Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Genetics Class - Nature v Nurture

KC is doing genetics in school.

This has led to some interesting dicussions revolving around his birth parents. KC and his brother share the same birth mum but have different birth dads - so suddenly I find myself at the receiving end of questions like: 'Which of my birth parents gave me my learning difficulties and which of them gave TJ his - I'm guessing it must be our different dads - what do you think?"

How do you answer that?

I never want to apportion blame to the birth parents for any of the children's genetic faults - and there are a few. But these are things that couldn't be helped and wouldn't lead to a child being taken into care, so I choose to recognise them as 'gifts' from the birth parents, a different way of seeing the world. I point out that the boys both have different colour hair and different colour eyes from each other and that their additional needs can be seen in exactly the same way - they are unique to them and its what makes them unique.

KC seems to 'get' that but then he told me that the teacher had told them that their are 'made up 50% from their mum and 50% from their dad' - he looked at me, "But she didn't say anything about you, do I get anything from you?"

I felt as if I was about to be drawn into the whole nature versus nurture debate, which is so popular with psychology students. I decided to go with it.

"Well," I said, "You've now lived with Papa and I much longer than with your birth family or your foster carers and you've grown up a lot in that time. So, the gifts you received from your birth parents we are now using those to make you a more rounded person."

I felt satisfied with that answer - he looked confused. I went on...

"Think of it this way, when a puppy is born to a wolf (he likes wolves at the minute) then that puppy can't do anything and if it was left by itself it would probably die, even though its birth parents have given it the instincts it needs to survive."

"Like hunting," he chipped in.

"Yes, like hunting," I said, liking where this was going. "So the baby wolf needs to learn how to hunt, but the mummy and daddy wolf are too busy to teach him. So the baby wolf looks for a family that can help him and he meets a dog who lives in a nice house but hasn't got any children of his own." (I apologise for comparing children to dogs here - but I wasn't intending to make the conversation a blog piece at the time and I was thinking off the cuff - so to speak). "Well, the dog then takes the wolf puppy in and teaches him lots of different tricks and things - all of which use his instinct..."

"Like when our puppy chases sticks?" he interrupted.

"Yes, just like your puppy chasing sticks and the wolf puppy grows into an adult who doesn't really look like his adopted dad but who can chase sticks just as well as he can and can do lots of other dog things like ..." and I floundered a bit..

But he took over, "Like rounding up sheep or hunting criminals and being a police dog - or an army dog that looks for bombs?" he was in his stride now.

"Yes," I said relieved, "Just like that - but the grown up wolf is still using the gifts he got from his birth parents - he has just adapted them in order to work alongside his adoptive family."

KC seemed to like this analogy and went to his room to do his homework - although I'm not sure if his science teacher will appreciate the drawing of a wolf dog looking for bombs.

A little later KC came down the stairs and said, "I do know one thing I get from you..."

"What's that?" I asked.

"My beautiful singing voice" And he proceeded to belt out the chorus to 'Bills' by Lunchmoney Lewis (I believe its number one on the hit parade...) in a key previously unheard of by mankind.

I nodded and took it as a compliment - which in many ways it absolutely was!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Puppies, Pants and err... Putting on Weight!

This blogpost was supposed to go up last week but I made the 'mistake' of changing my internet provider which left me with intermittent internet for a week - although hopefully, its all clear now and I won't have to keep popping out to Starbucks to send out emails.

Anyway, last week I was in the supermarket with TJ when I suddenly felt a cold draught around my crotch area. We were in the chilled section so I initially placed the blame on the half price cheese at waist level but as we moved on I noticed that the draught was getting distinctly stronger and that TJ was staring at the back of my trousers.

"You're wearing pink underpants!" he exclaimed.

"So?" I asked him, assuming you could see the top of my pants over my trousers - I'm so down with the kids.

"Everyone can see them!" he squeaked, "There's a massive hole in your trousers!"

I tried to turn around and see what he was talking about - and ended up looking like a large dog chasing his tail in the middle of a packed supermarket. I ran my hand down the back of my trousers and felt, to my horror, that there was nothing there - just a huge gaping hole where trousers had once been.

By now, we had nearly finished our weekly shop so I told TJ to walk behind me as we navigated our way through the checkouts and practically ran back to the car.

When we got home, I raced upstairs to see what had happened.

Our lovely puppy, now a year old, had been left on her own in our bedroom and had decided, as she was obviously missing me, to eat her way through three pairs of trousers which had been left out after ironing. But she didn't chew the trouser leg or anything like that - no she went for the crotch on all of them. Obviously, I hadn't realised when I got dressed that morning and throughout the day the hole had been simply getting bigger until it finally gave way in the chilled aisle of Sainsbury's.

So the next day I decided to go to our local shopping centre and treat myself to some new trousers and probably some shoes, oh, and a couple of shirts as well.

There is something about being a lone male in a clothing store that makes you a magnet for all female staff - I'm not saying I'm gorgeous or anything but I think the assumption is that we men are incapable of choosing anything for ourselves and that once we have a nice lady telling us how good we look that we will then go ahead and spend a small fortune. Actually, that is pretty much the case...

Anyway, I had two ladies helping me and once we started discussing our children we all became life long friends for the next half hour.

So I selected some jeans and chinos (well, I am in my 40's now as everyone keeps reminding me) in my size and took them to try on.

I came out of the changing room so the ladies could have a quick look. Afrer a few minutes of 'humming and hahing' the older lady suggested that I might like to go a size larger. I was dumbstruck, I've been this size for as long as I can remember.

"Maybe it's the cut of the jeans,' the younger lady suggested, "Try on the chinos."

So I went back in, slightly self consciously, and tried on the chinos. I came out for the scruitnization - the ladies now thought they were on daytime tv and were handling a make-over.

"Yes, they're a bit on the snug side as wel,' said the older lady with the younger nodding. The older lady turned to her colleague and asked her is she could find the same trousers in the next size up.

I looked at her, "Surely they will 'give' a little" I said, "Don't these stretch in the wash?"

"Yes,"  she replied, "But not as much as you want them too." and she went off to the fat man trouser section to help the younger lady look whilst I stood there close to tears - well, the trousers were a bit on the tight side.

So I bought two pairs of trousers in the next size up - and left the store devastated! I went to another store to buy my shirts and left the shoes as I was too traumatised. I was in such a state that I had to go for lunch - just a little something to help me get over it. I had a burger.

On the upside, I 've decided to go back to work in September... so that gives me a few months to lose weight!!!!!!

Oh, and from now on - I'm only shopping online!