Posts Tagged Dad blog
I have often wondered since Boy was born if there is such a thing as a typical Dad.
I once wrote that I sometimes consider myself a cross between Daddy Pig and Homer Simpson. These two cartoon characters certainly depict fathers in early middle age but, of course rather differently. Daddy Pig is very laid back but, he should be, Peppa Pig land not being particularly stressful. Homer Simpson though would not be everyone’s first choice as a fatherly role model. On the face of it he drinks far too much beer and chokes his son regularly. He’s boorish and impulsive and has only a tenuous grip on how to hold down a job and parent. And yet he has done things for his children that demonstrate pure love, such as selling his ride on the Duff Blimp so that he could enter Lisa in to a beauty competition to feel better about herself or spearheading the effort to dig Bart out of a well. Sometimes, such as when he becomes a temporary truck driver, Bart joins him on his crazy, impulsive adventures and it has to be said they seem to have more fun than a conventional family ever could on these sorts of road trips. Sometimes just a look from one of his kids can have him debating with his own brain. He worked two jobs, all day and all night to get Lisa a pony.
And yet the mere sight of a donut or beer can divert him from tasks that are vital to the family’s survival. Having discovered that his lack of intelligence was down to a crayon lodged in his brain he gets it removed and instantly dislikes his new higher IQ, getting Moe to reinsert the crayon and bring his IQ back down to 55. And he once shot Marge with a poison dart.
I like Homer because I can relate to the bits of him that are devoted to his wife and children and yet, I realised that he has been characterised in such a way that he is just one step away from a moron. Still, even the moronic traits ring bells with me at times. If I was passing a bar full of my friends on the way home from work could I really resist popping in for a quick beer just because I had promised to be home in time to bath the kids? If I lived next to an annoying, self righteous and holier than thou neighbour how long would I pretend to like them for the sake of keeping up appearances? I know that burning your bridges when you leave a job is a stupid thing to do but which of us blokes haven’t wanted to tell an overbearing or useless boss where to stick it?
If I had my choice then pork chops for dinner every night would be just fine and a beer hat would make an excellent piece of apparel during a football match (so long as it was in private). I might know that ‘gym’ is not pronounced to rhyme with ‘dime’ but I’ve never lasted more than three months of any gym routine ever.
Obviously the child strangling and the forgetting you have a baby and the failure to relate to a clever middle child are not ideal. The first and second of these traits are ruthlessly exaggerated for comic effect but the last is truly tragic. Here I wonder how many men, having suppressed their intelligence for one reason or another, regret doing so instantly they have children.
Suppressed their intelligence? Yes, that’s what I said. Intelligence is not always manly. A stupid bloke can still be one of the lads. Boorish they may be but they will simply attract boorish friends. Think of Trigger in Only Fools and Horses. There are odd jibes about him of course but the one thing he is not is ostracised. Instead people buy him drinks in the Nags Head and involve him in their plans. It may be a comedy plot device – much like Homer’s stupidity – but that doesn’t mean it’s not based on real life examples.
Intelligence at school is not celebrated among boys. If you were a clever boy at my school then you were a ‘Boff’ or a ‘swot’ or you were ‘gay’. I don’t know what perceived insults are used today but I bet the targets are the same. The boys that were admired were the ones who were good at football and fighting and smoking and going further with a girl than just a quick peck. Arrest, lung cancer and teenage pregnancy were not considered. It would be easy for a boy who wanted to fit in or even lead, never mind get laid, to suppress his intelligence, to not try, to eventually become thick because you no longer read or thought or challenged. And so, potentially bright boys are consigned to a life of scamming on estates.
We can even do it on a temporary basis. When I get a paper I will tend to get a broadsheet. The Guardian or, if I’m fed up with its political correctness for a bit The Times or The Independent. When I went away to football games we’d go on the train and I would get The Mirror because everyone got a tabloid and I didn’t want to get laughed at (but at the same time refused to buy The Sun). Sometimes it’s just easier with the crayon in.
