The Oncoming Storm

The Mark 2 fibreglass (Tom Yardley-Jones) Tard...

Time and Relative Dimension in Space (Wikipedia)

When asked to identify himself to the Daleks’ Parliament in series 7 Doctor Who answers “It’s me, the Doctor, you know me, the Oncoming Strom, the Predator.”

Mr. T turned two years old a little over a month ago and I have been thinking more and more about this Oncoming Storm.  Obviously I had heard all about ‘the terrible twos’ when toddlers start to assert their independence without any knowledge, much less care for, the rules of social etiquette that binds society together.

You know the rules I mean, like not throwing yourself on the floor and screaming at the top of your voice because your dad has given you grape juice instead of orange juice for breakfast.

Or the rule about not kicking, punching and screaming your mamãe because she thinks two straight hours of Peppa Pig is probably enough.

Then there’s the rule about not headbutting your vovó because she doesn’t want to let you sit in the driver’s seat and drive her car through rush hour traffic.

Totally unfair rules for a two-year-old, I realise, but ones which help the smooth running, indeed the very survival, of a family.

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver remote control

If you’re looking for presents for me for Christmas or a birthday… (thinkgeek.com)

In my few moments of quiet solitude I sometimes ask myself ‘What would the Time Lord do with an opponent as implacable as a toddler?’

With other enemies he can whip out his sonic screwdriver.  Sometimes he uses many millenia of experience and intellect to work out a solution to the problem.  If this doesn’t work he can always dive for the cover of the Tardis and escape.  Failing all these he just trusts to blind luck and it usually works out well in the end.

Unfortunately, I haven’t got a sonic screwdriver, nor a Tardis and my luck isn’t the greatest (I still haven’t won the lottery).  I like to think I am above your average intelligence, but there are lots of people who would disagree and have quite vehemently told me so to my face in the past.

So all I have is my patience and my intransigence.  My plan is just to plod on regardless of the screams and the punches and the kicks.  Stick to my guns and don’t give in.  If I retreat Mr. T will take a mile so I must insist that he drinks his grape juice, or turns off Peppa Pig, or can’t drive his vovó’s car.

And to some extent this is what Doctor Who would do.  He wouldn’t give in to a Dalek or a Cyberman or a Weeping Angel.  But then he never had to face a monster as fearsome as a two-year-old boy.

Daleks

The Daleks ain’t got nothing on a toddler.

Samson and Mr. T

English: Delilah cutting the hair of Samson

Wake up Samson! (Wikipedia)

You probably know the story of Samson and Delilah.  Samson was betrayed by his wife (is there ever any other role for women to play in the Bible?) when she told his enemies that the secret to his strength lay in his long hair.  When they cut his hair they took away his super powers.

In the end, he had the last laugh as they forgot to cut his hair and he ended up bringing down the whole palace, killing himself, Delilah and his enemies.

What could this possibly have to do with raising a toddler?

Nothing really.  Unless, of course you believe in fairy tales and you think the following isn’t pure coincidence (or exaggerated to make it fit a narrative).

Goo (album)

One of my favourite albums (Wikipedia)

When I was a teenager I was into my grunge music.  I had long, messy, untidy hair.  Even when I cut it, I have hankered after the days when it was down below my shoulders; it is impossible to dance properly to Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr without your hair flailing around.  Maybe because of this, I encouraged my wife to let Mr. T’s hair grow longer than she wanted.  It was never at the heavy metaller length, but it was comfortably untidy.

Eventually even I had to admit it was getting to be a bit of a hindrance; it took ages to dry it before going to bed and it was starting to get in his eyes.

So he had it cut.

What happened next?

He got a cold.  It might not have been because he got his hair cut; it might have been because of the very changeable weather we have been having here.  it might have been because Mr. T has taken to sleeping on top of the quilt.  It might have been the fact that his head is a little more exposed.

Or it could be because he lost some of his superpowers.

He has also started to fall over more often.  One of the times he fell over he ended up with a huge, angry, purple bruise on his forehead.  It might just be that he is at an awkward age in that he has a lot of mobility but not all the control he needs.  He also has this habit of walking on one direction and looking in another one.

Or it could just be that his long hair gave him the power to balance even in the most difficult situations.

tantrum #500

Tantrum stage 1 (demandaj)

In the last couple of weeks he has also started to throw hissy tantrums.  If he doesn’t get exactly what he wants and he wants it he is liable to throw himself on the floor in screams of righteous indignation.

I am sure this never happened until he got his hair cut.

The logical, rational side of my brain tells me this is just a phase that Mr. T is going through.  His cold will soon disappear when the weather gets warmer and he starts sleeping under the covers again.  He’ll soon learn more control to go with his extra mobility and, so long as we parent him properly, these tantrums will eventually work themselves out.

