Adam Bird

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Sunday, 24 April 2011

You’re Nobody till Someone Loves You

Message in a bottle

For the past three months I have been attending a Creative Writing class, which has been paid for by the Agency I work at under the idea of "learning something new". Last week we had a feedback session on short stories that were written based simply upon a song title, of which we had to choose from a long list of options. Feedback on my short story was really positive, based upon the song title "You’re Nobody till Someone Loves You", so I've made the brave, or mad decision to share it with you via my blog. Please feel free to leave your own opinion on the comments below - it makes a huge difference knowing what people liked and of course the parts that could be improved.


Dear Mum,

I never thought I’d write that word; ‘Mum’, those three little letters, a single syllable word, an affectionate or lazy term for Mother. Nor did I believe that I would have one, a mother I mean, a matriarch, an emotional leader and provider of a family. I’ve always had one of course, biologically - I wouldn’t have been here otherwise, but never a real one, not one like you.
     I read only yesterday, an article in a newspaper. It was about a lady standing on the sandy beach of a seaside resort. As the waves lapped gently over her feet and the seagulls cawed above her, she felt something hard brush against her toes. She bent down to see what it was, and to her surprise realised that it was a bottle. Within it, was a letter, recognisably German, beautifully preserved and hand written, each letter carefully crafted from the nib of an elegant fountain pen. But the lady, not knowing a word of the language except possibly “danke”, was intrigued, what secrets were held within, what was the story that was being told?
     She took it home, carefully broke the bottle and unravelled the parchment inside, releasing the pungent, musty smell of time and ocean. She read and reread the letter as if by reading it enough she’d somehow manage to find the translation from within its soul. Words had no meaning, but no doubt, she felt a melancholy tone, like a rhythmic poem, or a piece of classical music that you could detect sadness, tragedy but not know nor understand the words.
     She typed it slowly and carefully reproduced each letter onto her computer, feeding slowly a translation programme she had found on the Internet, which felt intrusive, as if digitally revealing the guarded secrets of the mysterious author. She pressed the button which said “translate” and after a pause, as if the computer had to think about it for a moment, until on the right hand side of the screen appeared, in broken English the heart of the mysterious German. It was a love letter, a young man revealing his hidden desires, his words of thanks to a lover who had saved him from trouble, who had changed his life and how he couldn't find the words to say to her just what she meant to him.
     This letter then, isn’t to a lover of mine, but to you Mum, like that German boy, a women who saved me. Who showed me what love is and what it means to be loved. To each of us who are human that we can always believe in hope and that wherever we come from, what ever the illicit results of two misguided loins, that someone can still mean something and that someone can achieve a purpose, however normal it may be.
     You knew my history, you’d have read my file meticulously understanding what you were inviting into your home and family. But for the sake of giving this letter a proper context in how it fits in with my life, you should hear it from me, in my own words, not that of bureaucracy, a nameless, soulless narrative of fact written by yet another social worker.
     My biological mother, a victim, nothing new, nothing unique, a fairly attractive teenage girl, left school, got into a bad crowd, found drugs a tonic to dull the pain of unemployment, let alcohol take over her body, to numb the physical effects of the arguments she had with my father. I was of course a result of that tempestuous relationship. My father used my mothers heroin ravished carcass for his own pleasure. It wasn’t love for him, she was a means to an end. She had what he needed to rid the tension, whether she allowed him or not. It’s a miracle looking at the facts that I was actually conceived, let alone born with my faculties intact. If that was the one thing that my mother did right, was to stay off the scag until I was born. You hear of babies being born addicted, that along with milk to nurture them, they’re fed methadone to wean them off the drug that their mother’s body infused during gestation.
     Once I was born, and after my father had been jailed for life for the brutal, drug fuelled murder of our next door neighbour who he’d wrongly accused of sleeping with my mother, my older brother Steven and I were taken and put into foster placement. we grew up, moved from house to house, family to family before one day being torn apart from him. This is where our paths in life split, our destinies changed and we stopped being siblings, but just two people who were joined by DNA.
     Brother Steven was three years older than me, he had it worse than I did. He protected me from my father and had to support me whilst my mother was comatose, drunk or sitting in her chair, an expired cigarette in her mouth, ash hanging limply asking politely to be dropped into a tray.
     We were afforded visiting rights, supervised visits all the way up until I was fourteen. He was seventeen by then and his reputation for trouble was well documented. It started out of rebellion, little things, nicking sweets, hiding toys, breaking windows and claiming innocence even if there were witnesses saying otherwise. It soon moved on, as broken foster carers washed hands of him, the downward spiral sped up. Joyriding, burglary, smoking drugs and dealing in pot on those days he decided he needed an education.
     There was a difference between us, like I already said, like you already knew. You took me in for the first time when I was just ten years old. I was weary, not like most ten year old boys. I was cautious, didn’t trust anyone and never did I let my guard down. I knew who I was, I felt unwanted, I felt useless and I felt tainted, the son of a murdering, rapist father and a druggy of a mother.
