This week we've been on holiday. Our first family holiday abroad with the two nippers. Given how we were illness magnets for most of Jellybean's first year, last summer we did a stay-cation. In that we stayed in our own house, took time off work, and did loads of little day trips instead.
But this year we decided to be insane and go to lands foreign, a Eurocamp located in Domaine des Ormes in Brittany. As Eurocamps go it has all the usual stuff. Tents for the younger travelers, little log cabins for the families who like to shit in a small cupboard (our category) and some fancy ass villa style things that are expensive just to look at. Accommodation aside the site also has some activities that people can partake in and a swimming pool, with a roof so that the gingers don't immediately catch flames and heat the water for the rest of the swimmers.
It was one of the activities that myself and the ladyfriend decided to try out hand at the other evening.
See neither of us are 'sun holiday' types. As in the sort of person who is happy to go away for a week and literally sit by the pool all day drinking and getting skin cancer. Not that there is anything wrong with that sort of holiday (but seriously, trust me on the sunscreen), it is just we get bored quickly. A day or two of that and we are off looking for villages to explore or old churches to visit. In our younger, non-parent, days we would have even done some of the activities. Such as crazy golf.
See I enjoy a bit of friendly competition. Herself, on the other hand, gets a bit competitive. So crazy golf as a family should have been a fine way to pass away some time.
Except we forgot one crucial thing: our kids are bat shit crazy.
Do you crazy golf, bro? Because you haven't crazy golfed until you crazy crazy golf.
We had the little eighteen hole course entirely to ourselves, which is more a win for any of the other guests at the campsite than it is for us. For you see neither of our kids played crazy golf. They played something else, with rules written in Sanskrit on the air between raindrops.
Nugget, Thor bless her, decided that hitting the ball into the hole was no fun. However climbing over the obstacles and throwing the ball, full force, at the hole was much more fun. Almost as much fun as taking a swing at her fourteen month-old brother with the stick...because 'reasons'. When she wasn't doing either of these activities she was playing her own version of 'Queen of the Castle'. The castle being the fourteenth hole, where an actual little castle stood but one big enough for a nearly four-year-old girl. From here she declared to the world there were dragons, fairies, pirates, bad guys and fuckers all around the place.
She learned that last one from her mother. I never curse.
Honestly, I rarely fucking swear.
Then we get to Jellybean. Hardly a bastion of sanity in this crazy mixed up golf game we were playing, but definitely a lemming to some degree. The way the course was built meant there were two levels to it, with a slope running for about four feet upwards between them. Of course the slope was something you never stepped on, because the course wound around it. But Jellybean, Odin bless him, saw the slope as a challenge. A declaration that the world needed him, nay required him, to crawl towards the small fence and duck underneath then full on Superman off the top to race down.
IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BACKSWING!
Luckily I was a few strides away from him and raced over, catching him before screams of pain and injury occurred. My reward? I was marked down by herself on the scorecard because my ball left the hole and Jellybean then started screaming because I hadn't let him injury himself.
Fuck my life.
Nugget then, never wanting to feel left out, declared at the fifteenth hole that she was bored. That crazy craze was boring and mummy and daddy should stop and go home.
You bring the little shits away to shores new for a holiday and they can't let you pretend for thirty minutes that you are still people who do silly things like play crazy golf.
Of course that would have been the end of it, had Jellybean not then decided to munch down on his golf ball. A few chomps in and he hurt himself, go figure, and started crying again.
So yeah, don't go telling me you've played crazy golf until you've played Ultimate Crazy Golf (our kids may be required, other kids may behave in a more normal manner).
I’m having a rant. I haven’t had one in a while and I feel that this topic justifies a good, old-fashioned, honest to jester style rant.
Now, I want to preface this rant with a little note of clarity. While I may be referencing fathers/dads a lot in the rant, the points easily apply to mothers/mums. Moreso the gender specific titles can easily be swapped around and the points still ring true. But the reason I am going on about it from a dad perspective is because, well, I’m not the mum of the family
Also I will be taking pop shots at Regina Doherty.
