Friday, 20 September 2013

HDs guide to getting 'kid fit'

I've always been fairly fit. I wouldn't say very fit but certainly above above average. As a child I played a lot of sport. As an adult I have boxed, run marathons and trained with weights. I've even dabbled in a bit of yoga which has made me incredibly bendy.

Next week I turn 41. Still a young age in the grand old scheme of things. However I have started to notice a few subtle changes in my body as a result.

  1. I cannot even look at a chip without gaining a stone
  2. I am exhausted, constantly
  3. I find it impossible to run ten miles after consuming 2 bottles of Chateux Thames Embankment
  4. I now have to buy clothes in shops that can cater for a 68 extra fat crossed with a 12 dwarf
Many parents experience exactly the same thing. We all do as we get older. Add any number of crazy kids into the mix, plus lack of sleep, stressful jobs, money worries and a sex life that a monk would ridicule and you have a guaranteed recipe for an ever expanding muffin top.

Here at HD we are at the forefront of up to date advice to parents. Diet and fitness is no exception. The latest craze in the get fit quick market is to mimic the activity of toddlers and small children in an effort to lose weight and develop your fitness. This doesn't mean wearing a large nappy to work or attempting to breast feed 40 years too late, however tempting. 

The premise is simple. We are unfit and fat. Kids are fit and skinny. Therefore copy kids and get fit. Simples!! There are all manner of web sites, classes and fitness gurus providing advice on how to crawl around the house or incorporate games into your fitness routine to make it fun. Here at HD we can go one better, with our official guide to making kid fitness work for you.
  • What ever film or program you are watching, re-enact it. Don't just watch Gladiator. Pick up a toy sword and repeatedly hit your partner with it while pretending to ride a chariot. Alternatively, watch Kung Foo Panda and spend the day kicking lumps out of the patio doors.
  • Run everywhere. Don't use open spaces though. You must confine your running to anywhere inappropriate. Libraries, hospitals, funeral parlours and Tescos are good options.
  • Continuously throw things into next doors garden. 100s of calories can be burned just retrieving items from your neighbours.
  • Spread every item you own on the floor of the house. This takes an incredible amount of energy plus works the full range of muscle groups. In addition, as the parent, you'll have to pick it all up and tidy it away which doubles the benefits.
  • Have a fight. If you are having an argument in work repeatedly punch and kick your colleague. If possible create the argument over something extremely little and unimportant. I recommend something like, get off my chair!!! That's my chair!!! Muuuuuuum!!! Dave from accounts is sitting on my chair!!!!
  • Stuff your face with sweets just before bed time. This will give you an incredible energy boost. You can then persuade a friend or neighbour to try to force you into a pair of pyjamas while you swing from the light fittings.
  • Practice the rigid toddler pose. A strong core will help improve your fitness no end. When you get in the car ask your partner to put your seat belt on. While they attempt this raise you whole body 3 feet off the seat as stiff as an ironing board.
  • Install a toilet in your home that is waist height. Then consume 15 bottles of fruit shoot during the course of the morning. You will have to climb on to your toilet every 6 minutes through the afternoon. An incredible, full body, workout.
  • Have a fancy dress box. Run up stairs every 3 minutes to change into a new costume during the course of the morning.
  • Incorporate kid fit into your stalking routine. You may have a small telescope looking into your neighbour's bedroom window. Buy a trampoline instead and peer into their house every 2 or three seconds for hours on end during the summer months.
  • Hold your birthday party at a local soft play venue. To an adult this will be like two hours spent competing on an episode of Total Wipeout. It will burn approximately one million calories an hour. Plus you will be enjoying yourself so much it will be impossible to persuade you to come and eat the ludicrously expensive and calorie laden party food.

Hopefully this guide has given you a real insight into 'kid fit' and how to make it work for you. If you follow this program you can and will achieve incredible gains in fitness and lose a few pounds too. It is also possible that you will get arrested whilst running into the local post office brandishing a toy gun.

Next week: Get 'hamster fit' by buying a treadmill.

Good luck

Hapless Dad

Monday, 16 September 2013

I STILL can't hang weights from my penis but......

