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 tag “Calpol”

The Open University and Trout vs Salmon

I am once again surrounded. To my left, one hand on my earlobe- coughing up a pre-Calpol storm is The Mighty Headed Boy. His pre-sleep tantrum included a sequence that from the couch looked like Michael Jackson moonwalking and had me cursing the fact my phone was charging. It made Charlie Bit My Finger look like a 70s Open University lecture. 
To my right the Pearly-Topped Princess is wrapped around me like the ivy on our new home, only welcome.
Their breathing has not yet slipped down into that unwakeable deepness. I love this period. It filters into all the things men like most about parenting small children (adoration, feeling needed, adoration, quiet time to watch Sky Sports News HQ).
I would love to drop off with them but I am flat on my back and the gentle snoring of a 40-something Didsbury Dad with a chest cold may shake the plaster, let alone interrupt an afternoon nap.
These moments give me time to think through the important things in life. Should I re-install Football Manager Handheld? Is a trout a lo-fi Salmon? What should I have for brunch? Brunch is Didsbury for my lovely wife let me have a lie-in today. So I think I’ll just count a few blessings before I proceed. 

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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. 

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be

How times change. Didsbury Son is a fan of all things Japanese and has decided to master the art of healthy, precise Japanese cooking. Being a supportive Didsbury Dad I tried to convince him that the Admiral’s Pie was named after Admiral Pikachu, Japan’s greatest imaginary sailor and that mashed potato is the original sushi. 

He didn’t believe me, saying I was about as convincing as David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (if you get that reference you are older than you think).
So, as night fell and the rain lashed our early spring we set out to find Nori – travelling through Upper Brook Street, China Town and Oldham Road in search of a Japanese-food selling supermarket open after 8pm. There weren’t any… But M20’s Japan Deli saved the day. I digress.
This trip through the night time centre of the city took me back to my pre-Didsbury Dad days when I lived, thrived, worked and shaped the beating heart of our cultural landscape (bear with me).
The buildings and the city are very different. They are now a Turkish supermarket, a museum, soon to be a restaurant and various other venues, some now flats, done flattened. It made me realise that even the terminology that shapes my life now has altered meaning:
Large-ing it – once a night out, now a call for more wipes as The Mighty-Headed boy has overfilled a nappy. 
Going for an early night – once a euphemism. “She asked me for a euphemism, so I gave her one” now a plea to go into bed alone and not be disturbed.
Loadsamoney – waving your wad from your cash in hand was so satisfying. Now it describes the nursery bill, the food bill, the repairing my iPad screen on a weekly basis bill etc.
Top One, Nice One, Sorted: Calpol, pre-Nursery nappy, the sock pile
Saturday Morning Lie-In: It’s 6.45am and after an hour of head-butting, being kicked like Vinnie Jones and asked for milk, biscuits and Dora you give in and get up. 
A cab home from a night out – I await my instructions as to what time I am to be summoned to drive home Didsbury Son and his mute accomplices. 
As we drove back. I looked at the lights twinkling and one thought filled my mind – is sciatica fashionable?

More memorable than a beautiful sunrise

Three Beautiful Moments

This is the week when it seems everyone I meet is tired, not well, snowed under, stressed. It’s suddenly a month to Christmas, but a break seems a long time away and too long ago. Money, waistline, politics, Masterchef without John Torode. It all adds down. At times like this I count my blessings. Christmas has always been a great time to be Jewish. It’s like a Get Out of Stress Free Card. But much more than this has made me happy this week.
The nights are cold and clear, the stars are sparkling and the rising winter sun casts a peachy bloom over the city at 8am. This weekend I had the holy trinity of parental joy. Didsbury Son featured well in the school play and the whole event was so palatable I hardly had to check my phone. My joy, the briefest of winks from the stage during the bow. I knew what it meant.
The Mighty Headed boy is a sturdy bundle of noisy joy. His urgent “come now Daddy” when there is a jigsaw on the go or a biscuit spotted in the kitchen is conspiratorial in the gentlest of ways.
But the simple joy that dismissed all cynicism and put me in a good mood all day came at about 5.30 this morning. My pearly princess, after a fractious hour of coughing finally felt the Calpol surging through. She sidled across the bed to me so her right side was glued to me and her head was pushed against my chest and sleepily placed her left arm on my chest, falling asleep to her own mantra, “my daddy”.
Sometimes there are things more restorative than a good night’s sleep.

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

Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Travelling with twin toddlers. A simple A to Z.
A. – it’s ace
2 – two soothers, two snacks, two beakers or too late, you are done for.
Z. – toddling boddlers x 2. No chance of Zzzzzs.

Now that’s out of the way sit back, chew on a week-old rice cake and turn off every bass-less plastic teapot, frog, picnic basket and lion; here’s the skinny. I’ll just remove Iggle Piggle from the small of my back.
To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Othello “Rude am I in speech and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace but I can adapt a range of football chants to soothe babies and amuse Didsbury Son”.