So, let’s set the scene. Ireland is a grand country to live in and bring up a family in, but sadly a lot of what governs Ireland is stuck in the 1960s and hasn’t moved on at all. Parental Leave is one such thing. For a long time dads were entitled to very little in terms of parental leave when their little bundles of joy arrived. You got three days, unpaid, and that was it.
Which is fantastic, right? Because who wants to spend more than three days at home with their kid?
Some people, like myself, would save holidays through the nine-months as best they could and book time off. You know why, because some people, like myself, actually wanted to be around and help (or to use the actual term: parent properly) with the newborn. Because, you know what, some people, like myself, are not still in that 1960s mindset of what a father is to their significant other after a child is born.
We aren’t all sitting in the pub nextdoor to the hospital sipping brandy and smoking cigars while slapping ourselves on the back for a job well done. We’re in the delivery room, hand holding, napping on a chair between ice chip runs, calming the mother as she has a slight panic over a machine in the corner that went beep for the first time in seventeen hours (it was low on battery). Fathers have moved on, Ireland has not.
Now, I’m a certified asshole. I’ve no issues saying that, it is who I am and I like that about me. So when Nugget was coming along I just happened to get a promotion in work. Part of my new deal was that I told my boss I wanted a once off additional five days annual leave. He was surprised at the ballsy ask, but agreed because he knew what I was going to be using them for.
In my second job I was lucky. The three days unpaid thing had been changed to two weeks paid by the government and your employer could voluntarily decided to top up the difference in salary. My employer is one who strives to build a good culture and part of their policy around parental leave for dads is you get the top up.
But Jester, I don’t here you say, what is this preamble leading to in terms of a rant?
Well, let me tell you, it is leading to the fact that an elected official, Regina Doherty, is an out and out sexist idiot who sits in her ivory tower and dictates to the world without any basis in reality.
Recent statistics (which, let’s be honest, are 90% made up on the spot. 5 out of 3 people know that) suggest that only 40% of working dads avail of parental leave. The reason being that as the main bread-winner, or the one with the bigger salary, the other 60% cannot afford to take parental leave. This isn’t to say they aren’t taking their own holidays, time off that their employer legally has to pay them full rate, it is just saying that they aren’t taking the two weeks of parental leave the government allows for.
Two weeks were the dad's income per week becomes 245 euro. 245 euro that their employer does not have to top up, by law, if they don’t want to. Some may top up to a percentage of the difference, others may go the whole amount, some may just smile and say enjoy the time off. The reality is there is 60% of the workforce out there that may not work in a company, like I currently do, which is in the position, or wants to be in the position, to add to the father’s weekly wage during paternity leave.
Regina Doherty’s solution to this? Extend the leave by an additional two weeks. Now you get four weeks off as a new, or returning if it is an additional nipper into your house of fun, dad at 245 euro a week.
The additional two weeks will, in Doherty’s own words, ‘help incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children’.
Listen up Regina, it isn’t the time that’s the problem. It is the stark reality that living in Ireland is not cheap.
When she announced the new parental leave rules, Mrs. Doherty took a shot at dads the land over by saying they needed to stop using excuses and start stepping up to the plate.
Spoiler warning, swear words coming.
Regina you can fuck right the fuck off with your bullshit. Once again parenthood has moved on from the 1960s, dads are not all useless slobs these days (some are, but that’s a different rant) and actually are parenting the children along with their partners. The thing is if mum isn’t the big earner, then dad has to go back to work pretty quick to continue to pay for the little luxuries in life like food in fridge, power and heating, a roof over the family head.
I know a dad, great guy, comedian fellow, who was the lower earner in his relationship. He quit his job so his wife could go back to work and he would be at home with the kids. If the same situation had been true for myself I’d have done it no hassle. There are no excuses being made here, there is the cold hard facts of how expensive it is to live in Ireland.