I did it. I starred the devil straight in the more bloodshot of his wonky eyes and I survived. I managed to get through an entire wedding weekend without touching a drop of gorgeous lovely booze.

I wrote a post last week explaining the greatest challenge of my life so far. I am on some medication from the doc which, if I drink alcohol, will make my arse fall off. Not a problem normally, but this weekend I had to face a two day wedding weekend booze!!

lets start with the most positive aspects of the weekend:

  • First of all, I made it. It didn't kill me. I'm not saying I came through the ordeal unscathed but I am actually still alive. I know this because I just spilt coffee in my lap and it really hurt.
  • Weirdly I got some perverse enjoyment out of having to abstain. Just like when I had a tattoo recently, for the first time, I found the process a little exciting in a weird way. I've always enjoyed a challenge, perhaps that's it. Or maybe there's an element of masochism somewhere in my subconscious. Tea total now, next stop gimp mask, a big nappy and an aggressive women who charges by the hour.
  • I felt a weird sense of clarity. Being in a room full of outrageously drunk people I felt clear and lucid. Every sense seemed to be more alert. Every smell, every taste, every sound, every sensation was magnified by 10. At 11 pm I stood in the fresh air outside the marquee. I noticed every single star and every single sound in the still air. I felt the cold breeze on my skin. It was quite magical.
  • The things I thought I would struggle with were not an issue at all. Conversation flowed naturally, I made people laugh, I made people smile. I enjoyed the interactions.
However there were some very strange results from my weekend of abstinence. I wouldn't say negatives as such, but there were clear themes that I had never been presented with before:
  • I got bored very quickly. When you are drinking, as opposed to having a drink, you have always got something to do. Once the first few glasses are sunk you are continually replenishing or, in my case, going to the toilet. Either way there is always something to do. When you are drinking soft drinks you tend to consume if you are thirsty rather than consume for the sake of it. Of course as you get more and more bladdered there are many more things to occupy your time. These include dancing, falling over, being inappropriate and laughing at objects that are shaped a bit like a willy. These are removed from your agenda if you are sober. Except the willy one which is always on the agenda.
  • By the end of the second day, every guest at the 200 strong wedding, knew I wasn't drinking and why. The word got round like wildfire. As I sat down to dinner on the second day someone tried to fill my glass. I politely declined at which point he said, "oh shit sorry mate, someone said you were on tablets". Bare in mind that I knew next to nobody at this wedding and after a few hours they all knew the contents of my medicine cabinet. This happened because everyone felt the need to 'excuse' the fact that I wasn't drinking. It wasn't enough to say that I wasn't, or indeed not mention it at all. It was such an outlandish concept that people needed a reason just to compute the information without their head literally exploding.
  • I was the only person in the wedding party paying for drinks. The wine was completely free. All the wine you could drink was available at the click of a finger. There was some elder flower cordial supplied for the solitary pregnant woman but I had to pay for anything that wasn't tap water. There is nothing more surreal than having to pay £2 for a ginger ale when the person next to you helps himself to 6 bottles of Chateux Arse Faced without having to pay a penny.
  • I went to bed staggeringly early. This may have been because I had just run out of stuff to do, or because I missed that period of boundless energy that keeps you going till the end when ur drunk, just before you fall asleep on the toilet.
  • I wouldn't say there was a stigma as such. However people were curious. The fact that I wasn't drinking was so alien that I was asked about it. I guess that must be what it's like being a vegetarian. So much so that people who know me well were actually worried about me. They know I'm a drinker and were genuinely concerned about my welfare without alcohol. How weird is that? They were more concerned about my welfare from not drinking that consuming 8 bottles of wine in one sitting. In fact one particular guest, no names and no details mentioned, drank all day and all night and got in his car at 1am and drove home. This seemed to attract less interest than the fact that I didn't have anything alcoholic in my tonic, ice and lemon.

Anyway. I got through it.

The fact is I still can't hang weights from my penis, but with my newly found masochistic tendencies, I might actually want to.

