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 “October, 2012”

Halloween, The Trafford Centre and a new perspective

It is half-term. Usually a stressful time as Didsbury Son’s array of Junior Schools would be parading Eid, Halloween, Simchat Torah and World Animal Day in a continuous thread that would delight and utterly confuse him and us. One year we were carving a pumpkin in the shape of a hamster to commemorate the five pillars of wisdom and the giving of the scriptures by Moses; who was a close friend of Iggle Piggle and had played in the Premier League.

This year could not be more different. Didsbury Son has happily sloped off to a friend’s family for a few days without nappies. His phone call (not even calls) was crushingly happy, brief and indifferent. No amount of self back-patting for having such a sociable and self-assured son makes up for the move from absolute need to the foothills of independence.

Birds come to pay homage to the new twins near Llanbedrog. If the gifts are good they are British birds, if not the press will consider them Welsh

So Didsbury Wife and I headed off to the Lleyn; M20 by the sea, to introduce The roundest eyes and head in Didsbury and his sister the new boss – our lovely twins to the sea, the caravan, Llanbedrog and Abersoch. It could not have been more different than previous trips. It was a one-handed, one-hour of sleep, nappy and feeding fest that was wonderful for all the small world, rigid timetabled, dictatorial restrictions three-week old babies can bring. I have never felt so needed or alive even though I barely had time to dress them up for my entertainment or loll aimlessly in the classic male pose, one hand was always around a baby.
I should have understood that my long anticipated new life was already here on a trip to the Trafford Centre with Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son, Didsbury Twins and London nephew last week.
First, the organisation and logistics are phenomenal. I have booked tours and worked on studio shows more simple than getting 2 car seats filled, 2 older children seat-belted and assembling the required paraphernalia in a 60 minute timeframe. Secondly, You don’t need a nanny, you need crew.
After negotiating Didsbury Son’s erratic yet proud double buggy driving through the Trafford Centre (my 697th favourite place in Trafford), whilst fending off London Nephew’s enquiries about which twin I like best… I caved in and paid for them to go solo to the cinema to give them 2 hours of 3D and us 2 hours of question free parenting; bliss.
My normal visits to that place to ease Didsbury Wife’s shopping usually consist of placating Didsbury Son with 20 minutes at Game and Apple before fobbing him off with a Hot Chocolate so I can look at Sky Sports News on my phone.
This time, with sweat beading at my temples and babies beginning to shuffle and wake I went to Mamas & Papas ( it’s a real shop, honestly. I learn every day), John Lewis (same trip, different department), M&S ( starting to seem worryingly convenient beyond the food section) and Baby Gap ( disappointingly not staffed by babies).
Any of these stops would normally have me harrumphing like a teenager but I had a revelation . Pushing twins around in a pram got me the positive attention, queue jumping and ease of service I have only ever had in daydreams.
Although slightly damp and stiff of back – by the time we sneaked 20 minutes at Yo Sushi, where we received a welcome reserved only for people who unlike us, do not spin out 4 bowls of Miso Soup for a cheap lunch, I felt taller, prouder and ready to take advantage of this brief celebrity.
Changing a nappy at 3am over the weekend I realised that there are many things that have kept me up at that time: from the emotional to the chemical – but none of them had ever looked at me with something that was clearly wind, but worth waiting and remembering for a lifetime, and it doesn’t need paracetamol.

Just missing Sweeney Todd

There is a brand new innovative hair salon opening on Barlow Moor Road in Didsbury. The other 74 no longer Brand New and possibly not as innovative hair salons in M20 (including the cannily named M20 Salon) must be sweeping hair nervously and pacing their boutique staff rooms in a mousse of a fluster. It’s time for a meet and greet haircut ring showdown. A bit like The Warriors but with more gel. If the 196 active hairdressers / barbers in Didsbury met at Gourmet Burger King on any given Sunday to Saturday they could a) all get a table. b) enjoy the surprisingly high-quality coleslaw.

