Showing posts tagged with: 'children'


Wish upon a star

Sun 6th Jan 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Amongst other Christmas goodies, I gave Harry and Emily a very special present. It wasn't immediately the most exciting, nor the biggest, but it has had a big effect, and one which I hope will last them for the rest of their lives.

I gave them a 'Name A Star' gift box, with a registration form for the star at RA:0h30m33s, DEC:3°13'29" which, after great discussion, is now called Jessica Palmer's Star, or Mummy's Star to us, but that could be confusing because, "another Mummy might have a star, Daddy".

The idea stemmed from the great work that Harry has been doing with his Skyscape of Memories at the Winston's Wish website (which I commend to anyone with children who have lost a loved one of any age or generation) and even if the star is not visible to the naked eye, it will forever be close to our hearts.

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World's greatest son

Mon 17th Dec 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Christmas can be so fraught with problems and worries.

The children went shopping today, and I was brightly told that they'd bought me a Christmas present together.

"Do we have any wrapping paper, Daddy?" Harry asked at bedtime.

"Yes, snuggle down now and sleep tight - you can wrap it up tomorrow."

Half an hour later, there were tears and foot stampings. It transpired that the present, previously hidden from me in the wardrobe was missing a part and it didn't flash so it was 'no use'.

"For goodness sake, Harry, you can sort it out tomorrow when Carly (our nanny) is here. Snuggle down and sleep tight."

Twenty minutes later and the bathroom door slammed to much wailing; "It's no use it's broken and we don't need it now anyway."

When I had finally persuaded him that we could sort it out tomorrow and take it back to the shop if necessary, he unlocked the door, wiped his tears on his sleeve and sniffed. Then the little package slipped from under his foot and fell through the floor boards.

"GET IT OUT DADDY."

Mercifully, I could get a coat hanger through the floor boards and hook it into the rail slot at the top of the tiny plastic bag. I promised I wouldn't look, but it was hard not to see what it was as I was retreiving it from the floor, and before I handed it back to a tucked up Harry who'd already found the part that had fallen out.

"Do we have any present labels, Daddy?"

"Yes, Harry, tomorrow. Goodnight."

Now I can't wait to unwrap my flashing badge that says 'World's Greatest Daddy'. I feel all the excitement that I did when I was a six year old, and I'm hoping that's this Christmas' high drama point over and done with.

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Angels

Mon 10th Dec 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Harry and I have just been to watch Emily's nursery nativity play. After the wise men had visited Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus in the stable and the Innkeeper had given up all hope of getting back to sleep, Emily arrived on stage as one of the angels.

She walked past us looking beautiful and so pleased to see us; trying to balance some serious acting and a big grin. When she stood on the walls of the stable she was quite definitely the best angel on the end of the line to the far right.

Nursery was collecting for Winston's Wish 'Wish Upon A Star' campaign afterwards. When I'd added a contribution, Harry wrote on a star. "I miss you Mummy love from Harry" and "I miss you Mummy love from Emily" before we stuck it onto a skyscape poster on the door. They were both really pleased, but in the car afterwards Emily burst into tears.

Silly Daddy thought she was saying, "I want my muzzy," when anybody could tell it was Mummy that she wanted. During the rest of the conversation, we decided to head over to the Winston's Wish website after tea, and create a star. Then we'll tell Mummy all about the play and how good Emily was.

"Cos, Daddy, Mummy's with the angels, so she'll know," Emily told me seriously, still with a tear on her cheek.

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Mums all around

Thu 22nd Nov 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I went out to dinner with the Mums from Harry's class again last night. It was a good turn out, a newly renovated pub with good food and a steady flow of wine and conversation.

At one point talk turned to Harry and how he has coped with not having a Mummy, and one of the Mums told me about a telly program, The Mummy Diaries in which Julie Stokes, the founder of Winston's Wish, helps young families cope with their mothers' terminal cancers.

Purely by chance, because I wasn't looking for it, I flicked over to it tonight just as the last of the three programmes in the series was starting. It was a gentle and beautiful programme about some very brave people. In their planning and understanding of the possible death of Mummy I could see so much of our family since Jessica's death - the same fears and worries were there.

I am humbled by some of the bravery I have seen. Children are stronger, more resilient and wiser than we adults may always credit and I am proud to be made aware of how well Harry and Emily measure up in those respects.

Next time we get together as a class, we're going to try and get the Dads to come along as well.

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Jessica: Friday's Child

Fri 16th Nov 2007 by Ben Palmer.

fridays_child_cover.jpgI've been circumspect about what I've up to for a while, but after a very good meeting with my editor last night I can finally say what Project X is. I've written a book: Friday's Child, A Devastating Story of Love, Loss and Hope.

Six months after Jessica died I starting writing down what had happened to her and what it was like for us, so that Harry and Emily would one day have all of the facts in their hands. The thought of them knowing what happened to their mother breaks my heart, but it is their right, and I have always wanted them to know what they went through, when they are older. Already they don't fully remember.

To start with it wasn't going to be a real book - but as it developed, and as I told people that I was writing things down for the children, some of them suggested that it might have a wider appeal.

