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 “Ewan the Sheep”

FUBAR the friendly lion and the Didsbury Duo

7.45pm. Friday Night. I am trapped. The Mighty-Headed Boy snores contentedly, draped across my stomach – his legs wrapped around my left arm like fleshy vines. The Pearly-topped princess has my right armed gripped so tightly as she nuzzles into a toddler-shaped curve I cannot move. My phone is open at Football Manager but my fingers cannot reach the screen. Didsbury Wife and son are out. It’s just me in a dark room, on a warm bed with two boddlers curved around me and no extra hand for internet access.

My mind drifted to those thoughts we all have, “What if In The Night Garden” was a documentary voiced by David Attenborough; if I was a teenager now would wi-fi mean I never had to leave my room and who votes for UKIP with a clear conscience?

I then thought how long-known acronyms, antonyms and phrases take on different meanings st different times of your life.

ATM. All trousers milk stained

BBC. Bathtime Bed. Chill

FUBAR – Found Upsy-Daisy But Aptamil Run out

SOS – Sudocrem or Suffer

TTFN – teenager talking flipping nonsense

HTML – Home Time. Milk Loaded

Wake Up And a Smell The Coffee – then make it after you’ve changed the nappies and done milk.

Life’s Too Short – so embrace being woken 3 times a night as you can enjoy more of it.

The Tail Wagging The Dog : Social experiment where parents make all decisions based on the rationale of teenage moods

Disney – Magical Kingdom of slightly worrying stereotypes that occupy small children in trance-like stupor for two hours per day.

Minecraft – Magical Kingdom of slightly worrying stereotypes that occupy new teenagers in trance- like stupor for three hours per day.

ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival in the old days, now a phrase dependent on the sleep wake nappy phenomenon. Now more likely to stand for Evening Tomorrow or After…

HRT. Hormonally Reactive Teenager

eBay – recycling for parents. Expect your rating to soar after the first visit to Jo Jo, ELC and Boots points out the real cost of plastic and sheepskin.

Psychological Warfare. Interrupting any song in Frozen for dressing, undressing, changing or Calpol.

1000 Yard Stare, a syndrome that occurs when on the way back from a midnight cot settle. Your nascent teenager, voice breaking mid-syllable informs you he’s hungry, can’t sleep and wants a chat. Fire up the toaster and make yourself comfy.

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A television and a full moon. Both are excellent parenting tools

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I sacrificed glamour like this for my children

In The Night Garden v The Football Factory

Introducing children to culture early on in their development is important for them to attain the kind of middle-class snobbery that make X-Factor, Jeremy Kyle and popcorn such guilty pleasures. Didsbury Son was scared by a number of clowns and bored by theatre early on; the scars should open nicely later in life.

Thus today, the Mighty-Headed boy and The Pearly Princess made their theatrical debut; In The Night Garden Live at The Trafford Centre’s Showdome. It was a combination of Shakespeare, Siegfried and Roy and Cirque du Soleil and as we cheered, laughed and cried… Iggle Piggle found his blanket before the smell of filled nappy and Aptamil overwhelmed the space.

The lead-up had been tricky. I am a keen supporter of Arts and Culture (it’s paid the mortgage occasionally) and this week my diverse cultural tastes collided. The week had begun with the start of the football season. I engaged the frame of mind needed to cope with dodgy backstreets , testosterone rushes and the need to swear whilst singing in sync with the other 4000 former thirty-somethings pretending they hadn’t pleaded to get a pass-out.

This successful night out bled into plans for the big In The Night Garden day. I sat the twins down to remind them that even if the whole presenting team from Milkshake, riding Thomas the Tank Engine and led by Peppa Pig fronted us up – we never run (my knee is way past that), for today we are CBeebies.

When I received a text telling me I could meet Iggle Piggle and Macca Pacca afterwards I got all Danny Dyer and had halfway filled a sock with plastic building bricks when Didsbury Wife stopped me.

I came to my senses. The Tombliboos won 2-0 (although all that scratching noses and sitting on the floor saw them cautioned for time-wasting) and we got a police escort back to the car.

The play was brilliantly conceived. It was big and friendly and it’s audience was enchanted. This was a lovely escape back to gentleness for an hour. My pearly girl stared open-mouthed at the gigantic figures. She believed this world in a way that removed all adult cynicism and restored a little magic bubble to a week when the real world has sometimes seemed so harsh, the news so bleak – that even the 6am charge across the landing shouting “Daddy Mummy” seemed in danger.

