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 “February, 2013”

Competitive Parenting – The Eternal Struggle

If you ever need to feel better about yourself there are some easy solutions.
You could put together a Kinder Egg toy for a four year old, taking their oohs and aahs at your dexterity as a pat on the back.
You could ask an 11 year old a question and tell them that the word “like” can only be used in the answer if it is the opening of a similie.Or you could go to the web pages of The International Federation of Competitive Eating (ifoce.com) and realise that those pounds gained during pregnancy (even if you were not actually the pregnant one) are nothing to worry about. I am not a fan of competitive parenting. “Ooh Didsbury Son invented a cure for Cartoon Network on the bus home today” but our competitive nature comes out when we are not expecting it to get shirty.

Our own version of Competitive Parenting is a bizarre battle for moral supremacy stoked by childcare through the pain barrier. One of us says “Oh I’m tired” and the other jumps on the bus and rides a long, citing ever decreasing hours of sleep. This is just an extension of Didsbury Son bragging with friends about staying up late and watching inappropriate films (never happens – much to his chagrin)
Stakes then get raised in a version of muscular pain roulette that ends with us virtually paralysed, but (sobs), doing it for the children. Muscular pain roulette is where David Dickinson’s auction meets NHS Direct. Go too early with a severe pain and you lose. Fail to join in and you could have a full night of lifting, shifting, feeding and pleading with Mighty- headed twin in his nightly, 2-hourly WAAH fest.
Regardez est encoute how to crescendo:
– My back’s a bit stiff from lifting the babies out of the cot so much
(Quickly)
– Me too and I think I have tennis elbow.
(Jump in, ignoring comment)
Uh huh and my housemaid’s knee is sore sore sore from all the time I spend playing on the floor with them.
(Nonchalant)
– I felt something snap when I was double dream feeding last night. You slept through, I didn’t want to disturb you. I ache all over, but at least the babies are happy.
(Winner).
Then sit back and prepare to choose the comfy side of the bed and sleep happily through the 2am call.

What Happens on Valentine’s Day Stays On…

A couple of nights ago, at some point between Anne Hathaway and Julia Roberts, I think my Y chromosome pulled a muscle or at least had a night off.

It was Saturday night, Match of the Day had been offered to me on a plate and what did I do?
Suggested we watched a film and agreed to “Valentine’s Day”. (It’s not the shock of this that has had me blog free for a week or so, that has been caused by work interfering with my daydreaming and mooching).

Saturday night. The twins were asleep. Didsbury Son was at a friend’s house. The actual Valentine’s Night itself ended up with a non-romantic family night in for 2 adults, one sleepless Didsbury Son and 2 crying babies. It was as though the spirit of Casanova had enveloped me and then taken a nap. So – I looked knowingly at Didsbury Wife. She looked at me with the longing only a mother of young twins can create. I nodded. She nodded. I motioned to the stairs. She nodded. “Fancy an early night?” I breathed. “Oh yes” she mouthed. “You go up, I’ll shut the cats in, check the twins and try not to disturb you. If I set the alarm we can get an hour’s kip. ” Bliss, an hour’s sleep before night feed on a weekend. This is the twin parent equivalent of “What Happens in Vegas”.

We sauntered down, not being cranky and Didsbury Wife gave me the option of man’s greatest gift on a Saturday night in, Match of the Day; and I gave up the men without a backwards glance, sorry.

The film “Valentine’ Day” is a syrupy American version of Love Actually; made watchable by
A) not including Martine McCutcheon
B) not including Martine McCutcheon
C) the first scene with Jennifer Garner.

It is a perfectly acceptable film to watch with a partner if you are still trying to establish that you can talk, listen and share a RomCom without an ulterior motive but we are way past that and I was rumbled years ago.

Then it happened, minutes from the end of the film. By this The Mighty-Headed twin boy had cried himself down stairs and into a position that was slowly dislocating my elbow. Whether it was that, sleep deprivation, or fear that I had set a precedent I found myself filling up and unable to make slightly annoying comments.

Julia Roberts (who has given up acting to be a soldier if this is a documentary) used her 48 hour pass for 14 hour flight to spend one night with her son, who Shirley MacLaine has been looking after whilst she was away. Shirley looks well and don’t worry, she made up with her husband earlier (Julia’s dad). When you realise the swarve millionaire on the plane next to her isn’t trying to hit on her (He is great. Not only does he give Julia his limo so she can get home, he is the reason that star Footballer – American not real can come out and live a life true to himself), it all makes sense.
So when Julia leans over to kiss her son, baby boy posited over my shirt and I welled up.

Years ago this open show of emotion could clinch a date. This time Didsbury Wife leaned over, passed me a wipe and got back to Ashton Kutcher.

