Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Certainty, The Olympic Legacy and 1983

There have already been two clear legacies in our house from those 17 magical days as the globe’s darlings. First, Didsbury Son has put his name and a flag on the back of his dressing gown as a sop to my trying to cajole him off the couch to take up something. He was very impressed with the judo and its dressing gown kit.  Secondly, having encouraged him to watch and be inspired by The Olympics ceaselessly, he has now developed a passive screen habit that switches seamlessly from Mo and Jess to CBBC and Daytime shopping channels. It’s like looking at a childhood memory that is a little too honest. My memory of the 1980 Olympics is not mimicking pre-LOCOG Seb Coe or boycotting Moscow, it’s Scooby Doo.

Too much TV to colour in pictures

Didsbury Son has developed that post year 6 trait of certainty. Certainty of the dubious facts he spouts confidently on every topic, the right to watch/do/say what he wants and then revert to age 6 if rumbled and the certainty that he is past the age where he needs guidance of any sort. That is the role of YouTube and I am so 20th Century.
It took me back to my own certainties. I have a vivid image of being at Tropicana on Oxford Street showing off my newly pierced ear and adjusting my eyeshadow; feeling so cutting edge I needed a chopping board. I was certain of the life I was about to have and of the size of the world.
The idea that George Michael was gay,  East Berlin would be a trendy tourist spot and you couldn’t smoke in a pub were as ludicrous as the idea of going to school without backcombing your hair. Aah, the beauty of not considering grey hair, not considering consequence. In fact not considering anything beyond short-term personal gain; heady days.
So whilst I look at Didsbury Son always with love, sometimes with amusement and occasionally with parental frustration – it is only the certainty of seeing my own mistakes lining up and looking for a way to bypass them but knowing with certainty he will make his mistakes anyway; probably.

The Peterborough Effect

Didsbury Son and I are going to Peterborough, no football is involved. This is so far east of Cineworld and Virgin Active that even Rightmove does not consider it to be M20 with great access to the airport, MediaCityUK and the thriving metropolis. We have to be there very early so it’s a school time start that has Didsbury Son in two minds. When he asked me what Peterborough was like the only three things I could think of were flat, many roundabouts, second division (or whatever it’s called now it’s the 2nd tier of … Oh don’t get me started)

A foot ready to trek east

He weighed up the options carefully. On the one hand, three hour drive with the promise of high salt, low nutritional value food, uninterrupted iPod/3DS and the chance of an adventure. On the other hand a dawn start, a grumpy Didsbury Dad trying to locate glasses, keys and wallet whilst Didsbury Fat cat mewls for an early breakfast followed by the potential for 3 hours about big school, trying hard and generally doing what I say, not what I do, did or have ever done – all in an enclosed space.
I searched for bonding and entertaining things we could do whilst we were there. The nearest attractions I found were Holland.
So it is our boys’ day out. It may not be white water rafting or a Futuramathon but I have promised there will be no talk about babies, he can have at least one hand down his trousers whenever we are not eating (which to be honest does not leave that much time) and he can have Capital FM on. This swung the deal. He has not realised that the signal will go within half an hour and I can get back to phone-ins, endless Assange and being angry about The Archers becoming so dull even I am hoping for some Eastenders-esque carnage.
I am really looking forward to our day out. Not the pick-up, not the early start, but more the hours of endless mooching, small talk, shared gags and pointless conversations with neither structure nor end. Since the Metrolink took out our favourite route we have been a little stuck for the kind of aimless timewasting that can be as developmentally important as a David Attenborough and shouting at live sport on television.

Ante-natal scans and the football season

At some point in the next few weeks Didsbury Son will become a big brother twice over. I cannot guide him. I am the youngest in my family. He has taken the endless procession and pram talk with an openness that has been a joy to share. After an initial lip-trembling and leg-clasping reaction he is now a full member of team twins and makes plans, asks questions, gulps and cheers with the rest of us. We have practiced changing nappies on the toys and can now pick out the minutest detail on a scan picture.

