bookmark_borderModel Parent?

your-idiot-parents-demotivational-poster-1220403854

A few of my colleagues here at work are expecting babies in the next few months, so being the man (father) of experience I have been passing on my fatherly wisdom. When I took my first born to the crèche he wouldn’t stay there, he clung to my leg like a limpet mine and I’d have to shake him off and run like hell before the crying started. There was this game the staff and I played – distract First Born and whilst he’s distracted slip away…  Of course it’s nice (I think!) to be suddenly wanted + + + but I had to go to work and at the time children and Intensive Care Units did not mix.

So I resolved, after lots of tearful mornings and guilt trips about being abandoned in crèche from First Born, that I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. When Second Born appeared and was ready for crèche I built it up, I told him how exciting it was going to be, he’d get to play with all the toys, make a mess and have great friends, I made a big big deal of it and when the first day came for crèche he was so excited and looking forward to it. I dropped him off and he ran away to play…

Problem solved and I patted myself on the head.

Or so I thought.

About two weeks into his time at the crèche the manager pulled me aside one evening and said the following “You know, I’ve worked in this crèche for 15 years and your child is the first one, in fact the only one, that’s ever cried when his parents come to take him home…usually it’s the other way around, they cry in the morning but your child runs into this place and doesn’t want to go back home……………” she said this rather suspiciously….

Damn. It looks like I had overdone it. She looked at me like she ought to be reporting me to Social Services… I explained what I had been doing but still… I think she never stopped being suspicious of me… So the lesson here, dear friends who are soon to be parents, you can’t win.

Ever.

But you can get even….

Leaving your kids off at school is always interesting, during the first few years they always cling to your legs and make you feel bad but then at around year five it suddenly becomes uncool to walk to school with your dad and suddenly they start to run ahead before you actually reach the school. At first it’s just at the school gates, a quick snatched ‘bye dad’ and off they run but then as time passes they run ahead at increasing distances from the school gate, anything to avoid being seen with dad..

And then they start secondary school. Here something remarkable happens. On day one you take your ‘relatively’ sweet and innocent child to school, all presented neat and tidy, school uniform worn correctly, shirt tucked in and top button done up, tie worn correctly, hair nice and neat …and somehow there’s is a remarkable transformation over the first day. You met them at the school gates and you don’t recognise them, they look a mess, like they been in a car crash but the big big transformation is in the voice – suddenly that sweet innocent childish tone has gone and now it’s all deep manly grunting.

In the previous June they were kings of the castle in junior school, everyone was smaller than them and childish but suddenly in secondary school they are surrounded by some really big bruisers and they desperately want to fit in. So out goes talk of collecting Dr Who cards and in comes talk about rap music on Youtube and the most unsavourly computer games. From now on you know the shirt will always hang out of the trousers and the tie will never ever be done up properly, you know that ‘street creed’ is now hugely important and talking about Telly Tubbies or even Action Man is verboten because they are in a rush to be men.

Of course, being somewhat mischievous of nature, I look upon this as an opportunity to reek revenge on all those years of clinging to my leg like a limpet mine and all those guilt trips from First Born. Now when I drop the boys off at school or pick them up I make a point of calling them ‘darling’ in a very loud voice, especially when they are with their friends. It’s great, it’s even more fun if you try hugging them in front of their friends and telling them how lovely it is to see them..  This ‘probably’ is quite evil of me but I’ve been doing it for a few years now and when it’s pouring out of the heavens I make an effort to drive there and pick them up, their joy at seeing me is tempered by the knowledge that I will indeed called them darling very loudly and they will cringe..

However, their school mates have started to cotton on to my little game and they all realise that really I’m just doing it to embarrass them, they look upon my boys with some sympathy and tell them “your dads a lunatic, isn’t he?”

So now I’m starting to think what else can I do to play with them at school, they are nearly always the last ones out through the school gates – too busy chin-wagging with their mates and leaving me standing there…  So I was in Sainsburys the other day getting some shopping and I saw some really nice ‘daddy’ slippers, you know, those checked ones… and it suddenly occurred to me – what if I was standing outside the school gates in my slippers… I wonder just how quickly they would appear..I reckon they would be first ones out in the entire school…I’m VERY tempted…

You see, why get mad, when you can get even… 🙂

bookmark_borderSquirrel Porn?

I’ve been having ‘issues’ with my internet connection since the start of the year and had various blokes from British Telecom come and suck their cheeks in and try to fix my line. It seems my line goes over the roof of the building and the local squirrels have been interfering with my internet connection. I find this somewhat bemusing, I have an image in my head of some grey squirrel sitting on the top of my roof with a laptop downloading squirrel porn and getting right narked off because I have put paid to his nocturnal activities. In much the same way one can buy squirrel proof bird feeders I’m in the market for squirrel proof internet connection as I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the little bleeders hack into my system again and starting syphoning off my internet feed.

I don’t have much luck with wildlife – which is surprising as I have two teenage boys and therefore should be well versed in raising wildlife. In fact I don’t really do well with any animals, a long long time ago I worked at Battersea Dogs Home. I lasted four hours….yes, a whole morning at Battersea Dogs home. I pitched up and they gave me two pairs of wellies and three teeshirts with Battersea Dogs Home logo on them and set me to work. it all seemed to be going OK until they asked me to clean out the cage with the crazy German Shepard, I looked at it and it glared at me and I thought no effing way am I going in THAT cage but the bastards pushed me in and shut the cage door immediately afterward.

I was absolutely fine for oohhhhhhh two point five seconds where-upon the crazy dog leapt at me and sank his teeth straight into my left wellie! So I obviously tried pulling him off and at the same time hobble out of the cage but this brute wasn’t having any of it, he sank his teeth into me even further and I was in agony so I grabbed my brush and started hitting the crazy bugger over the head trying to get it to release me – and the other staff got incredibly annoyed with me as I hit him over the head with my broom trying to make it let go of my leg, quote “don’t hit him, you’re hurting him!” as he sank his fangs further and further into my leg…funny that…eventually I managed to get the broom handle inside his jaws and sort of prise his jaw open and then in a deft move shove it down his throat whilst I reversed at great speed out’a the cage..

The staff were pissed with me – as if I forced my leg into the bloody dogs mouth… I went and got some bandages, a tetanus shot, went home and never came back but at least I got three teeshirts and two pairs of wellies out of them, pity one wellie had teeth marks..and blood..

However, after that little exercise in meeting my nemesis I thought I deserved a quieter life and got a position in the local library. Then one day a couple of chickens walked in and went;

“Buk Buk BUK”

I thought about this for a few seconds and decided the chickens wanted three books, and promptly gives them some. Without further ado, the chickens walk out. Around midday, the two chickens are back and looking quite annoyed. One leans over to me and says…

“Buk Buk BuuuuUUK!”

I decide that the chickens want another three books and promptly give them some more. The chickens leave as before. About an hour later the two chickens march back in, looking very angry now and nearly shouting…

“Buk Buk Buk Buk BuUUUUKKKK!”

I’m starting to get worried now about where all the stock is going so I give them three more books but also follow them and find out what’s happening.. I followed them out of the library, out of town, and into to the park. At this point, I hide behind a tree, not wanting to be seen. And then I see the two chickens throwing the books at a frog in a pond, to which the frog just kept repeating, “Rrredit Rrredit Rrredit…”

bookmark_borderAnimal Farm

It's your turn to walk him!

