It is said that everyone has a purpose in life.
Your parents? That’s easy, to feed, clothe and shape you. Not forgetting teaching you how to wipe your own ass
Your children? To give you the opportunity to experience the pain you gave your parents
Santa Claus? To give little people a reason to behave at least, without losing face, for even or a short stretch of the year.
But could the mythological figure be one of the most purposeful people never to have existed?
People live without Parents and without kids! It’s a fact of life, a cruel one in many cases but there ya have it. But consider a life without Santa Claus, a situation no one in living memory has experienced. Of course every human above a certain ago knows of course that St Nick is a creation of many factors, from various cultures, made in his current form without doubt by the marketing team of the Coca Cola Company
Without him, in his many incarnations we would have no Christmas, I don’t mean the traditional Christian vision of what’s referred to as Xmas. I’m talking about what we all know & count do to from September!
No tinsel, crackers or festive shindigs in silly jumpers? No mistletoe, pointless gift giving or mountains of food.
An entire genre of films, annual Christmas tv specials, countless No 1 songs & of course the toy industry itself, would either not exist or be completely unrecognisable if it weren’t for the man, who despite being the most recognisable human on Earth, never actually existed!
Even the X Factor wouldn’t be around, the only reason Simon Cowell continues to flog that dead horse, other than the money, is to get us all to Christmas! It’s basically a weekly advent calendar filled with a shitty treat!
But the biggest casualty of a world without Santa Clause & Christmas?
It may be a flat out lie that we tell to our children, encouraging them to be good so that Santa will visit them, watching them tear strips from the Argos book & Smyths Catalogue as they compile their list. Something that has already begun in our house.
We even go as far to take them to visit Santa, sometimes spending up to £100 for the experience, telling them that this is of course one of Santa’s Helpers as the big man himself is busy at the North Pole. Yet the man sat before them in the red suit, black boots and thick white beard who we openly acknowledge as a fake is more real than the actual truth of the story that each new generation continues to tell our young.
The story of the jolly yet morbidly obese figure of joy and happiness, who every Christmas Eve comes into your home to leave gifts & treats, in a perverse sort of reverse burglary.
It’s only when you consider how ridiculous yet magical the festive season is that you question what other normalities we live with that are in fact a woven tale passed along the tracks of history, which we accept them as the norm.
It raises numerous questions about our reality & if we even exist, but those will have to wait, I have to take the boys to post their rough drafts to the North Pole.
Where did I put those stamps?
The experts are never done giving us their professional opinions on how much tv our kids should be watching
They have worked out daily guidelines from type of programme to watch, type of programme not to watch to best time of day to watch.
But in all these studies with their scientific parameters & child centric considerations their remains two questions, 1. Have any of these experts ever been stuck at home with a child? 2. Have they considered Pixar?
The value of the tv as a babysitter for hyper kids is unquestionable! Should it be five minutes for a breather or two hours to give you a space to emerge from your hangover! It’s parentings greatest support mechanism.
So let’s instead focus on question 2. Even in the age of digital tech I still encounter people who consider Pixar to be a studio for kids, churning out movies solely for kids. This view has kept them from ever watching a Pixar film, overlooking the latest animation in favour of adult films, movies they consider to be their demographic. Fools!
Anyone with kids knows the secret that many childless adults are ignorant to. Pixar make movies for adults that are suitable for children! There is no way the cinematic brilliance of Monsters inc, UP, Finding Nemo and the timeless Toy Story were intended solely for children. The Story telling, character development & script quality beats many of the releases that Hollywood studios target at the big people. That's part of the marketing genius when you consider it’s us adults who have the money to buy the movie tickets, DVD and merchandise.
The studio knows that if they can turn the tables so the adults pester the kids to go see the movies then the battle is won. And that’s exactly what happens in my house!
Kids movies, there are plenty! Think Captain Underpants, The Lego Movie, Ferdinand heck I’ll even give you Disney’s Planes. Yet as good as they are they don’t have the mark of quality that the little lamp & yellow ball assures.