Saying people need to ‘step up’ and take two weeks reduced pay is insulting.
CSO figures for 2018 said that the average rent for a place in Dublin was 1,683 euro per month. For possible the first time in Irish history rent and mortgage repayments are on par. It is not cheaper to rent than is to buy and it is just as hard to buy as it is to rent. So, dear old useless dad, please do step up and bring home one thousand for the month. Then ensure that you are still covering all the costs of keeping a roof over your head on the reduced income.
This is not even taking into account that some families will have a kid in creche. More costs to cover, with your government hand out. Before anyone says it, you wouldn’t take the kid out of creche with a newborn around…that way madness lies.
This isn’t the first time Doherty has made such grand and sweeping statements, but it is the first time she has been so blatantly sexist about what she said and as an elected official she needs to be held accountable for her words. Her sexist statements are bordering on gender hate speech. We live in a world now where that sort of thing isn’t just unacceptable, it is disgusting. “I have said that we need to have a conversation in this country around gender roles.” She is right, but the way she went about it is the equivalent of saying ‘I’m not racist, but…’
To make matters even funnier, when she was questioned about how insulting her comments were she doubled down on the stupidity. Honestly, you can’t make this shit up.
It is time that those in government get out of the tower and actually understand what is going on. Why might only 40% of fathers take the parental leave? Well because if they did they would be living hand to mouth. Considering how much tax I pay, and get very little back for such a huge chunk of change, I feel the government could give more back to working parents than they currently do.
I’ve never been a supporter of Fine Gael from a political standpoint. I’ve always found them to just be as bad as any other politician. In it for themselves and only wanting power and cash. But anybody who supports Regina Doherty is just as closed-minded and sexist as she is. And yes, women can be sexist. You know why? Because the world has moved on now and everyone is meant to be treated equally.
I'm currently working my way through draft five of Duplex Tempus, or as I suppose refer to this draft: the Captain Kirk draft.
This is actually a joke a friend of mine made many moons ago, long before Filthy Henry ever appeared. I had just written some opening chapters for a book and wanted to get the opinion of somebody who read similar tales to myself. The notes back were that the story had been funny, engaging, and definitely something that they wanted to read more of. But, sticking to my request for actual criticism to be given, this friend pointed out that there were several 'Captain Kirk moments' in the chapters.
But what is a 'Captain Kirk moment' I don't hear you ask because this is a rant and not a phonecall. Basically it stems from the good old days of the Star Trek television series, the original ones. Back then continuity was sometimes seen as an extra cost for production as opposed to something required. It meant that, fairly regularly, Captain Kirk would beam down from the Enterprise to a planet, completely unarmed, and then in the very next scene be brandishing a phaser rifle at the aliens.
I'm pretty sure that it got to the point that nearly every episode had one of these 'Captain Kirk moments' in them, all because the writer's needed them to happen in order for the story to continue.
Draft Five has always been my Captain Kirk Draft, the one that I go through and pay attention to some of the smaller details. Did the main character pick up her drink with her right hand when I made a huge deal about her being left handed? How did the bullet end up in the wall if the gun was fired at the ceiling? Did the hero of the tale just reveal some information that they couldn't possible know at that point in the story?
It's actually a pain in the ass draft to work on, because you really have to read everything. Keep an entire world in your hand, influx, so that you can catch these little things. Thankfully I never do just one Captain Kirk Draft, draft five is always just the first time doing it. Once it has been done I may have some new ideas that I want to work in. Maybe I take out some plot bits that don't work. Generally the second to last draft is another Captain Kirk Draft as it helps to ensure I haven't left any dangling plot threads or devices from the edits of the previous drafts.
I tell you this writing lark has more work in it than my full time job most days.
But if I didn't get the stories out of my head then I'd go crazy with them in their all the time.