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 “football”

Rites of Passage and Parent’s Evening

Rites of Passage, those life events so beloved of writers, singers, painters and so often packed with platitudes. With new twins passing landmarks on a daily basis it has at times been difficult for Didsbury Son to get his Rites to the front of the queue. Over the last week we have had a glut of them to redress the balance.

The baby laughed. mark the time, the place, the weather and the cat's latitude.

The baby laughed. mark the time, the place, the weather and the cat’s latitude.


Last week he made his team sports debut. It was a magnificent clear winter’s day, he donned a luminous kit several sizes too big for him and was part of a team he had met once before in the dark the previous Monday. His chosen sport (for the moment) is Lacrosse. My attempts to share my love of football have failed consistently over the years.


Everyday I learn. The lacrosse stick is on the right, the mesh on the left is a pre-stringed Lacrosse racket

Everyday I learn. The lacrosse stick is on the right, the mesh on the left is a pre-stringed Lacrosse racket

My two memories of Didsbury Son’s football career consist of turning my back for five minutes one Saturday morning in Fog Lane Park to find him swaddled by adult tracksuits shivering unhappily and… a magnificent tactical performance where he spent a whole hour moving gracefully away from the ball. It was not for him.


His first memory of football is seeing me – eyes staring with two fingers pressed up against the television as the cameras panned to a close-up of the opposition fans. 5 year old Didsbury Son’s only comment, “Daddy, why are you swearing at the TV?”


His indifference is my fault. What I saw as paternal love and exuberance was really the attempts of a dad to squeeze him into static laden shirts, learn pointless songs with refrains that make less sense than a Year 2 song (My favourite was “Tommy Tomato or Have You Ever Had a Penguin Round for Tea – classics) and of hours listening to 5Live drone on interspersed with my yelps. I have learned and am ready for the next two.


So Didsbury Son made his debut in “the fastest game on 2 legs” (sic) and looked magnificent. Didsbury Wife and I stood at the side of the pitch shivering quietly, a baby each for warmth and enjoyed our first ever experience of Didsbury Son in competition. I didn’t shout a single inappropriate comment. I didn’t even try and start a Mexican Wave.

These were rites stacking up by the hour. Lacrosse is not an easy sport for parents to watch initially. He wears huge padding and a helmet. I had no idea which child I was shouting for and the ball is too small and moves too fast for eyes that have long since seen their 39th birthday. Twin Girl loved it. She bobbed around happily using her new found smile to anyone in the vicinity. Whilst Didsbury Son thought this was sibling adoration for him – in time it will be. We are back for training this week and this could be a goer.

We also had another rite – the first senior school parent’s evening. In Junior School they are a real disappointment. For anyone who went to school pre New Labour a parents’ evening was a fearful time when the best one could expect was parental indifference after a night of having all your sins laid out before them. The latent aggression of the teachers was part of the experience. The notion of schools being inclusive environments and of children mattering was as ridiculous as the notion of keeping your record collection in your phone. A bit like going to football these days – they now lack the edge of danger and fear to make them interesting.

This had the makings of an interesting evening. We had the twins with us in an unmanoeuvrable double pram amidst harassed parents and tired teachers. There had been an incident earlier that day. By the time we started I was almost looking forward to a night defending his honour before going home to be disappointed, brilliant.

What did we get?

Caring teachers who actually knew who he was and had considered him constructively. We then had enthusiastic and non-patronising comments about the twins (who barely cried and caused no fuss) and even the catering was worth a second or third circle around the room. Amid the general positivity I felt slightly cheated. They were reasonable, Didsbury Son has been doing his best and Didsbury Wife and I agreed on things and nodded at each other like a team working well together; another rite of passage.


Even the PE department demonstration looked good

Even the PE department demonstration looked good



Halloween, The Trafford Centre and a new perspective

It is half-term. Usually a stressful time as Didsbury Son’s array of Junior Schools would be parading Eid, Halloween, Simchat Torah and World Animal Day in a continuous thread that would delight and utterly confuse him and us. One year we were carving a pumpkin in the shape of a hamster to commemorate the five pillars of wisdom and the giving of the scriptures by Moses; who was a close friend of Iggle Piggle and had played in the Premier League.

This year could not be more different. Didsbury Son has happily sloped off to a friend’s family for a few days without nappies. His phone call (not even calls) was crushingly happy, brief and indifferent. No amount of self back-patting for having such a sociable and self-assured son makes up for the move from absolute need to the foothills of independence.