In their short lives so far the twins have been on a range of flights, starting at 10 weeks with a trip to Spain. My real secret is to let Didsbury Wife plan and strategise, then do as I’m told. It works. But for those occasions I am in charge I have top tips for travel. (Although many originally began… Tell Didsbury Son to run after them, blame Didsbury Son, feign sleep or cry)

1. Ignore the naysayers. The reaction to taking the twins on a transatlantic flight varied from hushed shock to claims of madness. Flights are free (except for the ubiquitous and unfathomable airport taxes, £28 landing, £11 per crack in the pavement walked upon and £3 for each bottle of water you can’t take through customs otherwise WHSmith would be the new Woolworths. The price of the items too dangerous to take through customs is the first mugging of your holiday.) for the under twos so we worked out we were in the last few months of being able to afford a transatlantic trip unless the government re-direct all taxes to free child care. Did I digress?
Calpol, low expectations, a fixed smile and an apology on the tip of your tongue and bingo, travelling with toddlers is easy AND more easily navigatable than Jazz.

2. Forget your last pre-children visit anywhere. Then, you stayed in a boutique hotel at the heart of the party. You need accessible lifts, storage room, air conditioning, carpets that cushion a falling boddler and dark wallpaper that does not show crayon marks. As we lay in our trendy hotel a block from Miami’s biggest party listening to drum, bass and next door ‘s argument and inevitable, excruciating and thankfully brief reconciliation, I craved the bland open spaces and Multi-channelled impersonality of our Homewood Suites off the I-95.

3. If you drive, they will sleep. When you stop, they will wake. Plan your stops. You cannot pull in for a quick wee/coffee/snooze – it will rouse the team from the depths of sleep to the clingiest screech in seconds. A minor note in the States. I asked where the bed was in the restroom, bad move.

4. Occasionally, the crap snacks we all enjoy are okay to pass downwards. My two have X-Ray vision and bloodhound noses for crisps. Their joy at a bag opened in their direction offsets the middle-class shame at sharing salty treats.

5. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

6. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

7. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool. This is the only hope you have of staying on budget, getting a tan and having a permanent excuse to get away from strangers mistaking you laughing with your family, with having the slightest interest in talking to them and hearing about Indiana. I genuinely had someone ask if we knew Jane Platt.., from London. Of course we said yes before feigning the need for nappy changes all around.

8. Do not be lured in by American waiters feigning friendliness with your brood, it makes not leaving a tip afterwards more embarrassing.

9. Sing. Most people think the English are eccentric (and love Royalty – the planned wedding between Prince George and my Pearly-topped princess was well-received) and being able to change a nappy whilst singing and ordering drinks is the way to happy kids and personal space.

10. Plan ahead. It’s a holiday and the chances are high that you don’t have childcare. The lure of a late night Mojito, ice-cold beer or Hemlock can be strong and you may wake up feeling more woozy than usual. The heirs to your eczema lying next to you neither understand nor care and to avoid feeling seasick have the tools ready to buy you a little extra sleep.
IPad loaded with known games -14 minutes
YouTube nursery rhymes or CBeeBies programme – 19 minutes.
IPhone loaded -8 minutes
Dragon breath slur “sleepy time” – 36 seconds and a potential headbutt.
Bag of crisps and iPad 24 minutes* – the call is yours.

* times may vary dependent on nappy weight and contents

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Sago Mini – I love this more than I should, 15 minutes of relative peace

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Things I have learned – small children like aimlessly walking around paths – you can virtually sleepwalk

Man vs Mucous vs Chalk Bar & Grill

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Queues wearing Sky Blue scarves swarmed in Didsbury to see a babysitter happy to get twins down.

Man vs Mucous
“The best things in life are free.” Love, comps and invites to launches are the three cornerstones of life. Really good fried chicken is the fourth should it be needed. With this In mind you can only shine a weak light on the dark thoughts in my head as I drove past the opening of Chalk Bar Grill with the prescription for my pearly princess gripped in my hand.

Not once did I feel cheated to see Didsbury’s finest sipping chilled drinks and chattering at the opening night party. My only thought was with the little angel lying listless in her mother’s arms waiting for a little Calpol Extra to put her back upright.

My invite, with Didsbury Wife as my plus 1 lies untouched; as does the Mojito I have been visualising all day. But none of this crossed my mind as I prayed that the nursery day ending virus would heal quickly; before we have to decide who can sidle out of work to look after her easiest tomorrow.

Parents of boddlers will know that social engagements lessen as people realise what poor company you have become. Babysitters happy to have twin boddlers are rarer than invites to openings in Didsbury so when they align… Luckily none of this mattered in the slightest as I texted the babysitter to stand down whilst queuing at the pharmacy.

