Three Men and a Baby

4/24/2016

When I prepared to move to Belfast away from my Dad and brother, I prayed for a male influence in Reuben’s life. Not a substitute dad or a husband for me, but a friend who would take an interest in him and be a constant support and role model in his life. And someone who could tell the difference in rugby and football would be helpful but not essential. And waow, God certainly answered that prayer. We have been blessed with not one, but three amazing guy friends. Despite the fact I have ended up mothering all three of them at some point (four counting Reubs), I will unashamedly admit that they have changed my perception of men (I can hear their heads growing from here). The day before we left for Amsterdam, I asked them to take Reuben far away so I could get packed. And not only did I trust them with my beloved child, but I also trusted them with my beloved blog. Before I hand it over, I would just like to apologise for any insults, bad grammar, and questionable humour. I am taking NOTHING to do with this blogpost. I’m off to eat cornflakes and try to calm my nerves whilst I watch them write. 

Today’s blogpost comes with a twist. It’s not Maverick Mum, but it’s three of her very good buddies (just to clarify we do know Maverick well and she trusts us with her son, she hasn’t just given him to three randomers). Anyway, allow us to introduce ourselves:


On the left we have Draco Malfoy. Sorry, we mean Andy. In the middle we have G with little Reubs. And on the right we have Jack. Maverick was getting set to go to Amsterdam the following morning so we jumped at the opportunity to have a ‘Lads Day’- basically Reubs is so sick of hearing about Frozen, dry shampoo and the latest bleach product. That boy needed a break so we gladly obliged.
Our day began in the infamous land of dreams that is W5 - the most classic day out if you’re from Northern Ireland. Reuben was buzzing. Well, nothing compared to the excitement of us three - we had permission to revisit our childhood wonderment in a socially acceptable manner. 


The day began and straight away we were reminded of something really interesting that Maverick always says about being a parent- she understands Reuben by seeing things through his eyes. This changed our whole perspective of the day. Let us illustrate this point; on our journey from the car to W5 there was:

- A car park with 530,501 different cars parked that were all different colours.
- Four planes which flew overhead.
- Those little mini merry-go-round contraptions that are designed to take a vast amount of money from parents and only last for about 30 seconds.
- Every conversation was a classic Reuben chat, which consists of:
*points*
“That’s a man”
*picks up something from ground every 2 seconds*
“What’s that?”


It was actually really refreshing to see his curiosity and inquisitiveness. It gave us a greater appreciation of the little things and how he understands all the little intricacies of this world.

That philosophical note aside. We got into W5, and the girl at the desk asked, “Have you brought him here before?” To which G replied, “No we’ve only known him a few months”- not a good answer to give.

When people made little quirky parent comments about him, I (G) just played along ‘cause let’s face it… he’s pretty darn cute and if they think he’s mine I’ll take it. 






We took him to all the different sections, and as expected, we were exceptionally more intrigued than him- we’re not downplaying his excitement but just putting into perspective the elation we felt. Exhibit A:




We got into the kids section and noticed a little part of Reuben’s character that means when he is overwhelmed, he is capable of being completely oblivious to the rest of the world. Like we could spontaneously combust and he wouldn’t notice because in front of him there’s a 14 foot castle made out of Styrofoam.

*cute little sidenote* It’s so cool spending time with a young child because they still have that sense of amazement at the world that gets so dulled down by adolescence and the realness of life. Geepers this blog does have the occasional epiphany so just roll with it.


We played in a small water-park-type-area, then with a giant train set (and watched Reuben intentionally sharing with another little boy- our hearts melted a little), we climbed into the castle, and got to play with a bionic crane for a little while. We think Reuben had a good time too ‘cause that’s just the stuff we did.

Anyway, this blog could go on and we could describe the all the elements of our day, but instead of boring you with that we’re just going to talk about 3 little things that you learn when you spend time with a two your old.

1. There is no such thing as a journey from A to B
We’re sure this can prove a little testing for parents but this was, in fact, fascinating for us. It took approx. 3 days to make the journey of approximately 50 metres from the W5 building to the Dock Café. 
*side-note* big shout out to the great little honesty box café that has a nifty little prayer space which is almost fenced off so you can eat your lunch happily and children can play and you can easily keep an eye on them.
Anyway, in this brief journey there was much fascination for Reuben to behold, especially the boats that were docked. That boy has a love for all things motorised, we thought we were never going to eat.