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The urge to shout “Behind You” was overwhelming.

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Thankfully this was a fiercely partisan crowd, although several infants were ejected for starting anti-Balamory chants

Welcome to Miami

So there I was, South Beach, Miami. Weekend, Wedding Anniversary, not too stiff around knee joints and golfer’s elbow receding. I had a double room with A/C (a big fan) and a fridge and a car bigger then my first flat (apartment). Last time I had been on Collins Avenue Clinton was president, I had sipped a jug of Mojito on Ocean Drive and partied until it was time for breakfast burgers on the beach, washed down with another jug of Mojito. Hello Miami. Will Smith ringing in my ears, things the local uniform. Didsbury Daddy is home, then I realised… South Beach with The WotWots (see the clip if the reference means nothing) and the  burgeoning teendom of Didsbury Son is a physical, moral, financial and logistical pit with all the sense of going for a day out on a boat in Florida without sun cream or nappies. I apologise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VujjtKYUEiA

They say you should never go back. I say you should never go back without understanding the difference between single and feckless and six suitcases, two car seats and a buggy.

Our visit to one of Ocean Drive’s most prestigious cafés was instigated by a nappy so full we thought we had triplets, late night shopping on Collins Avenue was superb as were the mosquito bites we took back with us and Our night on the town was a picnic on the bed and hotel room disco followed by extended choruses of “If you’re happy and you know it..”

Actually, this was a highlight. A belly-laughing, life enhancing night that ended with me as a trampoline for all three of the ankle biters. This was off-set by then having my phone lifted whilst I changed the pearly princess at a Mall so huge it made The Trafford Centre seem like a pleasant shopping centre. I had also forgotten that in America if someone stops to let you push the buggy through a door they expect a tip.
When we had cruised into Miami in our rented Toyota Suburbia, an accelerator and clutch free monstrosity more boring than baseball, the mismatch of family and party town dawned. As I lay there at 4am soothing babies to the backdrop of fidgit house, Spanish shouted at full volume and bowel-loosening bass I found myself pining for our toddler unfriendly apartment and easy bedtimes at Key Largo…

I fell in love with Little Havana – but not one of the children would share a cigar. Little Havana was the only place that had great coffee and ice cream and the feel of something culturally vibrant. Miami was things and tattoos. Didsbury Son loved it.

Next time: the essential and ultimate guide to how to travel, holiday and keep your joints oiled with a toddler-teenage collective.

My Miami top tips
1. The apples at The President Hotel on Collins Avenue kept the boddlers busy for hours.
2. The changing facilities at Central Station; worth paying $3 for water.
3. The Walgreens on Collins/5th open until 10pm.
4. The chicken tenders at Publix supermarket, very reasonable.
5. The bus tour, but not for the under 2s

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Didsbury Son and the twins take in Miami

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Miami wasn’t as colourful as I had remembered

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Homer Simpson, Didier Drogba, The Archers and Me

This is a gruelling time of year. School age children are all out of attention span and too far into the year to really care. The clear Manchester air often leaves baby chests clogged and the 4am dawn is a siren call to the under 5s.

In addition there are now up to 6 hours of live international football on TV each day that can run between 5pm and 4am. Oh and there’s work and family life.

This can stretch the strategic skills and slothful indiscipline of the most indifferent dad, let alone someone like me. Someone who hears Ivory Coast v Japan and sees it as a cultural duty to stay up and honour the culinary heritage of these great nations, whilst falling asleep on the couch, head lolling in a tribute to Homer Simpson.

So praise your deity (fate and other non-deity touchstones are available ) for Fathers Day the morning after England’s 1am finish. Whether it’s a goldfish or offspring of Amish proportions, claim that right and milk it as though you were auditioning for parlour maid’s role in The Archers.

I have mixed feelings about Fathers Day. When Didsbury Son was little his excitement was infectious and made me feel unworthy for all my little less than perfect thoughts. Now, I count my blessings that I receive and am able to give Fathers Day cards. Coming late to the party keeps me aware that for many people this is a difficult day for a variety of reasons and you can’t always have a World Cup to distract you.
Some years this awfulness is compounded by Wimbledon being newsworthy and clogging up radio and TV in the two weeks it hogs the limelight. This year it’s all football and midnight toddler milk runs have the bonus of late night TV from South America.
I’m just perfecting my Capirahna and Aptamil.

