moreshortstuff

Life, kids etc.

Growing up is hard to do.

As I walked through Temple Bar after the meeti...

Do we ever really grow up?

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 20 JANUARY 2012

ALMOST hidden among the plethora of pointless press releases to arrive on The Bolton News newsdesk this week was this gem:
“People in the North West don’t feel grown up until they hit 25, new research reveals.”
We opted not to use the, ahem, story, mainly because it’s a load of rubbish.
And anyway, is this really a shock? Surely I can’t be the only one who thinks people don’t actually grow up at all? Especially men. I am nearer 40 than 25 and still feel like a child most of the time. Most of my friends are immature idiots – and I mean that in a nice way!
If Mrs Short tells me off for spilling a drink on the carpet I sulk for an hour, just like I did when I was 10.
I am just as likely to sell the family cow for a handful of magic beans as I ever was.
I want to be all grown up and sensible now that I have children of my own but I can’t help it. When the kids dismantled the sofa and chucked all the big cushions on the floor to form a giant crashmat, then leapt off the windowsill onto it, I am ashamed to say I wasn’t chastising them about how they could hit their heads on the coffee table, or ordering them to put it all back – I was calling them names for not being brave enough to jump from the top of the bookshelf, and joining in myself.
Although the beauty of it is when the coffee table finally got cracked, I blamed it on the eldest boy and he missed his supper for telling lies about daddy. (Sorry son – one day you’ll understand why I had to do this).
I want to read important books in my spare time instead of shooting aliens on the Playstation. Or not think I’m John Travolta circa 1979 when I’ve had a few too many drinks. I want to – but I can’t.
Our bosses at work still have the same nicknames we gave to our teachers at school, don’t they?
In fact, the only people who are grown up were grown up even when they were kids.
When I was a little boy, like every child, I fell for the grown up myth.
I thought dads must get sent to some sort of secret dad school to learn skills like fixing leaks under the sink or assembling bikes.
Now I know we just fudge it and tell lies to our kids.
“Daddy, why are old films in black and white? “Err, because the world didn’t turn colour until 1971, son.”
It’s all lies. And the biggest lie of all is that we ever grow up.
Not just men, either – women too. Oh yes, they act all sensible with their “pregnancies” and “jobs”, but after being taken prisoner by a hen party in Cardiff in 2002, forced to wear pink fairy wings and dance on tables as they bayed for more, more, more, no one will ever convince me otherwise.
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A lesson in how not to holiday with children

English: The Passenger Oxygen mask of CA976 fl...

Yay! We get to have a go on the oxygen masks, Daddy!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS ON FRIDAY 2 DECEMBER 2011

Away on a family holiday this week for a special celebration.

There are 13 of us. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

We had to get special permission to take our older boy out of school for this but it has proven very educational. At least, it has proven very educational for the grown ups on the trip.

For me and Mrs Short, it’s the first time we’ve gone abroad with the kids. So the first thing I learnt was this: get a taxi to the airport. “Let’s take the boys on the train, it will be like an adventure starting for them,” we said. How wrong we were. Trying to force your way onto a packed train with a giant suitcase, pram and baby under one arm is the opposite of fun. But at least it prepares you for the hell of the plane.

If you’ve never flown with a baby in tow, my advice is don’t! I’m surprised there isn’t a book on this to prepare you, or at least a chapter on it in all those parenting guides you can get. But then again I suppose no amount of planning can prepare you for an infant filling his nappy in a confined space at 30,000 feet. Just as the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign has gone on so that neither you or any passengers nearby can escape the sickening whiff for a good 20 minutes.

Mind you, it was our four year old who worried one of the passengers the most. You could hear the sobbing groan of despair from The Most Terrified Of Flying Woman In The World a row in front of us every time he asked a question that started with “Mummy, if we crash…” You would not believe how many questions can start that way. But he was so looking forward to crashing – you get your own oxygen mask and a life jacket with a light and a whistle on it and everything!

Finally we reach our destination and learn another new thing. Minibus drivers in some countries hate it when the passengers sing! He finally snapped at the 28th chorus of “The back of the bus cannae sing, cannae sing, cannae sing.” What a grouch!