Have a great day one and all (raises glass of elderflower cordial)

Hapless Dad

Thursday, 12 September 2013

I can't hang weights from my penis... and other challenges!

I write this post with a feeling of dread in my stomach, sheer terror in my head and a cup of coffee (possibly with a cheeky bacon sandwich) in my hand.

This weekend I face, possibly the biggest challenge I have ever faced in my, soon to be, 41 years on this planet. I have jumped from a plane, fired a plethora of dangerous weaponry, completed bungee jumps, raced fast cars, run marathons and I once killed a shark with desert spoon.

This is something to do with kids isn't it? I hear you cry as the expected punchline comes thundering forth like a group of piss-heads in sight of a curry house. However you would be wrong.

Yes I am a dad. Yes being a parent is god it's hard. Yes my kids are not the easiest, what with their incredibly early wake up times and the ability to come to blows over a packet of crisps.

However this is more of a challenge than I have ever encountered.


I feel the need to retype that in order to emphasise the point. However I'm not sure I can bring myself to do it. To cut a long story short the doctor has put me on some tablets. Now, we all know that some medication is best not mixed with alcohol as it reduces the effect. We all do it anyway. This medication, on the other hand, clearly states that if I drink alcohol my head will actually fall off and be dragged down the street by a pack of rabid Alsatians.

Just for a bit of background, I do like a drink. I'm really rather good at it. All my socialising revolves around alcohol. All my relaxation time revolves around alcohol. All my major decisions are made in the pub. Every girl I have ever been with including the present Mrs Hapless was hunted down and bagged between the four walls of a local hostelry. To put it bluntly the only time I don't drink is when I'm asleep and when I'm in work. Quite a large part of my life.

I've been on the meds for about a week and so far it's ok, albeit a struggle at times. Most notably at the end of a stressful day when that first sip of Vicar's Scrotum (I like real ale) or Chateux Thames Embankment 2013 brings such blessed relief. I've made it through the week using a combination of soda water and lime and electric shock therapy.

However this weekend takes it to a whole new level. I'm attending a wedding. Not just a wedding. A two day wedding. Party on the Friday night. Blessing, grub, speeches and another party on the whole of Saturday.

Firstly let me make something clear. I fully understand that you can enjoy yourself without alcohol. I see people do it all the time. I just don't know how. I fully understand that a man can hang a sizeable weight from his penis without it coming off. I don't know how to do that either.

I don't even know what to order. On previous, one off, evenings when I haven't been able to drink I have been woefully short of inspiration. When Mrs Hapless was in the later phases of pregnancy I went out on a works do and drove just in case. I had 14 different types of drink, including a coffee and had run out of ideas by 10 pm.

I don't really do sweet drinks, which cuts out most of the soft ones. Non alcoholic beer tastes like rats urine and ordering tap water just makes you look like you've lost all your money at the greyhounds.

My biggest worry is the social aspects of being sober. Again, don't get me wrong, I can make small talk with the best of them. I don't drink for confidence. However alcohol helps you to let your hair down. If this wasn't true there wouldn't be such a massive 'weddings' category on 'You've been Framed'.

This particular wedding involves Mrs Hapless's best mate. Mrs H is a bridesmaid. The wedding will be full of friends and family of the bride and groom that I have never met but that my wife knows rather well. Therefore the following things will happen:

  1. Before the event Mrs Hapless will tell me how much she is looking forward to having a nice time with me. She will then proceed to leave me on my own for the entire day.
  2. Mrs Hapless will get blind drunk.
  3. Mrs Hapless and her friends will stagger around the dance floor like John Travolta after a hip operation. They will only stop long enough to come over, on mass, to loudly try to get me on the dance floor even though the most alcoholic thing I have had to drink that day is some cough medicine.
  4. I will be left making small talk with another unfortunate husband who has to drive home.
  5. Mrs Hapless will be annoyed with me because I'm being grumpy.
You may think I am being unduly negative and may cause these events with my mental attitude. All I can say in my defence is that this has been the outcome every single time so far.

