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Archive for April, 2010

I’m not sure how many other people feel like this, but when you’re having a less than shiney day, the last thing you need to see is some glad-handed smile Beamer looking with patronizing pity at you as they laugh and Twitter away the snot-nosed tugs and cries of their own children.
“Oh they’re so wonderfully independent…” might be one of the phrases you hear as these little buggers behave like zombie savages, all grunts, groans, grabs and saliva as they whine and whinge everyone else around them to a state of fist-pumping anger.
“You just have to understand that they haven’t formed their
communication skills properly, and it’s up to us to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

We should all be so blessed.
Of course, it is my opinion that these people are merely being Stepfordesque, and that the reality is that once in the comfort of their own homes, they unravel like a roll of Andrex toilet paper around a puppy, culminating in some cacophonous screaming rage that protects their public personna. Either that or they take another mandy.

Of course the other unwanted part of these ‘happy shiney Mom’ equations are the offspring they grin inanely at. Because guess what? Unchecked and unaccounted for, this behavior doesn’t go away. In fact it gets worse. These coat-hugging screaming whelps continue at pace to develop such fine social skill sets, safe in the knowledge that the world will sit down, smile and spend large amounts of time trying to work out what they’re saying.

If you don’t believe me, look around you. Society is filled with loud, noisy obnoxious wankers all jostling with the social graces of aspergers victims for conversational counter space. Now I’m not suggesting that these people would be better if they’d been given a good cuffing, no, what I am saying is that you have to offer your child structure, and that sadly, structure takes work.

And here’s the truth. Some people don’t have the stomach for that. They don’t have the stomach to discern when it’s OK to slide and when the big guns have to come out. And they certainly don’t have the stomach to show real emotions. Because, truth at ten, IF you’re trying to do it properly, it’s going to hurt occasionally. And that means that you won’t always have your happy shiney game face on.

So I suppose the other bit of this is that I have little time for fakers. They do no-one any good, not their kids, not themselves and certainly not me. Sometimes misery loves company, and there’s not much worse than being patronized by some gurning noised out hypocrite when what you’d really like is for someone to show some empathy. You will, if you’re me, be checking their eyes for signs of diazepam or some other bliss maker. Indeed, the wide-eyed grin would be classic Ecstacy territory, but alas what they’re saying is not nearly as fun or entertaining as an E user, so prescription drugs it must be.

On a very unrelated note, my wife and I went to see “Kick Ass” a couple of nights ago. It is not stretch of the imagination to see our daughter in the role of Action Girl or whatever the pint-sized
purple-headed heroine is called. Their energy is so similar it was funny.
The film is a lot of fun, based on a comic book as it is, though Roger Ebert apparently found it morally reprehensible. I suppose you could take that tack, but I’d wager it’s as much about what’s gone on in his life than anything else (I don’t remember him bursting out on ‘Pulp Fiction’ for example).

No, it’s not only worth seeing, for those of us who have small action kids of our own, there is an almost cathartic sense of relief and entertainment in seeing the lead character decimate all the gangsters in the world. I don’t want her to take up firearms, but I certainly wouldn’t mind her taking up this sort of acting…

…that…

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“Hello Mr.Chirazi.”
Not the most earth shattering of phrases I’ll agree, but for some reason, as the nice teenage chappie at my gym greeted me, towels in hand, smile on face and title established, I was taken aback.”
“Thanks but…Steffan’s cool.”
Or ‘holmes’ or ‘dude’ or ‘bro’ or just call me ‘whassup man’ because, er, that’s how I roll. I mean, even Don Draper calls Conrad Hilton ‘Connie’ on “Madmen” and those dudes are old! Well, Connie is anyway.
Anyway.
My point is that in calling me Mr.Chirazi, the chap had unknowingly made me momentarily aware that despite my Motorhead shirt, I am middle-aged. I am, indeed, a ‘Mister’ to those 21 and under. Which is all fine and dandy I suppose, not to mention true. In recent weeks I have learnt that my left IBS band ( hip flexor, and let’s hope I have the right abbreviation otherwise you’ll think it’s a bowel issue) tightens sufficiently with two indoor soccer games a week to render me a limping fool after the second one, so now it’s down to one game a week and training.
“What is that caused by, hardwood floors?” people will ask politely, and I will reply that no, ‘it’s’ caused by 43 years plus some extra pork on my frame. Of course I don’t dwell on it, because life is what it is and it ain’t half bad at all. But this morning’s gym salutation reminded me that there’s no definition as to when you actually are old enough to be a proper ‘Mister’ and that perhaps generally, your amount of ‘Misterdom’ is judged by your children and how old they are.