My reason for publishing is simple. The more people that read the full version of what happened in June 2004 and the years since, the less chance there is of it happening again.

Friday's Child will be published in June 2008.

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A clean sweep

Sat 10th Nov 2007 by Ben Palmer.

We had a good day today. Good as in productive, or mostly so. We trailed around the supermarket and successfully filled our trolley. Even though a mother told me how glad she was that she wasn't the only one with children who climbed up the shelves and rattled the wine display, we weren't the loudest and most disruptive in the checkout queue. The Dad in the line next to us tried to ask the packer for a refund for his two.

I've swept the front path of leaves once, the kitchen floor twice, cleaned the filter and unblocked the soap tray in the washing machine, filled it and the tumble dryer twice and the dish washer has been on for most of the day. Harry has had me helping with his homework and printing certificates from the CBeebies website, and we have coloured in countless Father Christmases and other line drawings together.

Emily has had her hair brushed and arranged countless times, her hair bands, ties, scrunchies and slides fitted, removed, rearranged and refitted, and both of them have demanded apple, raisins and juice all day. Lunch was a breeze, and Emily managed to wear her tomato soup in a mud splattered design for the whole afternoon without wanting to change.

We only had a sense of humour failure at bath time, and I can't even remember why. Both Harry and Emily went to sleep easily and quickly after a story and I almost feel like a proficient Mum.

But I never will be.

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Fairy magic

Sat 3rd Nov 2007 by Ben Palmer.

firework.jpgDamp air, fog, golden trees, falling leaves, dark evenings, smoke. It's Autumn.

A boy stands in boots, his coat buttoned up to the neck with matching gloves and scarf wrapped tightly, eating a hot dog, eyes wide. His Daddy holds his hand as they watch in wonder. Fireworks in a blazing volley. Bright flashes lighting up their cold red cheeks.

The boy's small sister was too frightened, she doesn't like loud bangs, so she stays at home, baking with her Mummy. Together they wait in the warm with the lights on and the fire crackling against the cold and the dark, waiting for their boys to come home, full of excitement.

I don't know who the boy and his sister are and it's strange to imagine their life. Harry, Emily and I watch the distant fireworks from our top windows. "I reelly reelly don't like loud noises, Daddy. They're scary, but their are pretty. They look like fairy dusts," says Emily.

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Come on, Daddy

Wed 24th Oct 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I've been so focussed recently on finishing a project that I have let many things slip when I hadn't meant to.

I read a bed time story tonight to two very over excited and giggly people and was given cause to reflect. Mr Messy, because he's all pink, is Emily's current favourite book. At the end of the book, when the story warns of a visit from two people, Mr Neat and Mr Tidy, Harry giggled again and gave me a knowing look.

Yes, Harry we could do with a visit from them - I need to have a very good sort out, but so do you with your toys!

It wasn't his only word of advice to me today. Just before bedtime, while we watched Macca Pacca, Upsy Daisy and the Ninky Nonk (I don't get it, but they love it) Harry handed me a present from the supermarket: 'Simple tips to help you give up smoking for good'.

"Daddy this is for you." Giggle. "You need to stop buying your smokers."

I don't always like it when the flow of good advice from parent to child is reversed, but how can I argue? I gave up for him once before, so I can do it again, but I'm not quite ready to stop procrastinating. Bad Daddy.

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Hair today

Sat 6th Oct 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I've neglected the blogosphere a bit lately - I've just had too much to do, but now it's a quiet Saturday and the supermarket has been suitably raided for the week, calm is (temporarily) restored to the Palmer house.

When I watch Harry on the sitting room floor, painstakingly drawing individual leaves on a tree, I am proud. When I watch Emily putting together an underwater scene jigsaw, with the six hair clips, two bunches, twelve hair bands, necklace and two bracelets that she made me put on her this morning, I am proud.

I couldn't wish two more beautiful, loving and kind children on anybody.

But I would do anything I could to stop the fate that has fallen on them from hitting another child.

To say "Goodbye, see you later" to your mother and go to nursery one morning and never see her again, to only be held by your mother for the first five days of your life is wrong. It is also unnecessary.

I hope that by speaking up I am making a small difference, but I won't rest until this country (at least) is free of this Third World disease of the Middle Ages. I loved my wife too much and I love her memory and our children too much.

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I like Mondays

Sat 15th Sep 2007 by Ben Palmer.

"Don't fight. Wash your hands. Sit down. Eat up. Stop fighting. Put that down. Listen to me. Stop chasing each other in the house. Clear up some of these toys. Stop whining. Stop banging toys. Go outside and play. Don't argue with each other. Play nicely. LISTEN TO ME."

I love my children and I love being a parent, but sometimes I hate parenting.

The weekend is not yet half way through and already I am longing for Monday morning when both children will be at school.

'Oh, my love it makes me sad.
Why did things turn out so bad?
Was it just a dream, everything we
did, everything we had?'

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
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What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
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Can I help? »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
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This website contains general information about childbed fever. The information is not complete or comprehensive. You should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider; and if you think you may be suffering from childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should seek immediately medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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