When you work as a nurse as I did in my previous career you notice odd little things that mere Muggles don’t, there are certain rules that most of society adheres to but you won’t find this in a nursing manual or a social work book, I call it the ‘inverse pet wealth’ rule. This is a blatant generalisation but ask any community nurse who’s got more than one days experience and they will nod their head sagely. Broadly speaking, the lower the socio-economic group you belong to, the more pets you will own. When I did my community nursing I spent a few weeks in Purley, South of London, a very well-heeled area, large driveways, big houses, well-manicured lawn and well-manicured ladies and no pets, definitely no cats, but perhaps the occasional small expensive pedigree dog, a show dog, never a huge brute of a monster with snarling teeth, never some rescue dog from Battersea Dogs Home, always a dog that was easy to carry in delicate arms, one that didn’t clash with your expensive clothes, one that wiped it’s own butt after a dump.

However, I spent the following few weeks in Thornton Heath, grotty housing and council high-rise tower blocks, the sort of place that required a police escort when you were with the mid-wife and you needed to go check someone’s stitches.. You didn’t choose to live there, you were sentenced there, forget Guantanamo Bay, this place makes Guantanamo Bay look like Butlins Holiday Camp. I was sentenced to live in student nurse accommodation there for a number of years, it makes my current dive seem like a mecca in comparison – and that’s saying something. But, the  interesting thing was, at every single house the mid-wife and I visited, there were numerous children and even more pets, none of them pedigree, (including the kids), all of them of mixed origin, (again, including the kids), all of them running wild and most gnawing at my trouser legs for good measure (again, including the kids). It was the sort of place that even if you could find a space to sit down on the settee you didn’t want to because you would stick to it and get up dirtier than when you sat down. And no matter what, no matter how hungry you were, you always politely turned down any offered food or tea incase you got botulism. Or worse.

And the other rule community nurses and midwives will be aware of; the higher up in the tower-block a family lives, the more pets they will have. The bottom floors are always elderly, long suffering couples, they will not have any pets as pet food is too expensive on a pension but they will have nice curtains and window boxes bursting with flowers, they will know their neighbours and be up at dawn making a cuppa tea and reading the morning newspaper. But go up higher than the first floor and it’s like a bloody farm, I’ve been to the 13th floor in Kuala Gardens (odd name for a block of flats!) and it’s like a friggin petting zoo; dogs, cats, gecko’s, birds in cages, birds not in cages, cats chasing birds not in cages, dogs chasing cats, toddlers chasing dogs, father sitting in armchair reading the Racing Post, wouldn’t surprise me if a pony came out of the bathroom.. “I hope ya flushed that bog!”, actually ponies in tower blocks are not completely unheard of if you live in some parts of Dublin and occasionally you’ll get a donkey in a hotel room too, this story is hilarious and true.

I can pen all this with some confidence because I have insider knowledge, I was brought up in one of the roughest, toughest council estates in Northern Ireland and consequently lived with my own menagerie of four legged furry friends, not all of them my six brothers and two sisters. Growing up in what seemed like the cast-offs from a Doctor Dolittle film set, we had a large range of pets, mostly cats and dogs and once the younger brothers reached school age they started trading mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits with their school chums. One friend had a pet snake, thank god it wasn’t a breeding pair, my youngest brother suggested we cut it in half and take one half home because when you slice worms in half they continue to live.. I just about stopped him from doing that.

Cat TV

We had a cat that was partial to sitting on top of the gerbils’ cage and tormenting them, we called it ‘Cat TV’, it could never get in but I think it was just praying to some great cat god in the sky that one or two would manage to escape one day. Personally I wondered who should actually be in the cage, the gerbils or my younger brothers. Then Terry, my younger brother came back from school one afternoon and the cage was empty, there was no sign of the gerbils – or the cat. The cat’s prayers had obviously been answered. After five nanoseconds of tears, Terry went out and got two hamsters from his school friend. There’s an episode of Star Trek called The Trouble With Tribbles and it’s really a homage to hamsters everywhere because as far as I can see, all hamsters do is eat, shit, masturbate and try to shag your leg when you’re watching the telly. I’ve no idea where hamsters come from, man must have invented them because there is no way they could survive out in the wild, they have absolutely no brain cells and no survival instinct, I think the whole ‘shag anything that doesn’t move’ and ‘shag anything that does move – just to be sure’ strategy is the only way hamsters have survived for so long, they breed ferociously and it’s safety in numbers me’thinks. And then there was the rabbits, they followed a similar ‘safety in numbers’ strategy too, every time I looked in the rabbit hutch they were at it like…well, were at it like rabbits, I think Mr Duracell got the idea for his advertisements from our rabbits. A rabbit’s life may be short but believe me, it’s sweet. Between thou and I – I’m deeply jealous!

bookmark_borderThe Urban Jungle

There’s not much demand for moose experts in Tooting, SW London. It’s a shame really as I’m getting to be quite an expert on them, I can tell you they are very dumb animals, they don’t really sleep for long periods at night, they are kack handed or should I say kack pawed, clumsy, ungainly, uncoordinated and very noisy, basically they’re cows with antlers and they make baying noises when mating. I know all this because I have one living in the apartment above me. Well, at least that’s the only explanation I can think of for the weird noises that emanate from above at all times of the day and night. I hear Mr Moose crashing into furniture and knocking things over at some very late times and then he’s at it again at six in the morning. Occasionally I will hear grunting and baying as it’s obviously rutting season and I’m seriously considering renting out my flat to some BBC Nature Unit with David Attenborough in tow.

I checked that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, and it seems there are anywhere between 500,000 and 1, 000,000 moose in Canada, and 115,000 in Finland but I’ve had to adjust the entry for the UK from zero to one mating pair. Rather interestingly, I note that the triangular warning signs common in Sweden, Norway, and Finland have become coveted souvenirs among tourists travelling in these countries, causing the road authorities so much expense that the moose signs have been replaced with image-less generic warning signs in some regions. I suspect that’s what’s happening here in Tooting too, I’m sure there were warning signs up everywhere at one stage but they are nowhere to be found these days and I blame the tourists.

And then there’s the walrus that’s taken up residence in the flat downstairs. He snores a lot!

Moose (and the occasional walrus) aren’t the only wildlife we have here in Tooting, we have a menagerie of other wild animals though thankfully most of them are locked up in school classrooms from 8:15 to 3:30 each day. However, we do have some very cute city foxes, and these are often visible from my flat window. Most folk in London get irritated by the city foxes that do much the same job as raccoons in the States but I don’t mind the foxes that much, except when they are fauxing in my back garden where-upon they make the most god awful racket, like two Bobcats fighting. I have actually spotted foxes in Leicester Square early in the morning which is kind’a like spotting a moose in Times Square in NYC. I can’t think where they stay during the day, there’s no derelict buildings anywhere nearby and the parks are too far away, I can only assume they do what all other Londoners do and catch the tube in during the evening before returning to the suburbs in the morning.

It’s interesting to think that a city the size of London could be so full of wildlife but one does see some strange sights. Last week a lemur was found nearly frozen to death on Tooting Common. Yes, you read that right.