I must also say that Mrs Hapless has had to endure the same from me on numerous occasions. Particularly through two pregnancies. I was once best man at a wedding when Mrs Hapless was 9 months pregnant. She went to bed particularly early on the Friday night to be fully rested for the wedding the following day. I 'helped' by arriving in the room blind drunk at 4am and throwing up until breakfast.

So dear reader, and that bloke from Taiwan who arrives at my blog by googling leather trousers, the challenge is set.

I'm hoping it'll be fun as I do love weddings. The happy and positive atmosphere makes for a great party. Lets see if I can make it through without succumbing to the temptation of beer, or drinking two gallons of Cilit Bang stolen from the cleaner's trolley at the hotel.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted.

Hapless Dad

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

HDs guide to schools and teachers

The final part of our back to school series is to look at the epicentre of parent related activity. The School. We've discussed the dads, we've discussed the mums. Now it's time to take a considered, extensively researched and totally spurious look at schools and teachers.

The type of school and the type of teacher will depend on where you live and the age and ability of your children. However there is some definite commonality across the ages and stages. Here are some general points to note:

  • Whatever the school 80% of the staff (including the Head) are on anti depressants or have to meditate in the stock cupboard before morning registration.
  • Teachers often marry other teachers. This is because they meet in college. Either that or they have torrid school based affairs or a bunk up on the French department trip to the Hyper Markets in Calais. This has positives and negatives. On the negative side work is always the hot topic. On the positive side they can hitch their caravan and disappear to the South of France for six weeks in the Summer. Don't talk about your job to a teacher couple. They will not have a clue what you are on about.
  • Schools with younger children tend to have mostly female staff. In schools with older children the balance is much more 50/50 and often has more men. There are any number of reasons for this including natural motherly instincts and men's innate inability to make use-able paper mache.
  • All teachers look down on other teachers. Fact. Secondary staff think Junior staff only play rounders. Junior staff think Infant staff only thread beads and play with sand. Infant staff think Nursery staff only clean up poo. Everyone thinks Special School staff don't do anything at all. Special School, Nursery School, Infant School and Junior School staff think Secondary staff just get the kids to copy off the board while they have a smoke.
  • Behaviour is the badge of honour. People outside teaching think teachers want to teach in 'good schools' and some do. However all other teachers will look down on you if you teach in a 'good school'. They will think your job is a piece of piss because you don't get bitten and the parents pay dinner money on time. They will not factor in that you have to teach calculus to year 1.
Lets take a look at the schools and the teachers in a little more depth.

Nursery Schools (pupil age 3 - 5)

Nursery school teachers are women. The school sometimes contains one ambitious man who feels he should teach nursery as part of his preparation for Headship further down the line. The parents will think he is a paedophile. Nursery teachers are nice because small children cry if you shout at them and make them do press ups as punishment. Everyone wears comfortable clothing to deal with sand, water, sick, blood and having to sit cross legged on a carpet several times a day.

Behaviour in nursery schools can be less troublesome because the kids can't pick up chairs. However if behaviour is bad it will verge on feral. Everyone cares about the kids.

You will drown in paperwork of the most ridiculous kind. Nursery staff hover around the children filling in masses of documentation in order to prove that Connor undid his trouser buttons BEFORE he pood himself. To be a nursery teacher you must be comfortable with chaos organised in minute detail.

Infant Schools (pupil age 5 - 7)

Again infant school staff tend to be women. There will be the solitary man. This will be the result of personal ambition (see nursery) or because his Junior School has just amalgamated with the infants school next door and the new Head has moved everyone around. This will be a shock to him. Appearance will be similar to nursery. Comfortable and baggy. Infant staff have terrible hair although this is true of the entire profession.

Infant schools are good because the kids are starting to achieve some independence. Behaviour is still not so much of a problem although kids misbehave at all ages. There is still half a chance the kids are scared of the Head or the naughty chair. However some will already not give a rats ass about anything.

By the end of the infant school ALL children are expected to be able to do complicated sudoku and read Dostoevsky in its original language. This will be expected by all external bodies even if the child was still barking and eating his own faeces when he left the nursery. Other infant teachers can be a problem. They only talk about curtains. 

