The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


We Are All The Same. We Are All Different.

So for the past 2 days I’ve been writing a lot about equality.

It’s a subject very close to my heart.

To be honest, it always has been but being a Father has raised it’s importance.

In some ways, having Otis grow up in China made things easier as it meant he was exposed to different cultures from day 1 but I didn’t want to take that for granted, so when we knew we were going to move to the US, I spoke to a friend of mine – a Brit, who is black and lives in the US – about the [thankfully small] issues his kids faced being in the US and what he thought parents should teach their kids to stop that happening.

His response was phenomenal.

In essence there were 2 parts.

The first was the obvious one – treat every person from every culture the same way – with respect, appreciation and consideration.

So far so good … but it was the next bit that really made an impact.

Don’t tell Otis different cultures are all the same.

Don’t ‘whitewash’ our differences, acknowledge them … enrich Otis with understanding about different cultures history, struggles and values.

Or said another way … celebrate the differences but treat everyone the same.

Brilliant.

Absolutely brilliant.

In a World where so much hate is built simply on ‘being different’, helping break down those walls through knowledge and understanding is even more powerful than just saying ‘don’t see the colour, see the person’.

Of course it’s vital to treat people the same, but understanding the background isn’t just a mark of respect – it’s a way to celebrate strengths and understand behaviours that you may otherwise judge for no other reason than your own in-built prejudices.

So among Otis’ books on animals and dinosaurs and Peppa fucking Pig, he has books that explore the cultures associated with Africa [‘Africa Is Not A Country’ & ‘Sundiata’], Mexico [‘Tequila Worm’] and the Middle East [‘My Fathers Shop’].

Now I appreciate some people may think we are going a bit over-the-top with this.

After all, Otis is only 2 and a half.

But, as I have written before, I’ve learnt not to care what others think.

I’ve learnt people often mistake being a parent with being an ‘expert’ on kids.

I’ve also learnt kids develop so many of their behaviours by being masters of mimicking how their parents behave.

[Jill hopes she can stop him fall victim to ironic t-shirts and Birkenstocks]

At the end of the day, we believe we have a responsibility to him – and society as a whole – to encourage the values and beliefs that can enable him to be a good human being … someone who doesn’t just contribute to society in terms of what he achieves, but in terms of what he helps others achieve.

Of course we know he will face challenges.

Peer pressure. Unexpected circumstances. The allure of mischief.

And while we can’t dictate how he handles those things, we hope we can prepare him to deal with them in a way where he can hold his head high … which is why on top of being loving, supporting parents, we will buy him books on understanding different cultures, give him dolls to play with and encourage him to play with his beloved pink kitchen.

Being a Father is one of the most amazing things that has happened in my life.

I feel embarrassed to admit I had no idea how good it would be … and while being a good parent is basically a matter of trying things with good intent, I want to say a big thank you to Karrelle Dixon … because he may not realise it, but he made a big difference to how my little boy will grow up. Not in terms of respect, but in terms of understanding … and when you think about it, that’s one of the most wonderful gifts you can give anyone.

I hope my parents would think we’re doing good with their grandson.

I think they would.



Everyone Is An Expert …
September 29, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Babies, Empathy, Family, Fatherhood, Jill, Mum, Mum & Dad, My Fatherhood, Otis, Parents

So this is going to be a weird post, but it’s an important one.

You see a few weeks ago, my wife wrote this …

“As I nursed my baby into toddlerhood I noticed a shift in the messages from outside voices. From supportive and encouraging in the newborn days to surprised, questioning or doubtful once he was a walking, talking toddler.

I like to think that most people want to help with their comments or advice, maybe they worry that our ‘extended’ nursing could somehow impact negatively on my son, after all, it’s not what most people do… Dependence seems to be something a lot of them are concerned about.

I want to show them how my beautiful, sweet, spirited, glorious little boy greets the world (and taxi drivers) with a wide smile or a cheeky ‘Ni Hao!’… how he chants ‘run, run!’ as his still chubby legs stride ever faster down little hills … how he bops and boogies to every kind of music, at every opportunity, in every environment … how he sometimes forgets to even look back to find me because he’s exploring his amazing, ever expanding world … but I guess they’re not completely wrong about him being dependent on me.

He depends on me for comfort, safety, security & connection when he’s sad or tired or hurt or frustrated or overwhelmed. As long as nursing provides this place of refuge for my precious boy I’m ecstatic I can be there for him. So I want those out there who question or doubt or suspect to know, we’re doing great thanks, our version of dependence is exactly as it should be …”

OK … OK … so she writes much better than me, but the fact is, I have been shocked how many people feel they have a right to be a judge on my sons upbringing just because they have their own child.

I accept most of them do it in a well-intentioned way [and fortunately, most of our friends have said, “the best rule to parenting is to only follow your rules and ignore everyone else”] but there has been more than a few – often relative strangers – who have used a judgemental tone or look when they’ve discovered we don’t agree with letting our son ‘cry himself to sleep’, let alone play with dolls or dance whenever music is on.

But here’s the big thing …

Given 50% of Otis is from me, the fact he is turning out to be such an amazing, wonderful little boy means it is 100% down to how Jill.

What she wrote is not an attempt to say ‘our way is the right way’, the purpose of it is to remind people that we have the right to decide what is the right way for us.

But what I find even more amazing is that given how well Otis is turning out, those who challenge our approach are trying to find fault in perfection … so I’d just like them to do me a favour and be an expert on their children, rather than other people’s, though this ‘know when to talk and know when to shut up’ could apply to far more than just raising children as I am sure many of you can appreciate.