Tooting's newest resident

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16125673

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2072110/Lemur-London-riddle-Madagascan-lemur-Tooting-Common.html

I DO hope you can see these links above. I’m telling you, this place is like Noah’s Ark and it’s the perfect spot to film Madagascar 3, the director wouldn’t actually have to import any animals, he could just point a camera in any random direction and Bob’s yer uncle, movie made.

bookmark_borderDo onto them, before they do onto you

Made for breaking.

Some folk manage to bugger up their kids lives with almost zero effort but not me, I have to work at it really hard. If you work for Wandsworth Borough Council Children’s Welfare Services then look away now. You see, I have this strong belief that it’s important for my kids to grow up with a sense of fun and know that all adults aren’t boringly ummm adult all the time, occasionally (or frequently in my case) it’s good to have some fun. Consequently, I look upon it as my solemn duty to torment the fruit of my loins at every single opportunity, and trust me, I do exactly that all the time.

Tonight I’ve been with both of them to their college to find out about their ski-trip in Feb/Mar and more importantly, just how much I am going to have to flog one of my kidneys on ebay to pay for it all. So considering just how much I’m paying out for this trip I think it only fair that I should extract as much fun out of it possible… Tonight the organisers showed the hotel the beasties will be staying in and what do you know, it’s straight out of Amityville House of Horror…excellent.. So, two nights before they leave for the trip you wanna guess exactly which movie we will be watching?  I say two nights before because the night before the trip I have already planned our viewing, it’s going to be one of those airplane disaster movies like Airport 77 or something..

Tormenting my kids isn’t a new thing, I’ve done it all their lives because it’s important they know what a crazy idiot their father is – plus it’s payback for all the nights they kept me awake when toddlers, and like all parents, for all the nights they will keep me awake worrying about them for the rest of my life. Occasionally when I drop them off at school I will shout Bye-Bye Darling at them in a very loud voice just to make them cringe, however, I think all their friends have cottoned onto that one and know I’m a nutter.. I must try harder..

We play this game when they are here with me, when one of them goes to the loo then either me or the other rug-rat (usually me though) will creep out and stand really close by the bathroom door and as my son opens the door I let out a huge RAAAAGGGHHHH!! which scares the be’jesus out of him. I would say scares the shit out’a him but it’s too late for that. He’ll yelp loudly and shout DAD!!! and then laugh, more in relief than anything else if truth be told but I think it’s good to get their hearts pumping occasionally. I did this once to the youngest one a few years ago and caught him out; he let out a huge shriek like a little girl and literally jumped across the bathroom floor. The other son and I couldn’t stop laughing, we had tears running down our cheeks…ahh those where the days, although, between thou and I, I’m wondering just who’s going to be paying all those expensive therapist bills the boys will have later on in life!

I fully intend to carry on exactly like this because there are some things my boys need to understand and one of the most important things is that there are no rules, really, there aren’t any, if something feels right and  is fun then go ahead and do it and don’t worry about what anyone else will think. You see, my father had absolutely zero interaction with me and barely acknowledged my existence, I have this role model of distance and absolutely, completely no fun, and therefore I have the perfect example of how not to be a father. I have no excuses, I know what it’s like to have zero input and that’s why I give my two beasties lots of input and have fun with them – some may say the pendulum has swung a bit too much the other way, a bit too much input (especially them!) but these are the important things in life, having fun and who gives a stuff if other adults think it’s childish or immature, we only get one chance to screw up our kids lives and by jolly, I’m going to do my level best to do exactly that, isn’t that right boys? 😉

bookmark_borderPre-empty Nest Syndrome

When I was in my 20’s I remember thinking ‘Wow! my 20’s are a great age to be, I can party until dawn and still go into work’ (a bit subdued thou) and then when I was in my 30’s I thought that really was the best age to be, my world had expanded hugely, I had started to travel and explore and not just externally but myself as a person, so being thirty was the best age to be…at least until I hit my 40’s and then that was the best age to be, kids meant my life seemed to be in real 3D unlike the shallow 2D life I had in my 20’s..

But now I’m starting to think that fifty is the best age to be….probably definitely! When the kids were 7&5 then it was impossible to leave them alone, I had to take them everywhere and rightly so. I couldn’t even nip out to get a pint of milk from the corner shop without dragging them out with me. Everyone with kids under the age of 10 will recognise this, you just can’t leave kids alone by themselves (despite Home Alone) and there’s other issues, you can’t go to the movies without them and you can’t watch scary movies or movies with complicated plots because the kids won’t get it and conversations can be a bit ummm childish (but sweet).. I suspect all ages have their good points and not so good points..

However, I know at sometime in the future that the kids will fly the nest, go to University and then (hopefully) make a life for themselves and this is when everyone mentions ‘empty nest syndrome’. However, my beastie boys are now 14 and 12 and it’s okay to leave them at home and know they aren’t going to burn the place down or smash the place up and I can watch movies with complicated plots and they seem to follow it better than me. Now I can take them to concerts to see groups I actually want to see (though they haven’t learnt to freak out and scream their hearts out at live concerts yet).

I can even have interesting conversations with them, I know some parents complain about their boys going into the ‘grunt’ stage as teenagers, they go all non-communicative but not if you talk to them about things they are interested in and as they get older then those interests seem to be tallying up with mine so conversation improves rather than deteriorates. I think they are looking for male role models at this stage, I’ve mentioned before that when under ten the boys seemed to be closer to their mother but in the last few years it’s been noticeable that they chat more with me, they gravitate towards me and seem to speak more with me than they did when under ten and I’m actually quite enjoying it.. This is what it’s like to have kids this age and I call it ‘pre-empty nest syndrome’. the beastie boys were fabulous as kids but they are getting more and more interesting and engaging as they get older and I feel my life is not totally focused on their lives but I’m starting to have time for ‘me’ once again.

I know proper empty nest syndrome will occur one day in the future but for now it’s quite nice, I get to be with the beasties part time, they come to the shops/cinema/GoKarting/Paintballing with me and I can still leave them at home with their books/computers/games when I want to go visit Anne Hathaways cottage. I find I have more freedom and flexibility now, I think I get the best of both worlds, I had the boys 50% of the time over the summer and got to go be sociable the rest of the time. When I wander around the park and see couples with their very young children I think it was a great time but I’m quite content to have the kids at this age, it give me a lot more freedom and my social life has improved, I no longer hang out at other couples houses talking about their kids but can now hang out with a wider range of friends and explore further afield. At some stage I will be able to go off for the weekend and leave them at home – of course they will trash the place and have continual parties and go into a cleaning frenzy as my car arrives at the driveway but they won’t have figured out that that’s also what I’ve been doing all weekend, out having fun too. And I’m wondering, at what stage will they be standing outside the front door with a scowl on their faces asking just where have I been to this time of the night.. yes, fifty’s definitely the best age to be – so far!

bookmark_borderMy life is complete. I have transmogrified into my friends parents.

Dear kids. You will think I’m making this up but this is what your father’s life was like when he was 19. Rather than simply downloading a movie from the net or from Netflix/LoveFilm like we do today, in the seventies a movie would be released in the US and then more than a year later it would get released at home and all our gang would go to the flicks to watch it. There was no instant gratification those days, we’d see movies advertised in the newspapers and read reviews but it would take about a year for them to come across the water to the UK and then slowly seep back across the Irish Sea to Ireland once everyone’s appetite was exhausted in the mainland.

