Well, today's been a little challenging to say the least.
Ollie got sent home from school yesterday - not well. He had a temperature and was clearly not himself. I had a night out planned last night, but had to take it fairly easy - just had the three pints in the end. With Claire working from 7:30am and Ollie potentially unwell, I could not justify getting hammered.
I enjoyed my couple of hours in the Star anyway, a chance to catch up with a few friends without the pressure of running a disco/ karaoke, so a chance to relax.
Just as I was about to leave Daryl turned up, on his way back from a poker tournament at the Highfield. He wanted to have a drink with me - either there, or walking back into town and going to the White Hart, but I declined.
I declined, for the reason that I decline the vast majority of social invitations in that either work or childcare invariably comes first. Not I don't feel guilty about this in the slightest. I had 20 good years of pissing up with no kids, and a Monday - Friday job, leaving the weekends free to do whatever I want.
The thing I do feel guilty about is that I might be perceived as not being a proper friend, as I invariably say no to people and such invitations. Apparently Daryl has also posted on my wall, asking if I fancy going away for a stag type weekend. Inevitably the answer is going to be no. Don't get me wrong - I like Daryl, and 10 years ago I would have been there like a shot, but quite simply, life has moved on for me and I just don't want to do those things anymore.
However - and this goes for Daryl - and any other friend who might be reading this. I like to think what I lack in presence in body, I make up for in soul - and by that I mean that a friend in need knows they can always turn to me for advice and help. While I may not be able to go out on the piss with them at the drop of the hat, they know, in times of real crisis, they can confide and trust in me. That's what's on offer these days.
I still don't think I do enough as a friend though, and that's why I rarely ask for help when I am struggling. I was in a pickle this morning, the mother-in-law was too busy with work to come round, I really did not want to take Ollie out what with being poorly, but in the end I had no choice. We were out of various essentials, bread, milk, cheese balls, and such like, so I had no choice but to get him off his sick bed and up and out.
In the end Ollie was OK, but it just highlights how vulnerable a situation I am in. All I needed was someone to come round for half an hour to watch them while I nipped out but I hate asking people - as a) I feel I am putting them out and b) I never do anything for them in return so feel bad.
It's not so bad during the week, but on a Saturday it's out of the question - everyone's got stuff to do with their families on a Saturday. So I just soldier along on my own.
Now I've made friends with two other mums who pass my way to school who also have boys Ollie's age and babies. I have broached the idea with them of us helping each other out by walking the boys to school if we ever have a problem, e.g. one of the babies was ill, but we have not yet got to the point of exchanging phone numbers.
This is where being a man comes in - once again I am conscious of being one of the few males at the school gates, and it's still early days. After a while at the courtyard this was no longer an issue, but it does take a while for the other mums to get to know me and establish trust in me - something I would probably get automatically if I were female. Maybe it will be OK in time, hopefully. It does seem to take me a while to get to know people in general. My closest friends who read this probably recall our friendships being quite slow burning at first. I'm not the easiest person to get to know and don't think I always make the best first impressions, but ultimately when I click with someone it's very rewarding.
These other two mums, Laura and Claire have been round to each other's for coffee, and I daresay eventually I will join in them, but I am still so painfully aware that I am a man, and an innocent coffee invitation could be mis-construed, so I just hold back. I can't afford to make any mistakes, not when I am going to be around these people for the next 7 years. Eventually we'll reach a point where they "get me" and then all will be well.
Probably just me being over cautious and paranoid but I invariably am. The slightest hint of disapproval, comment taken the wrong way, or anything really and I'm crestfallen and retreating into my shell for days on end.
Anyway, the shopping trip had to be conducted with the minimum of fuss so I didn't have time to check my receipt till I got home and surprise surprise, thank you once again Tesco you robbing bastards, something on a big end of aisle display clearly described as half price at £1 and yes I've been charged £2. No way I am going out again now, so that's another quid you've successfully conned someone out of to add to the millions you make this way every week.
The other thing that is stressing me out is the washing. We have not even reached half term yet and Ollie's uniform is effectively ruined. The jumpers have holes chewed in the sleeves. The trousers are all frayed at the bottom where they have dragged under his shoes, despite these being the smallest sizes available. I don't know how to take up trousers and I don't think that's just a man thing, more of a generational thing, I reckon plenty of women don't know how to do this either.
And finally the white shirts, having got grubby and grey already from multiple washes, now have blue collars and trims - inexplicably from an attempt to do a white wash. I should not have bothered. The more I try and be clever with the washing the worse the results.
Since we have to do a washload virtually every day, it's invariably a mixed wash. As for all those bloody supposedly magical laundry aids you can buy to sort out all these issues, don't bother. Dr Beekman? Absolutely bloody useless. Mr Beekman (the toucan from 3rd and bird) could have done a better job!
Vanish? Yeah right! Waste of time and money. From now on it's washing powder, fabric conditioner and 40 degree wash, tried and trusted. And Ollie will be the only boy in school with blue collars.
As for being whiter than white - well, there's not many of us that can make that claim but we do our best. They say that all men are liars, I don't agree, I always try and tell the truth even when I screw up. However what I do believe is that all the detergent ads on the TV are definitely lying. Please someone come on here and confirm to me that keeping whites shiny bright is indeed a myth and not just down to my poor laundry skills!
Well, what do you know, I actually wrote a blog on topic for once.
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Jason x x