     I wanted attention, I wanted more than anything to feel loved, to feel wanted and a place where I fit in. I remember one birthday, it might have been seven or eight. It was just a number, but the memory is just as strong. Blowing out a birthday cake and a nameless face says “make a wish son”, so I do. I make a wish, but instead of wishing for roller blades, or a new video game, I wished for affection, a hug that came from the heart of the person who supplied it.
     The first time I witnessed unconditional love, I must have been about five, playing in a garden whilst the foster mother sat on a chair talking to her daughter. One of her grandchildren came running out of the house, bounding down the garden and into the foster carers arms. The look on her face as she gripped her grandchild tight, eyes closed but revealing so much. I thought to myself, or at least tried to remember when someone had hugged me that hard.
     When you took me in, I remembered your kindness and I remember everyone else, your two children and their kids, the other foster child you had with you, it was almost strange. Everyone seemed happy, content and joyful. Your house had rules, like most foster carers did, but you were fair, if anyone had any issues you would all sit down together and talk about it, like some kind of Swiss Family Robinson. I hadn’t been in that environment before, but I took to it, felt naturally accepted, but in my mind, I knew that on a whim I could be transferred, gone and be taken to another family, the carousel of the great unknown waiting to pick me up and spit me out all over again.
     As the weeks turned into months and I had been with you for a couple of years I slowly began to let my guard down. Our relationship grew and I felt part of the family. The spectre of being whisked away and re-homed felt remote and jaded, as if belonging to another life.
     My relationship with my brother seemed to deteriorate, even though we were seeing each other regularly. I was encouraged to work hard at school and reap the life long benefits of a steady education. He had left school and was one arrest away from prison. I would say to him “Stephen, you cannot live like this, you need to stop”. I was young and naive, I did not know that once the rot sets in, how difficult it is to stop.
     He resented me, the times that I asked him to think about what he was doing, his reply, gratifying his deeds, “come with me”, he would say, “your foster family. They don’t want you, they just want the money they get for feeding you. Come live with me, we’ll move away, go to London and get jobs”
     Our declining relationship hit its head that night on the street. He came to your house, how he found where I lived, I’ll never know. I never told him, he must have followed me one day. Who knows? He knocked on the door, you answered, he asked for me, and you called. I came down the stairs, I was revising - a concept alien to him.
     “What are you doing here?” I asked,
     “I need to speak with you” he replied,
     I did not want him in your house, I don’t know why, I had nothing to be ashamed of, but him being inside, would have been a stain on your hallway, or lounge, but instead, we stood on your drive.
     “Nice place you got here brother, they must sure get a lot of money looking after you”
     “The guy has a good job, works for a bank” I replied
     “Oh yeah? One of those high street ones, maybe we can knock it off, that’ll sort us out brother” he said, laughing.
     He was on something, his eyes were glossy, pupils dilated and he was sweating in the cool autumn evening.
     “Look Steven, can I call you tomorrow, I need to get back, I have studying to do, I’m sorry” I pleaded, wanting him gone.
     “Fuck you brother, you have no time for me anymore, you and your posh clothes and posh shoes, who do you think you are?” he screamed, getting agitated.
     “I’m sorry, Steven, I’m sorry. What do you want me to do? It’s not like that” I said trying to calm him.
     “Of course it’s like that brother! You’ll soon come running to me when they kick you out on your sorry arse, they want a son of a murderer living with them, no way?” He continued to scream.
     “They know who I am, they’ve known everyday for the past four years. I am not my father, you are my fathers son. Stealing, thieving and now, your doing drugs, what are you doing? What are you doing? Coming here, on drugs and wanting me to come with you? Come with you where, to some shit-hole and fill my body with the same shit that our mother poured through her veins”
     I’d never raised my voice to my brother, never. I was scared of him, but he’d come to the only place I’d ever felt safe and that fuelled my bravado.
     He stared down at me, we were more or less eye to eye, I could smell his breath, a pungent smell of marijuana and alcohol, I felt a sense of sadness, I could see my reflection in his eyes and the contrast between the two of us. How did it all go wrong?
     Then I felt an intense pain in my side and heard a slight pop as the knife went in. He spat into my face, and said “fuck you, you aren’t no brother of mine”.
     He dropped the knife, turned and ran. I slumped to the floor and remember calling for help. I had my hands down on my side and could see the blood. I remember thinking that I was going to die, on your doorstep, I was already in heaven so I had not far to go.
     There was an angel above me as I lay upon the floor, she held my hand and said that everything was going to be okay. She was holding my stomach together with her hands and using a piece of cloth to stem the flow of blood. I saw sadness in her eyes and I’d seen sadness before. This was grief, as if someone was loosing a son, or a husband. It was unconditional, and raw, it was real and it was best thing that had ever happened to me.
     You were my angel Mum. You held me together, in the literal sense, held my life together as it threatened to flow out of my stomach. You showed me that someone did care, that I was important and that my life was worth saving. Most importantly, you showed me that you’re nobody till someone loves you.