But getting it re-inserted on a permanent basis when you have kids? Spending so long pretending to be thick that you actually become ignorant? What happens, then, when you get a child who is born with the natural intelligence that you eschewed (a bit like Lisa Simpson)? When they start to ask questions they expect you to be able to answer?
Don’t get me wrong, I am dreading either child doing A level physics because they will be officially cleverer than me if they do and I won’t be able to help them at all but I should be able to teach them to read, add up and tell the time. To explain why it is dark at night and cold in the winter. To answer why it is we land back on the ground when we jump. Later on to advise on creative writing or algebra or practice their French pronunciation. The second you ask Moe to permanently reinsert that crayon in to your brain is the second you let your children down. Homer Simpson can be a role model for basic love of family, (less for consumption of booze and fat and acting on impulsive whims) but it’s his relationship with Lisa that, for me, lets him down as a parent. He is, already, lost.
Daddy Pig’s relationship with his kids is not lost and he does not have a crayon in his brain. Daddy Pig’s boorish side comes out in his insistence that he is ‘a bit of an expert’ at things he is not (particularly map reading and French) – in other words he over estimates his cleverness – but he is often portrayed as intelligent in the series too (a job in architecture doing complicated sums is sometimes alluded to). He can explain how fog forms (though not find his way through it) and why it is about to snow or why you need to go to the opticians. SOMETIMES Daddy Pig will be portrayed lazily watching the TV and admiring his rather large belly but most times he is shown playing with his children, intelligently and collaboratively. Just when you think he’s over exaggerated a talent it turns out he really is Renaissance Pig as he plays the accordion or executes a perfect dive from the high board, or pulls off a ballet move or makes up a story on the spot.
He does, however, share some traits with Homer and it is here that I mean you only have to look at the media for a short while to get an impression of a typical blokey Dad. He shuns exercise (‘I’m naturally fit’) and calls the local fire station emergency number when he can’t find the tomato ketchup during a BBQ. One morning he sits in the garden with his paper under the false assumption that it’s a Saturday (it’s not, it’s Thursday). He sleeps in the car on a camping trip and falls asleep snoring a puppet show put on by the younger members of the family.
I shun exercise. My dad has been known to fall asleep after lunch. I have been known to take over the map reading and get us lost. When I say I see myself as a mixture of Daddy Pig and Homer Simpson I’m not kidding. Sometimes I play collaboratively with them and sometimes I teach them useful things. Sometimes, though, I sit in front of the TV drinking beer or do things completely on impulse.
Why is there a typical theme when Dads of a certain age are portrayed in the media? Because many men of my age share those characteristics. It is around the edges that we are different, that our ideas of what constitutes a good father differ. Where, however tempting it is, we must resist inserting the metaphorical crayon in to our brains.
My parents hated football. Somehow I grew up to love it. I think it was because we only got 3 channels on TV in those days so the only time you saw football it was a big occasion. Either the FA Cup final (which quite literally lasted all day) or a big England game. Both came with a sense of a very big deal which appealed to me enormously. Also we lived very close to Brighton’s old ground, The Goldstone. On Saturdays in winter the street would fill with cars and men in blue and white scarves would get out of them and walk to the ground. You could hear the crowd from my road. Particularly you could hear the orgasmic roar when Brighton scored. All this and the fact my parents specifically loathed it is what got me interested in football.
Eventually one of my dad’s pupils (he’s a music teacher) called Joan and her boyfriend Fraser agreed to take me to games. This was when Brighton had a very good team indeed and had pushed their way for the first time in to the top division. I remember games against Liverpool, Man United, Everton. Spicy derbies against Palace. Joan and Fraser always kept me safe but actually being there just magnified my interest in what was a completely different world. Cigar smoke, chanting, obvious swearing and the odd fight in the crowd. On the field incredibly skilful players like Peter Ward, Mark Lawrenson and later Michael Robinson and Steve Foster. Most players were British, quite a few were internationals, many didn’t bother with shinpads and tackling from behind was routine.
When Joan and Fraser couldn’t take me Samir did. Samir was a family friend, an avuncular Lebanese professor who, away from sport was constantly engaging. At football he barely said a word. It was like his studious nature made him observe every nuance of the game and, having escaped civil war in Beirut, he was hardly likely to be put off by the odd skinhead scrapping in the North Stand.
