moreshortstuff

Life, kids etc.

The nightmare before, during and after Christmas

Drunk Father

Another happy family at Christmas

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 23 DECEMBER 2011
HAVE we all got some kind of collective amnesia? Here we are, just a couple of days from Christmas, parading around like it’s the happiest time of the year.
Surely we can’t all have forgotten the nightmare that was last Christmas, or the one before that, or the one before that?
So far this year, the only high point has been getting blind drunk on the night of the works’ Christmas do. But even that left me with a hangover so nasty it could have played the part of Frank Booth in the movie Blue Velvet.
The thing about Christmas is that you think it’s the nice guy and look forward to its arrival. But then it ends up running off with your wife, driving your car and living in your house, while you carry on paying the bills.
Advent calendars sum up the whole festive period quite nicely. Each new door has a lovely chocolate behind it and promises so much… except the chocolate isn’t real chocolate, it’s that cheap tasting “chocolate-flavoured candy”. Yuk.
As December 25 draws ever nearer, you get ever skinter, desperately trying to keep up with the demands Christmas places on you.
Even the lovely Christmas carols are there just to set up us to knock us down. The words to Silent Night may as well be “you can’t sing me, you tone deaf chump, so don’t bother trying to join in“. Can anybody who’s not Whitney Houston actually hit those high notes?
As for the scourge of the Christmas card
Now me, I‘m not a Christmas card sender as a rule.
It’s mainly because I hate the awkward lie you have to make up. You know the one I mean don’t you? The one where you’ve already handed out your cards to EVERYONE, then the quiet bloke in the corner at work hands you a card. So you lie: “Did I not give you yours? I must have left it in the car or something. I‘ll bring it in tomorrow.” You both know it’s a lie, you liar.
But all this pales into insignificance compared to Christmas Day itself.
Oh joy of joys – being woken at the ten past four in the morning by kids who are already bouncing off the walls because they’ve sneakily cracked open a selection box; having them crash down from the sugar high at 9am, and spend the next two hours whining about what they didn‘t get, and why they hate going to church; driving miles to see the family, feeling a bit ill from eating too much, and not being able to drink a drop because you’re driving back; having your tipsy family natter all the way through the Dr Who you’ve been looking forward to but forgot to Sky plus. Wonderful.
Me, I would much rather stay at home counting my money, like Scrooge. Except I haven’t got two pennies to rub together… because it’s bloody Christmas!
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The magic of Christmas. Really.

christmas tree

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 9 DECEMBER 2011

IT’S Christmas tree day tomorrow, when the Short family traditionally makes the annual trip to a car park to take our pick of hundreds of identical firs.
We will spend roughly an hour umming and ahhing over the right tree for us while the kids run around and occasionally come looking for us with tears in their eyes because they have fallen over, or been told off by a man.
We will select the tree, then find out it won’t fit in our car. Mrs Short will kick off when I suggest she stays with the kids for half an hour while I take the tree home – but will refuse to leave me with the children because she cannot manage to get the tree from the car to the house on her own.
We will then pay a man £10 extra to deliver the tree, then be out when it turns up late and make arrangements for it to come the following day instead.
When it finally arrives and we take the net off, the damn thing will take up half of the living room.
“It looks a lot bigger than the one we bought,” one of us will say.
Then it’s decoration time. The dust-covered baubles are removed from the loft, most of them broken because they were packed away in carrier bags and the heavy suitcases were then accidentally put on top of them at some point.
We manage to salvage enough of them to make the tree look presentable, hiding the rubbish ones the older child has made at school round the back of the tree, next to the wall where no one can see them.
Oh, the magic of Christmas!
I’m a bit of a humbug merchant if truth be told. I think we do Christmas too early and I think its place as a religious festival has all but disappeared.
I struggle to explain to my four-year-old boy what part Santa plays in Baby Jesus’ birthday celebrations.
In truth though, his understanding of the Christmas story is already pretty warped – he recently told us Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem “to kill the baddie king, Herod”.
The thing is, he’s appeared in a few nativity plays so should really have started to grasp the true meaning of Christmas by now. Although, now that I think of it, he was the only shepherd wearing a Ben 10 Omnitrix last year, which can’t have helped.
A few years ago, one of my young nieces became obsessed by the Christmas story and got very religious for a six-year-old. She walked around with her hands joined together, in prayer, for weeks, and would not do anything that could “make Baby Jesus cross“. It eventually wore off but when Easter arrived a few months later, she asked her grandad what it was all about. When he told her, it blew her tiny mind. “Baby Jesus is DEAD!!???“ she asked in stunned disbelief.
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A lesson in how not to holiday with children

English: The Passenger Oxygen mask of CA976 fl...

Yay! We get to have a go on the oxygen masks, Daddy!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS ON FRIDAY 2 DECEMBER 2011

Away on a family holiday this week for a special celebration.