Yours always, your Son.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A Car-talouge of Catastrophe

Another write-off

There is a reason I don’t own a Ferrari, other than the fact that I don’t have enough money to afford one, something would happen to it. Something ludicrous, a quirk of fate or once in a lifetime sequence of events would befall it and it would break, someone would break it, or failing that, a meteorite would fall out of the sky and land directly on top of it.

Last week, whilst sat eating our tea, we heard an almighty bang. Outside, there had been another crash. This time however, we found ourselves unwittingly involved. One of the vehicles had somehow managed to lose control, spin and crash into the rear of our car which was parked for the night by the side of the road. The impact of that, pushed our car onto the footpath and forward into the car parked in front of ours, the neighbours shiny, near vintage Mercedes. The female driver luckily was unhurt, which is the main thing of course, but yesterday, our worst fears were realised when the garage called and confirmed what we had suspected, that our car had been written off. This is just the latest event, in a catalogue of prangs, bangs and damn right thievery which seems to have unluckily befallen us, detailed for your reading pleasure below.

The Renault Clio:
Nothing drastic, but a sign perhaps of what was to come. Will, my good friend, despite not being able to keep still, broke the sunroof in an over eager attempt to open it during one sunny road-trip to Manchester. This meant that the car for ever whistled as the sunroof never closed correctly. He also, on the same trip annoyingly kept pressing the hazard warning light on and off whilst driving around the M25 on our same return trip. The parts of any Renault are susceptible to over use, and this proved to be the case. Even when off, the hazard warning lights would turn themselves on and keep flashing until the battery was completely drained. A welcome visit each time I left work and was on first name terms with the AA who would have to be summoned just so I could make it home.

