Friday, 28 May 2010

I done wrong many years ago

I am a parent, but I was a teenager once.

I have found out things with age, I have grown old, I have not seen a burning bush, I may have seen a smouldering ash pile, I have seen a few inconsequential things, I have witnessed consequential things by a cathode ray and a plasma screen, I have deduced things and today's deduction is a Biblical spelling error. When the Lard spok of the innocent child being born inherent with Sins of the Father. This is a mistake. Errors happen, these things happen, a slip of a finger, a misjudged interruption, a lack of a reading age above 3 and some Middle Age printing press spreading knowledge to the masses printed the text "Sins of the father". And it should have read "Sins against the Father". Children born to be teenagers to rage against the father. And, dear Lord... I was a Sinner.

I was a son and I was a teenager and I was not that nice.

At that time, many years ago, I was transformed physically by chocolates and a fair bit of footy from a cute ten year old into a zit infested lanky fella. Over the years I have been transformed physically by chocolates and insufficient exercise into a grumpy middle aged fella that does not like being called 'lardy'.

And I have also changed metaphorically as the responsibility of the years, the career, the parenthood, the mortgage, the deaths of the immortals that I used to call Dad and Mum, years that ground me down as responsibility bears down.

Now I am Father and I am that nice. I have learnt as the knees have fallen foul of years of bendy twisting mazy dribbles and the odd foul. I know in the present tense that my famed free-kick ability is in the 'was' category of conversation. I have learned in the future tense that one day I must accept it is not only the knees that fail.

I am learning that I must accept. And that sperm of the of Me is reeking its revenge, my son's grandfather is probably turning in his grave with laughter and smiling a "well now can I remind you what you shouted at me and yer mother when you were thirteen, thirteen and 1 month, thirteen 1 month and 4 days, thirteen 1 month......seventeen".

I am humbled and haunted in my own guilt. I must accept. Been there and done that and was not right but was a right......

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Chair Incident

It was a warm, barmy evening, I could have been mistaken for an old fella with a beer belly, sitting like a beached whale on a sofa , watching telly with the worst of my generation probably doing the same. I was not only capable of being mistaken for an old fella, I was an old belly-up-left-and -centre-of-a-belt fella. I was a lapsed calorie-offender making another mistake en route to the weighing scales. And that mistake was an extra chocolate bar, when I was doing nearly well whilst following an Atkins or was it ..never mind was a diet involving a lack of chocolate and generally anything vaguely scrummy. I succumbed, I indulged and new trousers ~elasticated ~ were the order of the day... well the next forty years .....touch wood.

I was that fella. I was kind of happy with my lot and accepting of the reduced view of my feet due to a belly. I was calm, it was Friday, work was a distant memory. Monday was an age away. I was comfortable in middle age spread for once.

Then slowly but surely a distant whispering crescendo-ed in possibly minutes, these early noises, I was trained to ignore. A first mistake these were minutes in the early years of teenage, I ignored at my peril.... voices heard in octave busting clarity ended with a clatter........ and then some cries of hatred called out like a defining moment on World History...what had he done... what was now lost to Mankind,, there were interspersed crying tears. I am afraid. I am home alone with teenagers.

I was being called to be a father, a father who had to adjudicate on a Sibling rivalry incident...the Chair Incident.

As any good detective I surveyed the scene. There was good news - there was no body. I had to evaluate instead between the clothes that littered the floor, the boxes that littered the floor, the CD, DVD, Gamestation boxes that littered the floor, the unidentified objects that littered the floor and was that a crisp wrapper it was three crisp wrappers; and as a good detective I was there to evaluate what was there before and after.

The ~after~ by clever logic of the blindingly obvious, as a chair lay broken in two and a sister claiming that this was her most worthy, best-est ever chair and now it was broken by a heartless cruel older brother with evil in his blood and original sin as birth defect. He, on the other competing hand, professed in a series of shouts that between the injustices and mockery of human rights that his parent's shortcomings were, that he had forewarned the claimant ~ his sister ~ this foreign object ...the chair...should be removed forthwith from his personal space i dot e dot what we shall now call his bedroom. It should not have been his room, room spelt HIS ROOM and was therefore legally evicted by the defendent, in the absence of any effort by said sister to even hint at raising a little finger to raise the plastic of the chair upwards or as we should now call the chair ~the broken chair~ and that in the absence of any sign of actual removing the offending object, he ~the defendent or as the criminals courts may refer to him in about two years time ~ a teenage deliquent from a broken home, as the obvious escalation of the seed event "a.k.a. the broken chair incident" by any known law of nuclear family chain reaction ~, but anyway, he ~the teenage delinquent ~ used unnecessary and uncalled for violence on an object destined to have become a treasured heirloom for her ~ the victim's~ children and my ~ a sad person's~ grandchildren.