Soon though I felt old enough to go unaccompanied. Again when I asked my parents they initially demurred but eventually I was allowed to go ‘as long as I went in the Family Stand’. My first solo game was against Wimbledon and we won 2-1 with a long range screamer from the marvellously alcoholic and be-mulleted Frank Worthington. I went in the Family Stand and it was boring as anything. Next game I went straight in the North Stand, right behind the goal in the singing section. From here I started to meet people who to this day I count as some of my very best friends. A community. As soon as I was able I went to away games and as soon as I was old enough I went to the pub before matches. We froze our knackers off in Oldham and colonized the pool tables of back street locals in Brighton.
All this is a very long way of saying that football for me is much more than 90 minutes of men running around. My wife still doesn’t understand when I want to leave a bit earlier than she thinks it would take me to get to the ground for kick off and that’s because I want to see my friends and have at least one pint beforehand. Ideally two or three. Don’t get me wrong, for the 90 minutes the game’s on nothing else matters and I am completely absorbed in the match but it wouldn’t be anything like the experience it is without the chance to have some Real Ale and bit of banter first.
On our next home game I am dropping this routine.
A good family friend has wanted to take her son to the new ground for ages. I got her tickets for the game against Watford on 29 December and, since Boy and her son get on very well I said we’d come too. I’m swapping my normal seat in the comfortable rowdiness of the West Stand Upper for a family seat in the quieter East Stand. There will be no pub, the focus instead on ensuring the kids have an enjoyable day out at the football. Hot dogs and programmes will be bought, I suspect, and colours worn with pride.
I worried I was forcing it down his throat but he now attends football club after school and works with Will, a coach from Albion In The Community. He’s been to a couple of their mini-kickers sessions and has a training top, replica kit, a hand clapper and flag. He is very excited about going already. Meanwhile I’ve abandoned my normal football bravado and turned in to Worried Parent. I shall have to ensure he has a wee before we leave. I will have to pick a train time that won’t be too crowded yet won’t get us there stupidly early or, instead, have us queuing for ever. I have no idea how to do this. I will need to check his hot dog is properly cooked, protect him from swearing and confrontation. Most of all, since he is scared shitless by people dressed in giant animal costumes, I shall have to protect him from the mascots, mascots who are there specifically to come up and say hello to 6 year old boys. Bugger.
But there are so many elements of it that I AM looking forward to. Getting off the train and seeing the stadium rise like a giant spaceship from the ground. Explaining the game and who the players to look out for are. Maybe taking him to the club shop and letting him add to his collection of Brighton stuff. Hoping we score. Hoping we win.
Selfishly a part of me worries he will enjoy it too much. When I do go in the comfortably rowdy West Stand Upper it is with Best Friend Of All. He has 3 boys but both of us leave the kids behind. Recently I have been unable to make a couple of games and he has taken his sons, in rotation, in my stead. They have enjoyed themselves immensely and are bugging him to go again. If Boy enjoys himself (and as a parent I will have failed if he doesn’t) he will want to go again too. If he does we are already talking about getting tickets for the kids. This could be the end of one era and the start of another. Much less pub. Much less banter. Much more parenting.
Then again it could be a specific bond, father to son. I am very close to my Dad despite his dislike of football. Our special bond was swimming. My mum cannot swim so he taught me and my brother and it was always our special time together. Both my wife and I swim and so swimming for us is family activity on family days. Football may be our Father to Son male bonding. And I know my mates understand. We’ll see how it turns out.
*I say first. I took him to Withdean, our old ground, because we were playing a Cup game no one was interested in and we could get tickets together for me and Best Friend of All and all the kids. It was one of the dullest games on record and he was too young and we left at half time. I don’t count it. Saturday will be his first proper football experience.
We are not having any more children. In the big card game of life we are choosing not to twist. We’re sticking. There are two ways to achieve this. Well three really but the third involves me walking round like Buster Gonad and divorce. So two sensible options. The first is that Mrs S remembers to take a pill every day until she no longer has a menstrual cycle. The second is that (to quote Blackadder) I let a maniac with a pair of scissors near my John Thomas. Guess which one we went for?