The rest of the holiday so far has seen my learning curve continue to go up. I’ve always thought beaches sucked – what’s the point of going to a place just to get sand everywhere? – but they are even suckier with kids in tow. Did you know it can take upwards of an hour to find mummy’s bag when they have “buried it”. How we laughed. Other lessons have included: don’t let a child order octopus in restaurants, no matter how much they plead; the game of charades has limited appeal when ‘Spiderman’, ‘Cars 2‘ and ‘Batman‘ are the only films one of the other contestants can remember; your dad’s “theory” on the disappearance of Madelaine McCann sbould not be aired in a public bar; and kids are rubbish at poker. There are still a few days to go. Who knows what lessons still await?

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Mummy, cats and Robert Peston

Teach em' Young

Another child chooses to make an early start on learning how to write computer code after encouragement from Ofsted

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2011

MY YOUNGEST boy goes to a childminder on week days.
He is 18 months old now and loves it.
It helps that the childminder is recently qualified and therefore really keen.
Which means she has plenty of ideas for how to keep the kids (which is really just my boy and another toddler a few months older) busy.
They were learning about “the beach” recently so she took them to the seaside for a day. The petrol alone must have cost more than we pay her! As I said, she’s keen, and we’re reaping the dividends.
The little mite has come on leaps and bounds since he started going in September.
He knew two words back then: “mummy” and “cat”.
Now his vocabulary is huge, considering he’s still a baby. “Daddy” is in there at last. As is “more”, “rice crispies”, “please“, “socks”, “bear“, “pirate” and, oddly, “Chihuahua”.
Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still choose to watch “In the Night Garden” on Cbeebies rather than, say, BBC economics editor Robert Peston’s insightful analysis on Newsnight.
But the point is we’re really seeing a difference in the way he acts and interacts each and every day.
Sadly, it may have to stop.
Because Ofsted has suggested to our childminder that she could do more “child centred planning”. What that means is she needs to let the kids have more of a say in what they are learning about.
When she pointed out the kids are under two, they suggested – and this is absolutely true – holding a “brainstorming” session with the toddlers.
I’m not sure how you “brainstorm” with an 18-month-old child whose idea of fun is to pour porridge on his head, then scoop it up and put it in the fish tank. Then scoop it out and eat it.
But, God bless her, she said she’ll give it a go.
So her educational fun activities about the postman or growing vegetables may fall by the wayside.
Our educational leaders believe that perhaps the grown up with life experience may not always be best placed to decide on what a child should learn about.
The idea of giving our Jesse a say in his learning might be admirable on one level. But in reality it means the childminder is in for a long cold winter and her days filled with activities centred on mummy and cats.
Myself and Mrs Short know exactly how difficult this task is going to prove for the childminder. After all, we recently tried to give our older boy more of a say on what we do as a family at weekends. Sadly, while Bolton can boast a great many things, footballing robots made of chocolate that fire rockets at baddies is not something we were able to locate.
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Oh, to be a man

English: Gents this way A nice bit of artwork ...

I’ve always wondered at what age the transition from boy to man happens. With the eldest child not yet five years of age, it’s safe to say puberty and eventual manhood are some way off.
Somebody ought to have told him that, though.
Picture the scene: we go for a traditional Sunday lunch at a local foody pub. It’s full of people of all ages tucking into roast beef and Yorkshire puds, with some of the more upwardly mobile couples sampling the delights of the specials board.
Dad has a pint of real ale – you know, for a change – and the place is just the right side of posh – the kind of place where you can just make out the faint hissing sound of mums and dads quietly, but threateningly, admonishing the kids for making too much noise.
One woman near us got up and moved to a table round the corner when our boys had the cheek to talk, albeit quite loudly. She must have never encountered children before, perhaps not even been one at some point in her life, bless.
When we did leave and walked past her new home I admit I had an inward chuckle at the fact she had jumped out of the frying pan and very much into the fire – the sort of family they make Channel 5 documentaries about (“Help – I can’t stop having kids!”) had set up camp all around her. She wept silently into her cream of celery soup. Ha!
Anyhow, back to the point – the food arrived so, naturally, Eli decided he needed the toilet and it fell to Dad to take him.
As we pushed through a big oak door, he read the sign aloud – “GENTS”. He pronounced it with a hard g – for “ggggreat “- at first. Then he asked: “Does that mean ‘gentlemen’?”
“It does, yes, clever lad.”
“So where is the ladies?”
“It’s at the other end of the pub. You have to walk down that long corridor,” I said, pointing into the distance.
“That’s well far,” he quickly worked out.
Then he paused for a minute. He slowly looked up at me and proudly declared: “I love being a man.”
I suppose we should really be worrying. In a few short years, he has already seen enough to know that the guys get the best deal in pretty much everything, even when it comes to pub toilets.

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