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U is for Upset

U is for Upset

U is for Upset

Before the kids arrived there were times I got upset. That’s perfectly normal. I got upset by the usual things like bad news or seeing others in pain.

Then the kids arrived and there was a whole new world of upset waiting for me.

Holding those tiny babies, I made the usual promises to try and protect them from all the horrible things in the world and to give them the best life I possibly could.

I knew intellectually that I would need to let them make their own mistakes, that I would have to stand back and ignore all my natural instincts to step in and pick them up before they’ve fallen. That’s one of the hardest things about being a parent.

So I bite my lip and hope they succeed and give them a cuddle when it doesn’t happen the first time they try. Or the second. And with a bit of practice I’m managing this, though some days are easier than others.

And I can’t let them see me worry, that might stop them from trying, and that’s the only way they’re going to learn and develop.

It’s about protecting them from the grown-up world as well and the sort of things that have been on the news so often that we take them for granted. They catch a word or a phrase and you’re struggling to explain it in a way they can understand. War. Poverty. Climate change. All the big things that we struggle to understand ourselves.

Even explained in the simplest of terms, it can still be upsetting to hear about children who are starving or people who have lost everything. One of the things the kids need to learn is how to be upset, and how to deal with it, along with disappointment, rejection and not being chosen to join the sports team (if they still do that these days of course).

Then there’s this ability my children have to upset me without trying.

Like when they miss daddy more than me.

Or when they’ve fallen over and I’m not the first person they run to for help.

The fact that I like to think that I’m the most important one in their lives like they are in mine and it turns out I’m not, not at that particular moment anyway.

But I know that I am when it counts.

In the middle of the night when they wake up with leg pain or after a bad dream.

Or when they just want a cuddle and a story read to them.

So I’m going to hold onto those memories and bite my tongue when all they want to know when I pick them up from playgroup is when their father’s going to be home.

Submarine Ahoy!

The Dynamic Duo ready to go

The Dynamic Duo ready to go

We decided to take Mini and Motormouth to Chatham Dockyard to celebrate the little sun we were going to get this Bank Holiday weekend. We’ve been before and they both seemed to enjoy it, even if Mini is still too little to be able to look around the ships.



And the submarine.

 Tiny Boy, Huge Submarine
Tiny Boy, Huge Submarine

Motormouth loves the submarine tour and to be fair HMS Ocelot, launched in 1962, does look pretty damn impressive from the outside, even if she is propped up in a dry dock. She’s a diesel-electric submarine nearly 300′ long and 26′ wide, and the last submarine to be built at Chatham Dockyard.

And she’s painted black.


If I was more fanciful, I’d probably describe her as a brooding presence with an undertone of contained violence.

It’s a good job I’m not fanciful.

Not in broad daylight anyway.


IMAG0977Then he had to look around HMS Cavalier, where he found the bell which he had great fun ringing, and ringing, and ringing…

She dates from 1944 and is only about 60′ feet longer than the Ocelot, but she carried a complement of 263 compared to the Ocelot’s 68. It makes you realise just how much equipment they have to fit inside a sub since, even with a crew of that size, it’s really cramped.

For anyone other than Motormouth of course. He didn’t get to sit in the captain’s chair this time, the highlight of his last visit, but he’s pretty philosophical about it. He’s sure it will happen next time.

Time for a Quick Nap

Time for a Quick Nap

The last of the three ships was HMS Gannet. She dates from the late 1800s and is what you imagine an old fashioned warship would look like, all ropes and sails and teak. In fact she’s powered by both steam and sail (a nod to steampunk there) and was used as a training ship.

We also bumped into Uncle One-Liner and Auntie Patience who are regulars at the Dockyard and both the kids were pleased to see them.


Our main reason for visiting the Dockyard was to catch the Julia Donaldson exhibition before it closed and it was worth it. The kids got to explore different areas, each relating to a book, with giant stuffed toy characters (well, giant is a relative term, the cow’s nose only came up to my ear).

And a model whale.

Giddy up, Whale!Giddy up, Whale!

I don’t know if you’ve read the snail and the whale, but it’s my favourite Julia Donaldson story (well, of the half dozen or so that I’ve read. To the kids. Honest.) The reason it gets a special mention was Mini took a real shine to it. She had to sit on its back. Then its head. Then its tail flukes. Then she had to sit on its head again and slide down its back.

In fact, she was happy to do this during the entire story telling session (we had to nip out to deal with a toxic emission and couldn’t get back in). And yes, we had tantrums when we had to come away.


When the kids finally got tired of the exhibition we checked out the pipe bending room which had some wooden pegs and pool noodles the kids could use to bend into different shapes.

It took all of about 90 seconds for Motormouth to set off the alarm by poking something with his pool noodle whilst we were distracted by Mini trying to worm her way under the barrier.

We left the room then. What made it worse was all the other parents were asking us what Motormouth had done, just so they could make sure their kids didn’t do the same thing.

By this time, the Other Half and I were pretty knackered but, fortunately, so were the kids.

Its hard to tell if Mini enjoyed her day but Motormouth certainly did. They both laughed and oohed and aahed, so it can’t have been that bad.

I asked Motormouth what his favourite part of the day was and, not surprisingly, it was the submarine (after meeting Uncle One-Liner and Auntie Patience).

I’ve got a feeling we’re going to have to go there again. Maybe the rain might hold off for the next time we visit.

Nah. Never happen.