We learnt to be very patient in Norn Iron.

I loved going to the flicks with my gang, sometimes there would be a dozen of us, I was part of quite a large bunch of some great guys and girls, we’d take up a whole row in the flicks and have excellent fun messing around and general tomfoolery. There are some things one needs to remember when at the flicks kids; never pass your bag of sweets to your neighbour and offer him one, for by the time that bag of sweets went down the row and back up there would invariably be none left. The other important thing to remember was to not trip on the stairs whilst going to get more sweets/coke because the entire cinema would laugh as you fell on your arse in the dark. Fortunately I was so embarrassed that I was able to find my way back to my seat due to my face glowing bright red.

At about this time, in the late seventies, home video recorders became cheap enough for the average muggle to afford one and Trevor, one of the better off in our gang was the first to get his grubby little mitts on one. It was a BetaMax video recorder because he was a purist and he wouldn’t touch one of those inferior quality VHS video recorders – a decision he was to regret a few years later – or should I say his father would as it was him who actually bought the damn thing.

The local corner shop started stocking a selection of VHS & Betamax movies and I know you kids will find this hard to believe but sometimes you’d have to wait about two years before the a movie came out on home video.  Then the shopkeeper could only afford maybe one or two copies of the latest (two year old) movie and we’d have to put our name down on a list and wait until we could watch ET The Extra-terrestrial in the comfort of the living room.

However, if you were friendly with the shopkeeper (and weren’t a cop) then he might rent you one of his adult movies he kept under the counter – well, I mean other people of course, not Trevor nor I because we were goodie two-shoes.. but apparently the shopkeeper made lots more money from renting out adult movies than he made from the rest of the above counter selection.  It’s a bit of a truism that every new technology is driven largely by smut.  A big attraction for Polaroid and then digital cameras, some believe, was the ability to take bedroom photos without having to take film to the snickering teenagers at the chemist. And a force behind the rapid spread of VCR and, later, DVD sales was the ability to watch adult movies without being seen at an adult theatre and it was the porn industry that first worked out how to make users pay online for streaming movies and discreetly acted as consultants for more legitimate business.

So, in 1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie was released. This was a series of spoofs, akin to all the Airplane movies but this didn’t even have any common thread between the sketches.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076257/

It was extremely politically incorrect, would be considered unbelievably shocking in 2011 and no-one would ever contemplate making a movie like that now. It’s interesting how attitudes have changed since the seventies. However, when it eventually came out on video Trevor booked it and one Saturday evening about ten of us piled around to his house to watch Kentucky Fried Movie on his dads new video.

Trevor’s parents were out for the evening (or so we thought), so we got popcorn/sweets and even some alcohol and settled down to watch the movie.  Now, I don’t have a copy for reference but about halfway through the movie there’s a spoof scene involving a couple getting down and dirty in the shower and a pair of boobs pounding against the opaque shower-screen. It was exactly when this scene was on that both Trevor’s parents un-expectantly  walked into the living room – looked at the tv with the boobs – went TREVOR! OMG! and walked out – and as they walked out of the living room the boob scene finished, they couldn’t have timed it more perfectly, a minute earlier or later and it was just a comedy movie but what are the odds that they would walk in as the boobs were on show? We laughed but I could see that Trevor was going to be given a hard time about this from his parents.

I had a moment like that the other day.

I was watching Bad Teacher

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1284575/

starring Cameron Diaz  and Justin Timberlake and foolishly assumed that with these two mainstream stars in it then it would be suitable for 14 & 12 year boys. Next time I shall read the reviews and check the MPAA ratings first.

I went into the kitchen to cook lunch and after a while I came back into the living room only to be somewhat shocked to see a doctor examining two naked breasts on the screen and explaining to Cameron Diaz how much it would cost to have implants to make her boobs look like that. Trust me, two breasts completely filing a 42inch plasma screen is quite a shock when you’re least expecting it! I suppose I ought to be grateful that they weren’t actually pounding against the showerscreen..

So it seems the circle of life is now complete, what goes around, comes around, I have transmogrified into my parents – or to be more accurate, I’ve have transmogrified into Trevor’s parents. I knew exactly how Trevor’s mum and dad felt all those years ago when they found us watching what they thought was an adult movie – it was like OMG! What on earth are you watching and I immediately switched off the movie and the boys did a runner back to their computers.

Now, here’s the thing, Trevor and all us lot were about 19 and I suppose adult enough to view such material (despite being hormone loaded sex starved teenagers) but I’ve checked my Raising Kids manual, you know, the one that every parent gets included with the birth of their kid and the relevant pages are (once again) blank, it seems I have to fill in those pages myself.

So what do I use as a guideline? As a kid at that age I was totally uninterested in sex, I barely knew there was a difference between the sexes – this was 1970’s Ireland after all – and sex education was a term never uttered in our school or even in our home. So I have no model to follow and asking the guys at work is no use as all their children are much much younger – and all girls.

The boys get sex education at school – formally from their teachers (and I’m sure informally from their friends) and I have conversations with them about sex and actually question them about the whole reproductive cycle to make sure they have it all correct (sorry boys, blame my nursing background for that!) and excuse the pun but I don’t want to ram it down their throats.

But here’s the thing, I know that between now and 20 years old both boys will take an interest in the opposite sex and it’s how to make that transition, that journey from here and innocence to there and complete comfort, as a father the last thing I want to do is encourage an interest in sex until they are ready, I have memories of my older siblings encouraging me to go get a girlfriend when I was that age and I wasn’t ready or even interested and at the same time I don’t want to completely ignore sex as my parents did with me.

So it’s finding what’s acceptable and what’s not when you’re 14 and 12, and the goalposts have shifted a hell of a lot since I was that age. Then sex was out of the question, culturally, religiously and morally, if by some miracle someone actually alluded to rumpy-pumpy on the telly then our parents would switch channels over until they thought it was over – amusingly they switched the channel over one evening and on the other channel was a nature programme showing a couple of deer going at it ten- to-a-dozen, then there was a great frenzy as me ma switched channels  again trying desperately to find a channel that wasn’t showing sex, and as it was 1977 and we only had three channels then the choice was limited and the telly was switched off!

And what is acceptable for a 14 & 12 year old? I realised after the event that I perhaps should not have said anything, at least at the boob display (even up close and personal on a 42in plasma screen –  imagine if I had one of those new 3D screens!) but I was caught out, just like Trevor’s parents and I was taken aback.

We only really get one chance to get our kids childhood right, we rarely get second chances and I’m wondering just how one handles sex on the telly at 14 & 12 in 2011, it does seem that kids, particularly girls are much more mature than we were at that age (I’m sure that’s exactly what my parents thought of me when I was that age too) but I think I have wandered into a grey area of parenting, I don’t want to ignore sex with regards to the kids but at the same time I don’t want to make it a big deal either and it’s where to draw the line at this age that’s difficult to judge, there’s only a few short years between now and when the boys hormones are driving them nuts and I’d like to handle this as best as I can but from now on I’m going to read the movie reviews, especially the MPAA review, before we settle down to watch a movie.

And then there’s the issue of swearing… and violence and drugs and god knows what else… oh what joy it is to be a parent in 2011..

bookmark_borderLondon riots.