The Blue Vauxhall Astra:
Where do I start? First off, parked on the road, next to the flat we lived in at the time. I wake up in the morning to see that someone had thrown a jack at the windscreen. This left the windscreen just about in tact, and a nice couple of juicy dents in the bonnet as the jack bounced down and onto the road - never did find the person responsible!

Shortly after, driving back from work, at the bottom of Singlewell Road, someone crashed into the back of me after failing to slow down. I pulled over, but they couldn’t get their car started. I got out, helped push the car sensibly to the side of the road, but noticed that the car had no keys, and was just a bundle of wires from the steering column. The car had been nicked, and the guy who crashed into me offered, by way of compensation a series of power tools and expensive champagne which he had in the boot to help pay for the damage. A burglar with a conscience?

Then there was the angry little old lady who reversed out of her drive without looking, too late for me to avoid, but just enough time to limit the damage. Six months of legal arguments until I received her version of events. It was clear that she had no idea where I had come from, and had not looked where she was going, else she would have clearly seen me coming. After my dossier of fact, she claimed liability, but far, far more hassle was caused than was really needed.

Finally, Stephanie, who inherited the car as her main form of transport when I started commuting up to London. Sitting happily as the last car in a line of traffic, until a speeding truck misjudged the gap and crashed quite heavily into the back of her. She was fortunately just fine, apart from a semi-serious case of whiplash and the good blessing that she had just dropped the little man off and wasn’t on her way to do so.

The Little Red Corsa:
We decided to downsize, save on fuel economy and car tax, brought a little Corsa, just to get from A - B as cheap as possible. Until someone decided to climb into our front room window during the middle of the night whilst we were sleeping and run out the front door with Stephanie’s handbag and car keys. A nice little car, for nothing, for someone with the morals of a alley cat. It was found nine months later burnt out in Sevenoaks, about 15 miles away as the crow flies.

Another write-off

The Turquoise Vauxhall Astra:
This was the one I told you about, whilst we were eating our tea, got in the way of a pirouetting Ford Fiesta and is now good for scrap, along with the car that caused the damage and the poor near vintage Mercedes which too has been written off.

The good thing is of course, that nobody has been hurt. We can list these calamities with a wry smile, there are plenty of people a lot worse off. The only one that really leaves a sour taste is the stolen vehicle, and how the perpetrator is still walking free, although I’m sure he’ll have his comeuppance one day. But still, for us, it’s back down the showroom with a sky high insurance premium through no fault of our own. Although this time around, I think we’ll dodge the Vauxhall forecourt, I’m sure it’s not their fault, but we’ve got to try and change our luck somehow!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Next Generation, A New Love Affair

Four tickets to ride

In the May of 1995, half a lifetime ago, my parents somehow managed to put together enough funds to take Jessica and I on a holiday that we’d never forget, to Orlando in Florida. Fast forward sixteen years and my parents are getting ready to relive the dream, with Jessica, her husband and their merry band of children, recreating childhood memories and igniting a new love affair within the minds of the next generation.

Whilst they bask in the warmth of the Floridian sunshine, I shall, unfortunately be making do with the unpredictable comforts of the UK and have resigned myself long ago that with a jealous heart and misty eyes I’ll have to listen to their accounts, stories and things that I’ve missed upon their return. At least I can console myself with the fact that I have been immensely blessed and have a vault of memories to withdraw from and remain hopeful that Stephanie, Oliver and I will, with luck have our own trip in the future, once we have finished putting our family together and have sufficiently recovered from our recent financial frivolity to make it all possible.

Arrived and ready to go

But as they look forward, I thought that I’d look back, remember some of the highlights and digitally immortalize some of those memories that have been living in a cellophane wrapper for too long and try, if I can, to tip my sister over the edge with excitement so that her children are for once telling her to calm down rather than the other way around.