Bugaboo Declare War On Me …
February 4, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Babies, Comment, Marketing, Marketing Fail

I’ve written a bunch about my hatred of pushchair companies – hell, I wrote one just last week – but those bastards keep pushing me.

Just yesterday, I saw this …

If you think “The Pushchair” is boastful, wait till you read the body copy …

“Twenty years ago, we designed the World’s first modular pushchair so you and your youngest travellers could explore the World with absolute ease. Iconic, innovative and loaded with functionality, our pushchairs ensure a smooth and smart ride. Built to last, they can be endlessly upgraded to suit your mood, style or journey. Life is truly a great adventure …”

The way they go on about themselves, you’d think they’re selling a Land Rover rather than a fucking pushchair. Yes, a pushchair … something designed to simply transport a kid between home and some other place.

I’m not denying they are good products – I have one for Otis – but all this ‘explore the World’ bollocks does my head in.

Sure, you might take it with you when you’re on holiday but the way they go on, you think they are the tool for every adventurer … from Columbus to Bear Grylls.

I can see it now, Bear is stuck halfway down a mountain … the wind and rain is relentlessly battering his body and he knows he has seconds to make a life changing decision.

Mustering the very last of his strength, he reaches behind his back and after a little struggle, pulls something out of his pack.

It’s an iconic and innovatively designed Bugaboo pram.

He’s saved!!!

By jumping into “The Pushchair” he knows he is now safe, warm and able to roll down the huge mountain side without any fear for his life.

Thank god for Bugaboo.

OK, I’m taking the piss, but they started it with their marketing bullshit.

And if they can be endlessly upgraded, can someone tell me how come they don’t offer an option to turn it into a car when the kid hits 17?

Given the cost of the bloody things, it’s the only way any parent will be able to help their kid buy a real set of wheels.

See, more marketing rubbish from the pushchair federation.

Bastards.



Another Example Why Marketing Directors At Pram Companies Need To Be Arrested. Or Aborted …
January 28, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Babies, Comment, Corporate Evil, Cunning, Daddyhood, Pretentious Rubbish

Maybe pram advertising has been horrendous for decades.

Maybe I only started noticing it because I recently became a father.

[As you can see here and here]

But whatever the reason … the way they market their products makes me ill.

I’m not saying it’s not effective because, let’s face it, lots and lots of people buy it … but what really fucks me off is that they never talk about the baby, just the contrived lifestyle and status cues it represents.

The latest example of their fucked-up thinking is this …

Yes, it’s supposedly a pram for parents who run.

Except it isn’t is it … because if it was, they’d do more than just create a tricycle, they’d fit it with things a parent who runs would value.

Like a tripometer.

Or a drinks holder.

Or an alliance with someone like NIKE.

Or technology that connects to your smartphone to give you valuable data.

Or something that keeps your kid amused – and safe – while you take them out on the busy streets and roads because life is all about you, isn’t it. You selfish dick.

But they don’t because this pram isn’t really for parents who run, it’s for people who want to convey a lifestyle image that doesn’t include being seen as a good, caring, parent.

I cannot tell you how much I utterly hate how this category conducts itself.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s others who are equally as bad, but there’s something about this industry than feels even dirtier than banks … and that is saying something.

But what gets me is how they seem to think people should have multiple prams to satisfy different needs in their day.

The pram you push when you want to exercise.

The pram you push when you need to ‘off-road’.

The pram you push when you need to attend that fashionable party.

WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE PEOPLE!???

Seriously, if I ever met someone who actually bought multiple prams for lifestyle requirements, I think I’d report them to the authorities … though to be fair, that’s much nicer than what I’d do if I ever met a marketing director at a pram company.



Having A Baby Is A Wonderful Thing. Buying Things For The Baby Is Like Stepping Into A Dungeon Of Depravity. And Not In A Good Way.
July 9, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Babies, Corporate Evil, Crap Marketing Ideas From History!, Daddyhood

A while back I wrote a post on the evil that is ‘the baby pram manufacturer’.

I still stand by that view.

In my opinion, the people who market these products are more sick, manipulative, and down-right fucked-up than Sepp Blatter.

But there is someone worse.

Yes, even worse than Sepp and that’s the people who buy this shit that lets these manufacturers go on with their evil ways.

I thought the iCandy Raspberry pram ad was bad, but I’ve found something worse.

Because it’s not an ad, it’s a product and that product is this:

Yes, a pram with fucking Andy Warhol inspired printed fabric.

WHY?

WHY???????

And then they decide to go one-step further in the ‘push Rob to the point of mass murder’ by adding 2 points to their marketing collateral that even Andy Warhol himself would find a step too far.

1. They’ve called it the ‘globetrotter’ print.

GLOBETROTTER!!!

It’s a bloody pram, not a plane … but more than that, you just know the marketing department of Bugaboo saw iCandy’s ‘urban adventurer’ bollocks and decided they had to go one better by saying theirs was all about circumnavigating the globe, even though the furthest it will ever go is Chelsea bloody high street.

2. They have the audacity to call it ‘the retrospective collection’.

What are they trying to say, you should buy all 3 of them to complete the set?

Or are they suggesting that you should chuck your perfectly good pram away, because this seasons range has just been released, even though with a name like ‘retrospective’, it is actually the season from 1974.

Thank god they don’t mention how much this thing costs because it literally might make my head explode.

I hate pram manufacturers … I hate them with every bone in my body … but what I hate even more is that some label whore fuckwit, with more-money-than-sense is going to buy this for their kid and think they – and their kid – are something special, when all they’re really doing is announcing to the World they’re a fuckwit and their kid is going to end up the sort of entitled little bastard who reacts like an Elton John hissy fit when they’re told they’re not very good.

If you see any parent pushing their kid in one of these, report them to the NSPCC immediately.