London was quiet last night, watched dozens of police vans heading off to Wimbledon which was the next target according to police intelligence. Wimbledon was completely saturated with police and locked down tight. Was probably not a good idea to pop over there last night wearing any sort of hoodie or be 14.  Bit of a shame really as I was thinking of heading that way and watching a movie with the beasties, the 14 yr old has a really scruffy hoodie and am wondering just how many policemen would jump him if he made any sort of commotion, was so tempted to go there with him just to put the fear of god into him, all I’d have to do is shout ‘vandal’ and he’d be pounced on by screaming mob of middle class grannies.. (his worse night if truth be told!)

Lots of friends phoning up from Northern Ireland to ask if I am OK, funny enough I slept really well these last few nights, the police sirens and helicopters remind me of my childhood. Weird to think of folk from Northern Ireland being concerned about me, when I first moved to London my ma said ‘but London is full of muggers, drug pushers and pimps’, and this from someone who was living in a bloody war-zone…  (and no, never did find the muggers, drug pushers and pimps)

 

———————————————————————————

Found these on t’internet, (between thou and I – I think photoshop has been used…)

Behind you David!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

ABBA fan?
One happy looter
Completely understandably, after all, he IS so talented..

And more here http://photoshoplooter.tumblr.com/

A nice cuppa tea sorts everything.. This has NOT been photoshopped

http://london.craigslist.co.uk/mob/2536072357.html

Am thinking of offering this guy £1,000,000 and asking him to met me outside Hackney Police Station. The /mob/ in the address doesn’t stand for urmmm mob but mobile but it’s kind’a ironic don’t ya think?

and I’ve kept best to last 🙂

bookmark_borderPlaying your cards right.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Isn’t it funny how we change as we get older and somewhat wiser? And it starts very early in life. Four years ago I had my then 8 year old pleading with me to buy him the Doctor Who comic because it had collectable cards inside. So for the next two years I bought him the Doctor Who comics and he collected all the cards; the complete cast of characters; Doctor Who, Rose Tyler, Daleks, Cyber men and god knows what other god awful manner of weird monsters the BBC could think up. He had two big special Doctor Who albums full of them and spent long hours each night sorting them into little pockets in the albums and swapping them around.

And then two years ago when he got to ten years old and due to holidays away he missed a few comics. He begged me to write off to the BBC to get the ones he missed, life was not worth living without those missing cards. I asked him what was his most prized procession at that stage of his life and it was his Doctor Who card collection. I asked him could he ever imagine a life in which he didn’t care about his cards and he said NO, he will collect those cards for the rest of his life and I asked did he think he would ever lose those albums and he said NEVER, he will ALWAYS have them.

Forever.

So, two years later and I’m dropping him off at his mums tonight. I’m in his bedroom and I ask him where his Doctor Who cards are? He doesn’t know. OK, then when did he last see them, when did he last get some new cards? No idea. And would he be devastated if he never saw them ever again? Nope, doesn’t care about them any more. But two years ago he begged me to get him those back issues and it was the most important thing in the whole wide world.

It’s interesting how ones priorities change. Now second born cannot live without me buying him a lifetimes membership of Champions-Online at a cost of £192. I spluttered. I laughed out loud. I tried explaining that in one years’ time he will have outgrown Champions-Online and I’m not going to pay £192 for something that will only be used for one year before that too is lost in the mists of time. And he begged me because it was the most important thing in the whole wide world and he will NEVER EVER get bored with Champions-Online…EVER! Sigh..

But here’s the problem. Can I put a price on my child’s happiness?

He really did LOVE his Doctor Who cards and got tremendous pleasure from building up his collection and swapping cards at school and having a complete set and all the special sets. And at school collecting the cards was the one common activity all the kids did, I think a few years ago it was collecting Pokemon cards but the kids had their own language and knew all about the cards and which ones were the most valuable. There was a whole Doctor Who card culture and to exclude him from that would have been perhaps unfair.. so for a few quid each week he was able to participate in this common interest and feel part of a gang.

Clever marketing by the BBC by the way.

But now he wants me to spend £192 on Champions-Online life-time membership and I asked him about his Doctor Who cards and how he doesn’t give a damn about them now and how he won’t give a damn about Champions-Online in one years time but oh no daddy, I will NEVER EVER get fed up with Champions-Online..

Fortunately Fathers Day was in June, so at least I have eleven months before he rescinds my status as “Best Dad in the Whole Wide World” by not buying me yet another Fathers Day mug. I can’t wait until he has kids of his own and the cycle starts all over again..

When both beasties were five years old I’d sit with them and give them a choice, they could have one sweetie now or if they waited they could have two each tomorrow and always without exception they always took the instant hit, they couldn’t see as far ahead as tomorrow and they were never prepared to wait until then but wanted the sweets now. I have carried on doing this with them at random times but every time they always take the instant hit, a computer game today or two computer games tomorrow, no thank you, I want the instant hit now and I wonder at what point their perspective will change and they will be able to see beyond today or the next few days, and I wonder, if you are a 12yr old boy, just how long is ‘life-time membership’, is it just until you go to bed that evening?

bookmark_borderLife Instruction Manual – Chapter Three

Available at all good labour wards. (Includes free baby.)

Childless couples won’t be really aware of this but when your first child is born you are given an instruction manual. It’s quite a nice idea; out pops baby and you’re automatically given this manual to go along with it. Cool. It’s quite a weighty tome but the surprising thing is that when I looked inside mine it was completely blank. It seems one has to fill it in oneself.

I still have mine, it’s divided into various chapters, chapter one is roughly from birth to when the little tike starts primary school, chapter two is primary school years, chapter three secondary school years and four is university years..

Chapter one has advice on how long it takes for stitches to heal up (way too long), who’s turn it is to feed the baby (always yours) and what is the best cracked nipple cream to use (Lansinoh). There’s also an explanation of words/phrases a man has never come across in his life; like episiotomy, colostrum, meconium and “you’re never coming near me with that thing ever again”.

Additional areas for reference is what to say when your friends pass their (utterly ghastly) baby clothes down to you in a large black bin liner (Oh wonderful, thank you so much, these are all so CUTE!) before placing same bin liner in loft to lay there collecting dust until one of your friends has a rug-rat of their own and you get to (completely guilt free) dump  – umm I mean ‘donate’, same baby clothes to them. It’s a bit like an extremely slow version of Pass The Parcel, eventually this bag of baby clothes will end up back with original couples baby, who by that time will have her own baby and the whole cycle starts all over again.

Chapter two involves such delights as choosing which area you will be moving to get into a good church school catchment area and just how many times you have to make a big show of going to the local church so the priest/minister sees you and will approve your sons application to said school. (every single bleeding Sunday for at least three years if you’re wondering – and you have to help out at church summer fairs, spring sales and completely naff dances etc). Also, here’s a tip, try not to pick a church were said priest is elderly and about to retire or you could be going to church for a few years of wasted effort and have to make friends with new priest.

Chapter two also involves the transition from taking son to school were he cries like a little girl and hangs onto your leg like a limpet mine as you try to prise him off at year one to year six were he runs ahead of you into the school playground because he doesn’t want to be seen with you in those cheap sneakers you bought in Pound Stretchers.
And the baseball hat.

And is excruciatingly embarrassed when you shout ‘Bye Bye Darling, I love you’ across the playground whilst he’s in deep conflab with his school chums.
(ahhh one of the few remaining pleasure’s of fatherhood – tormenting your first born!)