The other part of my brain tells me that he wasn’t betrayed by his wife, but by his mother.

Dirty Boots

Man, this looks old now.  Freak Scene

Rebel Yell

English: Photo of Private Sam Watkins, Confede...

Private Sam Watkins, Confederate infantry soldier (Wikipedia)

In the American Civil War the Confederate soldiers screamed their Rebel Yell before charging the Union soldiers.  As you can see from this video from the Smithsonion Institute shot in the 1940’s of Confederate soldiers re-enacting the yell it sounds a bit like a mix between a banshee and Casper the ghost.

I suppose from our vantage point of the early 21st Century it sounds almost comical, but I am not sure it would have had that effect in the heat of battle.

There is now a brand of Bourbon whiskey called Rebel Yell, designed I am sure to capitalise on any remaining sympathies for the Confederate cause.  Personally, I can’t stand Bourbon as I much prefer proper whisky, preferably with no ice but perhaps just a little bit of water.

In the early 1980’s Billy Idol was at a party with The Rolling Stones where they were drinking this whiskey and it proved to be the inspiration for the title of his second best-selling album.

Rebel Yell (song)

Rebel Yell (Wikipedia)

The first and eponymous song of the album was one of his most successful and memorable.  In the song the rebel no longer screams like a demented rabbit, but he cries for ‘more, more ,more.’

In its own way this is perhaps more frightening than the original Confederates’ Rebel Yell and just as indicative of its time.

If Mr. T were to have his own Rebel Yell it would probably more along the lines of ‘more, mais, more-mais’.  ‘Mais’ is the Portuguese word for ‘more’ and one of the few words that he has mastered from both languages.

It is becoming increasingly evident that he is able to switch between the two words depending on who he is talking to.  The default setting is ‘more’, which he uses to ask for more Peppa Pig, more juice or horse rides on my back.  He also uses it in the sense of ‘another’ for example when he sees one bus he shouts ‘Mimi car’, and then when he immediately sees another bus he shouts out ‘more Mimi car!’

If he asks you for more of something, and he doesn’t get what he wants he will sometimes switch to use ‘mais’ to see if this has any better results.  If this still doesn’t work then he can always attempt to throw a tantrum.  I think I have also noticed that with is vovó, who speaks 99% of the time in Portuguese to him, he is more likely to say ‘mais’ than ‘more’.  However this is just a tendency rather than a hard rule as she understand English and so if he asks for ‘more’ he more than likely gets what he wants first time around.

More language will undoubtedly emerge over the next few weeks and months.  In the meantime, here is Andrea True, a porno star turned pop singer with More More More

 

Parenting is a Game of Football

The Man Who MadeThinking Cool

The Man Who Made Thinking Cool (spratmackrel)

The Premier League in England starts up again this weekend.  Unfortunately for me, my team’s season started a couple of weeks ago because Birmingham City are officially crap.  The Championship starts a couple of weeks earlier than the Premiership and we have had a half decent start with 1 win from 2 games.

Usually, this is a wonderful time of the year when everyone can dream but this year I have very low-level hopes: avoid relegation, get rid of our chairman who is on charges of money laundering in China, avoid administration.

Football and Life

“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.”

He may not have been the world’s greatest goalkeeper, but Albert Camus  bridged the gap between the beautiful game and philosophy and arguable became one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.  He claimed to have developed a lot of his thinking through playing, watching and talking football.

If a great thinker can credit his ideas to a sport, why can’t I do the same for parenting?

Teamwork

The best teams aren’t full of the best players; they are full of players that mix well and complement each other to produce something that is more than the sum of its parts.

The same can be said of parenting.  Instead of goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers we have dads, mothers, friends, in-laws, out-laws, the nice couple around the corner…  We may not have all the ingredients but whatever there is needs to work well together.  There is no point have the world’s greatest dad if he doesn’t work well with the rest of the family.

4-4-2 diamond

4-4-2 diamond (Wikipedia)

Tactics

‘Ladies and gentlemen, England will be playing 4-4 fucking 2!’   Arguably one of the (many) reasons England have been so bad over the last  50 years is that they have been very restricted when it comes to tactics.  A good set of tactics can elevate an average team into a good one, and good team into a great one.  No tactics and even the best team in the world will struggle to win much.

Being aware of the goals that the family is working towards and they way they hope to get there and then trying to do this together are vital.  Without this you’ll just end up playing my Junior school football team: running around like a bunch of headless chickens.

Communication

I’ve played in games where you might as well have been in church.  Nobody is talking to each other, there are no shouts of ‘man on’ or please from the ball as the winger bombs into space in the box.  I have also played in teams with lots of relevant and timely advice from the leaders of the team.  You can guess which teams usually do well.

