Posts Tagged ‘dad’

When Three Became Four

Posted: June 17, 2015 in Babies, Birth, Family
Tags: , , , ,

The child known as Austin is now comfortably in his 3rd year on Earth. He is doing well. He is bright, funny, kind, gentle and delightfully brash—as of writing, he has taken to calling me by my first name (I blame his mother). As one half of his parents I believe we have done a superlative and thoroughly gilt-edged job of raising him to such competitive standards. For example, we haven’t once exposed him to sunlight or fed him after midnight. We did, however, inadvertently get him wet once and, as elucidated by the Speilbergian Theory of Evolution, a small furry bud did begin to grow off of Austin and from that tiny bud blossomed Arlo Dene Gallagher.

Arlo had a rather troubled start to life. As soon as he was born he was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he remained for almost three weeks over the Christmas period, struggling with his oxygen uptake, fighting off various infections, trying to stabilise his blood sugar and regularly being invaded with a variety of tubes and needles; not the best way to hit the ground running. But to look at his lambent, scrunched up smiley eyes and enormous crab-apple cheeks as he carefully studies our faces, like some beautiful, benevolent, blinky being from another world, it is clear that, despite his unsettled beginnings, he is a happy little fellow, and for that, Mrs Gallagher and myself will be eternally grateful to the magnificent National Health Service and its staff for everything that they did for us: long may it reign.

There are very few individuals who have such a wonderful and tactile tenderness for Arlo than his big brother. From the early morning ‘til the end of the day, Austin is always there to offer his somewhat heavy-handed—but always well meaning—hugs, kisses, tickles, bounces and getting as close as possible to Arlo’s face whilst shouting “HELLO! HELLO!” It is clear from this that Austin loves Arlo dearly and Arlo has a bemused and rather nervous affection for Austin; brotherly love.

It is our hope that these two are going to have a joyous and spirited journey from now to whenever and to wherever, and always keep that kinship dear. They are amigos, compadres, Butch and Sundance, Starsky and Hutch; to quote children’s author Marc Brown: “Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero”.

As parents it is our job, not to shape them, but to guide them. Who they ultimately become is up to them. We have no business telling them which paths to travel, which hills to climb, we can only show them where the path starts and then, for the first few years of their lives, walk with them to ensure they don’t stumble into the road. But it is imperative that those paths lead them to good, happy and healthy places.

Looking at today’s society, however, it seems that that particular goal is becoming an increasingly difficult one to achieve. There certainly doesn’t appear to be a great deal to aspire to in terms of compassion and humanity of late. We seem to be living in a society that triumphs suspicion and disdain towards our neighbours and fellow earthlings at every given turn; a cultural plague that sets out to demonize the less fortunate and less able, but to canonise the rich and powerful. That was never the world I envisioned living in and it certainly isn’t the one in which I am happy to let my children inherit.

But, inherit it they must. So here’s to hoping that they, as the bright new beacons of the future, the fierce lion cubs of the tomorrow-world, the Luke Skywalkers to our Yodas, get the opportunity to instigate a real change for the good. Or at the very least get to be the generation that pushes Ian Duncan Smith into the bog of eternal stench once and for all.

Here’s to hoping.

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Been a While!

Posted: September 10, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

It’s been approximately 6 months since I became a full-time stay at home Dad and also 6 months since I last posted a blog. Could the two be connected?

So what occurrences have taken place since I last posted?

Well, I’ve lost a stone in weight, acquired a beard and turned 40! How the hell did that happen? Last thing I knew I was 22 and fresh-faced, then, BANG! I’m middle-aged and hirsute (I could say the beard was an intentional image change but I think it’s more truthful to say I simply haven’t had the time to shave in 6 months). I quite like the beard though, makes me look more like a Dad, so it stays.

The most important occurrence has, of course, been the pleasure of watching Austin, my little Jedi, metamorphose from a little baby boy into a little bigger boy. He turned 1 in June and his progress is thundering forward. He can say a few fundamental words such as “Hello”, “Ma ma” and “Da da”.

He can walk a few stumbly steps before crashing down onto his bottom and loves nothing more than grabbing mine or his Mum’s hands and going for a proper walk round the house. He’s also developed a very mischievous smile which makes it very difficult to be firm with him when he’s doing something he shouldn’t; you can’t help but smile at that impish grin.

On his 1st birthday we organised a humanist baby naming ceremony for friends and family to welcome Austin into the fold. It was a wonderful day and the ceremony was enjoyed by all: Sharon read out extracts from her pregnancy diary, family members got up and read poems, we had a night sky back drop where people could write messages for Austin on the back of silver star cards and stick them to it and I wrote a poem.

I include it here for folk to read if they so wish. It’s not brilliant but it is an accurate sentiment of how it feels to be Austin’s Dad.

Enjoy!

My Little Lad

My little lad.

My pride, my joy.

My golden sunbeam.

My baby boy.

 

To sit with you,

here, side by side.

To clap our hands.

To peek, then hide.

 

Your laughter rings,

and then resounds,

throughout my heart,

Your joy, abound.

 

You ask me only

for my time,

a guiding arm,

a trust, sublime.

 

But there is nought,

I wouldn’t do,

to keep that smile,

to care for you.