I have read a couple of posts recently where the author wondered if they should be blogging on the subject that they were and I had the same thought. But somewhere I also read the awesome mammasaurus give a tip – it’s your blog, so blog what you want. God knows who’s going to read this. I have personal friends on my Twitter timeline. Football mates. But this is my life. Our decision. If I can’t explain it here I might as well roll up the blogroll, retire the URL and go back to having this nonsense rolling around in my head. And I get to do a whole load of nob gags.
So I am blogging it. It will eventually be common knowledge anyway. When the time comes I’ll need time off work. People will wonder what’s happened to me WON’T YOU? *points at you*. Also I know 2 blokes who’ve had ‘the process’ and both happily admitted to having it. The whole of our irregular poker club knows about one and our irregular poker club is far from discreet.
Another recent blog theme from both motherventing and sahdandproud was a question about if their children would ever read their blog. Well what if mine read this? Will they think it was down to them that we want no more’? Nothing could be further from the truth. I may – ok do – caricature them here but they are my world. Sunshine in a storm. Medium rare ribeye steak for my hungry soul. Part of me forever. Boy is clever and arty and much nicer to his friends than I am to mine and the poor sod’s got my sense of humour. I am so immensely proud of him. And Baby is a cute, talking, walking, water-worshipping barrel of fun and terror with more attitude than a rock band on a Jack binge. I am immensely proud of her too.
No if it were down to me we’d have had more, lots more, but this is with the benefit of hindsight. I admire beyond belief people with large families. I love babies. Toddlers. Kids. But…..
The truth is I spent my early 20s at raves and football. Then I met my Mrs and while I calmed down we still enjoyed eating out whenever we wanted and having friends round at 10pm and generally being child-free. Then we moved abroad for a bit. So we started this child rearing lark rather late. Now we’re in our 40s and I have dodgy knees and Mrs S has a dodgy back and neither of us have slept for years and we just couldn’t cope with another child if we tried. It’s a health and safety issue really.
So while Baby was a Foetus we decided she completed our family and we somehow decided this would be best achieved by me having my tadger fiddled with. When she was about 3 months I went to the Doctor to start the process and she advised me to wait a year ‘just in case’ and I could have leapt up and kissed her and made her sole beneficiary of my will right then and there (instead I just coughed – you guessed it – slightly). But I can put it off no longer. The year is more than passed so the other day I made an appointment to go back to my GP.
So what are my male, Dad, thoughts on this? Naturally I’m fucking terrified. I mean really. Here’s a small vignette of what’s going on in my brain.
- The surgeon could be someone from school who still harbours a grudge against me after all those years.
- The surgeon could be a Palace fan.
- The surgeon could be coming off a 20 hour shift having just performed harrowing but life saving surgery on a well loved public figure and now faces the choice between sleep, doing his accounts for Andrew Lansley or my cock.
- It might not work and we’d end up with a 3rd kid anyway the second the pill prescription ran out.
- I might not be able to get it up meaning a life time of popping blue pills like a teenager in Cream during the 90s.
- My water works might get infected meaning a second date with a vengeful, tired, Palace supporting willy specialist.
This of course is all wild speculation. So little have I thought about it, so far have I buried it in the dark recesses of my mind that I have no idea of what will actually occur. That’s what the GP visit is for. It could be laser right? Painless and over in a second? No need to even whip it out? Or they could stick a fucking huge camera up the eye and operate with a machete. *winces*. I’ve no idea. I’ve been putting it off a bit.
I am whether you like it or not going to update you. It’s my blog. My subjects. My rules. God help you. And God help Percy.
So sunfun is at mammasaurus this week. I haven’t written / photographed anything new but I thought I’d link up something from this week. Earlier this week the below list spewed out of the dark recesses of my mind. Will that do?
- Have the same amount of sleep two nights running
- Leave the house for somewhere important without checking for milk stains
- Mainline Crystal Meth
- Watch an entire football or rugby match on the telly without using the live pause feature
- Watch an entire cricket match on the telly from first ball to last in a 24 hour period. Even a 20/20.
