Today I was running an errand in the car. (Quiet Rock n Roll is discussed at the end)
I was at a junction in Oxford when a child of 6 (ish) pulled up beside me on a bicycle, no discernible adult in the vicinity. A minute later his sibling (maybe 9 years old) pulled alongside. I was starting to wonder how kids this young were surviving on the busy Oxford streets when finally Dad arrived, without a helmet(!). Dad had a bike with a large basket on the front, more of a crate, full of groceries and a baby in the chair on the back, he didn’t look particularly stable.
I looked at the situation and used my extensive MANternity experience to make a swift judgement (sneer) at this guy. He has obviously decided to do the day’s shopping and it’s a nice day so sure, why not corral everyone on their bikes at the same time as rush hour traffic. Classic Over-stuffing.
[“Over-stuffing” is a concept my wife coined to describe my tendency to cram every activity I can into my time. Much like filling my burrito, I tend to stuff so much into my day that something inevitably ends up falling out the end.]
I subsequently spent the next two hours trying to find a suitable parking space, carrying my daughter (forgot the pram) halfway across town to pick up a heavy computer and lug the two of them back to the car, by which time I hit traffic on the way home and was late to nursery to pick up my son. I’d set myself one task for this morning and it caused me to fail in my son-picking-up responsibilities.
This guy on the bike had a baby and two sons all getting exercise AND was bringing the shopping home. I realised that, as opposed to being sneered at, he was in fact at MANternity Level 5 where as I’m still figuring out the controller buttons. (That is presuming that the traffic wasn’t caused by a tragic accident due to his lack of helmet!)
While I’m not sure I could have stripped this errand back much more it did make me think of a truth that my wife has been alluding to for a while. I have these grand ideas for my MANterity about what the kids and I will do together (trips to London, walks in the Chilterns, Tandem skydives, all spaced around a regular nap routine and snack breaks). My wife is an adventurous woman, why hasn’t she been doing all these things with the kids during her time with them?
It turns out that, maybe, focusing on one activity and doing that activity well so that the kids get the most out of it and time with their dad, is the way ahead. Even if that activity is doing the shopping and not the Oxford half marathon.
Fear not I still intend to overstuff my actual burritos, just going to try to control the metaphorical ones.
In case you are curious the music choice was Perturbator’s latest album Uncanny Valley and it went down much better than previous selections, I’m counting success as the number of minutes the baby spent asleep while it was playing. Not bad for John-Carpenter-inspired retro cyberpunk dystopian music!