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The romantic meal I had planned for Valentine’s Night wasn’t as well-received as I had hoped

A little Valentine’s love…

Valentine’s Day is a minefield. A wrong call can lead to a night or two on the couch (that’s the naughty step for big boys). It’s all about context and understanding your partner’s take on your “original” sense of humour, romance and inappropriate use of language and intention. Didsbury Wife’s not a Morrissey fan which cuts out a large avenue for an 80s-bred teenager and this year I aim to be careful that my status as New Twin Dad, New Man and Nominee for 2013 Bottle Steriliser of the Year are not compromised by a dodgy reference (or two). My historical research one year led me to write the medieval line,
“I love thee like pie, if thou wert pudding I would eat thee.”
What Didsbury Wife read was “Oy pudding”

We are lucky enough to count the Poet Laureate as a local. So for Didsbury Dads, sons, partners, aspiring partners whatever your intention, instincts or inclination here is some foolproof poetry to get things going.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…
… I brought it on eBay but lets pretend its new.

The ever-popular footrub

The ever-popular footrub

Can I compare thee to a summer’s night
… Thou art welcome relief after a disappointingly cloudy day.

My Love is Like a Red Red Rosé…
Briefly enchanting but not much use when the babies are crying.

You are more beautiful than…
The realisation that the babies have slept through the night and so have you.

I love you more than…
The tasting stall outside The Cheese Hamlet on a Saturday morning or toast with peanut butter at The Art of Tea.

Andrew Marvell knew the value of an elongated Mullet way ahead of Lovejoy.

You are more welcome than…
Peace, an empty inbox and a decent commentary on 5Live.

These can help. But if you really need to crank it up get Metaphysical and go for Donne, Crawshaw or Andrew Marvell. They knew how to write a love poem and how to make the recipient feel that they were the only person in the world. As Marvell wrote in “The Definition of Love.”
My love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high
It was begotten by despair
Upon impossibility.

Good luck. Good writing and if it all gets too much read some Mike Garry (godisamanc.wordpress.com) and be assured that if your heart is honest and your intentions true the right words will follow.

Top 10 Didsbury Tips for 2013

A busy week in our house. The British love affair with non-specific winter viruses always interests me. Whether its Noro Virus, Winter Colds, Avian vs Swine (surely the follow up to Alien v Predator) it’s all headlines. It seems each year that the fact we live in a damp region of an Island in the North Sea is forgotten by the time a disappointing summer has given way to a beautiful October and then overcast until a week in May.

Living in Manchester we don’t have the glamour of highland whiteouts or Coastal flash floods to brag about BUT if it’s a chest infection, bad stomach or general cold we are without peer. I believe in the power of multi-vitamins, flu jabs and positive thinking, so a weekend of spectacular emissions from both ends of all the Didsbury Dad trio has been an unwelcome intrusion into reality. Didsbury Wife and I also succumbed to … The virus and I was left to count new blessings this morning. Thank you grandparents for a few free hours to sleep, sleep and consider what I have encountered in prampushing around the haircut capital of the North…

1. The Didsbury Lounge: opening soon and a welcome addition to BarlowMoor Road. I checked records and it will be the first non hairdressers to open on the road since records began and the fit out looks promising. I look forward to leaving the twins at home and sneaking out for a crafty word or two with friends.

2. Elm Interiors Closing Down Sale: this is a Didsbury tradition, as established as an over-enthusiastic smoker flagging you down to talk City if you stop at the lights by The Nelson between 7pm and Midnight. One day it will shut and we will lose the slight whiff of bath bombes in the village but chances are it will be back with some name combination. Of Elm, House and Interiors.

3. The rise of Community Index. It’s a great read. A combination of local people, local adverts and useful info. It was nearly squashed by the gloss of Didsbury Magazine, a pointlessly Hale and Altrincham focused advert that takes less time to read than a takeaway menu. I read it and wonder if there is another Didsbury I’ve never heard of that still thinks its 1998 and chrome is the new black. Also disappointingly unabsorbant when Didsbury Son uses it to dry his Lacrosse boots.

4. Fletcher Moss: so much beauty on our doorstep. I had a brief recce to check the possibility of getting around with a double buggy. I can’t wait to introduce the mighty head and his smiley sister to the joy of the boardwalk, the river, the gardens and the Alpine Tea Rooms. It already has me wistful at the thought.

5. Festival season: As the Baftas herald the Oscars so Didsbury Arts Festival beckons Didsbury Festival, Cavfest, WestFest and Didsbury Barberfest when every one of Didsbury’s 6000 hairdressers marches hand in hand through the village singing “Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning”.