2. Two guys walking into a toilet with a toddler does prompt strange looks
G and Jack took the plunge and changed Reuben’s nappy, this was a moment where prayers were said, tears of anxiety were shed, and words of encouragement were passed one to another.

It was only wet.

Hallelujah.

We knocked on the window of a closed café where one girl was working. She let us in as we had a child, and as we both trundled into the bathroom with this toddler, she must have been greatly perplexed by what must have sounded like a surgical operation. She heard lines such as: ‘Jack how on earth do we do this’. Jack as my (G) assistant helped by standing like a nurse with a surgeon, swatting my forehead as I sweated trying to figure out what felt like the secrets of the universe. But I got the nappy on, we hi-5ed Reuben who looked on confused, and we survived. I will never get the strange look we got from that girl who worked in the coffee shop out of my head.

3. Young Children bring out the best in people
This applies in particular to Andy. He doesn’t know we’re writing this but we’re going to go on ahead anyway. He is not a self-professed expert when it comes to kids, prefers to spend time with dogs, and was slightly reluctant to come on this lads day. By that we mean we dragged him along (sorry Andy). But we can say honestly Reuben managed to melt his heart. His inquisitive nature and fun-loving personality was capable of softening the most unsure of people.




Our insert to this edition of the blog is coming to a close. But we just want to highlight a few little things from our day with Reuben.

First and foremost, he’s honestly a great kid. I (G) am not just saying this because I know him and we’re friends with Maverick, we can honestly and emphatically say he is fantastic. He has manners, had great behaviour, shared with us, laughed endlessly, made us a part of all his little activities, loved to show affection and napped for 45 minutes in a car park in Carrickfergus while we drank coffee and talked about the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (I recommend looking that one up).
The characteristics of Reuben are testament to how Maverick has raised him, and although she may be raging that of course he acts like a little lamb for us and like a maniac for her- right now he’s probably graffiti-ing the carpet with the contents of his dinner plate- we can’t help but commend her for how phenomenal he is and we will always tell her how great a mum she is.
We love them both a lot and look forward to our next opportunity to spend time with little Reuben.


I can't speak for the others but I (Jack) know I was pretty naïve about how exhausting looking after an actual tiny human being would be, especially one as strong willed as his Maverick Mum. I thought it would be like a day out with the lads and it completely was… except one of the lads has an irresistible impulse to shout at the top of his voice the name of every car, bike, van, bus, lorry, unicorn, crane, plane or boat he sees and looks at "chicken and chips" the same way Ryan Gosling "looks like Allie" in the Notebook (yes I made that reference, get over it) which is surprisingly un-nerving when the little dweeb is giving those eyes to your plate of food. He gave us some dirty looks as well. However, those were the times when he was bored and wanted to do something else but being the respectable adults we are, we couldn't not finish building the Lego car we'd started and Translink wouldn't have been happy if we hadn't finished that train track. Like seriously Reuben mate, grow up.


So beyond the exhaustion I felt, similar to what I experienced on Duke of Ed, I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of respect I have for Maverick Mum. One day in and I could do with a holiday and this absolute champ does it day in and day out, whether he's the gem that we had that day or the terrible two who thinks yoghurt is a hair product, lipstick is paint and could audition for the role of pterodactyl in Jurassic Park. 



Although she's often too humble to admit it she is doing an absolutely amazing job with the lad and it's nothing less than an honour to call them both my friends. Maverick mum is kind, she's caring, she's humble, she's patient (with us and with Reuben), intelligent, and frankly hilarious! Like seriously how do you go from giving Reuben a look that could kill a dead thing to writing a funny blogpost faster than I can say to her "letting men do your dishes doesn't remove your independence". But seriously, Reubz is such a credit to you Maverick, and watching him grow into a little person is so encouraging even if I can't figure out where he learnt how to share chocolate.

Thanks for taking the time to read our addition to this blog

Until next time

Jack, G, and Andy (and Reuben).



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