First Aid

I’ve had some fascinating First Aid training today, and was pretty impressed by both the trainer and what he taught us.

That's it, luv!

First, some context: I’ve been trained in First Aid At Work for about about 8-9 years now.  First Aid At Work is the most basic medical training you can get.

First Aid At Work tries to teach you how to stop someone dying before an ambulance arrives – don’t ask me to bandage wounds or fix broken bones, let alone amputate a limb!   And my youngest brother, Rich, who’s a proper paramedic, would doubtless laugh at my “training”.

Previous First Aid courses have taught me all the usual stuff: CPR, mouth-to-mouth and the recovery position, plus a little bit of bandaging.  But they made it all seem so complicated and beset with small details that my big worry has always been: could I remember all this in an emergency?

The guy who taught us today, a very likable ex-Army chap called Tony, was far more practical.  Basically, all we First-Aiders can do – all we need to do – is present the emergency services with a viable patient upon their arrival.

Which is to say, try not to let the victim bleed to death and start performing CPR/mouth-to-mouth – if necessary – as soon as you can.

And that’s it.

We didn’t practice anything on a dummy – all of us in the training had learnt that stuff before and the basic techniques have become increasingly streamlined until these days you’d be hard pressed to get them badly wrong (by which I mean fatally wrong).

Instead Tony spent the time impressing us with the basics and having us look at some real-life patients we might encounter, i.e., not a person lying quietly on their back on the ground waiting for our diagnoses.  We then ran through the small number of possible techniques and treatments we could bring to bear, looking at if, when and how to apply them in.

The result is that I now feel a lot more confident about using the few techniques I do know, rather than before, where I supposedly knew more but was very nervous about putting any of it into practice.

Two wonderful girls :-D

Just for today let’s not talk about the evil Daily Mail or religion or some other stupidity, shall we?  Let’s talk about how lucky we (the Lovely Melanie and I) are in having a couple of the best daughters a parent could wish for, eh?

Case in point #1 – the Lovely Melanie took Millie to a party held at and by the library yesterday (presumably because it’s half term at the moment) where she tells me that, amongst other things, they had a sort of talent show for the children there with a prize of some sweets for anyone brave enough to get up and perform.

Many of the children were older than Millie and most of them got up to tell a joke (note: jokes by anyone under the age of eight tend towards the hyper-surreal, i.e., not funny).  Millie, however, took the microphone and sang “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty!  The Lovely Melanie had a tear in her eye as she watched, and even some of the other mums there – hardened against cuteness by having their own children – were quite taken aback.

Tragically, no record exists of this performance, so you and I can only imagine what it was like; however, you can be sure Millie got an extra special bedtime kiss from both of us last night! 😀

Case in point #2 – after a long day at work I had a nasty headache and an AmberG to pick up from nursery.  I got off the train at Sidcup, trudged, sweating and desperate for the loo, up the hill to her nursery where I got the most wonderfully effusive welcome that a dad anyone could wish for from another human being.

AmberG came running up to me, arms outstretched, and cuddled me as tight as she could.

Going outside I pointed out the moon to her in the sky and she then helpfully pointed it out to me, saying “moom, moom!” and standing up in her buggy to get a better view.

She also pointed out “bus”, “dark”, “car”, “window”, “doggie” and some other stuff I didn’t quite catch.  All the way home on the bus she was stood up at the window looking out, laughing and naming things.  Including the “moom” again.

It was just one of those journeys when you remember why you had kids in the first place – something that can sadly sometimes be forgotten in the kerfuffle of daily family life.  For me one of the reasons was to pass on what I know about the world and its wonders to someone else.  I don’t want my children growing up “bored” all the time, contemptuous of knowledge and learning, and how these can hardly fail to enrich the world,

One of the things that makes my life so interesting, so completely not-boring, is my sketchy understanding of how incredibly huge and complicated it all is – “it” being life, the universe and everything – and how its intricacies all mesh together so beautifully.

Because with an open, enquiring mind I don’t think you can ever be bored – there’s always something new to see and think about and try to grasp.

Better still: with an open, enquiring mind you can regularly be overwhelmed with wonder at the world.  It can not only make you simply not-bored, but genuinely amazed, excited, awestruck, humble and, in my experience, much happier.

One of the saddest and most shocking things anyone ever said to me was about my time spent at university: “That was a waste of time, wasn’t it?” they said.