I was fourteen, approaching my fifteenth birthday by the time we returned, and Jessica, just two years younger. Too old arguably for the “cutesy” and the real magic of Disney, the meeting of characters and staring with wide eyed wonder as the hero and heroines of the films you’d grown to love walk on by whilst waving in tune to the ambient soundtrack that repeats joyously in the background. Instead, it was the thrills and spills of adrenaline filled coasters and rides that we were after. UK Theme Parks palled into insignificance at that time and the closest we had ever been to a water park was the ill fated Fantaseas which briefly excited the people of Kent before slipping into the hill on which it was built.

The four of us

With so much anticipation, it was, to our surprise, a first day spent at SeaWorld, a place which, at the time never had a single adrenaline filled ride to it’s name. Marine education and conservation was the name of the game, a series of shows and attractions that were strictly timetabled and up to you to match up with the unique itinerary which was handed to you at the park gates dependant upon what time you arrived. Which in our case was slightly later than scheduled, on account of a wasted visit to the travel company’s “welcome meeting”, which was just a ruse to get you to purchase overpriced park tickets. Oh and not forgetting the ten minutes Dad spent investigating why smoke and a foul smell was coming out of the bonnet of the hire car. Apparently this is what happens when you drive two miles with the hand-brake on!

If at first we thought SeaWorld possibly anticlimactic, we soon put those feelings away in the “we won’t ever be ungrateful again” cupboard and went on to enjoy a day that vastly exceeded our expectations. It pleases me massively that whilst researching this piece, some of the shows that left us spellbound are still taking place; Clyde and Seamore and Shamu the killer whale still perform daily, the latter of which still takes great pleasure in drenching people sat within the first 20 rows of the stadium enclosure - including yours truly! At least I’ll have something to relate to when my nieces and nephew tell it back to me, jabbering excitedly I expect, all four of them at once.

Disney World

After the surprise and delight of a memorable first day, the remaining two weeks flew by visiting places in which we’d dreamt about for so long, a different theme park on a different day, parks like Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, River County (sadly now closed), Wet and Wild, Busch Gardens, Kennedy Space Center and Universal Studios.

Whilst it would be nice to retell the whole two weeks in fabulous macro detail, it would do nothing other than to highlight my memory banks which have been glossed over with the innocence of childhood and enhance what I’m about to miss out upon.

Parents who made the dream a reality

But of the many highlights there are a few that stand out just a little bit more than the rest; like viewing for the first time the Cinderella castle in all it’s fairytale majesty which leaves an indelible smile on your face for the rest of the day, Or after you have plummeted down the rampaging waters of Splash Mountain you find yourself automatically singing loudly “Zip-a-dee Doo-Dah” amidst a futile attempt to wipe the rivers of water that are cascading down your forehead.

Having the run of Kumba at Busch Gardens, three consecutive rides without queuing or having our names recited back to us as a farewell from ET, or re-riding and giving fake names that we thought would trick the computer as if it somehow knew that we were childishly jesting.

Me looking rather young (and skinny!)

Intergalactic adventures with C3PO and R2D2, the feeling of being anywhere other than earth as you hurtle through the dark in Space Mountain. Or nearly falling overboard in fear as an animatronic Jaws jumps out of the water and scares you witless, as does falling 13 stories in a lift which is straight out of the Twilight Zone.

Riding a water-slide with a name like Humunga Cowabunga, or falling 80ft out the bottom of a trap door eight times during the course of the day and being teased each time by the ride attendant; “I’ll count to three... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6... oh sorry”, and just as you stare at him wondering just what the hell the delay is he presses the release button which sends you on your way vertically into the channel of water below.

The four of us

Looking at Mum as she wandered into the Lagoon in search for Jessica and I, but without her glasses and with water in her eyes her vision was cloudy, and being deaf, she couldn’t hear the warning klaxon that menacingly warmed of pending doom. A three metre wave that hurtled towards her, along with 3,000 swimmers and the look of confusion, fear and panic as she gave in to the inevitable soaking. The one thing she was avoiding, the only person at the waterpark that day, possibly ever, who went with the soul intention of not getting their hair wet!