Tensions were still high and if little fingers could not be raised, middle fingers were being secretly ...well not so secretly... shown. Calling in the social workers was an alternative, an alternative to be averted, but how?

A Father has got to do what a Father's got to do. I snapped.... not literally because I have a perspective as an adult... I snapped the plastic seat of the chair into the metal frame of the chair, the family heirloom was as if new, I demanded apologies of both to be given and sent both to do their own thing. The Chair incident was over, just like my television programme.

The next years will be long and without televised entertainment.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Teen language Part 2

In my day and age, when flares were corduroyed and Starsky and Hutch were cool, ...yes...really. We had words knownst only to us, well the subtlety was knownst only to us. We were left-of-centre, we were cocky, we had DMs. We had kagools that probably would have had us called fore-runners of hoodies, if CCTV was there to make us famous. Been there and wished I really hadn't done that for the sake of a peer group acceptance, now that I'm looking back.

Today it is not words, its sms's in a language of abbreviations to fool an Enigma machine. Not only a shortcut language, they have signs, smiley signs carefully adjusted colons, dashes, semi colons and Ds.

They have handshakes that would make a congratulatory handshake after a Wembley final hat trick by Stanley Matthews look like a probable cause of arrest for attempted assault with a wonky hand by an overzealous team-mate. Stanley would have thought he was about to be half Nelson'd by Mick McManus, as opposed to the "Undertaker", "Scorpion King" or the something-that-sounds-frightening-to-children. That is children as opposed teenagers. Teenagers who have disowned the prized posssession of yesteryear ~ the multi-jointed long haired mega-expensive man-doll called "The Fridge", although yesteryear was last year and a bit.

All those Wrestlers from the wrong side of the publicity stunt, multi-jointed short-arsed version of Action Man that are now as uncool as a white stripe on a red car.

Today I am supposed to know how to rap to talk to my son. Today I need to dance like a robot gangsta with my pants where my trousers should be, to walk with my daughter.

Maybe the next generation is destined to be brickees.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Teen language Part 1

In German, Spanish or other wonderful languages that I fail to learn better than to nod hello and wave goodbye , the hand signals are necessary in case I get it wrong and wave hello.

In these languages there is a trap, probably designed that foreign learners are disuaded from prematurely amputating the hands and losing all senses of communication.

In these languages besides false friends such that 'constipation' is cured by a cough mixture in Madrid, there are accentuated syllables..... designed to be fallen foul of. Accents on syllables meaning in, say, a four syllable word the first part or middle part or penultimate part of even the final end bit is meant to shouted, whilst all others are whispered. And in certain other words the shouting parts of the word means the word is transformed into something ever so subtley different. So an innocent abroad could be talking in the present whilst meaning the past and in short the locals are giggling very much in the present and in your presence. In short a nightmare.

But this nightmare is nothing... is nowt... is but a small pimple on the bum of humanity to a teenager accenting his words in each idiosyncratic syllable, so if I would say "I had one yesterday" as perhaps and per chance a 'bath'. For me this would be a true statement and indeed like other adults in the modern world probably true of today too. For my son this statement may be a lie in that he may or may not have had a bath, the smell is suggesting, tending to say.... it may be tending to indicate that is a lie of about grey on the white lie to absolute whopper scales. However I digress the response that my boy says, and when I say 'says', I mean shouts as in "I HAD ONE YES-TER-DAY". Tonsils are wind-tunnelling to the Extreme. Each and every syllable is accentuated for the benefit of all adults present. 'Pardon' is made redundant in the father-teenage son relationship.

My hearing may not last the next few years, the Battle of the Hygiene is not yet over.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Disco by any other name

My daughter announced she had a love of dance and wanted to spend my hard earned cash dancing. Later this new love of dance was proven to be that her friends were doing it, so loving dancing appears to have morphed from her idea of loving to "keeping friends". I was happy, she was making friends, she would get exercise, she could be the next Olivia Newton John and I know I am old by virtue of a namecheck.

Dancing was and is good, and I must admit that I used to cut a few shapes back in the day .......and at the end of this dancing masterclass there was to be Spectacular in a proper theatre.

Expensive tickets were bought by a sold-out crowd of parents, aunts, and third cousins that jockeyed for seats in the free for all seating arrangements of the proper amateur theatre experience, but at least the seating was on a slope. It was a crowd that taught me a new lesson in evolutionary theory. Evolution of Man and survival of the fittest rested on who had the pointiest elbow. And beware grannies bearing umbrellas and false teeth smiles.