There are 13 of us. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

We had to get special permission to take our older boy out of school for this but it has proven very educational. At least, it has proven very educational for the grown ups on the trip.

For me and Mrs Short, it’s the first time we’ve gone abroad with the kids. So the first thing I learnt was this: get a taxi to the airport. “Let’s take the boys on the train, it will be like an adventure starting for them,” we said. How wrong we were. Trying to force your way onto a packed train with a giant suitcase, pram and baby under one arm is the opposite of fun. But at least it prepares you for the hell of the plane.

If you’ve never flown with a baby in tow, my advice is don’t! I’m surprised there isn’t a book on this to prepare you, or at least a chapter on it in all those parenting guides you can get. But then again I suppose no amount of planning can prepare you for an infant filling his nappy in a confined space at 30,000 feet. Just as the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign has gone on so that neither you or any passengers nearby can escape the sickening whiff for a good 20 minutes.

Mind you, it was our four year old who worried one of the passengers the most. You could hear the sobbing groan of despair from The Most Terrified Of Flying Woman In The World a row in front of us every time he asked a question that started with “Mummy, if we crash…” You would not believe how many questions can start that way. But he was so looking forward to crashing – you get your own oxygen mask and a life jacket with a light and a whistle on it and everything!

Finally we reach our destination and learn another new thing. Minibus drivers in some countries hate it when the passengers sing! He finally snapped at the 28th chorus of “The back of the bus cannae sing, cannae sing, cannae sing.” What a grouch!

The rest of the holiday so far has seen my learning curve continue to go up. I’ve always thought beaches sucked – what’s the point of going to a place just to get sand everywhere? – but they are even suckier with kids in tow. Did you know it can take upwards of an hour to find mummy’s bag when they have “buried it”. How we laughed. Other lessons have included: don’t let a child order octopus in restaurants, no matter how much they plead; the game of charades has limited appeal when ‘Spiderman’, ‘Cars 2‘ and ‘Batman‘ are the only films one of the other contestants can remember; your dad’s “theory” on the disappearance of Madelaine McCann sbould not be aired in a public bar; and kids are rubbish at poker. There are still a few days to go. Who knows what lessons still await?

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All I want for Christmas is everything, Daddy

English: TOYS “Я” US (Toys R Us), Oxford...

I want everything in it and I want it NOW, Daddy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 28 OCTOBER 2011
THE clocks haven’t gone back yet – I think that means it’s technically still summer.
We’ve not even had Halloween and Bonfire Night is more than a week away.
Yet on Wednesday, the same day the Toy Retailers’ Association released its guide to this year’s 12 must have toys for Christmas, I was presented with my son’s own festive wish list.
There are more than 700 things on it and it comes to roughly £35,000 worth of toys. He is four and I am not Donald Trump, so he is likely to be disappointed on December 25.
He only started school in September so his hand writing is not the best. It looks like he got a dog to do it for him, for a biscuit.
Which means his list was not written, but comprised of things he had cut out of a catalogue from The Entertainer toy store and stuck to several sheets of card.
For all the things he wants, he may as well have just handed me the catalogue and said: “I want all of it, Daddy.”
I have no idea how he managed to get hold of the catalogue, by the way. It’s fair to say he never goes out of the house alone and struggles to wipe his own bum properly.
Actually, I’m surprised he managed to cobble a list together so quickly. It was only Monday when he snorted with derision at his Mum’s suggestion that he put together a list of the things he wanted. And that was only to stop him pointing at the telly and saying: “I want that one,” like a little version of the Little Britain character, every single time an advert for a toy came on.
“A list??!!” he said.
“Can you not just send Father Christmas a message on your phone instead?”
He is full of questions, that boy. Other recent gems include: “Do footballers like waterfalls?” the classic: “Can horses bend over?” and of course: “Whose side were the dinosaurs on in the war?”
He’s actually been compiling his Christmas list, mentally, for months now. It includes, among other things, lots of Ben 10 toys, a Transformers voice-changing helmet, Star Wars lightsaber (that makes slightly different noises to the ones he already has), Power Rangers action figures, Toy Story writing bureau, a drumming Elmo, Disney Cars walkie talkies and Winnie the Pooh pregnancy testing kit.
I think the amount of branded goods he’s asked for shows just how suggestible he is when it comes to the TV adverts.
Luckily, me and Mrs Short believe we can turn that to our advantage. Our plan is to only watch the cookery channels on Sky when the boy’s around. Our thinking is that the ads might exert their influence on his young mind and make him rethink his list. It would be really handy if he decided he wanted a nice set of non stick pans instead of all those toys. Or a blender. I’ll let you know how we get on.
*Friday night film: Twilight: Eclipse. Grrr.
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