My Father’s Day ticked so many boxes it qualified for Arts Council funding. I rolled over at 7am, 7am – that’s nearly lunchtime, to find an empty space where Didsbury Wife had gallantly taken the early shift as I luxuriated in more than four hours of continuos Zzzzzs.

After an aborted Metrolink journey ( I had forgotten they don’t work weekends), Didsbury Wife gave me one of the greatest gifts a man could receive – a family visit to The National Football Museum. I won’t describe the detail, save to say that The Mighty Headed Boy took on a whole group of Stoke fans and won and Didsbury Son is slowly embracing the beautiful game. Very slowly.
Now 2 parts rum, 1 part powdered milk and a squeeze of lime…

World Cup Tips

1. The pundits are terrible. Half time needs action – in 15 minutes you can do bottles, washing up, check homework and feed pets.
Read more…

Last of the Live Blogs – Didsbury Festival 5

Last of the Live Blogs

Well that’s the festival done. Not the busiest ever due to the weather, but no less for that. An unexpected bonus was lovely food at knock down prices from 3.30 – so swings and roundabouts.

The live blogging was slightly hampered by first one, then both of the twins succumbing to a bug that would have kept Benny Hill in sound effects for a decade. But then that is what this blog is really about. However, or whoever I was and whatever I did now come second to the needs of my lovely trio. It’s all consuming and is always the priority.

Back to the festival. As far as I could tell… A cat failed to win the dog show, the climbing wall was rained off, Burnage won something sporting and the Didsbury Blues brought the Premier League Trophy.

The fair was great, the kebabs were tasty, the band were superb and I had a great time talking to old friends.

As part of this weekend of community service, FOR YOU. Didsbury Wife and I tried Mojitos throughout the village before coming home to make our own. These were the best.

Thank you for your comments and support this weekend. We have now scraped the top layer of mud from the toddlers. Tomorrow will entail washing a pile of mud splattered clothes that make the floor look like the dressing room at a Rugby League match. The £3 balloons popped.

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Didsbury Dad, Agony Uncle

I never realised how easy it was raising just Didsbury Son until the Mighty-Headed Boy and The Pearl-Topped Princess turned up. Becoming a new father well over the age of 39 and 364 days exposes the physical scars of a misspent youth very quickly and from elbow to knee I have been in agony most of the time. My sciatic nerve is so pinched it looks like Ann Robinson and 20 months of this qualifies me as an agony uncle.
This week my imaginary inbox has been bulging with questions from soon-to-be, new and confused dads. Remember always do as I say, not as I do – one of the few genuinely useful pieces of advice I have given Didsbury Son.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am considering a change of career from something mediaish and successful to loafing about as a freelancer once my partner gives birth to twins early next year. What do you think?

Dear I.M Mad
Are you joking? Ideally look for a full-time job which requires you to be away once a week, cancel all social arrangements until 2019 and before Boots relieve you of any spare cash, buy a shed.

Yo DD
As a former something media and occasionally successful something thingy what do you think?

Good Question. Cafe Nero until they are about 14 months for the baby change, the free babychino and the lovely staff; then Cafe Rouge so they can run around.

Mr Dad.
I have three children – 1, 3 and 4 strange names I know, the wife chose them ( courtesy of Ted Robbins). Will the numbness in my left leg and shoulder ever go?

No, but you’ll stop caring.

Dear Mr Dad
Having children of quite different ages and needs how do you make sure that they all know they are equally loved?

How or why? Soon as Didsbury Son finishes the ironing and the car I’ll ask him.

That’s all for this time. If you need more pearls of wisdom leave a comment or contact me through Twitter @DidsburyDadBlog.

The best advice I can give is apologise most days and don’t hold a grudge. That and a hot Pain Au Raisin and Americano from Nero solves most things.

Next week – live blogging from Didsbury Festival.

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The view from my shed

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My parenting video – a taster clip

Urban Legend, Political Campaigns and an Apology

Didsbury Son is on a scout camp in the middle of nowhere. There will be lots of gung-Ho camping, climbing and sharing small spaces with other people. Thank The Lord for CRB checks and the lovely Scout Leaders who pass them and give their free time to teach him skills for living and learning. The Remembrance Day parade is always moving and their scouting means I don’t have to expose myself to any camping experiences or weekend slumming it in the name of bonding. If I can wriggle out of going fishing, the summer is looking good.

Urban Legend 1: Didsbury is full of focaccia-eating, self-obsessed yummy mummies and daddies. That’s Alderley Edge, we’re only half full.