Chapter three AKA pre-empty nest syndrome is broadly where I am now with my two rug-rats.

I have already asked the Army what is the minimal recruiting age (16 and a half) so I have to wait at least two more years before I fill in the application form – I mean ‘they’ fill in the application form. What the manual doesn’t tell you about this age (14 & 12) is that your children turn into monosyllabic Neanderthals who seem to spread their mess around the flat like the black death infecting everything* and everyone.

My only role in this chapter of their lives is to provide money, sugar, internet access, taxi and general dogsbody as they become much more independent and only pitch up at doorstep when it’s raining – or as is more often the case, call me on their mobile and ask for a lift from some god forsaken hole whilst I am snug as a bug in a rug.

And this is the surprising thing that no-one tells you, it seems like once rug-rat #1 pops out then you have no life, at least no social life and when you chat to other parents this is the story you get but none of them actually tell you that once the kids start secondary school they become much more independent and will spend time with their friends or away on adventures. So as a parent chapter three of the baby manual should be sub-titled the Pre-Empty Nest Stage and it actually can be quite fun – especially if you are a tad mischievous like me… For example, I left rug-rat #1 off at college this morning at 7am where he’s joining the other 300 Neanderthals of his year group and heading to the deepest darkest jungle of Kent to learn the art of bushcraft for three days. Not washing for three days and cooking by open fire will be the order of the day.. This is going to be complete shock to him because as far as he is concerned all food comes precooked in a polystyrene box with a side order of fries and a thick shake.. shock number two is going three days without internet access or his laptop, he will be going ‘cold turkey’ for these three days, which by co-incidence will probably be what he’ll be eating as well.

Being somewhat mischievous I’ve had some fun messing with him. Some of you whom are of a certain age will remember the 1977 Roots series on the telly, in an early scene young Kunta Kinte is taken away from his village into the  bush by the elders to undergo the initiation ritual from boyhood to manhood. This involves spending a few days out in the bush drinking various vile concoctions and then lining up to be circumcised with a rather terrifying looking double bladed knife;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ix32dbDSxI

It was probably very mean of me to show #1 that particular clip over and over again last night and suggest that’s what’s going to happen when he gets there..and was probably even meaner of me to tell his year tutor who is accompanying them about it,  the tutor just happens to have a large machete for chopping his way through the forest..

Ahhh..  tormenting your first born, can life get any better?

I’m going to hell, aren’t I?

(*thank you Snowbunny)

bookmark_borderFather’s Day (part deux)

It’s ten o’clock, Sunday morning and I’ve just spend the last hour or so writing but also listening to my 12 and 14 year old boys rough-housing in the spare bedroom. They sleep – if sleep is the correct term- in a big king sized bed and it’s actually quite sweet to hear them laughing and fighting and wrestling and giggling and shouting and playing and bonding about 25 feet away.

That, for me, is the nicest Father’s Day present.

It is music to my ears.

Now to go join them.

I may be some time.

bookmark_borderFather’s Day 2011

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Mark Twain

It’s Father’s Day tomorrow (Sunday 19th June) and I will be getting another card from my beasties, a rice pudding as usual and yet another Best Dad in World mug, I’m getting quite a collection of them now and I suppose it beats Florescent Ties and Old Spice Aftershave.  But what you lot don’t actually realise is that children, at least my two rugrats are quite mercenary, you see, my status as Best Dad in World is wholly dependant on what presents they get for Christmas and then that status can easily be lost depending on what gifts they get at birthday time in February and March, so the pressure is on..

The good thing about Father’s Day, at least from my perspective, is that it’s the only celebration in the year that I don’t have to actually think about, Xmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day I have to put some thought into them and organise the beasties but this one I get away with Scott free..

My father was pretty much absent all my life but I found this blog that will make you smile and maybe shed a tear as well.

However, it has been pointed out to me that the times, they are a changing…

In 1961, the year I was born, fathers shook their children gently at 7am and whispered, “Wake up, it’s time for school.”
Today, KIDS shake their fathers violently at 4 a.m., shouting: “Wake up, it’s time for hockey practice.”

In 1961, a father came home from work to find his wife and children at the supper table.
Today, a father comes home to a note: “Jimmy’s at baseball, Cindy’s at gymnastics, I’m at adult-Ed, Pizza in fridge.” (or dinner in dog).

In 1961, “a good day at the market” meant Father brought home feed for the horses.
Today, “a good day at the market” means Dad got in early on an IPO.

In 1961, a happy meal was when Father shared funny stories around the table.
Today, a happy meal is what Dad buys at McDonald’s.

In 1961, if a father put a roof over his family’s head, he was a success.
Today, it takes a roof, deck, pool, and 4-car garage.
And that’s just the vacation home.

In 1961, a father waited for the doctor to tell him when the baby arrived.
Today, a father must wear a smock, know how to breathe, and make sure film is in the video camera.

In 1961, fathers passed on clothing to their sons.
Today, kids wouldn’t touch Dad’s clothes if they were sliding naked down an icicle.

In 1961, fathers could count on children to join the family business.
Today, fathers pray their kids will soon come home from college long enough to teach them how to work the computer and set the Tivo.

In 1961, fathers pined for old country Romania, Italy, or Russia.
Today, fathers pine for old country Hank Williams.

In 1961, fathers and sons would have heart-to-heart conversations while fishing in a stream.
Today, fathers pluck the headphones off their sons’ ears and shout, “WHEN YOU HAVE A MINUTE..”

In 1961, fathers threatened their daughters suiters with shotguns if the girl came home late.
Today, fathers break the ice by saying, “So…how long have you had that earring?”

In 1961, a father gave a pencil box for Christmas, and the kid was all smiles.
Today, a father spends £800 at Toys ‘R’ Us, and the kid screams: “I wanted X-Box!”

In 1961, if a father had breakfast in bed, it was eggs and bacon and ham and potatoes.
Today, it’s Special K, soy milk, dry toast and a lecture on cholesterol.

In 1961, a Father’s Day gift would be a hand tool.
Today, he’ll get a digital organizer.

In 1961, fathers said, “A man’s home is his castle.”
Today, they say, “Welcome to the money pit.”

In 1961, a father was involved if he spoke to his kid now and then.
Today, a father’s involved only if he coaches Little League and organizes Boy Scouts and car pools.

In 1961, when fathers entered the room, children often rose to attention.
Today, kids glance up and grunt, “Dad, you’re invading my space.”

In 1961, fathers were never truly appreciated.
In 2011, fathers are never truly appreciated.

bookmark_borderWomenopause

I vote for spiderman pyjamas..

So, I’m not sure what you lot think but I’m beginning to suspect ‘mother’ nature has designed us men to last only 50 years, I’m thinking this because I smashed a tooth this morning eating some muesli, plus I don’t seem to be able to hear as well when in a bar chatting away and what else… oh yes, I need to wear glasses for very small writing that I’m sure I could see a few years ago easily… and my memory is going ..plus my memory is going..

Billy Connelly once said that now he’s sixty years old he plans his trips by toilets, he says when he needs to go somewhere he needs to know where all the loo’s are, I haven’t quite got to that stage yet but give me ten more years..