The teenager will tonight be ensconcing himself at an all-night party in a hotel suite. He asked me how I felt about him going and I was blunt.
“As long as your name isn’t on the reservation, as long as you box smart and as long as you wear protection if necessary, I’m all good and thanks for asking…”
It doesn’t mean I don’t wonder what’s going to happen later, what sort of clown-shoeing will take place. But that’s half the point. I hope some DOES. I think he needs it, in fact, I think he needs to drink so much that he throws up (into the toilet, don’t stain the bed or carpet because you’ll be charged for it) which doesn’t sound very ‘Mr.Chirazi’ at all, but is my true position. Because deep deep down I trust him not to do anything absurd, dangerous or disrespectful, in fact, in my experience of him after just two beers, he’s likely to be the one who falls asleep in the corner ( my wife said this a few days ago and I repudiated the thought, but now I rather like it so I’m nicking it).
“We’re putting stuff that could break, like lamps, in the closets,” he offered cryptically when I asked him about the finer points of the party) and what’s further is that I chose to see it as a sensible nod of caution rather than a clarion call announcing what was going to happen. Still, having once decimated my friend’s studio bedroom at 14 with spaghetti bolognese (cooked by us at least – it was tasty but we were drunk and the phrase ‘food fight’ become a cacophonous life’s calling after the 4th can of Tenants Super and the third bottle of Blackthorns) I understand that it’s best to retain a realistic perspective about it all. It could be worse. No, really, it could. So I hope he has a good time, no, a great time, and yessir, have a couple for me while you’re there. Let’s see how that goodwill holds up in the forseeable future though, eh?!

Meanwhile, my daughter is preoccupied with being a Powerpuff Girl. That and seeing how many inane questions she can absolutely batter me with in two hours or less. I didn’t think it was possible to ask so many inane questions in 120 minutes, but she can certainly do it. Most of them revolve around repeating the same one. In fact, allow me an example.
“Dad.”
“Yes.”
“Can I watch Powerpuff Girls when we get home?”
“OK that’s fine, but make sure you have a bath first.”
“So Daddy…can I watch Powerpuff Girls?”
“I just answered that question.”
“But can I?”
“Did you hear my answer?”
“Yes.”
“And what was it?”
“Yes but I’m having a bath first.”
“So there’s your answer.”
“So can I?”

I firmly believe that this particular type of ‘rotational exchange’  (as I shall politely call it) could be employed by law enforcement officials when questioning criminal suspects; after the third go around they would surely crumble into either a blubbering heap of guilt or a jiggering wreck of broken innocence. I often experience a blend of the two, which I’m sure many of you can empathize with. But you have to do the right thing, and the right thing is to explain why the answer already given is the only answer to be had; the fact that this process could well leave your spirit weeping quietly in the gutter is all part of the price.

Tangentially speaking, this is also a very very important thing to remember when it comes to offering kids the right balance of encouragement, praise and space to just do whatever it is they’re doing. Which brings me to the horrific sight which met my eyes at a recent swimming lesson my daughter went to. Because there, right beside her, was a very nice little girl who had the misfortune to have one of ‘those’ Mums. Yes, you know the ones. They burst into a round of heated applause if their little 4 year old cupcake manages to out a pretzel in their mouth without smashing it into their face, and this woman was the type. Her daughter managed to hold the float board and kick her legs without drowning, and this was apparently worth a shriek, a squeal and a flapping together of the hands which looked for all the world like a special Olympian singing a Susan Boyle song on ‘You’ve Got Talent’. I mean, come on! What sort of future are you setting your children up for with that sort of curiously maladjusted malarkey? I can see this poor girl now, screaming and throwing a fit by the photo-copier because her ability to make a clean photo-copy has not been celebrated by the arrival of flowers, gifts and a marching band. What will happen to her confidence? How cruel the world is!

Of course if we’re still using photo-copiers when she’s of age to use one, it will probably be a bigger miracle than if she gets through her first work day unscarred. Technology is enveloping us in it’s seemingly harmless ether, and I’m always willing to inhale. For example I’ m writing this on my new iPad, and frankly I love it. As for the e-reader component, being the honest yet filthy hypocrite I’m becoming, I bought two books to add to the free Winnie The Pooh that was already there. They sell children’s e-books, and the graphics are even more beautiful on the iPad screen. I considered buying one or two for my daughter, but then I decided against it. Only the other nigh she exclaimed how much she loved her book shelf and all the books on it. Proper paper books of course.
And y’know what? Mr.Chirazi’s not prepared to be the lazy bastard who takes them away from her right now…

Sent from my iPad

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…yes. As I was saying. Since I was last here, I have learned a few things. And I thought I’d share them with you. Because you never know, perhaps you’ll find them helpful.