That then, is the one real thing that I will truly miss, not the parks, the cleanliness and cheerful disposition of everyone you meet, the magic as adults become kids again and children are allowed to be children, it’s Mum. I’m going to miss her more than all of the rest of it put together!

Rosie O'Gradys

For some reason, the heat and humidity not only messed with her hair, but messed with her mind. Dad, Jessica and I laughed so much at the non-stop entertainment that Walt Disney and Co had laid on for us, but Mum took her own special brand of entertainment along for the ride as well. Take for example her standing in the middle of a cave on Tom Sawyer island moaning and deriding the fact that the cave was far too dark for human safety as she couldn’t find her way out. Dad took one look at her and suggested that by removing her heavily tinted sunglasses she wouldn’t have as much of a problem.

Or each time we got back to the hotel and played the ever so unoriginal but constantly pleasing practical joke messing about with the floors on the lift which she fell for each time. Sauntering out as the lift arrived on the fifth floor only for us to quickly shut the door behind her and head back on our way to the correct floor above leaving her behind to walk the rest of the way up.

Wanted

But the best one of all was after a particularly nice Chinese meal one night and realising horror struck that she’d managed to tuck the table cloth into her skirt, forgotten about it and subsequently upon leaving the restaurant walked halfway up International Drive politely nodding at people who stared at her until she discovered the rather large piece of linen waving in the wind. How none of us hadn’t noticed, we’ll never know, but such stories add a humorous subtext to what was an unforgettable two weeks.

Just as the four of us have grown and multiplied, (had Stephanie, Oliver and I had gone with them all this year we would be looking at a party of twelve people!) Orlando too has changed and developed beyond recognition. Universal Studios and SeaWorld have diversified and added new parks, as has Disney with the introduction of Animal Kingdom. All the old classics are still there, carefully maintained and lovingly looked after, so it will be interesting to hear on their return what they remember and how much better things are now.

Goofing around

What remains to be seen though and intrigues me massively, is wondering if the magic will penetrate the younger minds of my nieces and nephews like it so clearly has with Jessica and I? I mean would my nephew, who is almost three love it so much that he feels the need to propose to his future wife at Euro Disney like I did, or is he too young to appreciate and understand? The two eldest girls, 9 and 7 are at an impressionable age so no doubt they’ll be full of it when they get back, even if they might not appreciate how lucky they are until they are a lot older.

In just over a month, the wait will finally be over. Jessica and my parents have been waiting a long time to relive the magic, Harry Potter, Toy Story, Cars and the Simpsons, a few modern day names that are sure to wow and delight, alongside those things that fascinated Jessica all those years ago. Buffet food chains with more choice of jellies for breakfast than their were cereals, or the supermarkets with candy aisles that would make Hansel and Gretel jealous. Escapism with reality, fantasy and storybook dreams brought to life. The magic of Disney coupled with the unconditional love of family and children. It’s the greatest show on earth kids and I’m just gutted I won’t be there to see it. And although I am not in this chapter, I’ve been in this particularly story and I am sure I will again. Maybe, another sixteen years from now, our family will have grown larger still, children will have had children and the magic will be pass onto another generation, from ours to theirs and on again, just like Walt Disney would have wanted.

Out of this world

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Baby Bird's Blossoming

Baby Bird

Time off work is always nice to have, but last week I had the extreme pleasure of three days spent entirely with Oliver, the little man. This was the same week in that Stephanie and I found out which primary school he’d would be starting in September. The combination of these events and the things that I surprisingly learnt about Oliver led me to ask the question - where on earth has our little baby gone and just where has this little boy come from?

Of course I perfectly understand the concept of time and growth, but it continues to amaze me when I see our little boy doing everyday things of his own accord. Like running over to piece of play apparatus in the park and hanging himself upside down unassisted whilst I run over in blind panic thinking that he is going to fall, snap his back and crush our world around us. But he is fine, totally in control of himself and swinging happily, with the agility and strength of a monkey.