I’ll have to buy my own Mojito

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Opening night invite ship has sailed

10 Ways Becoming a dad changes everything

There are more than 10, most are quite dull but some surprise me. When I first became a Didsbury Dad (well once I’d had coffee, flavoured vodka and some kind of olive oil based poncey bread) a few things clicked into place.

In her just published novel “Animals” (which is superb), Emma Jane Unsworth has a character whose response to a close friend’s pregnancy is “… Another one lost for a decade”. I read this, gulped and nodded in recognition. I have friends who, in my mind are at the end of a phone knowing I’m swamped, happy and knackered. In reality they have scrubbed me off all lists as the ignorant one who dumped them once he had kids. This mirrors my pre-Didsbury Dad thoughts. How busy, tired, obsessed, sappy and dull can you be for a small screaming ankle biter who removes the opportunity for the epicurean nature on which you have thrived? The answer is personal.

1. A big night out: after bath time, I popped out for an early drink at the Fletcher Moss and delayed bedtime until after 7.30 PM.

2. A really big night out: you get a babysitter (double rate for twins) and after the second drink you realise you are exhausted, have little adult conversation and are really wondering if the babysitter would watch the boddlers if you came home and grabbed a couple of hours un-disturbed sleep.

3. An allnighter: the milk, dummy, singing, rocking and Calpol have all failed and you are watching repeats of Columbo whilst reading Incy Wincy Spider on a five minute rotation to a wired boddlers crying and laughing like a prom-night teenager.

4. You go to Boots for creams and lotions, none of them are for pleasure – all of them are medically based.

5. That tune that won’t leave your head. It’s not the one that brought the night to a crescendo – it’s 64 Zoo Lane and you cannot stop humming.

6. You still look lovingly at your partner and think “I hope they are in the mood for an early night” but you mean will you let me go to bed and go in the spare room so I’m not disturbed.

7. You fill up watching One Born Every Minute

8. You suddenly realise how see-through kids are and how much more patient your own Didsbury Dad was.

9. Staying in is the new going out.

10. You start to have opinions about things you have never cared about. Last week there was a seismic shift. The actual topic is irrelevant, it was what it meant. We were watching Master Chef (Big Bang Theory for adults) and Didsbury Wife asked me what I was thinking. All men know that this is normally a cause for concern as you are either thinking about nothing, football, nothing, somebody inappropriate, nothing, whether Eddie Murphy was convincing in “Coming to America” or nothing.
Without pause I was able to share my ideas around a child development issue. Halfway through my speech the enormity of this hit me and I asked for an early night.

Magic Moments, Communal Living and Football

No Privacy but a little bit of Shmaltz

A few years ago I was cash rich and progeny poor. A close friend with three children confided in me.
“There is no hiding place. Once you get home personal space is a Defunct concept.” I nodded with feigned understanding, thinking of the morning I had planned doing… Nothing. They carried on “This morning I had to shut the bathroom door and shout – going to the toilet is not a spectator sport, please leave me alone” for some reason this story stayed in my head. As my Didsbury garden grew with Didsbury Son and then sprouted spectacularly with Mighty-Headed Boy and Pearl-Topped girl it moves from story to prophesy.

In the morning, the crawling-cruising-walking the landing leads to two tottering babies trying to gatecrash the shower and Didsbury Son’s reluctant school preparation. This Dystopian future is my present. The only practical lock here is on a stair gate.

It is a 24 hour cycle of pre-teen identity, post-feed teething trauma and trying to separate Science homework from primary coloured puzzles. There is no let-up. We play tag when work or European football calls but International games, nothing. There are plenty of laughs, but it is constant in a way that even my male-tuned football obsession finds hard to comprehend._

Within this 24-Hour cycle that breeds grey hairs and furrowed foreheads faster than a filled nappy, there are Little House on the Prairie moments. Snatches of soppy, eye-wetting pureness that are more soothing than the Pethidine strength drugs I will need to correct the damage lively twins can do to a spine looking backwards to. 39.

In my life I can think of 3 such moments of pure bliss. The first happened in a previous century when after many many years I witnessed a first and long-awaited Wembley victory. Groping teary-eyed through my Malibu-drenched psyche I sidestepped the pre-Didsbury Wife attachment to sloppily hug my equally clueless friend as we mumbled ecstasies. As we snuggled our then partners prepared their exit strategies.

The second seems a finger click away to me but was with a little Didsbury Son. I awoke one Saturday morning to find my little blondini inches away from my face, waiting patiently for my eyes to twitch open. It was simple and the most beautiful site. The look of delight on his face was far more than I deserved and altered my perception of reality far more than a lost weekend at a festival in 1987.

The third was last night. A combination of teething and tiredness had taken my little pearl-topped girl beyond soothing. She howled from the utterly safe arms of Didsbury Wife and, grasping for sleep she caught my eye. I looked at her wide-open and wide-eyed and realised how lucky I am.

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