He also says that there are three things all men need to remember when they hit 60;

1)      Never trust a fart – for one never knows what might slip out at the same time

2)      Never pass up the opportunity to use a loo, never ever walk past one – for one never knows where the next one is going to be and you could be caught short

3)      And most importantly, never waste an erection – even if by one’s self

I’m wondering if there is a such thing as an male menopause…and talking of which..

A woman goes to the doctor’s and says, “Doctor, Doctor, you have to help me. Every time I go to the bathroom, DIMES come out!”

The doctor tells her to relax, go home, rest with her feet up and come back in a week.

A week later the woman returns and says, “Doctor, Doctor, it’s gotten worse!

Every time I go to the bathroom, QUARTERS come out!! What’s wrong with me?”

Again the doctor tells her to relax, go home, rest with her feet up and come back in a week.

Another week passes and the woman returns and yells, “Doctor, Doctor, I’m still not getting better! Every time I go to the bathroom, HALF-DOLLARS come out! WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?!!”

The doctor says, “Relax, Relax,…it’s nothing to worry about, you’re just going through the change!”

So, the  male version of a menopause, it does seem a bit unfair that woman endure one during their 50 but men can carry on fathering children well into their 60’s.. As a small diversion, what seems equally unfair is that it’s called the menopause, why is that, why isn’t it called the womanopause …and when you think about it, why have all these words got men in front of them; menstruation, menacme, menorrhea, menostaxis, menoschesis. I can understand perhaps menage a trois and these words having ‘men’ at the front of them;  menace, meningococci, menald, mendicant, meningitis, mendacity, mengovirus  but menopause, menstruation… it really is a man’s world..

Anyway, I digress, I asked the all-knowing all-wise all-seeing oracle, Mr Google about the male menopause and one site wrote the following;

“Have you noticed your father, brother, or partner acting strangely lately? Does he forget things, seem lethargic, or wake up sweating, have mood swings, seem a little tetchy? If so, he may be suffering from male menopause.”

My question is, how can you woman tell the difference, I think that description fits not just about every 50 to 60 yr old male I know but it also perfectly describes that 14yr son of mine most mornings, from the moment the testosterone started coursing through his veins he lost the ability to form coherent sentences and was reduced to expressing himself through grunts, perhaps we men are just in a constant menopausal state right from the moment puberty hits, now wouldn’t that be ironic?

bookmark_borderOh, for foxs sake..

I believe raccoons can be a bit of a nuisance in some towns across America, I’m not sure just how far they have penetrated into the major cities but we have a similar problem, only it’s not with raccoons but with foxes..  I live in Tooting, SW London and if you look that up in Google maps you’ll see that whilst it’s not ‘central’ London, it’s still quite a few miles from the countryside but somehow or another we have foxes not just in Tooting but actually even in the center of London.

According to some reports there are 27 foxes per square mile in London but from the evidence of my own eyes I’d put that figure at 27 per street. Once it gets dark then they all come out to play and sometimes it’s not unusual to see three of four just playing in the street and giving you a dirty look that says ‘WTF are you doing up now, don’t you know we own the streets after midnight..?’

The photo above, I took this morning looking out at my garden, sometimes I even see fox cubs playing and frolicking in the garden.  They can be just as much an nuisance as raccoons, they tend to rip open rubbish bags and spread the rubbish all over the roads and they make a terrible racket at night during mating season, the first time I heard it I thought some poor cat was being attacked by a large dog but when I shone my torch out the window I realised it was foxes   ummm..   foxing each other senseless.. I’m not sure if raccoons mate quietly but if they do then I’d quite happily swap please.

So, outside my back garden (some would say a jungle) I have all sorts of wildlife (and that’s not including my two boys), there are the obvious birds but also squirrels too and then there are all the cats whom spend long long but ultimately fruitless hours stalking and chasing both birds and squirrels but never EVER catch either. I secretly think squirrels are put on this earth solely to torment cats, I watch them from my window, playing cat and mouse .. I mean cat and squirrel with the local cats and I can almost see what they are thinking, “hey cat, how do you like a taste of your own medicine..” and the cats try their best to creep up on the squirrels and at the last moment the squirrel bounces off to freedom and the cat invariably stops the chase and washes itself like it knows I’m watching and he’s embarrassed and going “who me?, no, not me mister, I wasn’t really chasing that squirrel… “

And then there are the dogs, who chase the cats equally fruitlessly and then the foxes too, a friend in the States once sent me a photo of a small bear stuck half way up a tree in her back garden but she did actually live out in the sticks so that’s probably to be expected, I did suggest she call him Winnie The Pooh as he was actually going after a bee’s nest..

So, birds, squirrels, cats, dogs and foxes  in the middle of London, sometimes it’s like a friggin zoo out there, all I need now is David Attenborough with a film crew…

bookmark_borderAssume crash positions

The Beasties - suitably blurred because this is how they look in real life, just a blur!

My two beastie boys, 14 and 12, live with me part time and one of the very secret delights of this living arrangement is that I get to hear them talking in their sleep. It’s not that often but occasionally I am awoken by the sounds of one of them laughing and I go into their room thinking they are playing around and they are both snoring away, then one of them will just laugh out loud again. It’s very sweet but the 14 yr old in particular tends to have long conversations  in his sleep and mumbles away about some computer game and then the conversation always ends with a laugh, this isn’t a little chuckle but a full on belly laugh and how the hell he doesn’t wake up the 12yr old six inches away from him I’ll never know. My 12 yr old will talk in his sleep too but not as much but sometimes they seem to be having a conversation between themselves whilst fully asleep. Am hoping it doesn’t progress to sleep walking..

At the same time they share a big king sized bed and they toss and turn around the bed during the night a huge amount, it looks like they spend most of the night wrestling with a giant octopus aka duvet cover. I once watched I think it was one of the spoof Airplane movies and as the plane was about to crash the pilot says ‘assume crash positions’ and the passengers spread themselves all over the plane with limbs akimbo in ‘crash position’, this is what my two beasties look like when I go into their room first thing in the morning..they have assumed crash position..

They are going hate me for blogging about this! (one of the many pleasures of being a father!)

bookmark_borderDoes my bum look big in this?

Of COURSE not!

I try not to lie in life, I try my best to be honest and truthful even if I know in the short term it’s going to upset someone but I’m going to take this opportunity to tell my two boys that the most important lesson I can teach them is, somewhat ironically, to lie, or at least be economical with the truth..

I’m minded of this because my assistant at work today, a woman, has just asked what age another woman we were having coffee with was.. If it was a bloke asking me this question then I’d just say oh…probably getting close to thirty but because it was a woman asking me I reflexively fall back on defensive habits and immediately take years off and suggest 25 without hesitation. She laughed at me and I looked at her puzzlingly, ‘of course she’s only about 25’ I said and soundly completely convincing and then she asked my other assistant and he said “ohh about 21 – 23..’ which was even lower than my reckoning..

You see, we men, have of course developed a defensive mechanism of never answering certain questions truthfully and this has come about because of long conditioning by the opposite sex. I used to naively answer questions honestly and I got kicked hard in the shins or lost nookie rights because of the simmering resentment, and slowly but surely this lesson has been hammered into me (shins!).

So, we blokes generally get very nervous about questions like this;

Does my bum look big in this?
What age do you think I am?
What weight do you think I am?
Do I have a mustache?