1) I am far far less of a morning asshole if I wake up after 7.47am. Yes, it’s true. When I do not have to rouse myself at 6.20am to taxi people around like some malcontent zombie-bastard, then I am actually a teeny-tiny bit approachable even BEFORE morning coffee. I can raise a smile, I can even offer a small conversational exchange. Don’t push that last one, I’m just saying…

2) I am delighted if the first thing I see in the AM is Bubbles. This is nothing against my family, who I love dearly, it’s just that when I see my furry little friend, when I pick him up and have a good old sniff of his long, night-prowled-garden-saturated fur, my day starts a little more calmly. I don’t know what cats have in their fur that acts as a valium to my senses, but Bubbles has it in spades and goddam it that’s the shit I need first thing in the morning. That and coffee. And relative quiet. Unless I get a chance to…

3) …play music first thing. Yes. A blast of The Buzzcocks maybe, a hint of Nick Warren’s trance, a smidge of Underworld, even a thundering chunk of High On Fire can all make my day kick off to a far, far better start.

4) A morning kiss. yes. A gentle kiss and a hug as opposed to a small one landing knee-on bollocks-in-kidneys-on-face whilst screaming ‘DADADDADADADADADADADADA’ (as ifd this will make the pain go away) is far better. In fact, a large super-charged tazer-style cattle prod shoved where the sun doesn’t shine might be less of a jump-start to the nervous system than what I’ve just described. So yes. A kiss. And the occasional snuggle. And then a quiet departure, allowing 5 minutes to leave the mattress. It’s not much to ask, is it?

5) Nearly 5 year olds and nearly 18 year olds laugh at the same words. “PENIS PENIS, you’revagina-bum-bum-poo-penis!” This chorus of verbage from the pre-schooler is met with a peel of laughter from the teenager. I have mastered the art of stifling any laughter I might have behind a mask of indignant disgust. Well we can’t have the inmates running the asylum all the time can we/

6) Sometimes silence works best. I have tried shouting loudly that the above words are not appropriate in such a context, but the truth is that frankly, it’s best occasionally to just ignore it all and casually look over, snorting ‘if you think that’s funny or impressive then you’re sadly mistaken.’ I will, however, immediately slap down any attempt to combine the words loudly in public. I will only allow mentions of  ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’ in a serious context. There is no serious context for ‘bum-bum-poo’ so that is forbidden.

7) However hard they try sometimes they cannot help it. And its important to recognize that moment. It’s hard to, but it is important. Because towards the end of the day, when tiredness has crept in and single-mindedness is paramount, sometimes the mind gets stuck in a bad gear and however hard they try to shake out of it, no amount of raised human volume will help. You can usually tell the moment, as it’s preceeded by a large yawn, then another, a couple of eye-rubs and then a blurted out ‘I’m not tired!’ That’s when you need the grease of empathy, of human comfort, of being able to say ‘OK OK I know you don’t know why you just screamed ‘bum-bum-poo-penis’ in the shops, so let’s just chalk it up to tiredness and know that it’s inappropriate and move on, right?’ After which comes a hug. Amazingly it works. It’s just a case of being able to do it. That can be the hard part. Because half the time, I end up speaking at the same volume as an Englishman trying to talk to a non-English speaking person in English (i.e. BLAH BLAH BLAH SHOUTING WHATEVER IT IS REALLY REALLY LOUDLY WHICH DOES NOTHING EXCEPT DEAFEN AND AGGRAVATE THE ALREADY CONFUSED LISTENER)…

8) My daughter loves playing football also. Call it ‘soccer’ if you want, but it’s football. And she loves it. And she’s a natural. Seriously. She is. So that’s my son who loves the game and now my daughter (who also knows Jermain Defoe songs and can say ‘Come on you Spurs my son’ in a silly London accent – as taught by her brother). My wife suggested I take her out to play and after resisting for a long time (on the basis that if she liked it, my wife would have to deal with houseful of football fanatics) I finally went for it. And now I am delighted. “When am I getting my new Spurs shirt?” she asked recently. This is a wonderful sentence which deserves to be asked a few more times before I relent and order it.

9) Sometimes you just need a couple of hours. That’s all. Sometimes you just need a few daytime hours to work/read/blow-off/whatever it is you do. Away from them. Away. Not near them. Not in the same building. Zip code is fine. This does not mean you don’t love them, it merely means you need a little time and space to re-energize so as you continue loving them more. Otherwise you might end up eating them , like tigers do their young sometimes. I was joking with that last bit. A  bit. But truth is, as I sit here, having had 93 minutes to myself during daylight hours unfettered by kids for the first time in 7 days, I’ve suddenly realized that I (sort of miss them…) a bit…or at least that I’m thinking of them. Their faces. Their laughter. Their humor. Their language. All of it. It’s all rather complicated in the end of it.

But let me be very clear. iI anyone wants to offer us a fully-paid vacation to a sunny spot with built-in childcare which will allow us at least half of every day to do nothing for one whole week, we’re ready and just e-mail me now.

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