- Leave the house for somewhere important without checking for snot stains
- Have anything sharp within easy reach
- Go ballooning naked with a llama*
- Have your mobile phone and TV remote control within easy reach
- Drink an entire bottle of Jack just to see what happens
- Shower without tripping over a squeezy-water octopus or a bath duck
- Leave the house for somewhere important without checking for vomit stains
- Travel abroad as a family without planning it for at least 2 years
- Plan stuff
- Read an improving book
- Spend 3 whole days without encountering Peppa Pig, a Tombliboo or both
- Wash socks in pairs
- Leave the house for somewhere important without checking for poo stains
- Actually, just sleep
- Try out the new Korean place round the corner on a whim
- Have a party which features someone in the corner clutching Special Brew who no-one knows
- Have a party that doesn’t feature jelly and Haribo
- Leave your laptop unattended for 30 seconds
- Consider the local schools from a neutral point of view
- Buy fashionable clothes (possibly this is just a Dad thing)
- Jack in the job that pays the rent / mortgage to open a business selling Tibetan Yurts from your garden
- Watch a film that may contain ‘naughty bits’ just after the children have been put in bed
- Have a cup of tea / coffee within easy reach
- Mainline espresso
- Arrive on time for stuff
- Write list postings on your blog**
* Well you technically could. But the kids would talk about it at inappropriate times. Like when you’ve got a llama farmer round for tea
** Oh, wait….
Disclaimer 1: This is my third self-imposed challenge post – I am not allowed to swear. Given the subject matter this is going to be a real challenge.
Disclaimer 2: Someone once said sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. It isn’t. Toilet humour is. I know what follows is neither big, clever or original but my Dad’s a carry on addict and I raised myself on Viz so I’m afraid you’re stuck with it. There is a sort of serious point I promise.
This Sunday Mrs S was running a nearly new sale. She was, in truth, carrying a back problem. The same back problem that lead me to have to take a couple of days off work because she could not pick up Baby. Or Baby’s vomit. Yes, she had had a dodgy tummy and 16 month olds do not know how to use the smallest room when they need to produce pavement pizza. I had been following her round with a roll of Plenty and a worried look for a couple of days, praying that the initial indication of a problem, round the back did not reoccur. This started on the Thursday and by Sunday she was all better and we were climbing the walls with cabin fever. So while Mrs S did her sale I took advantage of some truly lovely weather and took the kids out for the day.
First we went to the Brighton Wheel. This was a photo op as we also had the class mascot, Barney Bear, with us and he comes with a diary and a requirement to fill it with photos. Then we went to the Pier for some real fun. Suddenly it was lunchtime. I was in the mood for fish and chips but Boy insisted on Giraffe. Now from the pier to Giraffe is about a 10 minute walk for an adult but add in a buggy and a 5-year-old and its nearer 20. At 8 minutes and 34 seconds Boy decided he needed to point Percy at the porcelain. We ran. We just made it to Giraffe. The running had sent Baby to sleep in the buggy and now I had a problem. Boy will not go to the water closet by himself. I either had to make him before he wet his clothes or wake Baby up and carry her with us. The waitress (and this is why I am pimping them by name) took over and led him to the disabled loo and kept watch on the door. So Giraffe Brighton, thank you for being so child friendly.
However while Boy was doing his business I started worrying. He was now fine. I, though, had spent the early part of the morning downing orange juice and espresso and, just like my little charges I had not been before we left. Baby had a nappy. Boy was sorting himself out. But, If I needed to paint the town yellow I would once again have to abandon the children. This was clearly not an option. I was going to have to hold back the Yellow River with leg crossing and Confucian muscle control. And I’d just ordered drinks.
Luckily I have previous in this area. Between cricket tours, broken train toilets on the way back from away games and the time I seriously misjudged the train queue size coming back from Twickers I am a bit of an expert at holding in number ones. But something much worse was now lurking at the bottom of the cesspit that is my mind. The previous night we’d had a Chinese from a local takeaway. It does fantastic aromatic duck which is why we use them but I’m not sure about the quality of the rest of it. If I suddenly needed to drop the kids off at the pool I was going to be in for a whole heap of embarrassment. If I did suffer revenge of the takeaway it was likely to come on swiftly and with a great deal more chance of making the gravy than bangers and mash.
