Parents and The Ashes

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn (Wikipedia)

I am rejoicing.

It is quite a strange feeling for me, but British sport seems to have developed a backbone and started to win stuff.  Following on from the successful Olympics last year the British and Irish (though mainly Welsh) Lions beat Australia in the rugby earlier in the summer.

Justin Rose won the first golf major by an Englishman in 17 years at the USPGA and Andy Murray, a Scot, became the first British man since the 1930’s to win Wimbledon.

For me, though, the highlight is cricket.  I was brought up on terrible English cricket teams, constantly getting drubbed by the West Indies and then Australia, and to be honest practically everyone that was put in front of us.  No matter what the score, an English collapse was never too far away.

Then in 2005 the unthinkable happened and England beat Australia in one of the greatest Ashes series ever.

This year’s Ashes has quite lived up to the vintage of 2005, but it has still been exciting and, more importantly for me, England are now 3-0 up with 1 more to play.  It means England have won the last 3 Ashes series and 4 out of the last 5.  Oh happy days.

It’s a Dad’s Game

The undoubted man of the series so far has been Ian Bell.  He has always had the class but his temperament had been more questionable.  It seemed that he flattered to deceive, only ever scoring runs when his team mates had done all the hard work.  This time it has been different.  This time he has been the man to get England out of a series of holes.  He has been the leading run scorer in often difficult situations.

Many commentators have asked what has happened to Ian Bell to make him more steely.  One answer that I have seen a number of times is the fact that last year he became a father and this has given him a different outlook on life.  Whether this is true or not we will have to wait for his autobiography to find out, but I found it intriguing to think about how becoming a dad can change your outlook on life.  I know it has changed mine and will be writing about this in future blogs.

English: Mo Farah at the 2010 European Athleti...

Mo Farah wins again (Wikipedia)

There has been news and lots of talk recently about men taking paternity leave to be prest at the birth of their children and to be a apart of those all important first few weeks.  It must be admitted, though, that it is relatively easy to be father in professional sport.  Whether it is fair or not, it is accepted than some men will be sportsmen and must be away from their homes in order to achieve their potential.  I read yesterday how Mo Farah, the long distance runner, is almost a stranger to his young twin daughters because of his commitment to his sport.  This has largely been accepted as a price that has to be paid in order to be the best of the best.

Not Really a Mum’s Game

IMGP4002_womens-cricket

Women’s cricket (RaeAllen)

It must be far more difficult to be a mother when the sport you play is amateur and you have to juggle so many different responsibilities.  Women’s cricket has practically no money whatsoever so to play at the highest level means a far greater level of commitment that in the men’s game.  My utmost respect, therefore, goes out to Sarah Elliot who plays cricket for the Australia women’s team.  She had her first daughter 9 months ago and on 12th August, in her first test match since becoming a mum, scored a century that has put Australia in a dominant position against England.

Whenever one of the few journalists who is covering the game has mentioned this feat by Sarah they have made sure to also mention the fact that she is a new mum.

So perhaps the world hasn’t changed all that much.  Women still find it harder than men to compete and England (women) are still losing to Australia.

And of course our football team continues to be crap!

Curitiba and its Bipolar Weather

A picture of a Snow Crystal taken by Wilson Be...

Could have been taken in Brazil (Wikipedia)

It was cold here in Curitiba a couple of weeks ago.  And I mean really cold.  On one night it got down to -3!  And it snowed!  That’s how cold it was.  It hasn’t snowed here since 1975.  Ok, if you blinked it would have missed it because it lasted about 5 minutes and didn’t settle at all.  And it was probably more sleet than snow.  But still…it snowed!

Usually I can tease my friends a family back home because even in the winter we often have better weather than the UK.  This time though Britain was experiencing a heatwave while we had our most extreme cold snap in a generation.

This city, despite being the coldest state capital in Brazil, this city is not prepared for the cold.  There are a lot of homeless people who were in danger during the cold snap and this lead to the local council opening up their shelters for the homeless and their dogs.  Usually, dogs are not allowed in which means that lots of people decide to stay out on the streets, but it was so cold the rules had to be relaxed.  It was sold in the press by more than one person as a way to save dogs rather than people, which kind of tells you a lot.

