Thursday, 28 January 2010

Parenting tourettes

I consider myself to be reasonably articulate being, well, no one else is going to are they?

And with that in mind, I have always tried to avoid, and regularly use, age-old parenting catchphrases.


‘I’ll give you something to cry about.’


‘Get out of my sight.’

But I do have to admit to using this one recently;

‘Do I look like I have two pairs of hands?’

I had obviously been pushed to my parenting-motto-subsiding limit, and just beyond.

Oh, and I have started saying;

‘Does that live there?’ at any recently grounded, and abandoned piece of clothing.

Not that any of it resonates, or works of course, and I still favour my ‘are you taking prescribed medication?’ at the very evidence of any daftness.

My son seems to understand the jokey sentiment in my regular poser, yet I find scorn when I say it to other people, and particularly their children, some folks seem rather insistent on sticking to the dumbed-down-donkey-travelled slogans

I am a not a big fan of talking down to a child, or consistently modifying language to suit their current vocabulary, but nor do I exclusively insist on expansive and complicated dialogue between the deemed grown, and still growing, human beings.

Time, will and mood can largely dictate how I engage with my child.

Sometimes I give thorough explanations, then, at others, I have opted for another age-old-favourite; ‘because I said so’. However I prefer on such occasions; ‘I need quick compliance soldier, an explanation with be forthcoming.’


But eventually, I hope, that my boy will also pick up a greater grasp of our fantastic language, and the totally charming, and brilliantly annoying ways it can be so eloquently used.

These are protocols I am sure to regret as he becomes even more irritating than me, but, still, I am stuck with being who I am, but, luckily, not [generally] stuck with the ancient and very tired sayings.

Do you suffer with parenting tourettes, and if so, which variety?


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

What sort of man are you?

What does the term; “a man’s man”, actually mean?

I hear it a lot, not particularly aimed at me – shock horror – but about certain men folk, who I have trouble coming up with a common characteristic that defines this term positively.

To me it is just posh for inconsiderate arsehole.

And do not get me wrong, I can do arsehole like the next bloke, unless the next bloke is Elton John of course, but still, I cannot recall being grouped in this genre.

I do not actually know where I figure in the infinitely vast, and complex male spectrum of meathead or nancy, but it was something I contemplated yesterday, after a neighbour gleefully shouted at me “That’s what I like to see, a man, doing mans’ work”.

My dad was over, and we were in the process of making a log store, lugging wood, swearing, losing tools, screwing things together, swearing, losing tools, hammering, swearing, losing tools and operating wood cutting equipment .

I should have perhaps offered this neighbour a diet coke, that, or counselling.

But as I was off in my own little world carefully hammering large nails through several pieces of wood, I recalled a few conversations based on this subject.

Personally, and as a creature of penis, there are a lot of traditional male pursuits I enjoy, and some, while I am perfectly able to apply myself to, find ridiculously dull.

Like the minute I start sawing, or painting for that matter, I. Want. To. Kill. Myself.

Give me a cricket ball, or a hockey stick – more manly than you can imagine – I am happy to have a go at knocking teeth out. Though my military medium tends to get lifted out-of-the-ground, more so than into any face of my opponents, accept the young kids, I reckon I could still smash a few of them.

When building my own house, I was incredibly interested in the whole process of how everything went together, and the timings of it all, but actually doing it is a completely different matter.

Football days out with the lads are still a good laugh, if a little more tedious than they used to be, and I found a stag do in Magaluf last year, something I am now unlikely to repeat, and only partly because of the police orders.

I can be incredibly ignorant and inappropriate, I do not even have to try, but at the same time, well not exactly the same time, I can listen and sympathise.

Cooking is something I do, but I am no fancy chef, and how does that work? The majority of celebrity chefs are men, but cooking at home is not exactly seen as a butch pursuit? Plus, Nigella Lawson, mmmmm, just thought I would mention her.

Anyway, I am sure all this will lead to be being labelled a modern man, which is also rubbish, as my favourite film is from 1977, and there are no batteries in my toothbrush.

But can anyone better define a man’s man?