There are some serious issues that need addressing:
The Stokers Arms’ free lunch offer booked up before I could get my date confirmed. It’s gone from being O’Neills which you wouldn’t want to go near to The Stokers which you can’t get near.

Urban Legend 2: Gourmet Burger Kitchen once had a queue of almost 6 people that stretched to the door before the financial crash of 2008.

2. I owe a big apology to the owners of The MudFlap Cafe in the centre of Didsbury. Their quick Felicini’s demolition and ludicrous early publicity put me off. On the recommendation of several people we braved it… And were a bit bowled over. Didsbury Wife is a water sign, I am Vegan Intolerant and The Mighty Headed Boy gets upset by food beginning with W. No bother. The food was good, the coffee spot on the staff treated us with a welcome throughout that normally evaporates when the first missile leaves a high chair bound toddler or the fiifteenth chorus of Incy Wincy Spider shakes the window. Thank you, we are coming back.

Urban Legend 3: in 2008 a man looked the wrong way on Wilmslow Road and didn’t see a 42 bus for over 8 minutes.

Finally, before festival fever takes over ( It’s only 2 weeks to Didsbury Festival – I love Didsbury Festival, I’ve directed dozens of festivals in many different genres and cities but nothing beats Didsbury Festival on a warm day in June). I want to start a campaign for Pram Lanes in Didsbury. I walked to Withington today (always good to go to the edges of M20 to see what gives and hang out with my brothers from a different mother and school). On the way our double buggy met 3 other double buggies, 16 single buggies, two wheelchairs and a tourist from Chorlton. This entailed much wiggling and stopping to share the pavement whilst the cars hogged the road selfishly.
With prams being such an essential accessory it must make sense for the inside lane to be pram only between 8 and 6 on weekends. All right thinking people must join the fight. Let’s be honest, people were stupid enough to vote UKIP so this might have a chance.

This week we are listening to 6Music, watching Episodes and The Little Princess and getting excited about Wine & Wallop on Lapwing Lane.

Sweet Home Alabama: Do they have a Cafe Nero?

I am sitting at the back of a hot room listening to a man who looks like a refugee from a Lynyrd Skynyrd video. He is telling us about how he is a creative whose job title can’t be defined. How very very creative, his lack of definition is not endearing. I can think of a four-letter word beginning and ending in T but one that is not a pallendrome. This is the first time I’ve been able to drift into a few thoughts for a few weeks. So here comes the splurge.

I have several days in a guilded City delivering something mediaish and exciting. It’s my spring job; annual, stressful in the most exciting way and as with 99% of the careers I have had – does not mix with babies and is a lovely niche.

Normally a few days working away is something I would grasp chirpily, feigning sadness at being able to go to the bathroom without holding at least one child, grimacing at the thought of not being woken by tiny fingers up my nose – you know , the usual. But this time, nothing. Something sinister has happened. Another platitude has reared it’s cliched head like a toy with a primary colour.

When I kissed the children before they left for school and childminder I filled up as though this were some important cup match and they were my team running out to play.
As Didsbury Son mooched down to the bus stop, pitch oscillating and mood following, I had to fight the urge to follow. When my boddlers left I waved them off, turning to the JP Morgan of Catnip for solace as they disappeared by bus and people carrier.

For the umpteenth time this year I surveyed the scene and wondered when all this became mine. Children, plastic weightless and all pervading mess, creaking knees and a cup way more than half full, but probably containing cat food, a toy and baby spit.

Now if I was writing an American dad’s blog I could say they weren’t mine, just loaned from God or Colnel Sanders. If I was not in Didsbury, I could have gone inside, packed and gone to work.

But

I am a Didsbury Dad so I took the only possible route. Coffee at Didsbury Deli, a peruse of The Guardian, a quick discussion about Nido’s new incarnation and then I got blocked in by some rude mother in a people carrier who thinks the school run is Tron.

Silly hat day will be a few days late

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This much I know: I like Bonfire Night not Halloween

As I sail so far past 39.9999 years old that I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall whenever I hear “Voodoo Ray”. As I realise that playing The Cocteau Twins to Didsbury Son is as relevant as my Didsbury Dad describing Vera Lynn as a cracker, this much I know.

