Aldi with my Father

blogThere is a Facebook joke going about the now about how you go in to Aldi for a loaf and come out with, the loaf, a saw, and a trumpet. I am an Aldi addict.  The thrill of the unknown sees me there faithfully every week.  You THINK you are popping in for a pint of milk, but you know there is a good chance you may exit with unicorn steaks and a garden gnome.  It is anyone’s guess.  Exotic vegetables, Wagu beef, beautiful kids jumpers, wasabi coated almonds?  The list goes on.  Even better, when someone asks you where you got said treasure, and you comment aloofly “Oh that old thing?  I picked it up in Aldi.”

Better still if the enquirer is a Waitrose enthusiast.

Purchasing a cracking wine and drinking it all that very evening (because you bought six given the cheap price tag, and whilst you are pickling your liver, you ARE sticking to a budget), the cheese, oh the cheese.  All wonderful points, but not my favourite thing about Aldi. That accolade goes to my companion, my chauffeur, and on this little pocket of time in my week, my confidante.  My father.

Big John, Taxi John, or “that big eejit” as my beloved Nana used to call him, is like many of our Glasgow fellas, a quiet man.  Selective in what he says and who he says it, he is truly at his happiest doing nothing sat beside my mum.  They sit beside one and other and do the same thing, every single night.  Whiskey and confessions, pakora and a slagging match.  Healthy? Maybe not, best friends, definitely.  He is a man of routine.  A man of habit.  A man of filthy humour at inappropriate moments.  Yet he is not without emotion.  His wee face carrying Nana’s coffin is something I will never forget.  He is a tough nut to crack I guess.  The advent of grandchildren have softened his edges.  He would never voice his affection to them, but they know the sound of his car engine and bound like puppies to play with the biggest kid of the family.  Laden with treats from the butchers for the cubs, he never stays long, his absence already a trail of anticipation for the next visit.

Aldi has become our twilight zone.  We have an unspoken eternal weekly date, and I know that we both look forward to it.  We puzzle over bags of spirulina powder, and what exactly is a persimmon?  We faithfully genuflect at our shared alter to our God, purple sprouting broccoli, and we always “pick up something for the weans”.  Being a shopaholic my dad is the price index of all the local competitors and we marvel in unison at the utter bargains to be had in our Aldi.  Amongst all this traffic are our chats.  Morsels we throw each other from our week, episodes downloaded, my driving lessons (I’ve been learning to drive since the last century), and my favourite titbit; stories from his childhood and growing up.  They pop out of his mouth on our Aldi jaunts with ease that I have never witnessed.  I am careful not to make too much fuss at these golden moments and casually yawn or stare down Kevin the carrot.

For me becoming a mother made me even closer to my own parents.  That wee notch up the generation tree suddenly made me all the more aware of their life before me.  My mother had always peppered my upbringing with stories of her family, long dead family pets, and being Ziggy Stardust.  My dad is much more of a closed book. Except in Aldi.  Here I listen intently whilst absent mindly humming the Paw Patrol theme tune.  When he says, “I’ll get you upstairs at the car”, I nod.  Really, I want to wedge a bag of frozen peas in his mouth as a bookmark, so as not to lose my page.

As my Nana would have said, “none of us are getting any younger”.

I have watched a dear friend lose her father in recent years, and I have many friends at the moment who are coping with the reality of a sick parent. It makes Aldi with my father all the more poignant to me.

Maybe you aren’t a super market goer I here you say?   Fine.  Do something else, together.  Find your Aldi, and tell your old man; I love you.

 

Happy Wednesday xxx

Introducing the Greek

theoHaving finally started this blog, I would like to introduce my companion through this land of sleepless nights. Lets call him my Greek.

My personal chef is at the core of his soul, Mediterranean.  Everything will be done in good time; let’s make a list, no,  lets make a frappe, then THINK about that list.  He is the ying to my silent but frenetic yang, and yip I would be lost without him.

Regardless of his heritage his brain works like every other bloody guys.  Different from a mummy’s head, which for me consists of juggling a million thoughts, fears, and actual tasks.  The Greek has a completely different approach to the priorities of parenting.  Songs, he’s all about the songs.  Original pirate material MC spins on classic nursery  rhymes.  Weeding big dirty “treasures” from the garden in November.  Going online in the wee small hours of the morning to buy socks, yes socks for our puppy.  The list goes on.