Junior School (pupil age 7 - 11)

Junior schools often contain a mix of genders. This is because in the 70s and 80s you could specialise in infant/junior or junior/secondary. Male teachers chose the latter and may have secured a job in a junior school. They will teach in year 5 or 6 to sort out the older boys and coach the football. Now, you have to choose primary (3 to 11) or secondary (11-18) so the number of men in junior schools has dwindled. Many still train as primary teachers hoping to get a job in year 5 or 6 and then getting a shock when they are moved to year 2 (see infants). Clothing will vary. Comfortable and sick repellent is still required, however ambitious staff will wear shirt and tie (accompanied with fleece and winter boots for yard duty). Ill fitting 1980s tracksuits will appear on football days.

The kids are much more independent and, "if they are good", can stand out on the road doing traffic surveys. Some children start to get your jokes and inbuilt sarcasm.

Many kids are already completely disaffected by this point and demonstrate this by punching each other and possibly you. Like all primary staff you will be expected to be an expert in 12 subjects (13 in Wales). At any time you must be prepared to teach quantum physics, advanced pottery or the complete works of Shakespeare. In reality you will be good at teaching two subjects and blag your way through the rest. You will work your arse off for the kids to achieve the required standard. They will then forget this over the summer. This will outrage Secondary staff who will wonder why year 7 can't read, add up or walk in a straight line.

Secondary Schools (11-18)

Secondary schools have male and female staff but Secondary School teachers are subject not child focused. They don't care if Keanu is a fantastic football player. They only care that he can't count to 10. Art teachers are arty. PE staff wear shorts all year round and read Guns and Ammo in the staffroom because they've got no marking to do. Woodwork teachers smoke roll ups and stick to whatever name their subject was called when they left college. On the whole Secondary Schools are full of people for whom teaching may not be their first choice. The English teacher will have a part completed novel in her desk drawer. The music teacher will have a stack of returned demo tapes. The metal work/design technology/resistant materials teacher will be letting year 9 run riot while he works on his invention for Dragon's Den. 

Kids are fully independent and get themselves to and from school unattended. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the child, this also happens during lessons. You have a chance to do some incredibly exciting work with 6th form pupils who are able and keen on your subject. You get to see kids develop as young adults and fly the nest to work and university under your guidance.

Behaviour is appaulling. The kids are bigger than you. You might not think this matters. They do. Some kids are already lost to the system and your job is to prevent them killing anybody before they can leave at 16. The school is only results focused. The fact that Courtney has really developed her interpersonal skills means bugger all to a Secondary School unless she gets 5 A to Cs at GCSE.

Special Schools (pupil age 3 - 19)

Nobody knows anything about Special Schools except the staff that work there. Appearance is wide ranging as schools tend to cater for pupils from 3 to 19. There will always be a very cuddly nursery type, a Secondary PE specialist trained in restraint techniques and an ambitious staff member who has twigged that Special Schools pay their teachers more. The range of kids is huge. The school may cater for learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, autism, profound and multiple difficulties, hearing impaired or visually impaired. Some Schools may contain a bit of everything.

Classes are small, sometimes as low as 2 or 3 depending on the needs of the child. There are many learning support assistants, which teachers love. Having an LSA means you've always got someone to talk to and you'll never have to do a display again. You have mini buses and can go on lots and lots of trips to 'make learning real'.

You will have to teach the same thing in fifty different ways over many years still with no guarantee that anyone will learn anything. You will be bitten by a very large pupil at least once in your career. All other teachers will look down on you, even if they are aware enough to know you exist. 

School Holidays

School holidays are without doubt the best thing about teaching. On the negative side it can send the press and other working parents in to an utter frenzy. Many teachers deal with this by being incredibly defensive and pretending they work all summer. The fact is the holidays are THE benefit of the job. The only other benefit in teaching is that if you die whilst breaking up a fight between two rival gangs of year 11 boys your family will get a good lump sum.

Some people have company cars, some people have good pensions, some people have big salaries, some people have bonuses, teachers have holidays. My answer to this question is always the same. If long holidays was that big a deal for you, you should have become a teacher instead of spending your summer in a bank. This is very often followed with the reply "Oh god no! I couldn't do that job!".

