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 “Dora the Explorer”

Doctor Who and a Perfect Day

Five Go Mad in Murcia

Last week I gained new insight into an old conundrum. My timelines on Social Media and news / phone-ins were full of Jodie Whittaker’s forthcoming re-incarnation as Doctor Who. I understand more fully how those with no kids feel on the first day of school when Facebook becomes home to albums of uncomfy children in starchy blazers. These pictures are of great significance to those involved but utterly dull wallpaper to those not. I have no view on Doctor Who. I’ve only watched it a couple of times (1975 and 2005) and have never been interested. This has provoked outraged shock amongst (usually single and OCD) peers but in my world if you don’t know your Trevor Steven from your Gary Stevens you lack moral fibre, so it’s each to their own. I made sure Didsbury Son was busy when Doctor Who was on and the Didsbury Twins are too young. The outrage regarding a female Doctor was fascinating, some of the arguments to and against genuinely moving. My interest was only engaged as the announcement fell into that black hole that is weekend life between the end of the football season and the start of pre-season friendlies. Gary Stevens or Trevor Steven?
So thankfully, we are now in Spain and a bit like Didsbury, we are in an expensive house near a couple of good tapas bars. I am burning nicely, clasping naps wherever possible. I have a cycle of swim, get too hot, have cold drink, snooze. That is apart from the 17 hours a day this is interrupted by  the Mighty Headed Boy’s one volume fits all and the nice bits of daddom. This holiday is all about learning to swim for the little ones.  Sadly once more overlooked to be the Doctor.

My sunburned English shoulders are replete with the claw marks of an occasional 4 year old water panic. My ears are attuned to the “Daddy can I wee in the pool again?” Shouts and I am having moments of genuine relaxation. This is despite the fact that being in a pool with your children involves you mainly being kicked, jumped on and mildly assaulted for most of the time. Waving, not drowning. 

In three days I haven’t touched the Oemeprozole and since deleting Facebook from my phone and turning on the “Out of Office” I am semi-zen.

Didsbury Son is 16 next week. This is inconceivable. My little Blondini is packed full of ironic comments and “banter”. He has also made friends easily and with such aplomb I am reassessing my wincing response. With as near to calm throughout as you can have with teens, toddlers and parents in one space I have had more time to navel gaze, obsess and promise to never eat crisps on British soil again until my shadow looks more human, less cartoon.

I like the easy rhythm of a holiday in a villa. Breakfast can be anything from 3 minutes to 3 hours and encompass a range from toast to tapas with red wine.

Didsbury Wife is serene. Effortlessly parenting and arguments between The Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly Princess seem less troublesome when you’re overlooking an azure sea, they prove that Dora the Explorer really does teach Spanish and my hardest decision is which factor Sun cream to apply.

Ojalá todos los días podrían ser así.

As I always say.

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. 

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?

Lessons I have learned, although not that well

Things I have learned as I sail past 39 years, 12 months, another 12 months, another 12 months, another 12 months etc. 

1. The difference between Didsbury Son going on a Beavers’ expedition and an Explorers’ expedition is that I am 8 years older. The level of my organisation and Didsbury Son’s planning skills are unchanged. Be Prepared has never really worked for Aston Villa, and they’re adults. Being prepared for a new teen involves last minute panic and bottom lip curling every now and then. It is one of the growing number of moments when you realise you have become your parent, the one who moaned at you for being disorganised – it’s more than genetic, it’s human. 
2. Two year-olds lack of any gender, race, culture and ethnicity bias is a beautiful blueprint (or pink print, either works). The Mighty-Headed boy’s eclectic food, friend and music taste, coupled with his insistence on football shirts, Frozen dress and umbrella is the kind of statement that takes me back to the early 80s. 
A world of reactive tantrums forgotten in seconds would be a far better world in which to live.
3. The clock sprang forward this weekend like an early alarm. As I limped downstairs with an excited boddler on each leg babbling, looking forward to Dora the Explorer and looking out for Swiper I counted my blessings. I don’t know if it was the sciatica, the waft of a nighttime nappy or the rain hammering the windows but I felt quite special. 
4. Easter is one of the few festivals where people studied the Jewish model and realised that the popular catering commands the message. Although does the mountain of boxed chocolate by the entrance of every shop this year seem too over-facing to anyone else?
5. Being a dad does have its perks. I realise that Didsbury Son has reached the age where he knows he is better asking Didsbury Wife for advice and guidance – unless he has time for a pre-millennium reminiscence that veers from the point like a jelly compass.
Next week. Who to vote for this May, how to avoid election fatigue, the secret of eternal life and the story of a normal family with no piles of clothes anywhere in their house. Tune in for more fantasy.

