The limitations of a Didsbury Dad
It is important as a parent to know your limitations. Much as I avoid the competitive parenting that the school playground and any kind of exam induces, I am aware of the intra-parenting competition that can leave you ragged and being played tunefully by a competent offspring.
Didsbury Son is a pleasure for the vast majority of the time. Even his “moments” come primarily from 10 year-old logic or misunderstanding rather than mal-intent. As all parents know, if your child is in the wrong it is either:
A) another child’s fault.
B) a teacher’s fault.
C) too much sugar from an irresponsible grown-up
If someone else’s child does something naughty it is all down to bad parenting and them being inherently bad.
Once you have mastered this basic concept, the next vital aspect to understand is knowing your place. You are the platter in the parenting buffet. As a Didsbury Dad your job is to hold it up and stop the floor getting dirty but you are not the main course.
Didsbury Son can already wire a battery and build an Ikea table. This is solely down to the nature and nurture of Didsbury Wife. My technical nirvana involved a Kinder Egg. So everything from why the sky is blue to what a scart is and how the Wii works lleave me out of my depth and mumbling into a hand or pretending to cough. Similarly with the compass points of day to day morals. Didsbury Wife just has a better and more consistent grasp.
I tried. I backed up all the be nice, say thank you to everyone who is not too patronising and don’t swear (the beginnings of Do as I Say, Not as I do) and it worked well until a fateful night I was in on my own with 6 year old Didsbury Son. My little boy awoke and came downstairs for some attention at a critical time in a Big match.
Not hearing him, I had abandoned the Homeresque snacks and was standing in front of the TV with my fingers pressed in a v sign against a shot of home fans singing about not being alone.
In a breath of “Daddy, why are you swearing at the television?” I knew I was rumbled. Didsbury Son nestled next to me as I realised another small parenting battle was lost.
When he was on the receiving end of aggression in year 2 or 3, my advice which included how to throw a direct punch and ended with “… Remember to walk slowly away saying – These Colours Don’t Run.” was more Danny Dyer than Postman Pat. Live football in the 80s was moe of an influence than I cared to admit.
I am also rubbish between 8.30 and midnight, my patience and attention span goes. But there is an upside.
In the middle of the night and first thing in the morning I am the Don. I can switch states quickly and multi task a hot milk and a silly joke for a hassled child. Didsbury Son can burp on demand and crack an egg. He can hold his own in a conversation and time a punchline. That is my domain. It’s niche and it works.
Didsbury Wife always dresses him better. She knows how to talk him down with winding him up and is much more patient, especially during live football.
So I know my place and as I get to see Didsbury Son grow I tweak my approach to try and adapt to his growing mind. But there is still little to match hitting the mark with a joke and hearing a laugh start in his belly and force it’s way out or… Better still .
To take an angry or frustrated Didsbury Son and having found the right words, tone and level of concern- feel a bear hug from him they let’s me know he feels safe and re-assured; no football match could be more satisfying.