It’s the pram I’m staring at, not you

Waiting for an ante-natal scan is a great leveler. All, well almost all strata of society comes through here. The really rich may have clinics with carpets and a choice of water but within the NHS it’s a sociological dream.

We had been waiting for a scan for about an hour and a half. Excited planning had descended into small talk , then sniping and eventually looking for an excuse for a row whilst redesigning the NHS.
The conversation around us ranged from the benefits of a Bugaboo over a Mountain Duet, to who’ll do the feed if it’s time for a spliff. This is where organic grocer meets Netto; where the great melting pot that is a modern city shares space, scanning gel and key stages – but looks down magnificently on the differences around them.
I notice I look at everyone in a new way. When out and about I have progressed from eying up women, through looking broodingly at their dogs, to my new hobby – checking out the pram. I know very little about cars but can talk about the wheelbase, handling and flexibility of “travel systems”. Do you know your donkey from your city jogger? I do, doh.
Travel System is the 2012 name for the Rubik’s Cube on wheels that now stands in for a pram. When Didsbury Son was a baby he had a pram and a car seat. He was safe, mobile and easy to wheel about. Nowadays, If your buggy does not have James Bond ejector seats, can swivel the baby like The Exorcist or make Fair Trade espresso whilst you perambulate your little (insert recycled Victorian name) then you will be the pariah of the support group; cast out before you have a chance to re-blow it in the school playground.The non eBay-won travel system costs an obscene amount; similar to a week with Mark Warner, a large popcorn and hot dog at Cineworld or a family trip to a Premier League – without the instant gratification or the tan / sugar-rush hangover
Last night we attended a twin induction tour which was lovely – except the midwife threw terms like catheter, snipped perineum and dilation around as though, as though, as though the men in the room were not squeamish cowards desperate to stay at the head end and receive a cordless and clean baby in a blanket.
The last time I considered the term dilation in detail was in a club toilet on a stag night, trying to work out if we could leave a friend there or should call an ambulance.

It will be downstairs at Costa once the twins arrive

I can now discuss nose-to-breast without cheap gags and I understand that gas and air is not for sharing. I have handheld, wept and beamed as the scans move from shrimp to alien to recognisable baby and, most importantly for any man – I have worked out the birthing playlist for the iPod and even decided to throw in a few tracks that Didsbury Wife likes.
This weekend the hypno-birthing partners class clashes with the first game of the season. When I took Didsbury Son to a cup final in May I joked that it would probably be the last time I would be able to do such a thing. Silly me.
In through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose…..

Dr Dre, Holland & Barratt and being 11

This could well be the nearest the British post-hippy, post-modern, post postal service digital native generation get to a summer of love.
After a climax to the football season that had more false endings than the film version of One Day, a brief May heat wave, a Jubilee that saw Buckingham Palace turn into the MEN Arena, a damp but delightful Didsbury Festival and an Olympic Games that squashed the chippiest of cynics under a medal load of good vibes and six packs what more could we ask for?

Another Hairdressers on Wilmslow Road next to a Holland & Barratt that threatens Healthy Spirit and could lead to Tofu Wars? You would be more likely to see every other pub and service station in the country open a concession for the ubiquitous Costa with tasteless coffee in a cheap red cup or see the city’s youth wearing more sky blue than red.
These are heady days filled with passion, potential and pasty faced Olympic TV addicts. Heck Danny Boyle won the Olympics and Andy Murray smiled.

But in the world of Didsbury Son there have been bigger fish to fry. Having cast off the shackles of primary school and scored a pair of Dr Dre Beats for his birthday, the Didsbury Son who squeaked blondily is less and less on show. The mornings of being woken at 5am by hopeful eyes and squeezes seem a distant joy. Didsbury Son is now last up and lopes down with a Kevin the teenager lurk not far behind him.
With twins on the way and a nursery to prepare it has made for interesting times.
The new skills Didsbury Son is developing are helpful and practical. Although he has not yet found his voice as an ex little boy, what we can hear sounds promising and… To my quiet delight; when I can prise him out from under his headphones and away from YouTube to mooch the not so mean streets on which we live- it turns out he is the same little boy, it’s just his voice is heading south on a monthly basis.


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