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 “Coffee”

The Night Formerly Known As Parents’ Evening 

30 years ago, September 1986 a revolution started in classrooms, led by 14/15 year olds. This was no Punk ethic, New Romantics had cried their eyeliner away and chances were if you had a beard you were a teacher – not a graphic designer. GCSE Electronics Multiple Choice Question.

In September 1986, inspired by General Noriega and the stormin’ Norman Shwarzkopf, the then Home Secretary was Keith Joseph. He was a man whose caricature was less scary than reality. He killed off O’Levels and unleashed GCSEs ready for 1988 (a very bad year for football). 

30 years on I inherited the garbled, evolved, underwhelming fallout; year 10 Parents’ Evening.* (the school year formerly known as 4th Year).

Didsbury Son is now in the full throes of teendom. He’s still my lovely blondini, only the blonde is now expensively applied and the adoration is squeezed in between bouts of predictable disdain, disinterest and mutual exasperation.
Parents Evenings used to be straightforward. They went out. You panicked and prepared your excuses whilst tidying your room in the hope of clemency. They came back. They unfolded a depressing tale of being sussed staring out of the window, drawing, mooching, skiving and generally being as disappointing as most teenage boys are at school. 

You could then go into school full of venom for all, which fed beautifully into teen angst. ** (apart from your one ally in either art, cookery or RE who had said what a lovely and misunderstood boy you were and you were always attentive in lessons. That is to say the one teacher you fancied and fixated upon).
This was easy. Careers advice was nil, students had no fees and could sign on and signing on itself was a career choice. 
Now it’s all wrong. The children come to talk with you. The night starts with a scare video based on the teenage brain, internet trolls and league tables. There is tea, coffee and biscuits and the tone is bizarre convention. 
Every conversation begins with handshakes and “So… Didsbury Son/Freya/Archie, how do you think it’s going?” This savage form of open questioning throws the over-sugared teens into a panic. They know the answer, we know the answer and the teacher hoping I won’t speak to them knows the answer. What follows is an excruciating dance. The teachers either gush inappropriately or hide their frustration behind anodyne comments. The teens promise to do whatever is needed; and their homework. It is an honest, heartfelt pledge that evaporates into the ether and is as likely to be done as the NHS is to get £350m a day from the government. 
We troop home. Didsbury Son is relieved. With the adrenaline dripping away he reverts to teen-type and instagrams his friends as their versions of the night revert to folklore.
I get home for the last 2 minutes of Europa League football and fall into a deep sleep, safe in the knowledge that the status quo is restored and positive that the biscuits weren’t as good as last year. 

Life on the Farm Day 2

Life on the Farm – Day 2:

We will get to the 3 year olds party later – it’s breach of liberal South Manchester gender politics being stunning but…  Everyone in the country has posh China 
Once I had got over my disappointment that none of The Archers were dropping in for scrumpy and Marry Your Cousin night I relaxed and began to enjoy country life. The 7 year old son of the farmer took me and The Mighty Headed Boy on a tour of tractors, Combine Harvesters (bigger than an average Didsbury New Build) and grain stores. His rugged nimbleness – part goat, part boy made me guess that he had never sipped a Babyccino, but he could deliver a calf and strip an engine. My urbane toddler hoofed his way into the cockpit of a tractor and gurned appreciatively. 

The party was interesting – nearly 3 somethings are the same everywhere. The mums all know each other, communicate hourly on Social Media and had spent weeks of planning and days of craftwork creating a brilliant party. The men turned up and were then re-routed to the pub where we spent three hours. I even drank a pint of Stella quickly to prove my manliness before queasily sipping soda and lime and slipping an Oemeprozole into my peanuts. For the mothers this was another 3 hours solo toddler entertaining, for Didsbury Wife, outnumbered. No talking , just a frenzy of E numbers, accidents and rinsing trousers. We returned triumphantly having bonded and avoided politics (there were southerners) and I did my parental duty feeling lovely middle-class guilt. I also saw a new life – one called the 1970s where men could avoid engaging with their children or making a contribution – it looked a bit beige. To paraphrase Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of Pampers first thing in the morning.”
The guest house in the country was stunning. Run by the non-Jewish, 40 something version of My Didsbury Mum, we were fed home made biscuits and fresh coffee, pampered and generally treated like aristocracy for a wonderful 18 hours.  

   
 But in every life there are battles. There are challenges that must be faced, parapets that must be stood upon. In my life I have eaten a full English or two. I have had porridge, with and without jam to start my day and I have gone to work on an egg. Toast – brown or white? Fruit? Bring it on. Coffee is a great breakfast and on occasion, a hot croissant sets you up for the day. Never have I been faced with them all on one table, in one go. Didsbury Wife and I worked and worked. I cried for trousers with an active comfort waist and eventually, as the last mushroom was chewed – silence. A Pyrrhic victory. We are definitely coming back in a couple of months once we can breathe normally again. The scene is one of carnage –  the local population are in shock.  

The Farmers Boys – In The Country

Sleep Depravation and the IPhone battery

Sleep Depravation shows the extent of the convergence between humanity and technology. I have developed battery life akin to my iPhone. When I first brought the Sleep Depravation 4 just under 3 years ago I just needed a quick sync and full charge every week to ten days and worked in full power.After 3 winters and several depravation upgrades (they’ve got heavier, louder and harder to shush down), this third summer has seen my joints stiffen and my energy plunge as short trips (what in the name of Waitrose was I thinking) to opposite ends of the UK have left the toddlers with on tour timings and tantrums and Didsbury Wife and I so low on juice that even an altruistic induced lie-in only gets us out of the red for a couple of hours. Just like your iPhone. By month 24 a quick trawl through Sky Sports News and its wheezing and out of life. 

I fell asleep in a lift today – it would not have been so bad were I not a) claustrophobic b) in a conversation at the time regarding a creative project. 

I have brought a mobile charger (Berocca), a car charger (Coffee) and plugged into the computer (Sugar). But all I know is that I’m only a 5am Peppa Pig Party away from crashing and was so disoriented yesterday I used an emoticon 😭.

  One pig, 15 apps, 12 ribs in sauce

I’m positively looking forward to my next withering put down by teen boy Didsbury Son; at least he doesn’t need milk or picking up.   

 I was so tired yesterday I tried moving his helmet so I could tell them he’d gone to Doggy Heaven. 

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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