Monthly Archives: June 2013

Yorkshire holiday games

For our holiday with extended family in Yorkshire, the sun shone and the lawn in our walled garden stretched out left, right and away from us, with one corner sacrificed to a tennis court.

And so the games began. Cricket: single wicket; limited overs; last-man standing; and throw-downs for no.1 son, showing un-vacation-like determination to hone his batting technique and run-scoring potential against nine imaginary fielders I had to place and move to counter his shots. Badminton: competitive, but usually co-operative – counting successful rallies. Football: sweaty matches played by five cousins – five ages, five sizes – three-and-in, piggy-in-the-middle; with tumbles, trips, laughs and panting.

holiday 1

A bright morning of mini-Olympics post-modern pentathlon: running, satsuma ‘n spoon races, long-jump, high jump and limbo.

holiday 2

On the court: tennis with racket and ball; with foot and football; catching competitions and games imported by no.1 son from school for a crowded court of 10 or more players with racket wielding attackers on one side and bare-handed defenders on the other; and a smooth surface for roller-blades and scooters.

holiday 3

A playground by the local swimming pool. In the contemporary fashion, its equipment adapted from the design of medieval siege warfare devices.

holiday 4

At the end of the week, our trip westwards across the Dales, included a stop for a pony ride.

holiday 5

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Twelve

twelveA guest blog from my wife:

My first born will be twelve in a few short days.

Twelve is between worlds, part fluffy chick, part weary adult. Twelve comes in from school each day and wants to sit down and watch a cartoon for children half his age, totally absorbed in the animated world of aardvarks. Twelve will cling on to me, still small enough to tuck under my chin and whisper that he wishes he was still at primary school. Twelve demands his own key to the door, but refuses to use it, choosing instead to pace up and down the road in the driving rain, all clenched fists and anxious eyes, if I am not home in time to let him in to the house after school.

Twelve wants to watch the news, eager to have the knowledge to passport him to the adult world. He asks question after question to make sense of it, unremitting in his quest to pin down the truth, the facts about the world he is going to. Twelve wants answers to be black and white; the realisation that the adult world he craves is more shades of grey panics him and sends him back to the aardvarks.

Twelve still kicks a ball at every opportunity, even absent mindedly idling bottle tops, dirty washing, cushions or anything on the floor with his foot as a ball substitute. He will then sit for hours watching sport on a screen, a little man-in-waiting. Twelve is too anxious to watch his team if he thinks they are going to lose, striding out of the room and ordering someone to turn it off, hummimg to himself – anything to take the embarrassment away.

Twelve often finds his brother and sister intolerable, embarrassing in their childishness, cruel in their closeness to each other. In his mind, they are children and he is the grown up and he does not or cannot access their world. Twelve reacts angrily to cleverly aimed, seemingly innocuous taunts from his siblings. He finds it increasingly hard not to hit back physically. He thinks I don’t see that he has been provoked, but I do. I must find a way to mother a man-child, who will be bigger than me one day soon, who is already stronger than me. I try to tell him I don’t always get it right, but I remember being twelve and I will keep trying.

Twelve chats easily to adults, particularly men. He often appears to find it easier than talking to boys, certainly than talking to girls. He chats readily and knowledgeably about sport and is animated and happy in their company. Adults love him too; he is not (yet) a typical (pre) teen, does not grunt and hunch but is articulate, clever and funny.

Twelve is crippled with embarrassment by me in public. He cannot make eye contact when being picked up in the car if his school friends are present. He does not say goodbye if being dropped off, but walks away from the car quickly, with determination and anxiety to get where he is meant to be on time. His shoulders are always hunched, his fists clenched; he cannot bear the prospect of being late. He is careless in his criticism of his parents, not yet realising or caring that prefixing an observation with ‘No offence, but…’ does not mean that that it will not cut to the quick. At the same time he is learning to apply this to himself – acknowledging with generous acceptance and without rancour that his younger brother is a better footballer than he is.

In private, Twelve wants cuddles and chats. He will kiss me on the face and press his still-smooth cheek against mine, asking me how my day was. He cannot go upstairs alone and wants to be tucked into bed. He says he will not sleep unless one of his parents is in the room next door, consciously keeping himself awake as long as possible in tense anticipation of something he cannot articulate.

He wants to play ‘capital cities alphabet game’ and I have nearly run out of obscure ones to test him on. I find myself revising in secret to try to prolong the games with him.

Twelve’s glass is half empty, but it has always been so. He wages a constant battle against real or anticipated disappointments. Aged five, eagerly awaiting his first World Cup experience, already seeing his place in the world of televised sport, he comments sadly and with heart-clenching insight after a few minutes’ silent viewing ‘but it’s just an ordinary football match on an ordinary pitch’. He copes with his regular disappointments by mythologizing his past, by giving compartmentalised, absolute assessments of times past. Current events or experiences rarely match his view of his past: the campsite we visited on holiday in 2010 is the best one we could ever go to; the book he is reading will never be as good as one he has already read and ‘to be honest, it’s not as good as….’is a regular refrain.

