faiths. I find that in today’s world climate and with attitudes towards religion, people can be frightened to ask about other beliefs and cultures. I don’t really care for prejudice. Unfortunately it happens, in mind my due to this elephant in the room problem. I asked him what his religion was about and how he practised his faith. I am glad I asked! We had a much better and more open work relationship because of it. It was interesting to find the similarities and differences of his world compared to mine. I think we become richer people when we open ourselves to different communities, different ideas and faiths, and fundamentally more understanding of the complexities of world around us.

Most recently, that elephant has visited me when explaining my decision to become a stay at home dad. It is an odd conversation. The look on people’s faces when I say I am not working when I leave my current job. I am going to be a stay at home dad…there’s an awkward silence that follows. I reassure them. It is a decision that felt natural to me, but apparently is quite uncommon. Only 250 welsh dads took the option in a recent report. Yep, only 250!!! I will become part of a  special club of lunatics, or visionaries….time will tell.

I will leave that there for the time being as I think I have tackled the elephant challenge in my own way. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. If you’re feeling generous hit the share button and follow me for more ‘dog walk’ inspired postings.