Here endeth the lesson.

Hapless Dad

Sunday, 8 September 2013

HD's guide to parents - The mums

Continuing our award winning (well I gave myself a chocolate hob nob as a well done) back to school series. Here is Hapless Dad's guide to parents - The mums.

Our back to school series is very much geared towards the 'ordinary school'. Schools are as different as people. Some schools are in deprived areas, some schools are in very affluent areas. The majority of schools lie somewhere in between with a little bit of everything.

These are the mums you'll see at an ordinary school. Learn the signs, pick your gang, know your enemy.

Jeremy Kyle Mum

Jeremy Kyle mum is............well, rough. Every class has one. Some schools only have this variation of the breed. Jeremy Kyle mum doesn't Skype. She catches up with friends and relatives by watching her favourite daytime show.

Sleeveless t shirt, joggers and hoodie. Visible tattoos, possibly on the face and/or forearms. Missing teeth. Fag.

Drags ever expanding brood into the carpark usually late. Brings Strongbow to school sports day. Small, equally toothless man in tow, joining her on the school run before going to sign on and heading to Wetherspoons. Sorts out difficulties between kids by battering the other parent (male or female)

Favourite phrase
Fucking hell Beyonce, fucking hurry the fuck up. Keanu, stop fucking hitting your shitting brother!

Having a Jeremy Kyle mum at school makes you feel marginally better about yourself. Gives posh mums somebody to complain about. "Her language in the yard is disgraceful".

Mostly keep themselves to themselves as they are already late for an appointment with their probation officer. Dangerous if you get on the wrong side of her as she tends to carry weapons.

Stepford Mum

Stepford mum is the yang to Jeremy Kyle mum's ying. Opposite ends of the same scale and just as horrendous. Doesn't work as husband is incredibly wealthy. Crucially, she looks down on mums that do. Actually she looks down on everything and everybody. Was the Alpha female at school and makes every effort for that to continue.

Hot, obviously, but in a, don't even bother trying unless you have a 6 figure salary, kind of way. Wears expensive clothes for school run even though she's not going anywhere afterwards. Drives Range Rover even though the roughest terrain she has to cope with is the carpark of Waitrose. Continually disapproving look as if everything is not quite up to scratch. That is until her Stepford Mum friends arrive whereupon she will be overly welcoming in a false manner.

Air kisses everyone. Glides into school with odious children following behind. That's if she does walk them in. May employ underpaid Latvian women to walk children from the car to the gate. Uses husbands connections to make sure daughter plays lead in every generic winter festival concert.

Favourite phrase
Chamonix is perrrrrrrfect this time of year.

None. Unless you are also a Stepford Mum. You may aspire to be one. However, you are or you aren't and they will smell your fakery a mile away.

Too many to list. You will secretly envy her and want to smash her face in with a 9 iron in equal measure.

Juggling Mum

Juggling mum is probably the most popular breed in the car park. Constantly juggling work, home, kids, pilates and her troublesome pet (which seemed like a good idea at the time).

Worries about her appearance constantly. Wants to make an effort but simply doesn't have the time. In reality, always looks absolutely fine but she will only be focused on the small circle of baby sick she has on the shoulder of her work suit.

Constantly rushing. To work, from work, to gymnastics, from oboe lesson, to kids party, from Tesco. Constantly craves time away from the kids thinking it will be bliss. When away from the kids feels guilty and wants to see them. Knows there is a husband in the picture somewhere but really doesn't have the time or the energy for all that malarkey. Feels guilty about it. Loves the idea of being a stay at home mum. When at home craves being back at work.

Favourite phrase
What a nightmare. Came in with 6 bags of shopping and Oliver screaming his head off to find the dog crapping in my favourite handbag.

Supportive, honest, funny. Lets the secret out of the bag that motherhood is actually hard work.

None to the mums. But if you are the husband or partner of juggling mum you may as well live in the shed or start internet dating.

Testosterone Mum

Decidedly manly in thought and deed but not appearance. Had kids because husband or partner wanted them. Married to stay at home dad. Works as tabloid journalist, sales manager or murder squad DCI.