SPARE THE CALPOL – SPOIL THE CHILD and ruin the parent

cocteau twins
1. Bonfire Night has gone. It’s the vinyl to Halloween’s download – subsumed by the gaudy nylons and cigarettes of the child friendly marketing monolith to follow the American grey squirrel of a festival. The old fashioned joy of commemorating the attack on democracy and the torture and death of the poor bloke left holding the candle; gone. That simple terror-filled evening when a semi-drunk uncle lit fireworks with a smouldering cigarette then ran like crazy to the Parkin and Heinz tomato soup will be as scratchy as my fake Top of the Pops album from Sykes to the next generation. I think I have seen my last collective dive for cover when a Catherine Wheel makes a dash for it.

Proof - were it needed that Guy Fawkes was a New Romantic

Proof – were it needed that Guy Fawkes was a New Romantic

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American Squirrels picking off our festivals one by one pose a great risk tot he environment.

Sorry Guido and your band of insurgents against the crown, apparently the devil does have the best tune here and we prelude All Souls Day by copying American suburbia. If Thanksgiving takes off we may as well all move to the Costa del So where British traditions are respected.

2. If you are stuck in the house with fractious children of any age, stick them on the sill and open the window. Whether gurgling babies or excitable eight year olds – it’s a winner guaranteed to enchant the neighbours.

3. When something works – do not over analyse. My pearl-headed baby girl has one word, “Daddy”. She chirps it in every situation and to whoever is within view. A little part of me knows this. But there are moments, usually early in the day when I am trying to contain her pre-dawn excitement, when she holds my gaze and my hand and chirrups “Daddy” over and over. In those moments I am beyond gravity. This is where I go when I realise the cost of the childcare.

4. Caffe Nero’s decision to ramp the entrance in Didsbury Village and make the baby change wide enough for a double buggy is a piece of planning genius that buys loyalty, however corporate.

American Squirrels cast envious eyes over our festivals. They beat Bonfire Night, next it's Cheese rolling

American Squirrels cast envious eyes over our festivals. They beat Bonfire Night, next it’s Cheese rolling

5. Despite this serenity I now see pavement-parked cars that block pram access through a red mist far beyond that which is necessary or justified.

6. CBeebies, an iPad and a knife to peel and cut an apple are all you need before 8am.

7. Finding a pub to watch football, then finding they don’t let in children is a guilty pleasure.

8. The key is that I now know I will never again control the remote for the Television. Having lost it to Didsbury Son several years ago for a constant rotation of Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, I am now third in the pecking order behind Cbeebies and my mighty-headed baby’s ability to fit the remote in his mouth.

When they leave home as I near infirmity I’ll get it back. Or as Vera Lynn might say, “We’ll meet again”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivr57dcs9-E

VOODOO RAY – YNN MIX. WHEN THE BASS DROPS THE WALLS COMES TUMBLING DOWN (SIC)

The wisdom of the ages and a large cappuccino to go, Jamie Oliver and Jessie J.

This much I have learned as I sail past 39 years 39 months and a bit extra for winter.

1. Years ago I went to a 60th Wedding Anniversary. It was the 80s and even the buffet was brown. The husband got up and said “When we married we agreed that she (he said pointing at his bride) would be in charge of the small issues and I would decide the large issues – in 60 years there hasn’t been a single large issue”. The audience laughed, I titivated my Morten Hacket mullet but it stuck in my mind.

2. Look after the pennies and you can afford a large skinny cappuccino with an extra shot every now and then.

3. By the age of 40 everyone gets the face they deserve; but not necessarily the house, car or the respect.

4. Counting blessings works more quickly than counting sheep, adding up credit scores can lead to insomnia.

5. Feel the fear and see if someone else will do it for you anyway.

6. Laceless shoes and school uniforms without ties can cover up a lack of coordination and dexterity.

7. All your haircuts will eventually come back in to fashion.

8. Reading everyone’s twitter feeds when you are in babysitting alone can make you feel like you are missing out on life, taking a peek at the sleeping heirs can redress the balance.

9. No dad really knows the answer to 99% of the dilemmas in life – the other 1% relate to football.

10. Most things in life are better after a mooch and a coffee.

Not exactly the Dalai Lama – but he didn’t have to spend an hour tonight singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands”.

PS: other things I have learned include the fact that everyone says potato and no one says “potarto”, predictive text should always be turned off to avoid losing friends unwittingly, we all go through a Jamie Oliver phase and Jessie J was right, but didn’t have to pay childcare for twins.

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Early shots of the costume department for Star Wars 7 don’t look promising.

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A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, quite often a finger in the ear and sometimes a warmer neck than you had hoped for

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