An outwardly pleasant meal was becoming clouded by my inner terror. As the real bangers turned up for Boy I cut them up at the speed of lightning and willed him to wolf them. I demolished my burger in about 3 bites. Nothing was actually happening in the bladder or tummy department but I was metaphorically bricking it. The mains were cleared but of course, the reason Boy had spurned my Fish n Chips was because he wanted brownies. The food variety. We had to order pudding.
At this point Baby woke up. Baby always wakes up in time for pudding. It’s a girl reflex that I am mildly jealous of. She had missed mains and was currently spurning the emergency pouch. Her Sunday lunch this week was going to consist solely of biscotti and spare chocolate from mine and boy’s puddings. Luckily there was no NWO this time to judge my utterly rubbish parenting. We wolfed our puds, paid our bill and headed for the bus home.
Now buses bounce. And when you have had lots of orange juice and espresso, and a bottle of Coke and have not wee-weed in a long while bouncing is something you don’t need. I started to have the same feeling I did that fateful day at Twickers. Mr Bladder wanted to go on holiday to Empty City. The last 10 minutes of the journey were utter hell. Boy was counting to 100 next to me. Baby was yelling at the top of her voice at everyone. And all I could think of was ‘how quickly can I make him walk when we get off? Will he be as understanding to me as I was to him?’We reached our stop after what seemed like several eternities. We legged it home at the double. I let in Boy, marched Baby in still strapped in to the buggy, ran upstairs and pulled the same face Santa does at the end of “Father Christmas Needs a Wee”.
It was, in truth a lovely day out which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. But due to my absolute inability to plan every aspect it nearly ended in disaster.
One of the things we said very often when Mrs S was pregnant with Baby and we worried about doubling our issue was ‘we’ll bring her up just the same (as Boy)’. 16 months in how’s that going? Not well. I was reminded of this again this weekend as we had a family lunch out at a local Italian. There were 8 of us in total, 7 at the table and Baby on the end in a high chair. As soon as we’d sat down a family were shown to the table next to us and they had a child, a little younger than Baby who also required a high chair. This family were going to be allies I thought. We smiled at their baby and they smiled at ours. We exchanged small talk. The Mum in particular was charming and I christened her Nice Woman Opposite (she will be NWO for the rest of the story).
Time to order. We all put in our orders which included a cheese and tomato pizza for Baby and Boy to share. NWO frowned a little. Baby in fact ate a little of her pizza, a little of mine and a little of Mrs S’s chicken salad because she will generally only eat off your plate (of which more later). NWO pulled out an Organic baby food pouch for their L.O. and fed him a cursory bit of pasta from her plate. Then it was time for dessert orders. I ordered chocolate cake, winked at Baby and said ‘don’t worry you can have some too’. NWO frowned again. When the cake arrived Baby strained at her harness like a chained Alsatian just out of range of a T-Bone Steak. She nearly toppled the high chair forward. Her eyes were wider than Arfur Daley. I took 2 big forks, popped one in my mouth and the other in Baby’s and she wolfed it in one go and said ‘More’. NWO’s frown had moved on to more steam coming out of ears. When the waiter took their dessert order she pointedly looked at her babe-in-high-chair and said ‘and nothing for him please’. I reconsidered the ‘N’ part of her epithet.
The wife and I got to discussing this in the evening in a vaguely puzzled manor until one thing dawned on us. Their child was a first and so-far-only. We thought back. Boy had not been given chocolate much before he was about 2 and a half. He was weaned on jars and pouches and a trip out meant a tuppaware container of fruit. The poor sod never got anywhere near the desert menu. We were massively over-paranoid about giving him sugar. His fat was controlled by the book. So was his salt. Then we’d had another child and we’d taken the rule book and thrown it out of the window. Ooops. Here’s how else we’ve treated them differently:
Naps: Boy had a routine regular nap and was put down for it every day whether tired or not. Baby naps on demand. Boy stopped napping at 11 months. Baby has one or two a day depending on how she feels.