At the same time, he is increasingly aware of his part in the current generation, the almost-teenager has a healthy sense of entitlement and ownership of the world. Driving with him on a sunny day, he observes the bright greens of the trees we pass in our affluent suburb: ‘I’m not being funny, Mum, but in the Seventies and Eighties, were the colours as bright?’ He laughs, embarrassed – aware that what he is asking must be true, but unable to quite believe that other people, me, could have seen the world as though through his fresh eyes. He backtracks as I laugh, not wanting to be thought silly or having asked a stupid question. We compromise on agreeing that no, cars were not as colourful and shiny when I was his age but the trees and sky looked pretty much the same as I remember.

Twelve is lovely, complex, loving, bright eyed and bushy tailed, disdainful, world weary and sarcastic. He is a complete person, he is my son. He is two, five, ten, twelve, thirty, fifty and who knows what. I miss my baby, but I can still see him in there. I am looking forward to knowing the man he is going to be.

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Filed under Guest blogs, individual development, social animals

After Earth – the competition

After Earth 2After Earth, the new movie starring father and son duo Will and Jaden Smith, focuses on the relationship between the two men – playing father and son. Set centuries in the future, Cypher and Kitai Raige have been stranded on an uninhabitable Planet Earth. Cypher, the Dad, is critically injured and reliant upon his son for survival in a hostile environment.

Touchline Dad has the opportunity to mark the release of this movie with prizes of five After Earth gift bags (containing t-shirt, pens, wallet and USB sticks), provided by Sony Pictures UK. With the film’s focus on the father-son relationship, the competitions are directed towards parents and children working together:

Before After Earth quiz: unravel the clues to name the 8 films featuring father-son relationships. Some of the films will be better known to Dads (and Mums); others will be kids’ favourites. Each clue will be tweeted by @touchline_dad and then added to the quiz post on the blog. Submit your answers as comments to that post. Two winners will be drawn  from all those with the most correct responses received on the blog by midnight, 8 June 2013.

Competition – Your story: what notable thing have you achieved as parent with your child, or as a child with a parent? The two most original or affecting stories, judged by Touchline Dad, will receive After Earth gift bags. We’re looking for something that really required both of you and where you learnt from each other. Tell your story briefly as a comment to this post, or if you have already written about it elsewhere, post a link with brief summary as a comment to this post. Comments will close on 8 June 2013 at 12 midnight.

Competition – Your image: a photo showing a shared achievement of Dad (or Mum) with son (or daughter). The competitor submitting the most striking image, judged by Touchline Dad, will receive an After Earth gift bag. Add a comment to the image to explain its significance. Images should be uploaded to Touchline Dad’s facebook page, by 8 June 2013 at 12 midnight.

Good luck and check out Cypher and Kitai’s struggles with the ultimate Father-Son challenge in After Earth.

The prizes

GoodBag_UK(1)

Terms & Conditions

  • The winners will be selected by Touchline Dad, and only they will be contacted personally. Prize must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.

  • Sony Pictures UK and Touchline Daddo not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries due to the Internet or email problems. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entrants must supply full details as required on the competition page, and comply with all rules to be eligible for the prizes.

  • No responsibility is accepted for ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently.

  • Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is not open to employees of: (a) the Company; and (b) any third party appointed by the Company to organise and/or manage the Competition; and (c) the Competition sponsor(s).

  • This competition is a game promoted Touchline Dad. Touchline Dad’sdecision is final in every situation and no correspondence will be entered into.

  • Touchline Dad reserves the right to cancel the competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.

  • Entrants must be UK residents

  • Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition.

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Before After Earth – the quiz

After Earth 1After Earth, the soon to be released movie starring Will and Jaden Smith, brings father-son relationships to the fore.

This quiz – Before After Earth – tests your knowledge of fathers and sons in movies. There are brief clues – plot summaries – of eight movies. Each will be tweeted first by @touchline_dad before being added to this page.

Once all eight clues have been given, submit your answers as a comment to this post. Two winners from those with the most correct answers will be drawn from those submitted by midnight on 8 June 2013. The winners will receive After Earth gift bags.

Clues:

Movie 1: Single Dad has life disrupted by son – French toast & playground accident
Kramer v Kramer

Movie 2: Two pairs of father & son; one pair are rodents – most are chefs.
Ratatouille

Movie 3: Son leads Dad a merry dance – all the way to the Royal Ballet School
Billy Elliot

Movie 4: Uncle sets a trap. Dad dies saving his son.
Lion King

Movie 5: Two sons of a strict Dad – different in character but sharing a love of trout & fly
A River Runs Through It

Movie 6: Father shields son from the horror of internment by creating a game.
Life Is Beautiful

Movie 7: Father and son share the low of sleeping on subway toilet floor.
The Pursuit of Happyness

Movie 8: A child snatched. A great adventure. A bit fishy?
Finding Nemo – the best Dad and lad movie of them all.

Terms & Conditions

  • The winner will be drawn at random from all the correct entries, and only they will be contacted personally. Prize must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.

  • Sony Pictures UK and Touchline Daddo not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries due to the Internet or email problems. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entrants must supply full details as required on the competition page, and comply with all rules to be eligible for the prizes.

  • No responsibility is accepted for ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently.

  • Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is not open to employees of: (a) the Company; and (b) any third party appointed by the Company to organise and/or manage the Competition; and (c) the Competition sponsor(s).

  • This competition is a game promoted Touchline Dad. Touchline Dad’sdecision is final in every situation and no correspondence will be entered into.

  • Touchline Dad reserves the right to cancel the competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.

  • Entrants must be UK residents

  • Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition.

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