Culture, Sport and Sand Sandwiches

Mark Parenting, Travel 2 Comments

posing on the beachI’ve not blogged over the summer holidays. I’d like to say it was a self-imposed sabbatical, but that would be ignoring the hours sat sobbing in front of a blank screen calculating how many hours it was until school re-opened.

But the six weeks have been nothing if not educational.

I learnt that playing bad-guys is this seasons “let’s play cars!

It’s a simple premise. Ransack my bedroom under the guise of building a hideout. Fill it with enough artillery to qualify for a seat on NATO. Rampage through the house leaving carnage in your wake. And repeat. Again, and again, and again …..

I’m not saying it was torturous, and turn away now if you don’t like plot spoilers, but the season finale involved me turning a Nerf gun on myself.

It’s also been a summer of musical enlightenment.

A trip to the Bridgewater Hall to hear the Hallė Orchestra play ‘theme tunes everyone will know’ taught me that ‘everyone’ doesn’t necessarily include Sonny and Luca. Turns out they’ve never seen Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek or E.T. Who knew? Apart from me. And Janet. And every parent of a child under six.

Now, you may think you’ve experienced the worst that fidgeting has to offer, but you’d be wrong. Not on this level you’ve not. To be fair, the kids weren’t much better either.

So bad did the fidgeting get, that when Sonny started picking his nose and eating it, I took it as a blessing. I suspect the whole hall did. I probably wouldn’t have returned for the second half had I not been confident that somewhere up those nostrils were a main-course and dessert.

I also learnt that the instrument I’d loudly and confidently told Luca was a cello, wasn’t. I have a pompous little shit well-educated child sat behind me to thank for that.

I’m not saying I took it badly, but when his dad refused him an ice-cream at the interval I immediately went and bought four. I then sat side-on and ate mine with all the enthusiasm of an ice-cream eating soloist. I’m not proud, it cost me £16!

I also learnt this summer that if the boys hear a One Direction song and ask who it’s by, and you tell them it was Joy Division, you only have to wait for someone to ask them who their favourite band is and you instantly have the coolest of kids. Inspired, I know!

I must remember to correct that misinformation at some point. Ideally before they go to their first school disco and clear the dance floor by requesting the DJ plays Dead Souls. Best Song Ever it most definitely won’t be.

Not that I have a good track record when it comes to correcting misinformation. Sonny once asked me what Taylor Swift looked like. I showed him a photo of Iggy Pop. Had her album not been advertised on TV he may never have known any different.

And here’s a little known fact about Iggy Pop you may not know, courtesy of Luca. Iggy’s first name is actually Igward. You may want to double-checked that before repeating it, although he said it with such enthusiasm I’m assuming it to be true.

But this wasn’t just a summer of music. Oh no, it was also one of sport, courtesy of a holiday club at the local leisure centre. Otherwise known as a two week sentence for crimes against my sanity.

The seeds of sporting greatness were sown last year when at the mini-kickers football camp, Sonny walked away with the most prestigious of all the awards. Similar in many ways to the Ballon d’Or, he picked up the trophy for …. best listener!?

personality of the weekHaving decided he’d achieved all there was to achieve in football, this time he chose mini-Olympians, and this time he came away with the big one. This time he won what all Olympians strive for … Personality of the Week.

See, money well spent. He’s only a sporting talent short of Sports Personality of the Year!

We didn’t manage a holiday away this year, or at least the boys didn’t. Janet and I somehow wangled a free weekend in London courtesy of the boys favourite auntie.

Yep, I said it, thanks Jackie. But fear not other aunties, I’m very fickle. Like, I don’t know, a week in Venice fickle?

What remained of the summer was handed over to the boys to do with as they wished, which was mostly playing bad guys, staring at screens, playing bad guys, trips to the park and did I mention we played bad guys?

We did still manage a few more days out though, where yet more lessons were learnt.

face painted butterfly teenage mutant ninja turtleFor example, you never truly appreciate Alton Towers until you’ve spent a day at Gulliver’s World. Now there’s a sorry godforsaken place if ever there was one. Given Sonny’s aversion to rides it was a very expensive sandpit and playground too.

My highlight was Sonny’s stand-off with the face-painter who was trying to convince him to be a superhero.

“Boys can be pink butterflies too!”

I was really proud of him, even if she did then take it upon herself to paint it blue?

Not that it mattered, a few minutes later he banged his face and the subsequent tears left him looking like a tramp clown.

The more the paint ran, the more he cried, and the more he cried, the sadder the clown became. A true tragicomedy, played out on his face.

On a positive note, should he come out as gay in later years it’ll make for a great opening ‘I knew I was gay from an early age’ chapter for his autobiography.

cuddles on the beachFor his birthday we spent the day at Crosby beach, jumping waves, rolling down sand dunes and eating the statutory sand sandwiches.

Luca learnt that you need to keep your mouth closed when rolling down a dune.

Sonny discovered the curiosity that is a sand-infused bogey.

And I learnt that sixteen degrees is more than hot enough to get sunburn. You’d think my legs hadn’t seen daylight since … oh, 2005.


jumping-wavesFor Luca’s birthday, Janet learnt that trampolining should carry a ‘not suitable for mothers who’ve given birth to two or more children’ warning, and that they’re missing a trick not having a Tena Lady vending machine at the entrance.

I also heard a noise like nothing I’d heard before. So strange it’ll haunt me to the day I die. Like a cat trapped in a bagpipe being dropped from a great height. I’ll not say who it came from, other than to say it immediately followed Janet shouting,

“Watch me do a front flip!”

And we also managed a return trip to the Bridgewater Hall for their family open day, which in all honesty didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know. Notably, that musical instruments are best enjoyed anywhere other than my house.

Luca loved playing the trombone, and when Janet suggested she might buy him one for his birthday I decided the best thing to do would be to tell our neighbours and invite their counter offers not to.

Then I remembered I don’t really talk to our neighbours, so instead I did what any man of the house would do. I put my foot down. I distinctly remember saying, and I quote,

“Over my dead body you will. Absolutely not. No!”

Couldn’t have been clearer, because sometimes you need to lay down the law. Sometimes you need to remind everyone who’s the boss. Sometimes you …. what the hell is that trombone shaped parcel being delivered by the postman!?!

And yet despite all my grumblings, these last six weeks have been my favourite summer holidays yet. We’ve had so much fun and I genuinely feel blessed to have spent so much time with the kids. A fitting end to my time as a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Although as Janet is keen to point out, I may have written something very similar twelve months ago?

Comments 2

  1. *wipes eyes*
    Oh blimey. As a blog post, this has it all. I laughed and I went “Aww” in all the right places (I think) 😉
    I have to say that your lovely boys are very lucky to have such a great dad. You’re V cool and one day in the future (when the acne and the mood swings have gone) they will love you for it.
    Please note that I allowed the slip up of using the One Direction reference because you swiftly followed it up with Joy Division. Consider yourself forgiven but for heavens sake don’t let it happen again, OK?
    Very entertaining post. 🙂

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