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 category “Children of different ages”

The Lion King, Parkin and Steven Spielberg

How you celebrate festivals as a child is crucial as to how you deliver them to your own friends and family. My Didsbury mum, auntie and extended entourage celebrated everything. Bonfire night was all tomato soup outside with treacle toffee, Parkin and anxiety amid the awe that a Catherine Wheel would take my eye out. 70s safety adverts lacked nuance but were packed with graphics to scar the psyche permanently. Once I found out the reasons behind Bonfire Night I loved it more, immediately taking the side of the conspirators; a normal Northern reaction. Jewish New year meant apples and honey; Eid brought pistachio sweets from Syrian friends of the original Didsbury Dad. 

  This is apparently cutting edge Anime. I thought it was from Pink Floyd. 

This was too exotic for words. Remember this was the when the Queen was in her 40s. If you had pineapple people thought you had won the pools* (Note 1). 

We also loved Christmas. Our house was decoration free and no pigs had blankets. Non-participation at home gave me the best out to see everyone else’s. To me, a decorated Christmas tree was the epitome of cool and I am still a sucker for a string of lights and a chocolate bauble. I also get giddy on FA Cup 3rd Round Day (Bovril), Winter Solstice (Cake and Wine) and anything celebrated with fried chicken.  

 High-tech Halloween.

The next generation are already starting to shape their own future. My pearly princess is a happy soul and easy going spirit who skips lightly through whatever is infront of her. Didsbury Son likes the detail and the art of a festival and The Mighty Headed Boy found Nirvana on Saturday in Didsbury.

He has been through the excitement of Christmas and greeted it with an enthusiasm that could be lifelong. He has sampled the best Friday night Dinner chicken soup and given it a toddlers’ thumbs up but… Nothing will ever match the logic and sheer joy of Halloween.  

 The

 

Dressed up as a monster with hands free and mouth available he knocked on strangers’ doors, shouted Trick before mumbling incoherently and they gave him sweets and chocolates. 
The generosity of Didsbury was quite stunning. Across M20 the pumpkins were out and the kids from 0-teenage were welcomed with open bowls and quirky sweets. It was uplifting in all the best ways. 

In terms of training children to anticipate danger this would seem as appropriate as the 1970s BBC giving Jimmy Saville a show making children’s dreams come true; but he loved it. 

Mind blown, plastic bucket filled and several blocks shaken down for Haribo, he sat on the couch like Mufasa showing off Simba to the animal kingdom. 

Had he not been surfing the wave of a sugar rush I am sure he would have turned to me and told me, Jawsesque, “Daddy, We’re going to need a bigger bucket”
* Pre Lottery, pre scratch cards, pre Big Brother and Sky this was your best way to upgrade to a Vauxhall Firenza. 

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That Friday Feeling

Things I have learned but not acted upon.  Teamwork is the key
I’ve shaved (face) and I’m sitting on Chorlton’s rather wonderful Barbakan Deli Terrace with a coffee and a peppery potato cake. It’s Friday, I’m knackered and this morning I remembered the twins but forgot work bag, gym bag, lunch bag, Pappa’s got a brand new pig bag, Bagpuss and the words to Baggy Trousers. It’s been a long week. 

 me thanks morning

The sun is making me squint and I don’t have to move for 20 minutes; bliss. It’s been so frantic recently I haven’t had time to share my usual paternal sense of slight disbelief, confusion and pride. With an age range of nappy rash to spot cream, my parenting is a giant improv trying to look like a rehearsed show. 
How do mothers get that instinct for parameters? This week, all 3 children have had my attempts at specifics end in their tantrums, calmed by the good Mothership through a little rephrasing (note to self “Look mate, just do it. Daddy’s bollocksed” does not work for the post-boddler or pre-GCSE generation). 
I have complete non-judgemental respect for any family set-up of any number, gender or age. I look at families with single mums or two mums and think it must be great when everyone knows what they’re doing. I eye up single parent dads and think that life must be like being in Tiswas or being a character in The Dice Man (Luke Reinhardt, if you haven’t … Read it).
It’s a chromosomal anomaly. I can plan a multi-stop, catered journey to the second. My books, CDs and Football Programmes are regimented and always ready for inspection. However, when the day comes that I can’t interrupt my ham fisted dressing of the Mighty-Headed boy by pretending he has flying trousers and stopping his wailing by lifting him over my head I am out of ammunition for the next decade.
Thankfully – there will always be Haribo.  

