Howard: Cheaper by the (Half) Dozen

Howard Mosley-Chalk is a father and a husband. But more importantly he is a man. These are his (un)manly words.

I think it was Steve Martin who starred in the film Cheaper by the Dozen; I’m not sure, as I refuse to watch anything with Steve Martin in it that was made after 1992 and have therefore never seen it. However, going on the title alone, I’m assuming it is about a family who have 12 children and all the crazy antics they get up to. I’m guessing Martin at some point gets food on him, or gets “comically” crushed beneath stampeding feet at breakfast time, and all with a pro-family, pro-white America message.

As a youngster, when I imagined myself in starring movie roles, it was usually as a time travelling hipster who teaches to Napoleon Bonaparte to ‘chill out’ with with rad dance moves, or indeed as an unfeeling cyborg who teaches bullies what my kung fu moves feel like up in their faces. I never thought I would be a put-upon dad type of character who gets food on him and is crushed beneath stampeding feet at breakfast. But I am.


Recently my wife gave birth to our fourth human child. He’s alright. I mean, he doesn’t do much, except gargle and wriggle and poop, but he’s pretty lovely. Due to the density of his cheeks, he seems to be made more of my DNA than my wife’s, making him easier to love. I could write columns and columns about his furry little ears and delicate little fingers, but I shall not. I’m too stressed. You see, as well as bolstering our child ranks by one, we also recently took on two more mouths to feed, bringing our dependencies number up to six. No, we haven’t adopted a couple of Syrian refugees, but rather purchased two Guinea Pigs.

They are our first ever pets (if you don’t count the kids, which my wife says I not supposed to do) and arrived less than a fortnight after the baby. They live in a cage in the dining room, eat hay, poop in a corner away from their food bowl, and are terrified of everything. If you already have some experience of Guinea Pigs this will not be news to you, but if you’ve only had cats and dogs (and elephants, I assume) you have to get used to looking after an animal that seems to accept it will be eaten at some point.

What a pussy

Growing up I had a cat… kinda. It was the neighbours cat, but chose to spend most of it’s time with me as I, unlike the neighbour, wasn’t a crazy cat lady with cats everywhere. That was also the reason we didn’t have any cat food, and so gave the wee chap chargrilled chicken, steak, and Chinese food. It was a huge black cat, the kind previously favoured by witches as familiars, and by pirate captains to keep the men in line. It feared nought; not even passing dogs on leads, or that one time a fox pushed over the bins in broad daylight.

Guinea Pigs are not huge black cats; they are ridiculous balls of fur who are afraid of everything, even the hand placing neatly chopped chunks of veg in their bowl, changing their water bottle, and picking up their droppings. I sort of hate them. The children, however, do not. No, the kids think they’re great, and want to hold and pet them all the time, having given them adorable names: Snowflake and Teddy. My suggestions of Donald and Vladimir didn’t get a single laugh from the kids.

Six of one…

So here I am, in a Cheaper by the (Half) Dozen situation, where six hungry little faces are now peering up at me every moment of the day. Although I have yet to be crushed by a stampede of little feet at breakfast (although my two year old did punch me for no reason this morning), I am currently covered in food, both human and Guinea Pig. And tired. So very tired.

In my mind’s eye I can see the poster of the movie of my life, and there is not a single time machine, nor a shades-wearing, breakdancing Napoleon, anywhere on it. No, it’s me, wearing a ‘oh God!’ expression, smothered in children and dripping with yoghurt, milky baby sick, and hay.

The title is FML! Or something better.


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