Is this the invasion of the hair cutters or an indictment on the bouffant loving M20ians whose postcode hosts only 3 bookmakers (Will I Am Betting, David Pluck the Button and A Lad Name Brook), 1 library and 2 tapas bars (the sublime Morcilla-friendly Pinchjo’s on Burton Road and the sturdy Casa Tapas in the village) BUT could comfortably cut the hair, whilst charity dressing the whole of Cheshire in one go.

So welcome to the Hirsuite jungle Tysons. Once a dog, then a boxer, now a brand new innovative hair empire.

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An essential guide for every new parent (ish)

I felt it was time I shared. Shared my vast experience of almost 15 days of twin fatherhood. Shared the minutiae of detail that can substitute Nightnurse when spoken out loud and shared my scientific analysis of how to be a new Didsbury Dad.

WWHD: my canyon-deep experience of bringing up Didsbury Son in the way of the slouch has given me a deep understanding of post school pre-bed television. You have to remember to keep those dark thoughts inside. Think don’t say or… What Would Homer Do?

Learn to use the kitchen: For most right-thinking dads washing up and a superficial tidy with radio droning in the background trumps any technical parenting hands down. Then glide up with wrinkled hands and up to date 5Live for a glory goodnight kiss and cuddle; magical and without pointless questioning about something unfatomable.

Pick your homework carefully, what you volunteer for at 5 years old may stick. Offer to help with all the non specific subjects that are not compulsory after year 8. It’s long term planning but it works.

With the preliminaries over I have decided to set up master classes for Didsbury Dads. There will be twin, sibling and male classes and each attendee will get a complimentary copy of my opus “Mooching aimlessly with Didsbury Son”.
Each class will be long enough to avoid a vital chore at home whilst not being so long that it upsets Didsbury Wife/Girlfriend/Partner. They will take place under the entrance porch of what was La Tasca.

1. 20 Credit module – knowing your place when out and about. In your head as you push your pram next to smiling wife, you are the proud father and doting guardian of a pair of reasons for every other pedestrian to poke their nose in and make a banal comment. To some other women you are now invisible. That unhelpful middle-of-the-night axe to grind. They will come and coo over Didsbury Wife and Didsbury Twins praising their own martyrdom. The level of conscious ignoring is quite a feat and can only be repeated by a Didsbury Son looking in his room for a protractor.

2. 20 credit module – understand the environment. The Internet is useful for many things beyond football and inappropriate searches. It is awash with support forums for women before, during and after pregnancy. This enveloping resource can be a tyrant, a comfort, a stick to beat you with and an early warning system. Take notice of the minutiae; take care of which way the wind blows and heed the clues. If you are told pointedly that some partners aren’t making meringues for their new babies and dusting properly get the oven on low, beat those egg whites and reach for the feathers -it’s cleaning time

3. Other Men: twins can be emotive. Years pre Didsbury Son and Didsbury wife without progeny to parade has taught me that my bundles of joy may be troublesome for someone somewhere. Be like the philosopher and take your happiness and your sadnesses with equal measure and enjoy them inwardly and indoors. You should also try not to to respond to comments from other men such as ” I didn’t know you had it in you”. It isn’t a compliment. It’s the equivalent of “Have you lost weight?” letting someone know you remembered them as fatter than they are.
This male minefield can be fun and can be a joy to share as well as giving you the chance to settle old scores.

Next week – back to being baffled by cupcakes, spoiled for a choice of barbers in the village and getting ready to mourn the demise of Linen on Albert Hill Street as it gets ready to shut its doors at the end of the month and fly like a pixie out of the village.

Early. Daze

All life lives here. Modern parenting for twins 2012. Didsbury Son is on the school bus, unsure whether big brother beats sole trader and slightly disappointed that at 10 days old the twins won’t yet respond to tickles, raspberries and head shakes. He had expected them to come out playing and it’s probably my fault he was unprepared. Their lolling head, fill and empty, cry and sleep lifestyle is less engaging than Minecraft, Futurama… Even homework.