Sakura

A little bit of Japan in Curitiba (RadamesM)

Individual Curitibanos rallied around to donate warm clothes to the homeless.  This was mainly done through the council and charitable organisations, but I also saw one tree in Praça do Japão with some hooks nailed into it and clothes left on the hooks.  Under the hooks was a sign inviting homeless people to take whatever clothes they wanted to help them keep warm.

At times it was even colder inside houses than outside.  There are very few homes with insulation, and even fewer with double glazing.  The windows that we do have are usually fitted badly so that there is always a draft, and this is amplified by doors with a one inch gap under them.  With no central heating we have to turn to either space heaters or lots and lots of blankets.

This can be a problem for parents with young children.  After a story and a bath you tuck your two-year-old up in bed with an extra duvet to keep him warm.  When you look in on him 20 minutes later you see that he has thrown all of the blankets and sheets off and his almost shivering in the cold.  This is even worse if he refuses to wear the warm pyjamas you bought him.  Fortunately, my wife found a great solution the last time we were back in the UK: blankets with zips so that they can’t be thrown off.

As so often with the best ideas, this one was blindingly obvious as soon as somebody else told me about it.  It really seems to have worked as Mr. T was much warmer this year than last and doesn’t seem to have suffered from the same amount of coughs and colds.

Of course this week we have the opposite problem.  7 days after half freezing to death the city was enjoying a mini-heatwave with temperatures approaching 30 degrees in the day.  It has been a case of needing sunglasses and sun cream rather than hats and scarves.

Going Underground for a Happy Family

Blatantly underground

Blatantly underground (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are lots of things that make us happy.  I am at my happiest just after Mr. T has gone to bed and I can get a beer and my wife can have a glass of wine (or two).  But that doesn’t really count because one of us is asleep and who knows what dreams ir nightmares he is facing.

When we have a nice day and we can get out as a family makes us all happy.  We recently went to a city farm and Mr. T had a great time feeding all the animals and running about in the grass.  While we are all happy the grown ups have to still be aware of the Peppa Pig that might bite his hand off or the latest incarnation of Red Rum who might be about to jump over the biggest fence ever and stampede in our direction.  (I have cousin who is afraid of any bird bigger than a chicken and so has never been able to go to a city farm because of all the ducks and geese.)

Mr. T is extremely happy when I am his horse and he can ride around on my shoulders.  It is one of my favourite things about being a dad of a toddler, but it does get tiring after a while and then I have to deal with the cried of ‘more daddy, please!’  So I know there is going to be a come down even in the midst of the enjoyment.  Added to this is that my wife is prone to have a dodgy back and so can’t join in the fun as she might like to.

We did use to have a lot of fun when going out for walks when we would have Mr. T in the middle of us and swing him up in the air by his arms.  But then one day not so long ago, while playing a different and totally innocuous game, Mr. T dislocated his elbow and so now we are too afraid to play this game anymore.

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

Not quite at this level yet. (Wikipedia)

The thing that makes us happiest as a family, the thing that is guaranteed to get everyone laughing and jumping around, is to have a good old-fashioned dance.  When Mr. T was still a baby I used to bounce him up and down on my knee when watching Sesame Street videos on youtube, or I would sing to him and jump around the room with him in my arms.

A couple of months ago he started to get off the sofa whenever he heard the ‘Hot Dog’ song for Mickey Mouse clubhouse and rock gently from side to side.  This has since developed so that any song with an upbeat rhythm is likely to get him going, spinning around and waving his hands in the air.  I am pleased to report that he seems to have learned all his moves from his dad.  (Either that, or I dance like a toddler, I am not sure which.)

We have a little stereo next to his changing mat and we put an old iPod there with random songs from our collections.   He knows which buttons to press to turn it on and how to skip a track if he doesn’t approve of our choices.  In the last few weeks he seems to have taken a particular liking to almost any song by The Jam.  It is becoming a family tradition to have a little dance after we have finished changing his nappy, and there aren’t many tunes better than Going Underground to get us all in a good mood.

This post was written as part of the Multicultural Kids Blog Carnival, which this month is hosted by Kids Yoga Stories.  You can get lots of information about the carnival and much more about the work of  Multicultural Kids Blog by visiting their great site.