 

To see you safe,

to see you warm,

to hold your hand

amidst the storm.

 

Through Christmas lights,

and birthday cakes,

seaside days

and tummy aches.

 

And though our tale

has just begun,

remember this,

my little one.

 

The future is

not written down,

it has no plan,

our time is now

 

We spin our yarn

as we whizz by,

so, little one,

It’s time to fly.

 

From now ’til then

we’ll roam afar,

we’ll sail the seas,

Traverse the stars.

 

And all the while

It’s me and you,

I’ll help to guide

To see you through

 

Those battles lost

and battles won,

my little lad,

my world,

my son.

© 2013 John Gallagher

Image

 The Naming of Austin Sagan Gallagher

Pic by Ron Firth Photography

This week marks the 32nd week of our pregnancy.  I am, as you can imagine, basking in the glow of imminent fatherhood, and Sharon is basking in the glow of ongoing heartburn.  But as we attended the latest ultrasound scan and I saw Austin’s little face, with his blinky little eyes, and crab apple cheeks, I pondered about his future; what would the world that he was about to affiliate himself with foist upon him throughout his life?

It was that very morning, after reading the paper, I’d found myself betwixt feelings of concern and foreboding and delight and wonder.

Thursday 26th April 2012: It appears that the country has belly-flopped into a double dip recession from which recovery is certainly no mean feat, particularly with the dip-shit duo – Condom Face and his sidekick Ball-Bag Nose (See Steve Bell cartoons for details) – running the show.  I must apologise to you, Austin.  Apologise for being a member of a society that, somehow, could not prevent this party of infuriating turds from running amok with the political and financial structure of your future.  They dwell within their plush offices, at the heart of power, bending over their Fornasetti Architettura Trumeau desks while big business, bankers and media moguls have their wicked way with them.  All the while, folks like us sit at home contemplating the day when we’ll be existing on a meals of turkey & duck Kit-e-Kat in a Bisto jus, served on a bed of wheelie-bin pasta.

Then we had some monumental fuckwit from ‘Coalition for Marriage’ urging state funded Catholic secondary schools to encourage their students to sign a petition against gay marriage.  Again, Austin, I apologise.  I cannot understand what is wrong with these people.  Religions the world over insist that their way is the way of ‘love’, except when that ‘love’ is one that they don’t like, then they bring out their special brand of ‘hate’ and stamp all over it.

A simple turn of the page, however, found a story that gave me cause for excitement about your future.  A collaboration between British and American scientists has proposed a mission to send a probe on a journey of almost one billion miles to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and once there it will land in its vast methane seas and for three months collect data on extra-terrestrial oceanography.  How wonderful it is to see the human race endeavouring to explore and understand rather than insulate and ignore.  To have witnessed some of these awe-inspiring achievements myself has been astonishing enough, but it fills me with great joy – and some envy – at the scientific wonders that you’ll witness.

Sadly that was the only positive story in the whole paper (well it was the guardian so they have to be balanced), but I concluded that, within the bad, there is many a good thing in life: literature, film, music (not Coldplay), science, nature and, of course, Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory when she wears those pyjama shorts.  The list is endless!  But you need to have the confidence and the presence of mind to imbibe the good and to gob out the bad.

So I thought I’d compose a list of advice that I hope will set you out on your lifelong odyssey; the 10 commandments of Dad if you like:

  1. Authority does not command respect.  It earns it reciprocally.  Never be afraid to challenge and question authority, and never defer to it.  Being in a position of authority does not make a person better than anyone else.
  2. In matters of faith and religion follow your own path.  Never be swayed or inveigled by anyone (including me) regarding religious beliefs.  That is nobody’s decision but yours.
  3. Never touch my vinyl collection.
  4. Embrace science.  Science is a conduit for understanding and reason.  Science can, and will, explain everything about existence from the quantum to the cosmological within our four dimensional universe and beyond.  Nothing can progress humanity as valiantly and triumphantly as science.
  5. Try not to be quite the grumpy misanthrope your father is.  People, on the whole, are good and amiable.  It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that they have a tendency to irk me when they do particular things such as talk or move.  But you have the opportunity to see the rainbow of potential within them.
  6. Have great respect and compassion for animals.  We share the planet with them and they have the same right to be here as we do.  Those individuals who burble on about ‘animals being put here on Earth for us’ are knob-ends!  Knob-ends who clearly have no concept of prehistory or evolutionary lineage and who occupy a very shallow end of the gene pool.
  7. Oppose capital punishment in all of its guises.  It is barbaric, inhumane and serves no purpose within civilised society; it de-civilises us.  There can be no intellectual or judicial reason for state-sanctioned murder (for possible exceptions see commandment 3).
  8. Prejudice and bigotry are abhorrent.  They do not belong in any society.  Educate yourself on the consequences of prejudice – and, sadly, there are many examples – fight against it and disassociate yourself from prejudiced individuals.
  9. Growing older is inevitable.  Growing up is not.  So don’t!  As a child you will have a spark of wonder within, which society will try to extinguish as you age.  Don’t let them.  Carry and protect that spark throughout your entire life and try to illuminate others with it.
  10. Tracksuits are to be worn only on occasions of sporting prowess.  Under no circumstances must they be worn as casual day-to-day attire.  Burberry caps are forbidden.

John