And for prosperity, my new log store, complete with logs that arrived in just enough time for us to make it, and have lunch afterwards. Very luckyLogistical genius, I say.

Et voila

Makes you want to go 'Grrrrrrr' just looking at it, doesn't it? Or is that a man's man thing?


Sunday, 17 January 2010

No doubt about it

Tara of sticky fingers, and pervy mind - a common combo - who incidentally, never-ever-creates-memes-nor-does-she-engage-with-or-pass-on-memes-borne-by-others, has tagged me in a meme.

This one in particular is about recollecting a song, that reminds you of a certain time, or story.

Tara picked an 80s gem, and regales what it recalls here, while this particular meme originates at Brits in Bosnia.

There is plenty of music that takes me back to a certain time, or that reminds me of a certain event or a specific person. Some really random, like if someone told me once that was their favourite song, I am likely to quickly think of them, whenever I hear it, and whoever they are.

But conversely I do also find myself sometimes confused by my widowhood timeline, questioning whether a song would have resonated around the beautiful ear drums of my dearly departed, or not.

This song definitely did, probably not a lot of times, and in fact, perhaps only once, as she was not a huge fan. But this song, while it probably should not, reminds me of a very happy time, when we were probably at our relationship peak.

We were on our way to a picturesque cottage, for a family holiday, us and our marvellous seven month old child. Life was sweet.

At the time, I was obviously not to know, that a perfectly planned holiday would end in disaster, and that I would return early from it a widower, and my son without his mother.

But, I would say, up until the minute we went to bed on that tragic night, we were so in love, and so happy.

A near four-hour car journey to our destination, with a toddler in the back of our car, had no right to be fun. But we were enjoying what could have been so ridiculously tedious, infinitely comfortable just being our little family alone, however limited our entertainment or interaction was.

There was lots and lots of laughing, we both liked singing in the car, and one of my hilarious gags, was to use my hand as a microphone, placing it to my wife’s mouth, then yanking it away just as the lyrics kicked back in.

Daft, and it led to counteractions, alternative microphones, the odd hand over the mouth, which obviously a driver could do little about.

Our little game.

Which my son and I now play a derivative of.

No, I will never grow up.

Anyway, we had the iPod on shuffle, playing a, sort of; first-to-recognise-the-song-got-to-ruin-it game.

This song, by No Doubt, came on, which neither of us knew very well. It was from one of my albums, so I must have listened to it before, but Samantha probably never had.

Anyway, as neither of us really knew it we actually gave our vocal chords a three minute rest, and sat back to listen to it. Well, it was more like a one minute rest for Samantha. As she suddenly decided that the lyrics, particularly the hook, could have been written about me, and her relationship with me.

She teased me with it to begin with, and I duly played pretending-to-be-irritated, but I totally got her point.

It was a huge compliment, and I took comfort in the fact that she was the person that knew me best. I know there will be the misguided, who will see mythical warmth, or depth, in their partner, underneath all the crap they have to put up with, but in our case, I think it genuinely poignant.

She was so pleased with herself, that she had found a little anthem for her man, and I was delighted to watch her glow, with me – partly – as the reason. My role in our relationship summed up by a barely known reggae pop/rock cross over. Genius.

Sadly it was only my theme tune for three further days, albeit wonderful ones, but for me, it will stay in my head, forever.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Parenting is vile, positively disgusting

As a young, or younger man, I was not known for an ability to deal with things commonly found queasy.

Quite the opposite really.

I was regarded as squeamish, do not know why, other than turning ashen whenever there was a bit of claret about, and, being excused from school safety videos as there was a high likelihood that I would vomit.

But, these things are totally normal, right?

Okay, it is true, while generally akin to a house-brick in most facets, I could genuinely be considered delicate when dealing with the unpleasant.

Not the best preparation for parenting.

However, I was hopeful, like with a lot of other things, when-push-came-to-shove I would ignore my irrational feelings, and crack on with the necessary.

Those hopes were quickly realised, just a few minutes before our son arrived in fact.

I was asked if I wanted to see my child’s head - as he was crowning – I virtually leaped to the action end of the delivery suite, without even giving an answer, smacking my head on the medical spotlight as I went.