In order for the team to work together and the tactics to be implemented, communication is key.  Parents need to talk to each other.  They need to communicate ideas and strategies to grandparents and try to ensure that everyone knows their roles and tries to stick to them.  If granny is….

Birmingham City Football Club badge

Keep Right On

Keep Right On

As I said, my team is Birmingham City and we have known our fair share of heartache.  Our club’s anthem is  Keep Right On and when it is sung by a packed stadium it brings a lump to my throat.  It talks about how the journey is long , no matter how ‘tired and weary’ you might become, you have to ‘keep right on ’til the end of the road.’

We have a lot of tears and heartaches as parents.  But we have to keep right on until the end of the road.

Don’t Blame Others

It is common for players, managers and fans to blame somebody else for their ills.  if it isn’t the referee it is the chairman, lady luck or Gypsies.  The fact is, though, that it is usually our own fault when things go wrong.  Sure, there are times when we don’t get the rub of the green, but that is just the way things are.

As a parent it is easy to blame others, our parents, our partners, our kid’s teacher…  The list is endless.  However, it would pay for us to start looking closer to home if there is something systematically wrong.

Alcohol

After a good, or a bad match, there is nothing more satisfying than a pint of beer, or two.  The same goes for parenting.  Once the little mascots have finally gone to bed, crack open a can or open a bottle of red.

The Beautiful Game

We love football because it is the beautiful game.  We endure all the lows for one brief glimpse of a high.  It is simple and elemental, yet complicated and advanced.  If this isn’t a metaphor for parenting, I don’t know what is.

To paraphrase the opening quote: A lot that I know most surely about parenting and obligations, I owe to football.

One of the greatest moments of my life:

The Man Who Made Thinking Cool

Monty Python on football and philosophy

 

Everything in its Place

How old can you be before you develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?  However old it is, I am sure that Mr. T either has it or is going to get it.

The miniature rooms of Charles Matton at AVA L...

A nice tidy room (Wurzeltod)

It won’t be my fault, neither.  The blame for this one will be laid firmly at the door of my wife.  I can happily leave things lying all over the house without worrying if they are in the right place or not.

Before I got married my clothes would end up on the floor, if I could even be bothered to take them off before going to bed.  Washing up was only done out of necessity when I had no clean dishes left (in order to avoid having too many dishes to wash I only ever had a couple of plates, glasses, etc).

I never actually see the mess, my eyes just seem to skim over it all and land on things that are much more interesting, like beer, computer games or drying paint.

Some people might have called me a slob.  I prefer the phrase ‘organisationally relaxed’.

My wife, on the other hand, has all her clothes colour coordinated in her wardrobe, going from white at the one end, through various shades of pink, orange, red… before eventually ending up at black.  Everything has a place and there is a place for everything.

Mr. T is certainly following in this tradition.  Everything has to be just the way he wants it.  His toy cars have to be parked all facing the same direction in a long line.  When I am building a train out of wooden blocks for him I have to use the blocks he gives me.  His two Winnie the Pooh bears have to be lying in exactly the right position before he’ll kiss them and then go to sleep himself.

The worst sin in the world is for anything to be dirty.  He runs his finger over stuff, looks at it and says in the most disparaging voice (and sometimes with an Irish accent) ‘Dirty’.  You can almost imagine him tutting at the end and shaking his head in disappointment.

He seems to have an idea that there is a right for the world to act.  And one way that it shouldn’t act is by the wrong people driving the wrong car.  It is very common in Brazil to go to a car park and leave your car at the entrance for an attendant to park it.  Mr. T hates this.  He cries and cries for ages when he sees somebody getting into ‘mommy car.’

English: Mitsubishi Pajero in off-roading, nea...

Who’s driving vovó’s car?  And they’re making it dirty! (Wikipedia)

We had assumed this was only happening because he didn’t know the person, but then last week his tio Nano (Uncle Fernando) came to visit.  Vovó and Mr. T went out to the airport to pick him up, which was great fun as he got to see all the planes taking off and landing.  When they got back to the car his tio Nano offered to drive instead of vovó.

Mr. T was inconsolable.

How could anyone else drive ‘vovó car?’  There were tears and histrionics until they gave him his tablet to watch Peppa Pig.  He calmed down and all was well until the episode finished and Mr. T looked up and realised that his tio Nano was still driving his vovó’s car.

Cue the tears all over again.

Recently we have noticed that he also associates certain books with certain people.  Mamãe tried to read The Big Yellow Digger but it turns out that only daddy is allowed to read this book.  She then tries to read a book from the Thomas the Tank Engine series, but only vovó can read these ones.  In the end she had to read the book from the film Cars.

So a two year old with OCD?  Or is my life going to become a misery with two people determined to put everything in its place?

