I am Dave Kelly, 39, a social work personal advisor in Leeds and I work with the leaving care team. My dad, 74, is retired and Danny, 25, is a train conductor. My Dad moved in with me 18 months ago after my Mum moved on to the next level. I inherited my nephew Danny as well as he had moved in to support him in caring for her in her last months. I have four bedrooms so the logical thing was for them to both move in with me. We live in Holbeck in South Leeds and I have the nippers - Sonny, 6, Thea, 12 - at weekends to give their mum a break and because I love having them around.
What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask? Bribery. Thea is pretty reasonable when she is not watching Netflix, however, an order of cheesy chips usually allows and tasks to be completed in due course.
What family task takes you the longest? Nothing really. My Dad usually sorts all the washing and cooks most Sundays so everything is prepped the night before. He is a proper grafter and gets stuck into all the chores at home.
Have your children ever really surprised you? How and why? Not surprised so much but the fact that they are very quick witted and sharp. They are very loyal to each other when not punching lumps out of each other, Thea is incredibly loving and growing up very well balanced. When two people separate it can often impact on children but I’m sure they understand that this is very common and often it is the best thing all-round for everyone. They are also blessed with my looks and i’m sure this will make their lives easier as they grow up.
What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids? Do you think I’m made of Money?/Am I talking to myself here?/Sonny stop licking me/Don’t you EVER!....
What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done? The kids bring us all lot of joy. The house comes alive when they are here and as we are a very musical family, they all like to have a sing song and Sonny was simply born to be a dancer. We have a good laugh and it’s quite a humourous household. My dad is great comedy value.
Mini moan - what really gets your goat? The fact we do not own a goat -yet.
What’s your favourite family day out? We enjoy Car booting and I try to teach them the value of money, price that things in shops aren’t necessarily what they are worth, and to build confidence handling money. Meanwhile my Dad buys wigs, trumpets, a myriad of tat that will come in handy at some point.
What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately? We are Season ticket holders at Leeds as a family. I like some one on one time with my daughter and we attend the theatre and gigs together. Sonny hangs out with Danny who lives here and my Dad just torments everybody by hiding all our stuff and eating all our sweets.
What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed? Being kicked and slapped all night as Sonny sleeps in with me.
What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why? Fazenda as the whole lot of us are Gannets.
What’s the best thing about weekends and why? When they are with me I try to build up cool points by letting them stay up late, immediately regretting it the next day especially if we are up early for a car boot. I think the routine at mine allows them a bit of down time and I leave them to do whatever they want within reason. Time flies by and I know Sonny and Thea will be teenagers in the blink of an eye so want to grab as much opportunity as possible. Because it’s a holiday and weekend thing we look forward to them coming down and particularly my Dad, as he says kids are like a ray of light to the older generation, So the house really comes alive at weekends and we try to make sure they enjoy themselves while they are here.
What is your most treasured memory? Christmas time opening presents at their mum’s, followed my lunch at their Grandma Julie`s then up to my brothers for tea and a nice Drambuie. I’ve always loved this accord and am grateful for the reasonableness between the two families. It’s important they have good memories and I guess that’s what me and their mum are trying to create. I was not around much at the beginning of Thea`s Life and had to grow into being a dad, which was not easy. I consider her a big part of me and try to help her navigate growing up and am incredibly proud of her for the person she is blossoming into. A big part of this is from her mother’s input and she takes after her in terms of resilience.
What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds? Better transport links, for a city this size its shocking.
What’s the children’s favourite food/meal? Sonny – roast dinners, Thea - cheesy chips; Danny- everything in the cupboards that doesnt’ belong to him, particularly my rice and the kids sweets
What’s your top penny-pinching tip? Find Danny`s change jar and go through his pockets while he is asleep.
One family member’s proudest achievement? Danny has passed his train driving assessment, soon he will drive the choo choo.
What one item can you not live without? I sell a lot online so I need my phone.
What can your children not live without? A well balanced diet, a structured support system within the family and a good moral compass strengthened by positive ethical reinforcement of who they are as individuals, as well as being part of something bigger and knowing they can be anything they want to be when they grow up. Ultimately they probably couldn’t live without each other or their mum as she has always been there for them no matter what.
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent? Not living with the pair of them every day, I miss getting up with them and putting them to bed. I feel I have to try harder to make their time enjoyable while that are down with me. Their mum works very hard and does the everyday important stuff that keeps their lives ticking over and I have to remind them of this occasionally when they feel they have been hard done by. The positives are that they know they have two parents that love them very much and have had grandparents’ input in their lives - a thing that I feel very passionate about as I never really knew mine. I’m sure my Dad will say being my parent, seeing me struggle sometimes and joking aside he has always had my back no matter what. He does take care of me and Danny whether we like to admit it. One thing that must be mentioned is the work their mother has put in with them taking them to scouts, swimming, football, balancing her working life with her own family activities and making sure they have everything they need day to day. We may not see eye to eye on a lot of things but the impact of the Sharpe side of the family must not be underestimated, they are a good bunch and my kids are lucky to have such a caring mum.