Functional but attractive. Confident (at least in public). Feminine but in a no fuss kind of way. Hair that doesn't require any work. She hasn't got time for that due to 12 hour shifts investigating a serial killer. Possibly carries a gun, can definitely kill a shark with a biro.

Dinks scotch. Smokes like it's the secret to alchemy. Walks with a confident stride. Loves her kids but they come second to work. Volunteers to take her kids to all sport related activities, of which there are many. Has never changed a nappy.

Favourite phrase
Bollocks. For fucks sake man up!

Provides the male point of view in a female group which gives balance and lightens the mood. Uses the 'c' word on nights out to raise a laugh.

A short taxi ride away from alcohol dependency and a string of meaningless sexual encounters. Testosterone mum will be no help with tears.

Earth Mum

Earth mum is in tune with her inner self. Firmly believes in Karma. Possibly attended some sort of religious retreat. The religion will be Buddism, Hinduism, Taoism or scientology (or possibly all of them at some point). Wanted her kids to attend Montesori as she sees 'traditional school' as a barrier to her child's creativity. Tells everyone this even though she continues to enrol her kids in the local primary. She thinks yoga is about more than just getting bendy. Probably stay at home mum. If she works it will be in a job that adheres to the rules of Karma such as teacher, counsellor or traffic warden.

Tie-dye. Long hair, or totally shaved. Tattoo of Ganesh on her calf, Buddhist prayer beads on her wrist. Taoist symbol around her neck. Flip flops on her feet. Hash in the glove compartment. Industrial grade anti depressants in the medicine cabinet.

Softly spoken, smiley and caring. Has anything up to a 1000 children and lets them roam free to find their own path in life. Petitions the school regularly to abolish school uniform and allow individual expression. Runs workshops on meditation and leaf art. Plays the zither.

Hopefully you will have worked out which one you are. The rule of thumb is. There is an arsehole in every school car park. If you don't know who it is, it's you!

Next up. The teachers!!

Hapless Dad

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

HD's guide to parents - The Dads

With everyone back to school this week I thought it was time to pass on some advice. For some of you, parent politics is something you are more than familiar with. For those of you who have deposited your little darling at school for the first time this week there are some things you need to know.

You may think you have only brought your child to school. You'd be wrong. You are now very much back in school yourself, except your lessons are 15 minutes long and happen in the car park.

Fear not. Here is Hapless Dad's guide to parents. Learn to recognise the types so that you can make sure you are in the right gang and most importantly, get to know your enemy.

Let's start with the dad's first as there are only a few variations of the breed. I'll produce a follow up post on the mums.

Grumpy Dad

Overview: Grumpy Dad does the school run because there is no other possible choice. He has already tried to join a cult just to escape the ordeal but with no success.

Appearance: You cannot tell Grumpy Dad by his clothes, only by the look on his face which says "for fuck's sake get me out of here"

Behaviour: Runs into school dragging child behind. Throws through gate. Runs off. If forced to attend a school function or kids party he will bring a book.

Favourite phrase: Jesus Christ Harry will you get a shift on, Daddy's got to drive to Bristol.

Positives: You will NEVER be forced into a polite conversation with Grumpy Dad. He has no intention of chatting to anybody.

Negatives: If you are the wife of Grumpy Dad you will know nothing about what happens in school. He will not know any of the parents, the names of any of the other children, the date for Harvest Festival or who your daughter's teacher is.

Randy Dad

Overview: Randy Dad enjoys doing the school run on account of the female to male ratio. He suggested to his wife that he would 'shoulder the burden' to 'give her a break'

Appearance: Randy Dad may work or be a stay at home dad which can dictate his appearance. Either way he will put in a special effort before drop off and pick up. Possibly with a little too much Old Spice liberally sprayed around the groin area.

Behaviour: If he is being subtle he will bring cakes for the mums to share at the gate. If he's being blatant he will continually mention a voucher he has for a local coffee house that he simply can't find anyone to use and which runs out in an hour. "Can I tempt anyone?" Chatty, friendly, smiley and complimentary. He understands that most new mums self esteem is on the floor and knows that paying some attention can pay dividends. He also knows your kids names and will tell you how wonderful they are.