So what the scientists with the theories & the child experts with the degrees are missing or perhaps they don’t want to or can’t be seen to admit, is the real storytelling genius & educational benefit that has been brought to us for over 20 years by the lanky cowboy, the wisecracking one eyed monster, number 95 & their world of friends.
Think Wall E, a very real look at what our future holds if we continue to treat our planet the way we do. Inside Out, an exploration of the inner workings of the central nervous system. As for Coco, they actually made a movie about death and the imagined after life, suitable for kids!
When you look at it in those terms you start to think Pixar should actually have an involvement in the Worlds education systems.
There you have it, surely justification for letting the TV babysit or entertain the kids. We have all done it! It works & those few minutes peace it affords are well worth any shame the academics try to inflict on us. But if you want to be a better parent and who doesn’t, then switch up their viewing to Pixar. Not only is it awesome animation, its entertaining education
So, you’re gonna be a Daddy!
Well firstly, congratulations! Well done..
You have done the hard part, the blood sweat and tears has paid off! Atta Boy
Actually, wait that’s another achievement altogether, you have done the easy & the fun bit. The bit that even a monkey could and does do.
Sure the next few months or however long it is until the birth will be exciting and the first few days after the little ones arrival are guaranteed to be fun & surreal!
But take a good look at yourself in the mirror or as is the norm nowadays snap a selfie. Keep that image, keep it as a reference of how good, (ok reasonable) healthy & rested you used to look.. that’s right, I said used to look...
Then shuffle slowly towards the edge of that cliff my friend. The cliff that leads directly to the never ending free fall of Daddy doom, otherwise knows as fatherhood...
The no sleep, zombie existence, did I eat today? Two odd shoes wearing, have I even got socks on plunge!
While your in the midst of that free fall, try to take a few minutes to remember just who exactly suggested the great idea of having kids?
That will be important later.
I don’t say this to scare you, to seem negative or to appear unloving towards my own double child predicament. Kids are in many ways, amazing! But I do think that pregnancy (yes you are technically pregnant also) is all to often wrapped up in lovely pink or blue bows, sugar coated beyond recognition of the reality!
So I say this prepare you! So many people will jump to tell you that becoming a father is life changing, that it gives you a purpose and is incredibly rewarding... and yes it is, on occasion.
But it’s essential to have your eyes wide open, for everyone’s benefit!
No one prepared me, I mean sure they joked bout how you would know your arse from your elbow & bandied the old ‘shock to the system’ comment about, but no one took the time to actually explain just how hard, intensive and life changing this would be.
What is it the Boy Scouts say? Be prepared, well it’s only fair that you are given a decent chance to be prepared and to do that we need to Boy Scout the hell up!
So stick around, you might just want to read this
Just as June ends with Joy for anyone of school age, September begins with celebration for anyone with anyone of school age!
Those long sunny days of refereeing fights between thing 1 & thing 2 & emptying my bank account on never ending trips to the cinema/McDonalds/The Toy Shop are at an end!
I smile widely as those two little, well one is growing like a weed, parcels of snot & trapped wind begrudgingly donned their uniforms & shiny for a fortnight shoes, to make the short car journey to a new term of education & clock watching misery...
Que maniacal laugh... 😆 😆
But wait, what’s that beaming look across their faces? No, no no no no, fecking no! Wait just a minute, why are they smiling? What’s with the laughter? Don’t they understand that it’s back to SCHOOL! The very words I spent my childhood glaring at in disgust as they swung tauntingly from the ceiling in Belfast’s long gone C&A!!
This isn’t a time for happiness or joy, it’s dread! Pure dread, resignation to the fact that the summer is dead! The return of Homework, early rising & even earlier to bed.
Yet here they both are, chittering excitedly. Almost happy to be facing what awaits them!
Surely these two can’t be mine? The Wife will certainly need to be interrogated over this one!
They couldn’t even give me one simple win. Both are happy to be going to school! Is this real or an elaborate & frankly genius rib on me! Could a 7 & 4 year old be a match for my japes, at such a young age!
