Fail. Fail again. Fail better – the story of my parenting life

Are We There Yet? But here’s something I did right: my children read books for pleasure

Volumes of enjoyment: passing on the joy of reading to your children  will always  be something to be proud of

Volumes of enjoyment: passing on the joy of reading to your children will always be something to be proud of

 

In my experience this parenting gig seems mostly to be a Beckettian case of “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Repeat to fade.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I mean, yes, I might be in a minority of parents who once brought their children to a birthday party at 2pm when the event – and this was clearly marked on the invite – began at noon. (Walking into a kid’s party when the candles are being blown out on the cake and everyone is collecting their party bags is a uniquely crushing experience. I don’t recommend it. The children were a bit upset too.)

That was a big one. Let me list some everyday mini-fails: I spend too much time in bed with my laptop at the weekend. (Fail). I occasionally buy fizzy drinks for myself while telling the children they are the devil’s work. (Fail). I don’t bake the cakes for the school bake sale. (Fail).

Actually, on that note I’ve discovered I can get away with not baking the cakes. My partner turned up at the sale and delivered the exquisite three-layer red velvet cake he’d whipped up. (He’s Protestant, it’s a genetic thing.) It was a big hit on the stall, apparently. I know because afterwards I got praise for “my” cake from a fellow parent at the school.

I was having his cake and eating it, so to speak.

Read for pleasure

But in between all the fails there is something I am proud of: my children read books for pleasure. The books I read outside of school were both my biggest education and most abundant source of joy. I really wanted them to have that. And now it gives me such a thrill that we can all share the joy of reading together.

Sometimes when their dad is sweating buckets at bikram yoga (I don’t think that’s the Protestant genes) we snuggle up in the parental bed all reading together. We talk about our books as we read.

“It’s about a girl who’s being bullied – it’s okay, though, she has a friend” or: “It’s about a girl who goes to France. They are eating a lot of croissants.” And I say: “It’s about a world where women and girls are only allowed say 100 words a day and if they exceed their limit they are electrocuted.” (Seriously, this book, Vox by Christina Dalcher, is incredible and you all need to buy it when it comes out in August.)

Scared and wondering

“That sounds awful, Mum” says one daughter. “That could never happen.”

“Of course not,” I say, but it’s the kind of book that gets one scared and wondering.

Anyway, Matilda the Musical is on at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and that got me thinking about how, if I fail at loads of other things, giving them the joy of books will be something to be proud of.

Revolting Craige Els as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical. Photograph: Manuel Harlan
Revolting Craige Els as Miss Trunchbull in 'Matilda the Musical'. Photograph: Manuel Harlan

Matilda Wormwood is quite literally saved by books, as so many of us have been. As Roald Dahl wrote: “These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Which is a nice thought when in the midst of yet another parenting fail.

Here are some things to do with children this weekend:

MY FIRST CONCERT

MusicTown is 10 days of concerts, masterclasses, collaborations and workshops running in Dublin until the April 22nd. As part of the festival, My First Concert is a chance to join a host of very young musicians as they take their first steps on to the concert platform for their début concert performance. “It’s the perfect opportunity for MusicTown audiences to bring their little ones to see our little ones and share this special first concert experience both on– and offstage.”

Where: Royal Irish Academy of Music, Westland Row, Dublin 2

When: Sunday 15th April, noon

Cost: Free admission but booking is required eventbrite.ieContact: musictown.ie

GAMERS UNITE FOR THE HOMELESS

This is one for older teenagers – over 15s – but it sounds like a great day for a very good cause. The 8-Bit Conference Presents a day of gaming in aid of the Simon Community and Inner City Helping Homeless including – but not limited to – more than 25 retro gaming consoles, like good old Mario and a street fighter tournament. Let’s hope there’s a bit of Pac-Man on offer too.

Where: Griffith College, Dublin

When: Saturday, April 14th, 10am - 11pm.

Cost: Free from 10am - 4pm but it’s a ticket-only event

Contact: For more information and tickets see facebook.com or 8bitconference.com

CHILDREN OF EDEN

This is a musical retelling of two of the most famous stories in the Bible – Adam and Eve and Noah and his Ark. This fast-moving, uplifting and creative show is brought you by local Kerry amateur group Tralee Musical Society.

Where: Siamsa Tíre, Tralee, Co Kerry

When: Saturday, April 14th, 8pm

Cost: €17/€19

Contact: boxoffice@siamsatire.com 066-7123055

MATILDA THE MUSICAL

I went to see this book-loving musical this week so I know that if you get tickets you are in for a treat. The children are revoltingly talented and the standout for me was truly ’orrible Miss Trunchbull played with relish by Craige Els who starred in the West End version of this smash-hit musical.

Where: Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin

When: Runs until April 28th

Cost: €25-€73

Contact: bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

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