Yesterday was no exception.

Having lost a drone with our son 3 days ago (its stuck up in the tree, outside our house), he announced he was “off to the Card Factory on a mission”.  Huh.  Its Papa’s birthday next week, some forward planning?!  Not quite.  1 hour and £4 later, the big reveal.  A helium balloon to raise into the sky, manipulate through the branches and gently, and very carefully release the drone.  There it is.  The difference.  He thinks it’s a priority to save the drone.

I seethed silently for the rest of the afternoon.  Has he got nothing else to worry about?!  If ONLY I had time to saunter into town and float home with a bloody balloon!  Of course when my son arrived home, Dadda was a hero amongst men.  A twosome united against the elements, buoyed with helium and eternal optimism.

As I peeked out the blinds, scowling and trying not to burn the lasagne something else creeped up my spine.  Jealously.  Why didn’t I take a minute to think of a flotation saving device, why don’t I take a minute to stop, and enjoy the wee things.  Should I blame my gender?  My nationality?  I’m not sure.

Still today is a new day.  So, if you look up at the sky and see a drone go sailing freely by, take a wee moment and enjoy those simple things.

xxxxxxxxxx

Of course just before I wearily limped into bed last night, there it was; Papa’s birthday card.

Christ.  I love that buggar.

 

 

Let weans be weans

This is the post excerpt.

A recent trip to Ikea found me harbouring murderous thoughts towards a 7 year old.
I’m a good person, honest, so let me explain. My 5 year old is the reincarnated soul of Buzz Lightyear, presently living in the body of Batman. Each day he retreats to Gotham and carries out his hero duties with aplomb. My fearless caped crusader protects the underdog, fights the baddies and always saves the day. A bit of a loner, Batman prefers to work alone. On occasions after carefully assessing the risks and deciding help is required, Robin: my 2 year old is called upon. I’m not much of a theatre goer but I love this daily show. On the edge of my Ikea chair, throwing Swedish meatballs down my throat like popcorn, I held my breath as the duo take on their nemesis: Joker. Enter 7 year old, stage left, “You know Batman isn’t real? He’s a comic character who first appeared in dectective comics in 1939.” I watched in horror as Gotham city walls crumble and imaginary capes float to the floor like feathers.

I was able to affirm and reassure my children after this incident, and normal daily showings have resumed. However, it got me thinking about the importance of imagination and innocence in childhood and how the window for this seems to be shrinking. A few nights later I found myself watching my oldest friend fret over her daughter’s belief in fairies. A modest and unassuming person, she is without doubt the best young mum I have the privilege of knowing. Unaware of her brilliance she was seeking advice on what to tell her 6 year old who had been told from a reliable source (a boy in her class), that fairies are “make believe”. With tears in her eyes and question marks bulging out of her temple I told her, Read Peter to her. Peter Pan. He’ll answer her questions.
Rouseau hit the nail on its head when remarking:
“Why rob these innocents of the joys which pass so quickly,”
Sadly every boy has to grow up, but why rush this wonderful stage? Not so long ago Childhood as a concept did not exist. Kids seen as miniature adults had to work hard to cast their original, innate sins. A revered and perhaps the most enviable of all stages of life, I feel this should be stretched and indulged.
There is such a pressure on young parents to have well behaved silent ninjas who are well versed and equipped for the big bad world. On a recent holiday with my children an older lady watched dissaprovingly as our monkeys tea party raised the roof in a café. With my stress levels also through the roof my 5 year old observed that his open baked potato was like a “Fagina”. My usual response to this would be to conduct a live autopsy with napkin surgical masks. Instead with two bespectacle eyes on me I shouted at my son. Appeasing our audience, confusing my son, and leaving me hoping that the old womans next shite was a hedgehog, with exema.

Its why I choose to let my weans be weans. Allowing them this magical time of blank slates, carefree days, imagining the impossible, inventing the incredible is so important in shaping who they become. They shouldn’t be interested in whats real and whats not. And we as parents shouldn’t worry about them being unprepared. So go easy on yourself. Applaud and encourage their performances. Teach them manners yes, but never refuse a place setting at the table for Henry Hoover. Its what I intend to do, and its why ill stand side by side with my god daughter, clapping my hands raw to revive all those fairies that met an early demise because of all you non believers.