I was a newby lost in with the "Vets" ~ The Regulars with older children that had their phase of loving dance, they had specially darned scarves evenly distributed to mark their claim for the first three rows. Obviously their holiday towel training had gone well. So we were forced to the rear rows and thanked the Lord that we had pointily elbowed our way out of the seat with a panoramic view of a column, we had elbows and knew how to use it. We had been saved from "audio only" ticket that would have singled us out as he who is the one called nerd, son of nerd, son of the geek.

Game on after 15 minutes of waiting and watching the scarf with jealousy, just in case there was a chance of pinzer action and a taking of the lowgrounds. But no curtains were raised and the Regulars miraculosly appeared at the last minute to take the seats draped in the honour guard of the Scarf.

On they came, the dancers......danced...well I say danced...well, no, actually ...on they skipped.... there was to be fair a bizarre twirl of a body enhanced by a trailing scarf that probably had released a half a dozen seats in its hey day.... after such exertions the dancing apparently took on the form of sitting on the floor..... then a sitting on a magic sofa...a lounging about on the sofa that appeared to be based on the young dancers, or perhaps correctly, the sitters posed as in artistic poses, but I could be wrong...the sofa went to far worlds where modern dance appeared to have replaced all forms of communication... in the name of God, this was Modern Dance that bar for a daughter on stage to make me feel duty bound to sit and clap and stay put and overcome a certain fear and loathing, they had inflicted upon me Modern Dance. Was I warned, was there a note on the ticket ~Warning Modern Dance may be boring ~ I would have asked for my money back... but damn it, I ask you ...I looked on....I spit in the face of peer group pressure to clap....skipping is not difficult....I could have done it ~skipping~ and without ten weeks of training, and what did we pay for again....although admittedly if I had actually skipped I probably would have regretted the swollen knees tomorrow. I am growing old. I duly clapped. I have learned that love is clapping Modern Dance when your daughter is skipping and twirling a scarf.

And in all this there was a certainly fatherly pride that as skipping goes my daughter's skipping had a grace, a physical eloquence that any comparisons to heffalumps were safely avoided. It is a strange quirk of fatherhood that unholy of unholies things that got ganders up further than absolutely necessary in former times, those rants I entered into at drop of a hat over one or several beers in single-dom pubs are now condoned and not condemned. I am maturing, but is it fast enough to withstand the coming teenage storm.

This is still, at least, sub thirteen behaviour... we await when she wants to go proper nightclub dancing and I may yearn for the easy applause of seeing my daughter skip across a stage.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

I am a Father of a Teenager - I am afraid

Yeah I had the highs, the first years I could handle it, at least I thought I could, I enjoyed the highs, all my friends were doing it, yeah, the baby years were fun. There was the days, first tumbling crawl, the wobbly walk, the multi coloured kaleidescope of the supersonic puke - as an aside projectile vomiting should be used in war theatres or at least paintball competitions. There was first day at schools, will they make friends? Will they be bullied, will they get the grades, will they...? Then slowly but surely there were the not so good school reports, the possible bullying, the friends from hell, and ......the wage packet divided by four, the one holiday perhaps per year, the pub visits got less, the sunday footie got less, the waist line got bigger, the hairline got higher.

Now I am about to be a father of a teenager, my son has morphed from a loving bubbly kid into something that God fearing folks carry pitchforks to herd to the nearest duckpond, by God the hormones are travelling. The signs are there, signs as in the arguments over rights to privacy. The right to be unclean, that at present extrapolation, I will probably need to buy him a bell for public appearances. His thumbs have formed an alliance to a Playstation console that questions the need for most other digits in man's evolution. His plates are left dirty piled on discarded DVDs or CDs or whatever was left from yesterday's so-called tasks. We fear for the mould that may be spreading under the camouflage of hard cash wrapped up in books and magazines that may never be read or see a dustbin for many a year.

I am frightened that his legs will become weak, muscles will deteriorate except for the thumbs, his mind weakened by war with wounds in his digital world.

The day is drawing when the playstation will be removed, as the rise of the hormones charts the cascade into poor grades - a punishment, a pardigm shift, a learning opportunity is necessary as the thumbs must be re-adjusted to hold a pen. The hormones will cause a rage against the parental machine. Fellow parents the news fom the front is the Battle of the playstation is won, the war has just begun.

He may hate me now, but one day he may say "well looking back ...perhaps...ok..thankyou." Dreaming on from the Trenches.