It’s been a fair few weeks since I last blogged and in that time my eldest son Gruff (It’s pronounced Griff. No it is, really, so can you just accept that, move on and carry on reading my blog. Well actually it’s no weirder than the different ways of saying “ough” in various English words so get over it, stop being so parochial about language and read the blog.) turned 10. I’m not going to go down the route that many parents do by saying “How the hell did that happen?!?!?!” I know very well how it happened and it involved a very nice time with my wife on a wet afternoon in a tent whilst on holiday in the Vendee in 2002. My wife got pregnant and nine months later Gruff (Remember, it’s pronounced Griff.) was born and that was that.
So 10 years old?!?!? Seriously though how the hell did that happen?!?!? I look at my boy and he’s this blonde haired bundle of loveliness, he works hard at school, loves nothing better than to lie in bed listening to Test Match Special or go round the park and kick a ball about. He supports Swansea City, shouts for Wales in the rugby, is good at maths, likes reading, enjoys a fried egg, plays basketball for the Dorchester Tigers and goes swimming for the West Dorset Warriors twice a week – there’s loads more to him than that but those are the things that came to mind as sat and typed this out.
I love my Gruff (Come on now, how are you doing with that name?) but God alive he annoys the crap out of me sometimes. New parents out there it is okay to say this, social services will not come knocking on your door to take your children away, you won’t get struck down by a thunderbolt, your child won’t hate you – nothing bad will happened because you feel like this because it’s normal and okay to have such feelings and I know I annoyed my Mum and Dad throughout and beyond my childhood.
It would be wrong to make a list of things that Gruff does that annoy me – he wouldn’t thank me for it but I’m going to give some examples of things that some hypothetical ten year old boy might do that could possibly annoy me a hypothetical 41 year old father of two originally from Cardiff who now lives in Dorchester with his wife of fourteen years called Emily:
No of course I’m not – what kind of father do you think I am?
Gruff (You know how to say it now don’t you?) is 10 and I what freaks me out quite a bit about that is that I’m older now than my Dad was when I was ten but my brain can’t quite compute that. I still wear jeans and t-shirts when not at work, I go to the occasional gig, shave my head whilst keeping a beard (A quick question; my wife thinks I look like a fundamentalist when I do this but I saw some bloke in London with the same look recently and he looked damn cool – what do you all think?), I still get excited about films, books and albums coming out – what is my point here? Er…um…not I’m not actually sure, and why exactly does this freak me out? I don’t know. Am I turning into my father? Not really, we’re alike in many ways but unalike to so many others: e.g. I never wear slacks.
What I am aware of is that the things I swore that I’d never say or do in my parental relationship with my sons I’ve ended up doing. The things my parents said to me when I was younger and that annoyed the crap out of me have poured forth from my mouth and I react inwardly with horror as I hear myself saying them – no actually that’s a big fat lie. I hear them and suddenly there is a realisation bursting through my brain and blinding me with a flash of acknowledgement: Oh my God, my parents were right!
Some examples follow:
- I don’t care what some other kid does in his house, his parents must be idiots if they let their child do what Gruff is saying his friend is allowed to do.
- Actually this is my house and my son will live by the rules that Emily and I lay down and no Gruff, there is no negotiation about this.
- Who knew that an untidy bedroom could piss me off so much – my Mum used to get so stressed with my room being in a state and I get it now, I so do – sorry Mum.
- You will go to bed at the prescribed times Gruff: 1) you need your sleep and 2) your Mum and I need time to ourselves.
- “I hate swimming, I want to give it up, please don’t make me go.” “Gruff, you’re going.”
There is no debate, I have turned into a dictator ruling over my children with an iron rod and I will be obeyed and I won’t feel guilty about this and the reason for my lack of guilt is this: my boys are lovely young men and when I see their fellow pupils in school with them, the ones who are just as nice and just as well behaved are the ones who have strict parents, ones who don’t let them get away with murder. The little shits in their class are the ones whose parents let them run wild like feral creatures, say that their son is their “best friend” – stop that right now, he isn’t, he’s your son and the rules of your relationship with him are different. Parents who can’t see that their little ray of sunshine has done anything wrong ever and who live in some mythical dreamworld where if anything bad happens involving their child then it is never – never I tell you – their child’s fault even if there is HD CCTV evidence backed up with a sworn signed affidavit from the 23 other children that saw their Devil’s spawn do what he did. Wishy washy, modern away with the fairies parents drive me mad and they park on the zig zags outside school too as their child for some reason can’t walk more than 50 yards to get in the car to get to their home which is well within walking distance from the school itself – walk for God’s sake, walk!!!
So Gruff is 10 years old and the truth is that I love him with every bone in my body and I am very proud to be his Dad.