Or, is it the case that they actually WANT to go to school? Has school become a place of such happiness & joy that kids look forward to being there? I am actually torn between having my moment in the sun after two months of torture and being pleased that they seemingly want to learn.
I want to take the adult view, be proud that my creations are keen to learn and content to return to that environment. Reaffirmed that I must be doing something right in raising them, or that the Mrs is and I'm taking some of that credit. But... I just cant do it, that little devilish voice is on my shoulder again, "What's going on here big lad, you were never happy to see September?"
Truth is I have never known people like this before and its kinda terrifying. How do I talk to them, what should I say? What if they are smarter than me by the time they reach double figures?
Perhaps I should start listening to them, I might learn something?
What am I saying, this is ridiculous.
School is back and I'm free to waste my mornings again. Good luck teachers, they are all yours
In order to talk about bringing up kids in the 2000 and teens, it essential to consider the Grand Canyon of difference that exists between your childhood and your rugrats, rugrats that was a good show.
Anyway, in my childhood which took place primarily in the 1980’s, also referred to as the greatest decade ever, life was a tad different, in fact the only things that we did then and still do the same now, are eat, breath & sleep!
I figure that I am not yet at the age were it is acceptable to say, “in my day”, however In my day as a child of the 80’s I grew up in technologically simpler times. Humanity had yet to become slaves of the smart phone, which if you look around a waiting room or departure lounge nowadays, the classic avoidance of eye contact & staring intently at the wall has been replaced by the glow of screen on face & the up/down motion of thumbs so used to swiping that newborns are mimicking this long before they can grasp your finger.
Allowing for the rose tint on my memories I would argue that life was better without the gadgets, it may not have been easier or as convenient but in 2018 we are missing so much living, and I’m the worst offender, through our dependence on devices & the latest tech. Even now I’m guilty as I type this up on my iPhone..
Let’s look at some of the simple things that made my childhood so special
When every day of summer was glorious sunshine
Having a TV dinner on a Saturday night so you could watch the A Team
Waiting for Friday so you could get that weeks edition of the Beano & The Dandy
A trip to Belfast wasn’t complete without getting a slice of cheese off your mums order of cheddar in Littlewoods!
Loading up a game on your Amstrad CPC 464, then going to do your homework, eat your tea and watch Blue Peter only to return & find it still hadn’t loaded
The pick and mix section of Woolworths
Staring in awe at the Christmas window of Anderson & Macauley or any window of Leisure World!
Getting hit with a 20p fine for returning your VHS rental without rewinding!
Everything in the sweet shop cost 10p
Getting a go on Mickey Marley’s roundabout
Being stopped and searched as you went INTO Marks & Spencer’s
Fast forward the tape or skip the chapters to present day & I’m convinced childhood is waning in popularity, it’s certainly struggling to keep up with its traditional appearance as its now more a phase of mini adultnees than childhood
Biologically of course it still exists and financially remains big business, but kids who have spent generations trying to look and act older, seem to have achieved the impossible, screwing with evolution to such an extent that an entire chunk of growing up is extinct.
I know that my kids, who are the modern version of typical rough and tumble boys, have never climbed a tree, are unlikely to ever play conkers & will def never know what it’s like to physically trudge from shop to shop In search of the latest sought after action figure.
If he is lucky the oldest will maintain his memories of shopping at Toys R Us, his little brother certainly won’t
They are boys of the instant generation, dining on super fast broadband, 1 day delivery & streaming services!
They are plugged in almost constantly, yet have no concept of what will happen if the power goes out. Whereas their father grew up in a land of self generated imagination that could keep me occupied for days.
As I bring this post to a close, my 7 year old is unwinding before bed with a soulless animation that was surely made to fill space in one of the many 24/7 kids channels that now exist. After catching a short clip I’m sure that it certainly wouldn’t have made the cut when tv for young people was made up of 2 hours in the afternoon!
In memory of Toys R Us