Didsbury Wife is grabbing a rare hour to herself which leaves me to modern man multi-task. Twin 1 is in my left arm. This micro Mao with an aversion to being horizontal is snuffling in his sleep whilst Twin 2, my gorgeous little alien feeder is Chicco Mio bouncy chair bound and I’m rocking her with the right foot whilst switching between Homeland on the iPad and making a quiche one handed. This morning I am an advert for Unicorn Grocery brought to life (Terry nappies, mother feeding,v Alpro warming in the centrally heated kitchen). Just need an Aga and a green jumper.

I am craving a bottle of cider (it’s the pregnancy sympathy thing, I have only ever used cider for cooking before), a McDonalds (other nutrient free, high salt takeaways are available) and my arm. The Benevolent Despotism of new babies is a wonder. You do what you are told and the rewards seem incongruous with expectations from a fortnight ago. Our Didsbury world has shrunk to the texture of a nappy, the quiet of a sleep and the faint smell of sweet milk permeating the house.

But these things I have already learned:
1. People will still ask if they are identical even after they have established that the colour scheme of the clothes matches the gender stereotype.

2. Caffe Nero is very pram friendly. C’mon Croatian Deli and Art of Tea sort it out.

3. Visitors seem to imagine that Didsbury Son and I want to interrupt Futurama to hear their labour /birth/ weaning stories. We don’t.

4. We are very proud of Didsbury Wife. Her yield would have David and Ruth Archer down The Bull to celebrate.

5. There has been a glut of twins in Didsbury this year. Linen and Giddy GoatToys must be getting ready to buy yachts and DidsburyPark is considering building a special lane for buggies and…

5. I had the most wonderful dream last night. Didsbury Son and I were sitting on an old couch In a cool shed. Football droned on in the background, a pot of coffee steamed next to a pastrami on rye and Didsbury Son was lost in world of Minecraft; neither of us said a word.

And then there were 3, the twins cometh…

I have tried not to make Didsbury Dad a pregnancy blog. I am preparing to fail in my attempts at  not being a baby bore  BUT a delivery so chilled Occado could have made it, followed by 6 days on a ward with Wythenshawe’s wonderful staff and eclectic clientele has… whilst dealing with the roller coaster of Didsbury Son’s emotions and being one of the few post natal dads to have sailed past 21, let alone 30 40 something –  whilst losing touch with the real world for a week and fawning limply over my two little potato heads and re-marvelling at female fortitude, anatomy and tenacity and finding myself surrounded by baby experts at every turn and kissed just about everyone in M23 whether they liked it or not and let Didsbury Son sneak a 15 movie on the video in a giddy haze as I have lived on biscuits and crisps for a week (my greens have been Cheese and Onion); Whilst learning more about life, friends and social media and then kissing everyone in Didsbury Village and grinning like Didsbury Son with a praised piece of artwork .

And breathe.

A new baby, before it has been ironed resembles Yoda

Or an alien

All life goes through a Manchester maternity ward. Didsbury Wife has just spent several days sharing a space with a range of Mancunians that  sing the diversity of the city. I am sure they looked at our Hessian bag of Alpro snacks and muttered “Didsbury”; I have sat back with twin 1 or twin 2 and enjoyed the show.
I marveled at the new father next to me who would only come in if his girlfriend got the TV working. He lay on the bed, curtains drawn watching ITV to recreate home between fag breaks. Having listened through a curtain on Saturday I now know that X Factor would not work on radio.

The Polish woman opposite slept brilliantly, the only woman on the ward undisturbed by her baby’s cries as she snored consistently between (her own) feeds. Her unwavering face was kind but she bore the weary look of annual childbirth interrupting hard work. Her Slavic stoic stance contrasted with the shrill nasal drawl of visiting Mancs showering Adidas and Nike on new babies and their junior parents.  I have smiled knowingly with all the grandparents, knowing the majority were my contemporaries and would remember The International rather than The Warehouse Project or The Kardomah. Thus, we have spent the week hanging out with the people with whom Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son and I will share all of our milestones over the next few decades.