 Essential parenting skills inside

Just a simple country tale

Whilst Didsbury Son sloped off to … Chorlton (like Didsbury but with skinnier hips and less acceptable facial hair) where he could sit in the dark watching Anime with a similarly aged friend who understands his tortured genius, the rest of us headed for the country.  When Aspecto trainers meet the countryside. 
I am a huge fan of the countryside and firmly believe that all it needs is a roof, decent flooring, transport, Caffe Nero, Virgin Active, decent tapas, 4G and less cow poo to make it inhabitable. Oh and supermarkets would be a bonus.
The countryside is all about stress relief for city folk like me. There’s no chance of Wi-Fi, reception or Sky Sports so there’s no point worrying about football or the less vital news until you get near enough to a settlement to pick up 5Live. Then, after sometimes up to almost an hour with poor AM, the insistent, persistent minutiae is like a balm you love, but to which you are slightly allergic.  

 Country hens remain protective of their eggs after boiling. Many employ soldiers to help

Anyway – with only 4 bags, 2 nap sacks, a food suitcase, an armful of plastic toys and a Didsbury Dad Car Moose filled to the brim we set off for 24 hours out of M20. The event was a big party for children who are 3 in the next month. The twins have been asking if it was their birthday for weeks so this was a day without context, but with cake and a bouncy castle – somewhere in Warwickshire. 

I set the SatNav for “Middle of Nowhere” and off we set; to Caffe Nero. When he was small I drummed into Didsbury Son that a journey of 1000 Miles (or anything involving the M6) begins with a single coffee. This is when I realised that my babies are Didsbury through and through. As I returned to the car the wailing began. Two toddlers united in one grief. 

“Daddy, daddy. Where’s My Babyccino?”

To Be Continued: in the next episode we find a traffic jam on the M6, snacks run short, the toddlers fall asleep, we reach the party; night follows day. 

Postcard from Murcia 2/4: Feeling Philosophical 

The two/teen summer holiday is sadly almost at an end. It has been wonderful and uplifting, occasionally restful, very hot, over-budget, funny and much-needed.
  The hire car – a Mercedes in name only, whose scratches gave it character and acceleration reminded one of an Austin Maestro

I have read a book, which already puts it ahead of last year with 20 month old twins and next year my goal is a night’s sleep in only one bed at least once (I can dream). 

  
There have been cine memory moments of utter bliss in the baby and big pool as the twins have taken their first goes at swimming. These and moments when Didsbury Son has been Captain of the mini Manc Armada are those snapshot moments that make the overdraft, sciatica and Mr. Tumble worthwhile. 
These moments are more noticeable on holiday but are the backbone of any relationship – the moments that cement relationships, lift you in low moments and can be an inspiration. I have in my bank a look and leaping hug from a blonde and squeaky Didsbury Son, a message on a Big Wheel from Didsbury Wife and my team lining up for a Cup Final I had waited twenty years to see – they are irrelevant to most people but are the seeds that have grown my passion and each of us has our own. 
I began writing Didsbury Dad on a holiday five years ago when I looked around the other dads and realised that we mainly did what we were told, relied on our other halves for guidance and had to feign interest and understanding in many many things. 
I am very lucky that in these five years I have now got two more Didsburylings to stress about, have been to several cup finals and learned things I never even imagined. Last time I was really clear I had made the right decision about a little one in my care she was a dog and I was solo. I spend parents’ evenings and most family discussions guessing what I should think and say and have a feeling most other dads do too. 

Wordy Rappinghood – why it matters

Words I love and hate.

I was in a queue at a supermarket last week. Let’s not name names, let’s call it Smooths at MediaCityYouK. There was a nice woman standing behind me with two small children. The little one, who looked about thee was getting fractious so I did a little gooning about and we all made friends. The man behind the checkout joined in, uninvited. Apparently he too had a “Threenager”. I stopped. The woman looked slightly embarrassed as we wondered whether to
A) ignore the naffness and move on
B) stab him with the kabanos I held in my hand.
C) go to Morissons across the road.
Threenager? Threenager! Threef#^*ingnager. Threenager is right down there with Terrible Twos, 4 year old girls wearing t-shirts that proclaim “Porn Star” on the front, Keep Calm and Carry on Zumba and shops proclaiming themselves “Krazee” or offering “Kutz”.
This is dangerous territory. Not only is our language too beautiful to throw away like this (you repeat Red Lorry Yellow Lorry after a night on the Calpol and tell me I’m wrong), but we continue to create this theme park expectation.
Didsbury Son is 13. He is still the lovely boy he has always been, but he has chemical surges that are part of the often awkward growing trajectory. We all had/have days as teenagers when the world is against all goes wrong. There are times when we both glare, glower and wonder at each other’s stupidity. The moments may be difficult but they are natural and it is the expectation to behave like a grown toddler that is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I know some lovely teenagers. I know some for whom my best intentions fall well below humanity. They are not like that just because they are teens. 
What are the terrible twos? At 2 the world is a huge playground/fridge that revolves only around you. You are the stars, the moon, the sun and heir (the temptation to go into Smiths lyrics here is almost unbearable) to a oneness that is overwhelming. Between the daily dose of kisses, hugs and moments of joy is/are your child(ren)’s introduction to negotiation. If you have not had to witness UKIP’s abysmal rise, never chewed your nails through the last month of a Premier League season, lost a person close to you or been dumped then of course whether or not you get a biscuit is worthy of tears. 
So the twos are not terrible. They stretch your joints, your patience and your ability to watch the same programme over and over BUT… They only last 52 weeks and I have a feeling that I will miss the babbling, utter adoration and openness that typify this year. 
So there is my ten pence worth. Cliches and Platitudes are not described that way as a compliment; however tiring or frustrating a teenage/toddler tantrum is they are part of the furniture and once they are through this the opportunities to eat fish fingers and buy plastic tat are gone forever and that is testing. 