Food: As mentioned Boy was weaned on a mixture of jars, pouches and home made purees. Baby normally only wants what’s on YOUR plate. Anything else might be eaten or might be thrown. It’s so 50/50 Noel Edmunds could turn it in to a game show (‘Food or No Food’). We haven’t pureed her a thing.
Television: Boy was introduced to this very slowly and then given very little time each day with CBeebies. One of Baby’s current words is ‘pig’ (or actually ‘pi’) said while pointing at the TV. It means ‘put Peppa on right NOW or I will destroy you. *maniacal laugh*’. If we hadn’t resorted to the electronic baby sitter the house would literally NEVER be tidy and the pair of us would be in a loony bin somewhere gibbering about petunias and forgetting our meds.
Bedtime Story: Boy would not go to sleep unless you were in the room too. Thus I made him up lots of bedtime stories to save myself going bonkers in the nut (and in the dark). Baby will virtually dismiss you from her presence the second her ‘jamas and bub-bag go on. This is good for our evening time but it means I have never made her up one single story and I feel bad about this.
So – if you have more than one child did you manage to bring them all the same? If so please leave a comment as I’d love to know how it’s done. If you are considering upgrading from one to two then take the above as a warning. But if you have done things a bit different with your later children then I’m setting up a support group. “Slightly Sloppy Parents of Two or More”. Bring gin / rum. And chocolate.
For Christmas my Mum got a Beatrix Potter box set for Boy and Baby. What a wonderful gift you might be thinking. Well it was certainly generous but I’m about to disagree with the wonderful.
Beatrix Potter might make sense a century ago in the countryside but today it seems to be causing no end of Boy and Daddy difficulties. The first time I read him The Tale of Benjamin Bunny I knew I was in trouble. Take this paragraph towards the start.
“A gig was coming along the road; it was driven by Mr McGregor, and beside him sat Mrs. McGregor in her best bonnet.”
Boy: “Daddy what’s a gig?”
Me: *looks at picture which isn’t helping as it’s of a rabbit*. *wonders if it’s too early to do a joke involving Black Grape at the Brighton Centre, tinnitus, snakebite and vomit* “Er I’m not sure really. Something they use to travel in I would think”.
Boy: “Daddy what’s a bonnet?”
Me (confidently): “It’s a type of hat”
Boy: “Oohhhh we all have hats. Does Mummy have a bonnet?”
Me: “Because she’s not a mental patient darling”
Boy: “What’s a…”
And so on. And so on.
Or this absolutely CHARMING bit later on. “then he came back to the basket and took out his son Benjamin by the ears and whipped him with the little switch”.
Boy: “What’s a switch?”
Me: *thinks it’s what you turn the light on with* “er I think it’s a stick.”
Boy: “Why does he whip Benjamin with it?”
Me: “Because the Edwardians were vicious un-educated bastards who could only discipline their children using physical violence.” (i)
But just as bad as that is the fact I find them so boring I struggle to stay awake reading them. There are whole SECTIONS of Beatrix Potter where nothing happens at all. For example “Peter fell down head first; but it was of no consequence”. So why tell us then? I do things of no consequence all the time. And then I tweet about them. OK on this one she’s forgiven.
But then there’s “presently he dropped half the onions” which has no bearing on anything before or after plot-wise, and isn’t even the least bit interesting. It’s not exactly Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It isn’t even Charlie and Lola. It’s just noise. Polite, grammatically correct noise.
And this is just ONE book. There’s a whole box set to get through of violent beatings, confusing terminology and sod all happening. Great.
Of course two things do need to be said here. The first is that if you are elderly, middle class and rural I expect her books make some sort of sense. I’m NEVER going to blog about my Mum’s age but she grew up in a village and she listens to Radio 3. Nuff said.
The second is that Boy loves the books. Absolutely adores them. In fact, I think I can hear him calling me to read one now. Bugger.
(i) I might not have actually said that.