6. The rise of The Reporter. I love The Reporter. Many years ago in baggier times I wrote a pop column for it which only promoted friends. The Reporter is still a heady mix of the good and bad, the campaigning and the minutiae. Personally, I like the minutiae and its classifieds are still a colourful crawl through the city’s underbelly.

7. U-turns and HS2 hassle. The antidote to the arrival of The Metrolink would seem to be the potential loss of Palatine Road to a train tunnel. Not got my head around it yet.

8. I’ve never actually seen anyone going up the stairs to either Karma Sutra Massage or Didsbury Conservative Club but somebody must do; I will keep my eyes peeled and let you know.

9. The Metrolink: the station in Didsbury was chosen especially to be next to AiryFairy CupCake Boutique. On Lapwing Lane they chose Fusion Deli and at Parrs Wood they just needed somewhere Tarantino could make the follow-up to Django Unchained.

10. Siemens building will turn out to be a conduit for alien contact similar to Men in Black 2. A long shot, but you never know.

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The proposed imaginary badger cull in The Archers has forced many of them north. We found this one inside our TV.

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Didsbury Wife spots a snowdrop

Marriage – open to all. A future history lesson

When I was a young Didsbury Son my Didsbury Dad told me about the 1948 Olympics in London, rationing, how teachers would beat children and the terror and fun of the war for a child. His big night out as a 5 year old was hanging out with his friend’s dad who was an ARP warden, before heading home for a finger of peanut butter. They could then listen to the radio to see who wanted to kill them next.

It seemed to me ancient and archaic; a black and white baggy shorted world with no sweets, no Starsky and Hutch and no toilet; the dark ages.

I wonder what current soul-searching dilemmas Didsbury Son will be beaming onto the next generation to be born. I think that when he tells them there was outrage in 2013 amongst a certain (now extinct) strata of society about gay marriage they will laugh at how we lived in such bizarre and unenlightened times; it must have been the petrol engines and the high fat snacks we all used to consume. It will seem bizarre to them that we discriminated against people on the grounds of sexuality when there are so many more interesting obvious ways to segregate – starting with people who rustle sweet wrappers and text in cinemas. There is no exclusion too harsh for “those” types. Although one of my best friends went out with someone who talked and chewed loudly during films. (Not really)

Then Didsbury Son’s Didsbury Progeny will ask if Red Dwarf was a documentary and if People were really that stupid. I, Didsbury Grandad will summon up the virtual Cheese Hamlet and sneak a quick Emmental fix before the evening cryogenics kick in and they put The Smiths chip in my head to give me something to hum along to before their next ancient history class.

They will take a comic look at the credit crunch and how in 2018 payday loan gurus Wonga got the deal to sponsor the red case used by the chancellor on budget day.

The world moves on and hopefully prejudices and judgemental legislation targeting people getting on with their lives will slowly fade. Sadly as likely overall as Didsbury Son remembering which week is the black bin and which week is the green.

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New legislation aimed at ending years of prejudice between shrubs and trees is being considered

The Y Chromosome, a success story

I used to dream of a BAFTA, now I dream of accepting my BAFTA and having a shed with a radio and a lock.
I used to stay up all night, now I am up most of the night. I realise that for most city-raised men – we are are always up all night. It’s a seamless procession from teen angst to all-night parties, to crying babies to the looming prostate. It has its bonuses; but the head full of ideas that used to keep me up scribbling, pacing and talking endlessly now competes with a bottle full of formula and a stare that draws you in to the cot for aimless hours of doting and cooing.

I am a dad.
Dad: (noun) one who is invisible to women whose husbands didn’t help much with their children (verb) to be not quite as important as Didsbury Wife or Didsbury Son. To make mistakes with the temperature of milk and what constitutes clean and sterilised.

If men were as rude about in public mixed company as women are,
“Is he needy [pointing at baby boy twin with enormous beautiful head]? … They all are, all boys are, all their lives.” People would think it was still the 1970s.

There’s no escaping your gender and the benefit of genes. On Thursday the twins both slept through the night for the first time. Didsbury Wife and I were giddy with continuous sleep. This morning I woke up and glanced at the clock, 6.09am – Bingo. I smiled, smug with rest, stretched and leaned over to stare beatifically at a rested Didsbury Wife. In turning I bumped into 2 wide-eyed babies and a 1000 yard staring Didsbury Wife. They hadn’t slept through the night but I had.

The male genes had tuned out efficiently. Didsbury Wife forcefully told me – I had slept through the 2, 4 and 5am wake up – snoring happily. i had been oblivious to the twins cries, the night feeds and the odd prod in the ribs from Didsbury Wife’s toe.

A dent in the ribs v a full night’s sleep. I think that is 1-0 to the Y chromosome.

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Not even a picture of a baby with red licquorice made Didsbury Wife smile

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