Birds come to pay homage to the new twins near Llanbedrog. If the gifts are good they are British birds, if not the press will consider them Welsh

So Didsbury Wife and I headed off to the Lleyn; M20 by the sea, to introduce The roundest eyes and head in Didsbury and his sister the new boss – our lovely twins to the sea, the caravan, Llanbedrog and Abersoch. It could not have been more different than previous trips. It was a one-handed, one-hour of sleep, nappy and feeding fest that was wonderful for all the small world, rigid timetabled, dictatorial restrictions three-week old babies can bring. I have never felt so needed or alive even though I barely had time to dress them up for my entertainment or loll aimlessly in the classic male pose, one hand was always around a baby.
I should have understood that my long anticipated new life was already here on a trip to the Trafford Centre with Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son, Didsbury Twins and London nephew last week.
First, the organisation and logistics are phenomenal. I have booked tours and worked on studio shows more simple than getting 2 car seats filled, 2 older children seat-belted and assembling the required paraphernalia in a 60 minute timeframe. Secondly, You don’t need a nanny, you need crew.
After negotiating Didsbury Son’s erratic yet proud double buggy driving through the Trafford Centre (my 697th favourite place in Trafford), whilst fending off London Nephew’s enquiries about which twin I like best… I caved in and paid for them to go solo to the cinema to give them 2 hours of 3D and us 2 hours of question free parenting; bliss.
My normal visits to that place to ease Didsbury Wife’s shopping usually consist of placating Didsbury Son with 20 minutes at Game and Apple before fobbing him off with a Hot Chocolate so I can look at Sky Sports News on my phone.
This time, with sweat beading at my temples and babies beginning to shuffle and wake I went to Mamas & Papas ( it’s a real shop, honestly. I learn every day), John Lewis (same trip, different department), M&S ( starting to seem worryingly convenient beyond the food section) and Baby Gap ( disappointingly not staffed by babies).
Any of these stops would normally have me harrumphing like a teenager but I had a revelation . Pushing twins around in a pram got me the positive attention, queue jumping and ease of service I have only ever had in daydreams.
Although slightly damp and stiff of back – by the time we sneaked 20 minutes at Yo Sushi, where we received a welcome reserved only for people who unlike us, do not spin out 4 bowls of Miso Soup for a cheap lunch, I felt taller, prouder and ready to take advantage of this brief celebrity.
Changing a nappy at 3am over the weekend I realised that there are many things that have kept me up at that time: from the emotional to the chemical – but none of them had ever looked at me with something that was clearly wind, but worth waiting and remembering for a lifetime, and it doesn’t need paracetamol.

Things I have learned sailing past 36

I love watching the immediacy of Didsbury Son’s life. Every new conversation is a best friend, each new pointless American cartoon is a journey of discovery whose ending he has not yet worked out in advance and each moment has a sense of urgency that comes with having the gift of being in the present. There is no cynicism, no sighing (except at comprehensions); surprises and treats of any kind come as surprising treats.

Doing some 40-something dull-to-the-bone reminiscing has proved to be something of a liberation. Whilst all that caring and intensity is exciting it can also be draining and tiring as time goes by. Social Media must make the paranoia of being ” in” even worse than in the 80s and 90s. It’s not sick, not bum. Last week in Tesco two wanna be gangsta teenagers were waxing about the Hoisin Duck Wrap being “bum”.  I thought the rump steak was bum but that is just facetious and I am glad that the major M20 turf wars surround lawns.

So here is my non exhaustive guide to the liberation of being past 36 and having the pleasure of caring deeply, but not about very much.

1. A defeat for my team at the weekend no longer clouds it. I have heard all the gags, insults, 1-4-all and all 4-1 chimes and although I take pleasure in victory, defeat is tempered by having seen it before.

2. Cool underwear. Marks and Spencers’ pants are really  comfy and built with practicality in mind

3. I may fleetingly be lured by the advert for the latest blockbuster but by the time I have taken Didsbury Son to see the latest dancing lion or improbable robot and sat through SJP or Jennifer Aniston’s latest romcom with Didsbury Wife it will be gone and I can enjoy it on my own at home with the cats on FlmFlex.

4. I like cars, have no idea how an engine works and don’t care about torque. Is it cheap to insure and run and childproof?

5. Birthdays – they are lovely but if members of my close family forget a card I reckon it has saved me £2 when it’s their turn.

6. Burning people off at the lights, bad for fuel consumption.

7. Converse trainers- too low on the heel, bad for the arch.

8. Fancy restaurants – overpriced, under portioned and lacking the challenge of all you can eat.

9. School playground etiquette – understanding this is similar to knowing a Masons handshake for the uninitiated.

10. The Weekend. Between taxi duties and domestic ones, Monday night is a relief.

However, what I have learned is that if you pick the right ones, the pleasure and pride you get is increased. So little victories for Didsbury Son at school and play mean more than a good away win, anniversaries of firsts and occasions resonate more loudly and remembering your real friends and family becomes more of a pleasure. So if I can get Didsbury Son to score the winning goal in a cup final on the anniversary of my first date with Didsbury Wife I am sorted.

Top one.




Children , especially your own don’t grate and fanta, chocolate and DS for breakfast seem reasonable.

Those machines outside shops with plastic balls in are enticing.

Ice cream tastes fantastic.

That vertical line between your eyes that gets deeper daily at home seems to shrink

You don’t get acid reflux or sciatica

An exercise class in 30 degree heat being embarrassed in a foreign language is fun.

You laugh whilst washing up

You can read the Daily Mail without feeling uneasy

You agree to social functions willingly; by the time it’s October  and you are squeezed into something uncomfy with someone dull – the tan, the intention and the bonhomie will have gone.

You realise that you do care about the things you worried that you had stopped caring about.

The sunrise is the most beautiful time of day, every day
You realise that you genuinely love your car and then go back to sleep.
Didsbury wife suggests a 500 mile drive to Paris to show Didsbury son the Eiffel Tower and you agree immediately.

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