The greatness of a maternity ward is that  everyone is equal and the potential clash of so many cultures dissolves in an oxytocin-driven, testosterone snipped haze of relief.

All babies are tagged at birth to avoid mix-ups. This is mini Didsbury Son 2 at 18 hours old

Everyone is hopeful – whether main ward, TCU or ICU. Everyone is friendly and supportive ; we are all either ecstatic or thinking there but for the grace of… and all Gods are Here. I munched my bagel with Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Atheists, our cultural non-competitiveness providing a blueprint. keep everyone sleep-deprived and besotted and there will be no trouble. Over mini teats and sterilising units I have eaten Polish, Japanese and Walkers with new brothers in cord-snipping and have cooed, consoled and cuddled babies with easy and difficult lives ahead of them once they leave the ante-womb of the postnatal ward.

My little wonders still feel as though they are mine on loan and I  squint at them for hours, inhaling their scents and wondering which one will like my pants on the head, finger-pulling best gags. I look forward to the chance for a Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son and me sharing the pram-pushing, shoulder riding and hand holding duties.

I feel a bit of a fraud. All the clichés at which I scoffed, all the sappy wet-eyed new dads I ignored and all the joy with a much smaller Didsbury Son that I had forgotten have re-enveloped me in a syrupy cocoon with the most wonderful aroma.

I can’t wait to re-read this with milk spattered clothes and sleepless, red-rimmed eyes around  Christmas, whilst Didsbury Son is trying to convince me everyone in year 7 is getting a tattoo and a Blackberry from “Santa”. It will remind how wonderful this tiny week 1 world is – when the colour of a nappy filler is a cause for celebration and each sneeze, hiccup, finger squeeze and eye open is a cause of genuine joy.

This joke gets stretched even further

Things I Have Learned as I sail past 37 weeks

Didsbury Dad (to be)
It’s Didsbury not Stoke Newington; so I haven’t joined a Male support group. A final 30-something week scan has given me the opportunity to assess, look sniffily at and occasionally bond with the other dads. This much I have learned…

1. Getting married first is a brilliant idea. Not for moral, religious or financial reasons – it is just the training your ego needs. You are down the pecking order below baked goods and although some men will see this as some kind of virility check, you are now surplus to requirements beyond fetch, carry and handy arguing tool. Nobody is looking at you.

2. The NHS is fantastic in an emergency; sadly this is not classed as an emergency. Whilst to me this is more terrifying than relegation in 1979 and Didsbury Son keeps expecting a delivery similar to John Hurt in Alien, apparently this is normal.
That said, The League of Friends do a classy cheese on toast, microwave cuisine at its finest.

3. The scans are coded for women only. I look at the swirling dust on the screen and see clouds. Didsbury Wife and the sonographer coo over heartbeats, feet and heads. One sonogropher began talking to us in baby talk, she honestly asked if we wanted to see the baby’s bot bot. As we have all sailed past our 30s this was nauseating and surprising in equal manner.

4. Women study, work through and monitor weight gain. With Bio Oil and vitamins they look after themselves and progeny seemingly seamlessly. 9 months of running to Co-Op, Didsbury Village Farm Shop, Fusion Deli and Aldi for a glittering array of high fat, sugar and carb cravings takes it toll.
The waiting room is littered with sweet wrappers and men whose sympathy pains have stretched beyond mood swings, backache and sleeplessness to having Haribo induced bumps of their (my) own.

5. This reminds me of my O’Levels (GCSEs for children with an attention span). My head is full of dilation, epidurals, electives and milking that will soon be redundant, yet is currently my greatest stress. I woke up in a sweat last night trying to remember if Braxton Hicks was bass player in The Fall or the prime minister during The Suez Crisis.

6. My Spending at Boots and on eBay has gone through the roof.

7 Having watched them grow and felt them kick the idea that they are actually real still seems bizarre. I was trying to talk Didsbury Son through the mechanics of the miracle of birth with the help of my finger puppets Colonel Snortly the SuperPig and The Cow Who Moo. After 3 minutes we gave up, switched on Futurama and decided that we should do what we always do; what we are told.

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