Rites of Passage, those life events so beloved of writers, singers, painters and so often packed with platitudes. With new twins passing landmarks on a daily basis it has at times been difficult for Didsbury Son to get his Rites to the front of the queue. Over the last week we have had a glut of them to redress the balance.
Last week he made his team sports debut. It was a magnificent clear winter’s day, he donned a luminous kit several sizes too big for him and was part of a team he had met once before in the dark the previous Monday. His chosen sport (for the moment) is Lacrosse. My attempts to share my love of football have failed consistently over the years.
My two memories of Didsbury Son’s football career consist of turning my back for five minutes one Saturday morning in Fog Lane Park to find him swaddled by adult tracksuits shivering unhappily and… a magnificent tactical performance where he spent a whole hour moving gracefully away from the ball. It was not for him.
His first memory of football is seeing me – eyes staring with two fingers pressed up against the television as the cameras panned to a close-up of the opposition fans. 5 year old Didsbury Son’s only comment, “Daddy, why are you swearing at the TV?”
His indifference is my fault. What I saw as paternal love and exuberance was really the attempts of a dad to squeeze him into static laden shirts, learn pointless songs with refrains that make less sense than a Year 2 song (My favourite was “Tommy Tomato or Have You Ever Had a Penguin Round for Tea – classics) and of hours listening to 5Live drone on interspersed with my yelps. I have learned and am ready for the next two.
So Didsbury Son made his debut in “the fastest game on 2 legs” (sic) and looked magnificent. Didsbury Wife and I stood at the side of the pitch shivering quietly, a baby each for warmth and enjoyed our first ever experience of Didsbury Son in competition. I didn’t shout a single inappropriate comment. I didn’t even try and start a Mexican Wave.
These were rites stacking up by the hour. Lacrosse is not an easy sport for parents to watch initially. He wears huge padding and a helmet. I had no idea which child I was shouting for and the ball is too small and moves too fast for eyes that have long since seen their 39th birthday. Twin Girl loved it. She bobbed around happily using her new found smile to anyone in the vicinity. Whilst Didsbury Son thought this was sibling adoration for him – in time it will be. We are back for training this week and this could be a goer.
We also had another rite – the first senior school parent’s evening. In Junior School they are a real disappointment. For anyone who went to school pre New Labour a parents’ evening was a fearful time when the best one could expect was parental indifference after a night of having all your sins laid out before them. The latent aggression of the teachers was part of the experience. The notion of schools being inclusive environments and of children mattering was as ridiculous as the notion of keeping your record collection in your phone. A bit like going to football these days – they now lack the edge of danger and fear to make them interesting.
This had the makings of an interesting evening. We had the twins with us in an unmanoeuvrable double pram amidst harassed parents and tired teachers. There had been an incident earlier that day. By the time we started I was almost looking forward to a night defending his honour before going home to be disappointed, brilliant.
What did we get?
Caring teachers who actually knew who he was and had considered him constructively. We then had enthusiastic and non-patronising comments about the twins (who barely cried and caused no fuss) and even the catering was worth a second or third circle around the room. Amid the general positivity I felt slightly cheated. They were reasonable, Didsbury Son has been doing his best and Didsbury Wife and I agreed on things and nodded at each other like a team working well together; another rite of passage.