Favourite Phrase: Don't be so hard on yourself. You look in great shape. He needs to appreciate you more.

Positives: Randy Dad will offer to baby sit so that he can tempt you in for coffee.

Negatives: If he comes on a parent's night out you'll have to spend the night beating him off with a stick.

Dad's Dad

Overview: The Dad's Dad was one of the sporty ones at school. He craves the company of other dads and will gravitate towards them at pick up and drop off.

Appearance: Straight back, chest out, stomach in. Will stand with arms folded along with everyone else in the Dad's Dad group.

Behaviour: Loud laughter, as if from a 'special' joke that only the Dad's Dads know. It will feel like they are laughing about you. If he is not the Alpha Male he will gravitate towards him. Dad's Dads are pack animals and feel safest when protected at the flank. Only talks to other Dad's Dads.

Favourite phrase: Did anyone see the Spurs game?

Positives: Dad's Dad will welcome you into the pack with open arms if you are a Dad's Dad yourself. He will invite you for a beer or to watch some rugby.

Negatives: Will talk loudly about his weekend away on a rugby tour or stag do or golf weekend while you spent your weekend at four kids parties or steam cleaning the house after a bout of stomach flu.

Hopefully this guide will point you in the right direction. The mums will follow shortly so stay tuned.

Hapless Dad

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

1st day back at school

Twitter and the world of blogging has been alive this week with talk of getting back to school. I say alive....... of course I generally follow and am followed by parents. I suspect the rest of twitter's 465 million account holder's couldn't give a rat's ass.

Never the less as I approached the school gates this morning, and ran away rather quickly a few things occurred to me.

Firstly, this is the first time in 12 years that I haven't greeted a new class today. I guess from the outside you'd think the first day is quite hard for teachers. They've had six weeks off (looking after their own kids) and they've been thrown back into the hustle and bustle of a busy school. Yes it does take a little while to get up to speed. However, the first few weeks of a new school year was my absolute favourite time. I loved it!! Because it only has one objective - get your class to behave.

It doesn't matter what kind of school, good teachers know that it's all very well staying up till 2am making paper mache models of the Taj Mahal, but if you can't get the kids to sit down and listen it's all wasted effort. The early days are spent drilling the kids back into classroom rules, school rules and any little personal foibles you have as their new teacher.  One of my foibles was teaching the kids that if I gave them some free time as a reward, e.g. putting rugby games on during the world cup, then if anyone came in they had to pretend to be working. Job done! Every teacher has foibles but they are all as different as the staff themselves.

Either way it was a strange feeling to be on the other side of the gate at 9am.

The other thing I noticed was the different approach to the first day depending on which parent brought the child to school. Almost all the mums dutifully guarded their little treasure right up to the classroom door. Most of the dads slowed the car down just enough to let the child roll out of the passenger seat. My lad just ran in. If I'd wanted to say goodbye to him I'd have needed a loud haler.

It also struck me that when you are connected with a school, time stands still. Let me give you an example. If you went on holiday to Spain for six weeks, on return stuff would have happened. Life would have moved on at it's usual pace without including you. However, when school ends for the summer everything stops. When you return on the first of September nothing has changed. This is because the only thing that connects you all is school. You gravitate to the same mums and dads and talk about the same stuff you were talking about in July. The teachers slot straight back in to work mode and the kids pick up with all the friends they only see in school. Nothing in the school world has moved on without you. It's just as if six weeks of everyone's life has mysteriously disappeared.

I also learned a quick parenting lesson this morning. Our son has grown. That's what they do. So we bought some new uniform shirts. Unfortunately we didn't buy a new jacket. As such he wandered into school without a care in the world with his T shirt dragging round his ankles and the waist of his jacket up to his armpits. He looked like he'd been dressed by Jedward.

So there you have it. The first day is over with. We can all relax and...............................oh bollocks is it 3 pm already. Bloody hell that went quick.

*rushes to car*

Hapless Dad