And we can only reply positively to any of these questions and extremely positively at that, and the thing is, woman are always on their guard, they can detect the slightest micro-hesitation, the barest hint of hesitation and read that as a negative, for example when I was dating J in my twenties;

J. Does my bum look big in this?

Me. Why,    of course not!

J. You bastard, you hesitated!! you lying toe-rag, everything mummy said about you was true, I hate you!

Me. Sigh.. makes bed on settee..

So you see,  we men have to practise saying things like ‘of course not!’  and ‘not a day over 21!’… over and over again so we get it word perfect and say it as convincingly as possible because, be warned, every single woman’s bullshit detector is finely tuned..

One of my friends fell foul of this rule a while back and in circumstance when he least expected it… He was doing the proper supportive thing and sitting all the way through his wife’s labour as their first son was born, 36 hours of having his hand squeezed to a pulp but infinitely more preferably than actually trying to squeeze something the size of a  cantaloupe melon  through a space even a golf ball would balk at… talk about fetopelvic disproportion..

Anyway, babe number one eventually popped out and of course he was covered in blood, amniotic fluid and probably some meconium as well, his head was squashed to a conical shape and his skin was white and wrinkly, if truth be told he actually much more resembled ET than an actual baby – at least that’s what he told me afterwards..  So anyway, the midwife hands baby over to mummy and new mum is was very pleased and she says to new daddy “look, isn’t he beautiful?” and new daddy hesitates for a micro-second, a micro-second, he stumbles and says “why yes, of course he’s georgeous…” but it’s years too late, he hesitated for a microsecond and new mums bullshit detector is going off like a klaxton…  “you swine, you think he’s ugly, you don’t like him and I hate you…all this work, all this effort and you don’t like our son!!  how could you…!!  and no matter what he says, there is no way he is ever going to recover from that stumble…  So guys, take it from me, if you ever have the good fortune to have kids, for Gods sake practise practise practise saying “OMG s/he is absolutely and completely gorgeous!” and for heaven sake, make sure there is absolutely no hesitation in your answer or you will be reliving that moment in time for the rest of your life…  😉

bookmark_borderYou never really lose them..

I’m reading a book at the moment, 101 Things To Do Before You Are Five, it’s hilarious but a lot of it is true, for example at #10; Pull daddies chest hair til he screams (check) and #8; Get mummy to ghost write your thank you letters (check) but it’s number two that interests me the most; Look Just Like Daddy (check). Nature is very sneaky, my first born spent his first 12 years looking just like me, in particular he had very straight blonde hair and his maternal side ALL have very curly hair, so in a sense I always thought of him as ‘mine’ and this was nature providing proof by making him look like me..

After all these years of thinking at least he will have a good head of hair (even in his old age) I was a bit put out to see that the moment puberty hit, his hair started to curl quite dramatically, and now really he’s got his mothers hair… the longer it grows to more curly it becomes.. bugger, but isn’t it interesting that the curls only appeared at puberty, was this Mother Nature saying to his mother “look, I know he will gravitate towards his father now that puberty has hit but he’s still yours and to prove it I’ll give him your curly hair..” Natures very sneaky..

It’s said that a male child is his mothers until puberty hits and then he spends the next 10 years looking for male role models – his father, teachers, Captain Picard (in my case!) and I can see that in my first borns behaviour but there is a small part of me that is a bit quirked that he doesn’t look anything like me – and there are friends of mine that say Thank God he doesn’t look anything like you!

Soooooooo… Mother Nature has one more trick up her sleeve, which goes like this; the second born is really into music big time but the first born doesn’t really take much notice of chart music, so the three of us were in a shop the other day and one of my current favourite songs was played overhead, it’s a non-chart quirky song, and rather surprisingly my first born came up to me and asked what it was and could he get it…. and in an instant I knew he was mine – because he’s got the same quirky taste in music as I have.. and he couldn’t understand just why I was grinning at him so much.. isn’t Mother Nature very clever?

bookmark_borderKick-Ass Jesuits

Had an interesting conversation last night with my two beasties, I usually pick them up after church and have them for the rest of the weekend but last night they were a bit late as the priest asked them to do Altar Service. They’ve done it lots of times before, the price they pay to get into a good church school, and I asked them how they felt about having to altar serve. Well, that was an interesting conversation, it seems that whilst everyone else is sitting there quietly praying or listening to the sermon, the six altar boys, whom should also be doing the same, are actually doing very much the opposite.

Like all 13 & 11 yr olds, they are easily bored and if left to their own devices will create their own amusement. So whilst they are sitting there in two rows of three pretending to be solemn, what’s actually happening is a range of stealth games are being played.

First game is to elbow the server sitting beside you in the ribs – hard – during the prayers when everyone is staring at the floor. Then they have to get their own back on you, and then there is ‘pass it on’ when they have to pass the elbow in the ribs on, this can be a bit difficult when the other three servers, the ‘opposing team’, are on the other side of the alter but when it comes to actual serving then they do an intricate set of choreographed moves and tasks that provide ample opportunity for them to dig the opposing players in the ribs. Oh, whilst I’m on the choreographed tasks they have to do, it seem they also make deliberate attempts to block each others way and will try to hide particular object that the other team are meant to hand to the priest at specific times..

Then they have to make the opposing team laugh when they are sitting facing each other across the alter. This usually involves pulling faces at them mostly during prayers but sometimes they do it openly whilst everyone is watching the priest, it’s all a question of timing.. The other thing they did, only once, was to play football all through the service. One of them brought in a small marble and accidently dropped it onto the middle of the carpet early during the start of the service. There was great excitement from all six boys as they took turns in kicking it across the alter into the opposing side every time they got up to do some specific task. So as the boys were milling around and giving the impression that they were attending to their alter duties, what was actually happening was that they were actually playing footie with a marble..

Church, in theory, plays a big part of their lives, they go to a church school as it is by far and away the best school in the Wimbledon but as much as their mother and grandparents think they are going to turn out to be little angels I suspect the truth is somewhat different. They have to specialise in four particular subjects in school, the choice is large but were complaining to me that Religious Education (RE) was compulsory, they’d rather do another subject than RE, in fact they rather do ANYTHING than RE, they’d even do Drama or Cookery than boring RE. So I explained to them that the school is obviously a church school and run by Jesuits and this is the price you pay for a good education, the Jesuits hope that enough of their teaching will get through and you decide to become a member of the Order of Jesuits. The first born said to me that they had to sit through a boring lecture and video occasionally about the work of the Jesuits and everyone switches off during that lesson.

So, he suggested that perhaps that’s exactly where the Jesuits are going wrong; they should tailor their presentations to their 13yr old audience. They should start the presentation with explosions and Jesuit priests swinging down onto the stage on ropes and attacking evil anywhere it rears its ugly head. They could have their own division of the Special Forces, the Jesuit Kickass Corps, and these priests could be parachuted into trouble spots wearing their dogs collars and AK47’s. They could kick the stuffing out of the enemy and pray for their souls at the same time. Really, the Jesuits are missing a whole marketing opportunity, this is what 13 yr old boys are interested in, not dry lectures about having to get up at 4am to pray and study the bible.

Oh, the first born thinks there should be an X-Box game, Call of Duty; Jesuit Ops..

I’m not entirely sure what you lot think but I suspect my boys may be taking after me.. I pity the entire world.