One Down Dog You don’t come up from quickly

So there I was, flat on my back. It was dark and I was on the floor. My left hand stretched through the bars and held a pudgy, squidgy hand. My right arm stretched backwards over my head through another set of bars to another hand. I heard myself singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and humming songs, to which I only know derogatory football-related lyrics and for five minutes I was in heaven. My sciatic nerve was stretching, I was off homework duty and the football had not quite kicked off. 

Then it hit me. This quasi-crucifix position on my not quite Athletic, post post 39 body is a disaster in waiting. As my stretched right arm began to quiver and a searing pain munched its way up and down it, I came to two age-related realisations;
1. It is now 30 months since the twins were born and I was last pain free. These babies, now full-volume, negotiating toddlers are a gift – but one which pulls every joint, vertebrae and limb in a daily dance designed to test (and find weaknesses). I am now 18% cortisone and Boots’ pharmacy greet me like bartenders and ask “the usual, sir?”.
2. I have no idea how to move. It’s a bit cold and I’ve been lying flat on the floor now for 40 minutes; any hope of graceful transition to vertical disappeared 37 minutes ago. 
All of this is a drop in a choppy ocean compared to the payback a cuddle and an I Love You bring from a grinning two-year old holding open your eyelid and then adding “Wake Up Daddy, Dora on TV?”
But… For those waiting to be Didsbury or other Dads beware – there is a floor waiting for your back and the football will be over by the time you get downstairs. 

 

Next Up… Hairdressers are so passé, it’s Dog Grooming Didsbury from now on. 

Fitbit, focus groups and the best coffee this side of Mars,

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The men had been meaning to move to Venus for ages but y’know what it’s like. They got friendly with a couple of Martians, the deli on the corner just knew how they liked the coffee and although the roof leaked, the plumbing was teenage in its temperamentally challenging behaviour, the car got robbed and the carpet was pre-war it was home and they quite liked the landlord. Why move when it could be worse.

It was only when the women told them about the new sports bars opening up across Venus and refused to even drive through Mars, let alone stay over that the men moved. (Excerpt from “Why most men don’t move, they can’t be bothered”). This is one more reason why I don’t like Focus Groups. You can’t get a decent coffee and bagel in Venus.

Henry Ford (car genius, moral leper) once said (approximately). “If I’d asked the public what they wanted they would have said “faster horses” when asked how he came up with that monstrous micro mess the Ford Ka. I was recently asked to be on a focus group for a new “family friendly” museum and gallery. Family friendly to most dads means no gift shop, free couches and nothing on sale in the cafe over £2.50. This session followed a night when, according to my Fitbit. I slept for 4 hours, 20 mins and was awake 7 times and restless many more between 11.06pm ( Peppa Pig’s Holiday App finally sees off Mighty Headed Boy) and 6.08pm (Sago Mini Pet Cafe buys me 17 minutes of zzzzzzz) when Princess Blondini jabs me in the eye shouting “wake up daddy, moon up.”.
We were asked to consider the facilities a 21st century museum should provide the modern family. My tips were:
1. A car park whose distance is far enough away to make the walk back for whatever vital toy that was left there long enough to speak to friends, check football scores and clear head.

2. No wifi. I love Didsbury Son and long to see the front of his face, not just the top of his hood.

3. A slouching post near the baby change table.

4. A prayer room. I make use of these wherever I can. They are the one place you can be sure no one will bother you.

5. Less interactivity. It sets the bar too high for your own domestic masterclass in multi-tasking ( playing with children whilst watching Sky Sports News).

If they take these ideas on board, don’t thank me – just take the kids out for a couple of hours one weekend morning.

