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 “Shakespeare”

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

A little Valentine’s love…

Valentine’s Day is a minefield. A wrong call can lead to a night or two on the couch (that’s the naughty step for big boys). It’s all about context and understanding your partner’s take on your “original” sense of humour, romance and inappropriate use of language and intention. Didsbury Wife’s not a Morrissey fan which cuts out a large avenue for an 80s-bred teenager and this year I aim to be careful that my status as New Twin Dad, New Man and Nominee for 2013 Bottle Steriliser of the Year are not compromised by a dodgy reference (or two). My historical research one year led me to write the medieval line,
“I love thee like pie, if thou wert pudding I would eat thee.”
What Didsbury Wife read was “Oy pudding”

We are lucky enough to count the Poet Laureate as a local. So for Didsbury Dads, sons, partners, aspiring partners whatever your intention, instincts or inclination here is some foolproof poetry to get things going.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…
… I brought it on eBay but lets pretend its new.

The ever-popular footrub

The ever-popular footrub

Can I compare thee to a summer’s night
… Thou art welcome relief after a disappointingly cloudy day.

My Love is Like a Red Red Rosé…
Briefly enchanting but not much use when the babies are crying.

You are more beautiful than…
The realisation that the babies have slept through the night and so have you.

I love you more than…
The tasting stall outside The Cheese Hamlet on a Saturday morning or toast with peanut butter at The Art of Tea.

Andrew Marvell knew the value of an elongated Mullet way ahead of Lovejoy.

You are more welcome than…
Peace, an empty inbox and a decent commentary on 5Live.

These can help. But if you really need to crank it up get Metaphysical and go for Donne, Crawshaw or Andrew Marvell. They knew how to write a love poem and how to make the recipient feel that they were the only person in the world. As Marvell wrote in “The Definition of Love.”
My love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high
It was begotten by despair
Upon impossibility.

Good luck. Good writing and if it all gets too much read some Mike Garry (godisamanc.wordpress.com) and be assured that if your heart is honest and your intentions true the right words will follow.

School Plays – A father’s story

Didsbury Son is in the school play. This means a week of tears and tantrums as he won’t let me give him direction or amend his script. Shakespeare – it was written for ad-lib, toilet gag and interpretation. I’ve been to the naughty step, but Didsbury Son’s thespian career throws me a dilemma.

The newest Didsbury Daughter prepares for a career on stage by staying asleep at a photo shoot.

The newest Didsbury Daughter prepares for a career on stage by staying asleep at a photo shoot.

For me, there are few things better than watching Didsbury Son on stage. His final junior school play was a romp. Aided by the fact that they had given up teaching in January and had to fill in from  9 and 3 until July (between ubiquitous theme days – see June blogs), it was lush and  Didsbury Son was brilliant. In Yiddish terms I schlepped nacchus and qvelled. In English, I was proud.
However, much more important than him being brilliant, he was on stage for 90% of the 80 minutes. This soothed my short attention span and meant I didn’t have to spend too long watching other Didsbury sons and daughters.
At a previous primary school the concerts were so bad I used to fantasise that the gushing Headmaster would bring out the music teacher and indict her for crimes against sound.
I am not precious about this. I don’t expect anyone else to be entranced by my little prince and I find it difficult to feign interest most of the time unless they are
A) really bad and I can tell jokes to Didsbury Son afterwards.
B) I’m a blood relative.
C) see A.
The lighting at the play wasn't really condusive to good photography

The lighting at the play wasn’t really condusive to good photography

So to Shakespeare for the under 15s
“All the world’s a stage but that doesn’t mean you should be on it”
“If music be the food of love this is as nourishing as One Direction playing in  McDonalds.”
“Soft you now, the fair Ophelia. Nymph, get the car started this is awful.”
So finding out that Didsbury Son is on stage 2 hours and 25 minutes in to this bardfest is a source of torture and its all my own failing. They are actually quite good and the costumes are worthy of more attention. However, after a day that began at 4am changing an explosion in a Moses Basket that could have seen it sink the original Moses. After a journeythat included enough time on the motorway to count lamposts, I can’t be alone in not wanting to sit on a school chair with acoustics designed under water waiting way past my new bedtime to see Didsbury Son  finally shine like a beacon whilst the audience is fretting about missing Masterchef.
What did we do in these situations before smartphones?
When school plays get too boring I retreat to a happy place.

When school plays get too boring I retreat to a happy place.

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