THE DAD DIARIES #1
Today we’ve handed the reins of our blog over to Martyn Knight – dad of three and one of our Creative geniuses at Mamas & Papas H.Q. We asked him to write about being a dad, and he asked us if he had to. He did. It’s in his contract.
His eldest daughter is starting to develop lasting memories, which would be lovely, if not for the endless destruction caused by her (occasionally) demonic twin siblings.
Twisted Sisters by Martyn Knight
Wow. I have a seven-year-old daughter—how on earth did that happen?
I mean, obviously I know ‘how’ it happened, but that doesn’t stop me being endlessly surprised that it did. If I’m completely honest, I still feel like I’m that age myself – which either makes me the perfect candidate to raise children, or else terrifyingly under-qualified. But either way they’re stuck with me!
I think the main reason for this sudden fixation with my oldest daughter’s age is that I actually remember being seven, myself. In fact, I remember so much in such vivid detail that I am now acutely conscious that right now she’s probably forming lasting memories—things she will carry through life with her. Her experiences and relationships this year will ultimately mould her character in the future. No pressure then.
The tricky thing for me and my wife is that, as well as making sure she’s doing amazing things and having great adventures that she’ll remember forever, we’re also having to cope with her twin sisters, Poppy and Daisy—almost two years old and, ahead of time, well and truly in the troughs of the terrible twos. I remember Lily going through this stage herself, but I just don’t remember it being anything like as hard—maybe because she was a little older, definitely because there was only one of her. With Poppy and Daisy, it feels like we are always telling them off: stop that, don’t climb there, don’t bite your sister, don’t pull your sister’s hair, don’t take your sister’s nappy off.
It’s difficult to balance a bouncy, happy seven-year-old with a couple of naughty toddlers and two grumpy, tired and frazzled parents. I really don’t want Lily to remember in any great detail us being cross with her sisters, and by default quite often cross with her. I don’t want her to look back and think that we never had enough time for her, even though every minute of every day seems to be taken up by dealing with the twins.
It doesn’t help that we’re currently trying to potty train Poppy and Daisy, and it definitely doesn’t help that they have just moved from cots into beds. This has thrown up a whole new set of challenges. For a while it seemed like they were training for the SAS, with two little stunt monkeys constantly falling to the floor from four feet up, still wrapped in sleeping bags. Thud! We’d find them lying on the carpet or else fast asleep half on the bed, half hanging out.
They now seem to have mastered the staying in bed thing – the problem has quickly become them waking up early and trashing their room, culminating in the removal of their clothes and the discarding of their nappies in some sort of dirty protest at our refusal to get up at 5am.
Anything that could provide stimulation has been removed, draws have been turned around to face the wall and pyjamas that are trickier to take off have been swiftly implemented. We now get cups rattled against the bars of the baby gate like little convicts, together with cute little cries of “Mummy… daddy…” If that doesn’t work there’s always the winning gambit of “Pooed…”
However terrifying the threat of excrement, it is infinitely preferable to Daisy’s crowd-stopper of a tantrum last week; an outburst that can only be described as Hulk-like! I have never seen such pure rage in a child’s eyes as I glimpsed that day. The naughty step had failed to calm her, so the next stage was time-out in her room: just a couple of minutes for her to have a word with herself and realise that the world was not going to end just because she wasn’t allowed an ice pop! But no— she didn’t want to stay in her room, so she charged the gate, running into it at full pelt.
When that escape plan failed she began to shake it and shake it and shake it until finally she managed to pull it off the wall. She ended up on the floor with a baby gate on top of her, and this unexpected conclusion was enough to shock her into submission and stop her tantrum. She changed back to a lovely baby colour from the Hulk green and her torn clothes returned to normal.
Peace and unity were returned to our household, for a while at least. She was calm, she didn’t get an ice pop and we have now doubly secured the baby gate to the twins’ room just in case she has any future Bruce Banner moments!
All of this chaos is quietly being absorbed by big sister Lily, whose young temporal cortex is slowly filling up with scenes of utter carnage. We don’t want her to end up like a GI returning from Vietnam, scarred by memories of conflict. We want her to think back and remember nothing but fun and happiness.
Poppy and Daisy: over to you.