My wife was full of emotions, laughing at my misfortune, but also proudly reminding me that I would normally wince at things not nearly as gross as seeing a baby’s head covered in all kinds of bodily fluids, starting to protrude from a vagina, coupled with the aroma of such a scene.

But, it seems, parenthood had me instantly cured of mucky nausea.

And it is a good job.

With my son a little off-colour this week, I have been cuddling him while he vomited, as his comfort is infinitely more important than the phlegm and semi-digested food projected upon my person.

I was never really good at being sick [see above] and as I expect my child to be doing plenty more of that over the coming years, I hope for different for him, thus I believe, my calm intimate comfort may help with that.

Cleaning up the mess, while not pleasant, is not really any worse than ironing. In fact, I would probably take cleaning up sick over ironing, as it is over much quicker.

Events this week actually reminded me of a particular cleaning lowlight, scrubbing recently diarrhea soiled pants in the toilet bowl, while my ill child, desperate to expel urine, gave no warning that my hands were about to get a warm shower. Delightful, but again, I barely noticed the vulgarity of such a scenario, instead chuckled, most likely.

Thus, in summary, parenting for me is totally gross, disgustingly positive, and worth every single pillowcase scrub, bottom wipe or back seat cleanse, a million times over.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Oh dear, did sensei not teach you to duck yet son?

You whack me in the nuts - low landing back fist if we are getting all kick-boxing-technical - and think I’ll instantly forget about it?


My plan, one which I totally acted out with aplomb;

Get out nice and early, lulling you into a beautiful false sense of security by building the most pathetic snowman ever.

Let’s call him ‘vertically challenged’.

Then, lull further by innocently suggesting we go for some friendly snow play with one of your village chums.

And finally.

Snowball headshot.

Have it.

Little Dragon, you have a lot to learn.


Monday, 4 January 2010

A little dragon gives me the ball ache

My son’s second school term has started, and with it, the dawn of a new age.

The age of; ferrying-child-to-and-from-various-clubs-and-activities.

As he hit five over the holidays, my boy has now become eligible for any number of activities and sports clubs, not that he really noticed.

I, however, had duly noted this subtle yet huge change in our lives, and had started to think about the type of things I would like him to do, what I think he would enjoy and what would be of benefit to him.

The schedule has also been considered, and my idea being to keep any regular activity to weekdays, as to not eat into our, normally enjoyable, ad hoc weekends. Friday nights were also discounted on a similar high-likelihood-of-clashing-with-stuff basis, as well as being the night at which he is exhausted after a week at school.

So that basically left Monday through Thursday for any chosen, and agreed, pursuits.

Swimming lessons were the first thing to be identified. Max is very confident in the water, and due to a combination of regular visits to the baths with me, and perhaps more so, with his granddad, he is very nearly swimming without any qualified tutelage.

They start later this week.

But another of my ideas has already come to fruition, with not exactly anticipated results.

Max’s balance is an issue, as is his perceived clumsiness, so I have been thinking about activities that could assist with these. Plus there is his boisterous nature to consider.

These are all issues long on my dwelling agenda.

And the conclusion I came to was martial arts, perhaps making my son into a karate kid would help with all these issues.

I have actually chosen, and convinced him, to try kick boxing. It is convenient, a couple of his friends go and the instructor comes highly recommended.

So my son has become a 'little dragon'.

I very much enjoyed watching him experience his first proper extra-curricular club session. He listened intently, and acted exactly as the instructor instructed. Seemed to focus on what he was saying, and did not get carried away, or go over the top with his punching or kicking.

As I had hoped it seemed very much about balance, and technique. There were children there ignoring these facts, and while their brutish nature bore some fruit, it was those that were more patient and controlled that seemed to do more learning, and ultimately left the session better for it.

A lesson in the waiting.

But a lesson I learnt today, was that height ‘advantage’, can be a distinct disadvantage, when it comes to tackling a 5 year-old with new found fighting techniques. See, due to our height difference, my ‘special place’ is very much within his striking zone, and strike he sure did.

When we go back next week, I am going to check to see if they do lessons for us fully grown folk, I am probably going to need them.