Oliver Climbing

On Tuesday past, we visited Riverside Country Park with my Mum and Sister, alongside my youngest niece and nephew which not only gave me a great insight into their everyday lives, gave me a chance to see Oliver on a “normal” day, what he gets up to whilst Stephanie and I are at work.

Before we left, having breakfast together I asked him if he had any interesting dreams in his sleep the night before. “Of course! Daddy”, he said, as if I had asked him a stupid question, which it probably was, but when queried further he went on to recount it, in his own, unique way; “I was being chased by a crocodile over a waterfall, and I went falling down, really, really fast and had to hold onto the crocodiles tail so that when I landed I wouldn’t crash, but splashed really, really big, up into the sky”.

It was blatantly obviously that this was being made up as he went along, which made for very humorous listening, you could almost see the cogs whirring along in his mind as he told back his nocturnal tale, but I couldn’t help but wonder; where had this imaginative streak come from? How can I nurture this?

Oliver Bouncing

Whilst out at the park, Oliver and his two cousins were having a great time playing with all the equipment, throwing themselves at the trampoline type mesh in the ground, or hurtling down the slide in as many different ways as possible, backwards on their bellies, forwards on their backs but headfirst - just like we used to do when we were kids. No encouragement needed, inherently ingrained into our human makeup that when four years old and confronted with a slide, one must attempt to slide down it all ways possible.

“Come on then Oliver” I said, “we are going for a walk along the river”, “But I don’t want to” he replies “it’s boring!” Oh dear, gone with the nappies and Farley's rusks, a command to do something will never be completed again without an opinion or counter argument. Walking is no longer seen as “cool”, he now knows his own mind, would rather swing, slide, climb, run and get dirty than walk along a tow-path staring at reeds, mud and the tide as it ebbs further out to sea leaving nothing but the pungent smell of mud and rusty shopping trolleys behind.

If there is one pleasing aspect, at least for me about Oliver getting older is that he has finally started using his bedroom for how we intended it. With his little plastic ball, he can spend a good hour at a time now running around the astro-turf carpeted room practising his shooting skills into his makeshift goal that we spent so much time investing in creating for him. I’m sure before the year is out, we may well hear once again from Oliveria Birdinho, Oliver’s footballing alter ego as he retells his early training sessions at Camp Nest!

Oliver Sulking

It isn’t all physical feats that surprise and delight, Stephanie and I were shopping last week at Bluewater for Mothers Day and stopped in TGI Friday’s for something to eat. Oliver being with us was given a goody bag to keep him entertained until our order was ready and the subsequent breaks inbetween courses.

In the bag was a booklet of games and activities, one of the games, consisted of questions aimed at children under ten. He asked me what it said and what was it, so I read through and found a couple of the questions that I thought he’d be able to cope with “name 3 parts of your body“ I asked, “erm”, he replied, cogs visibly whirring once again, Stephanie and I waiting expectantly, guessing he would say things like arms, legs, mouth, eyes etc but no, out came “bones, skin” and looking at me, glancing at my face and saying “eyebrows” as if it was looking at me, was the first thing that came to mind (if you see me any time soon and notice that I have a neatly trimmed and manicured mono-brow you’ll understand why).

And so, in four and a half years, our little baby has grown, gone through his formative toddler years and is now ready to start the greatest days of his life, at the same primary school I myself went to not so many years ago. A little boy who I thought had an addiction to sweets but learnt he hadn’t and that it was Apples he can’t get enough of. That his levels of logic exceed and are consistently higher than those of his mother, no doubt due to the sprinkling of PlayStation and iPhone related entertainment as well as the more traditional jigsaw puzzle pastimes.

Oliveria Birdinho

But whilst Stephanie and I lament the loss of those carefree days, we can celebrate, along with those who have helped and continued to assist by offering their services as child carers of a job well done and that together we have brought up a unique and individual child who will no doubt continue to surprise and amaze for many years yet.
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