Don’t believe the myths about two year olds.


 A two-year old considers their next kick-off

 I like to think I can be as slovenly and lazy as the next man. One doesn’t always need a tissue for a nose blow and if there’s an easy fob off for the children I say, “Spare the iPad spoil the lie-in.”

Childminders are vital to your toddlers development and I heartily recommend Dora, Peppa and Shaun 0’Sheep who bring so much for a small outlay.
However, there is a response more predictable, lazy and pointless than the people who stared at the twins in their pram as babies and droned “double trouble…” This is “The terrible twos”.
In this house alone we also have the awkward early teens, the slightly stiff and not as flexible 39 XXLs and two cats that don’t like each other.
The twos are not terrible. They are challenging as is each stage. The boddlers can talk (a lot), plead, laugh (a lot), cry (a lot) and it’s all at an utterly instinctive level. Their complete lack of notions such as danger and volume control make negotiating a thought provoking issue. The Mighty-Headed Boy is becoming wonderfully eccentric – a biscuit refusal sees the bottom lip come out like a wobbling drip tray. However, he also has a sense of humour and a mimicked lip out usually brings laughter as the biscuit outrage is forgotten. 
The “terrible” twos are peppered with moments when my Pearly Girl grips me and says “Love You Daddy”, this is the winning the league good on a daily basis and all I have to do is keep the bananas peeled and the Amazon Prime subscription. 
So. There are only 52 weeks of them being 2 years old. We are nearly halfway through. They have already moved out of high chairs and into conversations, out of mush and into shared dinners. 
The therapeutic threes lie around the bend and potty training looms. I’m off to my virtual shed. 

How to sleep like a baby

Last weekend, for the first time since morning sickness appeared next to me in bed I was… Woken by the alarm clock. This domestic mundanity will seem like bragging to anyone stuck in the continuous waah, soothe, wake mode.

I woke in a state of shock, fuddled that 38 minutes of sleep/unconsciousness was not interrupted by the sound a mighty-headed boy searching for a soother or a pearl-headed girl shaking the bars of her cot like a mini-petite zoo monkey.

After a couple of seconds of mmmmmm came the fear.
1. They had stopped breathing. This is a terrible thought and one that people told me I would have. I realise I now lie awake listening for a snuffle, shnurgle or windchime from down the hall before I can relax and collapse to the soothing tones of Candy Crush.

2. They had escaped. Apparently other fathers also believe their children are the most beautiful, clever and impressive – uncanny. I imagined Dora the Explorer coming to them in a dream and showing them how to open the stair gate. I would then find them either playing Minecraft with Didsbury Son, making smoothies in the kitchen or scaring the cats by trying to “stroke” them.

Watching an 11month old baby stroke a cat brings a new level of respect for feline patience and has more in common with a five-year old playing “Operation”.

3. I was working away and dreaming I was at home being disturbed.

On finding out they were still asleep at almost 6.30am I strolled down to make bottles without a shoulder snapping, sciatica inducing start, feeling a sense of elation that showed me just how much my world had shrunk and focused.

Six hours sleep and up on a Sunday morning before 7 warming milk and I was giddier than the morning of my first cup final.

I walked downstairs and suddenly realised that nothing hurt. One night without bending, lifting, cooing and squeezing into unnatural positions round babies and I felt almost 39 3/4.

The rest of the day was a blur of pain-free happy blandness. I could feel creases in my forehead getting shallower as I focused freely.
Didsbury Son swooned as I politely greeted him AND listened to a few sentences ungrumpily. All this, for the kind of sleep that for most of my life would have counted as an interruption and an early start.

It was a friend who gave me the truth. You try everything, you think you have reached the point of no return but they know. Just when you feel you can take no more – they take pity and sleep through.

It’s the law.

Make the nightcap a big one

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