Do/Did your kids seem to think everything should have its place?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Parents and The Ashes

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn (Wikipedia)

I am rejoicing.

It is quite a strange feeling for me, but British sport seems to have developed a backbone and started to win stuff.  Following on from the successful Olympics last year the British and Irish (though mainly Welsh) Lions beat Australia in the rugby earlier in the summer.

Justin Rose won the first golf major by an Englishman in 17 years at the USPGA and Andy Murray, a Scot, became the first British man since the 1930’s to win Wimbledon.

For me, though, the highlight is cricket.  I was brought up on terrible English cricket teams, constantly getting drubbed by the West Indies and then Australia, and to be honest practically everyone that was put in front of us.  No matter what the score, an English collapse was never too far away.

Then in 2005 the unthinkable happened and England beat Australia in one of the greatest Ashes series ever.

This year’s Ashes has quite lived up to the vintage of 2005, but it has still been exciting and, more importantly for me, England are now 3-0 up with 1 more to play.  It means England have won the last 3 Ashes series and 4 out of the last 5.  Oh happy days.

It’s a Dad’s Game

The undoubted man of the series so far has been Ian Bell.  He has always had the class but his temperament had been more questionable.  It seemed that he flattered to deceive, only ever scoring runs when his team mates had done all the hard work.  This time it has been different.  This time he has been the man to get England out of a series of holes.  He has been the leading run scorer in often difficult situations.

Many commentators have asked what has happened to Ian Bell to make him more steely.  One answer that I have seen a number of times is the fact that last year he became a father and this has given him a different outlook on life.  Whether this is true or not we will have to wait for his autobiography to find out, but I found it intriguing to think about how becoming a dad can change your outlook on life.  I know it has changed mine and will be writing about this in future blogs.

English: Mo Farah at the 2010 European Athleti...

Mo Farah wins again (Wikipedia)

There has been news and lots of talk recently about men taking paternity leave to be prest at the birth of their children and to be a apart of those all important first few weeks.  It must be admitted, though, that it is relatively easy to be father in professional sport.  Whether it is fair or not, it is accepted than some men will be sportsmen and must be away from their homes in order to achieve their potential.  I read yesterday how Mo Farah, the long distance runner, is almost a stranger to his young twin daughters because of his commitment to his sport.  This has largely been accepted as a price that has to be paid in order to be the best of the best.

Not Really a Mum’s Game

IMGP4002_womens-cricket

Women’s cricket (RaeAllen)

It must be far more difficult to be a mother when the sport you play is amateur and you have to juggle so many different responsibilities.  Women’s cricket has practically no money whatsoever so to play at the highest level means a far greater level of commitment that in the men’s game.  My utmost respect, therefore, goes out to Sarah Elliot who plays cricket for the Australia women’s team.  She had her first daughter 9 months ago and on 12th August, in her first test match since becoming a mum, scored a century that has put Australia in a dominant position against England.

Whenever one of the few journalists who is covering the game has mentioned this feat by Sarah they have made sure to also mention the fact that she is a new mum.

So perhaps the world hasn’t changed all that much.  Women still find it harder than men to compete and England (women) are still losing to Australia.

And of course our football team continues to be crap!

My Son the Keynesian Economist

English: 46 Gordon Square, London (United King...

John Maynard Keynes’ house.  About to be destroyed by a toddler. (Wikipedia)

The world is still in economic crisis.  Many economies are still well below the highs set a few years ago, and some look as if they will take a generation to return to those levels.

Countries such as Spain and Portugal are experiencing debilitating rates of unemployment, especially among the young.  The threat of far-right political groups taking considerable power is rising by the day.

What is to be done?

My son, a busy two-year-old, has the answer.  He is actively promoting a return to Keynesian economics in an effort to ensure full employment.  Give him a spade and he’ll dig a hole, and then he’ll fill it in again.  Once that has been done he’ll undoubtedly dig another hole and fill that in as well.

Or give him some bricks and he’ll build a big tower, survey his achievement and then knock it all down so that he can start all over again.

Let him loose with his cars and he’ll spend 10 minutes making sure they are parked in just the right way, only to destroy it all in one enthusiastic swoop of his arm.  The next 10 minutes will then be spent rearranging the cars in a much better order.

Building Blocks Library Macros April 02, 20116

A toddler’s work is never done (stevendepolo)

And it’s not just himself.  In an effort to solve all the world’s economic ills he has now employed other people.  Mamãe has to spend hours drawing cars, busses and trains.  Vovó has to make trains and busses out of play doh and daddy has to make trains, bridges and houses from building blocks.

Once all of these jobs have been completed, and sometimes before they have been completed, they are scribbled all over, squashed or destroyed and the employees are ordered to start all over again.

Dig holes and fill them in, it’s the only way to rebuild the economy (or bring up a child).