Seldom has a single sentence left me quite so dumbstruck.  I wanted to launch into a tirade about how utterly misguided that statement was, about how those three years had made me what I am today, shown me how much I don’t know and made me want to learn about, well – everything!

It almost literally made me want to live forever so that I would be able to do this – learn everything about everything!

Sadly, I kind of flapped my jaw a bit and that person moved on to talking about something else before I could form the devastating riposte that was so clearly needed.

But that’s one of the things I’m hoping to pass on to Millie and Amber – a sense of wonder and curiosity that will stand them in good stead for their whole lives, and ensure that those lives are substantially happier as a result.

Eye doctor update

No, Millie’s wonky eye isn’t better.

Yes, she will need an operation.

No, we don’t know when it will be. Probably “before Christmas”.

Yes, she will need a general anaesthetic.

No, she won’t need to stay in hospital overnight.

Yes, the prospect of Millie having surgery does worry me a little bit.

She’s back

A very tired Millie has returned to us from Swindon, and we are happy.


She’s also brought a ton of presents that she’s somehow extracted from Nanny and Grampy, too – including (somewhat ominously) a Barbie doll.  I think the Lovely Melanie and I were both hoping that we might be able to hold off on that kind of thing until she was a little bit older.  But never mind – Millie is still loyal to her Disney Princesses at the moment.

I think I’m a bit nervous about Barbie as I don’t want either of our girls to get sucked into that horrible world of “glamour” and “girlie-ness”.  You know, the kind of thing that involves obsessing about “fashion”, jewellery, make-up and other such nonsense.  I don’t want them to grow up thinking that “celebrities”  like Paris Hilton or some hateful pile of neuroses from Big Brother are great and praiseworthy role models; that “shopping” is somehow a worthwhile activity that will make you a better human being, and that your value as a person is predicated by how pretty you are or who makes your clothes.

I feel quite strongly about that, as you can tell.

But it’s only one Barbie doll, right?  Where’s the harm in that?  And we’re educated parents who read books and talk to each other and watch the news and value the pursuit of knowledge as inherently good in itself – surely that will help inoculate both of them against the creeping tide of “girlie-ness” and “celebrity” and “glamour”, right?


This was only going to be a quick piece about Millie’s return, but I think some of my deeper fears about parenting have rather hijacked it.  Sorry.

Thank you to my mum and dad for looking after Millie for two days and for all her lovely presents (yes, even the Barbie doll!) – we’ve had a bit of a rest, as well as some quality time with AmberG,  and we hope you all had a great time in Swindon: it certainly sounds like you did. 😉

Millie has another appointment at the hospital this morning, with the eye doctor, to decide once and for all what they’re going to do about her lazy eye, which we suspect will involve surgery, since all previous strategies seem to have made very little difference it.

I’ll let you know what they decide as soon as I hear.

On the plus side, I went to see Fantastic Mr. Fox at the cinema last night (Tuesdays are cheap night at the Peckham Premier!) and was surprisingly impressed.  It was a bit of a long-shot choice of film, especially for our regular lads’ night at the cinema which usually involves horror or science fiction films; but Fantastic Mr. Fox was eccentric, funny, whimsical – quite unlike anything else I’ve seen for a very long time without being deliberately “difficult” – and I loved it. 🙂

A hole

I’d be lying if I said I was pining away for lack of a Millie in the house – consciously I’m fully aware that she’ll be back tomorrow, and we know she’s fine (if a little tired) as we spoke to her on Skype last night.

But unconsciously is another matter – I keep expecting her to appear in front of me or shout down the stairs that she’s doing a poo or run breathlessly up to me with something to say that she’s managed to forgot in the ten seconds it’s taken her to get down the stairs.

And it was quiet this morning with just AmberG and I in the house.  We still had a lovely time – in fact, we had an easy time, what with there being just one child to get dressed and fed and out the door.  But looking over the breakfast bar at eBub poking at her Cheerios with a milky finger while I made a cup of tea she looked a bit…I don’t know…isolated, maybe, sat there all on her own.

As easy as our school run was this morning (I was in work 45 minutes earlier than usual, despite a 30 minute lie-in!) I’ll be glad to get Millie back, and so will AmberG, who looked very puzzled when she walked into Millie’s empty room this morning (and a puzzled-looking AmberG is a very cute AmberG).

She’s so good at clearing up after herself though – far better than any one-year-old has a right to be.  She got a load of toys out while I was showering and insisted on putting all of them away before we went down for breakfast!