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£2.49

2015, More of the Same from Didsbury Dad

Apologies for being blogless. It’s a terrible thing when work and life get in the way of you writing reams of blah from the single in the nursery that the Mighty Headed Boy now calls “Our Bed” after a Christmas holiday spent edging me out of it.

Normal service will return in about a week but in the week when the retirement sale sign at Wilkinsons brought a lump to the throat. In the week when Emmanuel’s prayer group requested a Waitrose where Cafe Rouge once was. In a week when Gentry Grooming’s management buyout brought independence in the village whilst one of West Didsbury’s last remaining non-bohemian stores, Loft announced it was closing…

Five things I learned:
1. Watching toddler twins in the morning is akin to refereeing a corner in the Premier League. Finding out who began the pulling, dummy stealing and Peppa Pig invocation is impossible.

2. At 39 and 12 months + a few more 12s you can party or parent. Both leaves you looking like Stig (of the dump not Top Gear).

3. You can learn the words to every Frozen song through Osmosis.

4. Life is good. When the news on TV becomes almost too difficult to watch, having someone next to you whose world is complete with a soft toy and a cuddle is a real gift.

5. Four is enough for now.

Happy New Year

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Wilkinsons – who will fix our objects now?

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Peppa Pig glasses: I am praying they have better vision than me

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If you don’t know who this is, I salute you

Didsbury Dad Guide to London

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep. Our journey of 200ish began with the low-level restraint only packing a car with three children, two adults and 20 bags the day after rich food, quality booze and general indulgence can bring. A real journey begins with a coffee. Bisou Bisou and Fusion let me down but thankfully Didsbury Village has around 20 outlets (excluding restaurants) with coffee and this Boxing Day morning the Costa machine at the Shell Garage did a mean White Americano.

Christmas Day was a huge success at Didsbury Dad Towers (more in the next blog). From the Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly-Topped Girl’s lie-in, to Didsbury Son’s charm, through a smoothie breakfast, a turkey so moist we clapped, to presents well-received. So a Boxing Day Drive with a car full had all the ingredients for disaster.

We were an hour late leaving. Didsbury Son was having angst about the brand of the latest electronic device in his collection. The twins were not tired. A slight hangover combined with the effect of sprouts, cheese and champagne on a system fuelled by Oemeprozole could seriously test the air conditioning.

Four amazingly tension-free hours later we arrived in London. For those who don’t know it, London’s a big city in need of a wash, with a lot of people. The water doesn’t taste very nice, but it has a wide selection of Nando’s and its North West has enough ex-pat Mancunians to iron out some of its flaws.

So for Boxing Day and the rest of the Christmas holidays a guide from a world traveller to the 5 must dos on any trip to the home of David Cameron, Wormwood Scrubs and Jellied Eels. London has some magnificent attractions, make the most of any visit.
1. Lock your doors.
2. Whether it’s sterimar, olbas oil
Or a Vicks inhaler do not worry about the grime you will inhale – just be prepared.
3. Try the Underground. Not only is it impressively claustrophobic, but Euston, with trains to Manchester every 20 minutes is easily accessible.
4. Remember what a pain it is driving everywhere. It makes rush hour on Barlow Moor Road seem a breeze.
5. Speak to the locals. Even though they think Rosy Lea is a drink and you can climb apples and pears, it’s not an ism, it’s London Rhyming-Slang and is hilarious and unique.
6. Don’t be parochial.

Tomorrow: the first sentient Christmas Day with the twins – whoops, games and a guide to a happy day.

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The Mighty-Headed boy cruises the streets of London looking for snacks.

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To be honest, the Natural History Museum was a little disappointing.

Didsbury’s Christmas Tree shines brighter than McBusted

Wednesday night saw Didsbury Village at its best for the Christmas tree switch-on. Stewards in Santa Man. City outfits telling us Santa’s not a red, it was a coca cola conspiracy. A host with a microphone full of enthusiasm and a unique lyrical skill, led us through free mulled wine and pizza, bags of satsumas and women handing out sweets. It was magical. The mulled wine was provided by The Stokers Arms and delivered by Bisou Bisou’s lovely Front of House – a kind of McBusted for the village. Santa arrived on a fire engine with a sound system playing Chris Rea and The Mighty Headed Boy, gently crushing my shoulders from the top down, cried as though Chris Rea himself were coming to sing.
The tree lit up, the sweets were snaffled and a good time was had by all. Only the darkness where once was Cafe Rouge reminded us that not everyone has there own French Patisserie – but we do, happy holidays.

N.B. I have no idea who McBusted are. I even watched I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here to see if they were there.

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Ready for the big night out

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The stars came out

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The Mighty Headed Boy v Santa

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