When does a parent become offically old? I remember when I was a lad playing ‘internash’ or ‘Wembley pairs’ football in the street. The estates resident grumpy, old man would come out telling us to “play up your own end!” (Which would prove difficult as I lived over the road from the bloke). He’d follow that up with threats he’d either “stick a knife through the ball” (the old ones are the best) or somewhat randomly his “son would come out and knack all your fathers” I remembered thinking I’d never be that guy.
Some twenty-one years later, I hear and feel myself becoming that resident old guy. I’ve heard myself the other night say out loud “Do they know it’s eight o’clock?!” when the neighbours children play in their back gardens. I twitch the upstairs curtains and mention to Rachel “I don’t like the look of those teenagers” when a few nine-year-olds walk past. I even walk with an awkward hobble like the cantankerous old man since the crash.
I actually said the following sentence out loud a few years ago watching ‘In the Night Garden’ over Ayla’s bottle before bed. “The ball didn’t make a BOING there when it hit the tree…..god, I’m getting boring!”
The kids coming along has definitely increased my mental age. They’ve become my little best mates. Gone are the days when nights out with the lads are my top priority. Sorry lads, I’m putting Ayla to bed / reading Daniel a story / Ayla and I are arranging matches. They’re such sociable kids as well, mixing brilliantly with other kids. Nowadays, I’ll take a cup of tea and an early night over a night of debauchery anytime.
Recently though, I’ve proactively tried to reconnect with old friends. I personally feel in parenting it’s important to quickly embrace the cold, hard fact your social life is over. Some parents carry on socially where they left off pre-baby but personally, ever since Ayla came along I vowed to be readily available for the family. I remember my Dad would feel guilt pangs spending more than one night away from my younger sister and even left a new job as a taxi driver to ensure he could spend more time with her.
I’ve realised now with two children its important to have time for yourself and remember who you were before becoming a parent. Which, in my case was an unrealiable, drunkard man-child.