Are new parents the real cause of Global Warming?

A friend at work has just returned after the birth of his first child. He looked a little tired but manged to cover it with a smile that fooled everyone except those who had children of their own.

We knew! To us it was obvious. That slight redness in the eyes. The odd gaze into the distance as he struggled to fully engage with the conversation, and the fact that his once imaculate appearance was now, ever so slightly, crumpled.

Not in any really obvious way you understand: the fact that his shirt was slightly under ironed shouted that his wife was otherwise occupied or, if ironing is one of his chores, he didn't have enough energy left to reach his usual standard.

We all asked him how it was going and then proceeded to nod in an understanding way. Each of us experienced parents then took turns in telling a bit of our story.

That is surely the point of other people having babies: so that we get chance to impart our choice bits of parental wisdom

It was probably all a little too much but we meant well.

Amongst the wisdom available were these pearls, which I offer here in the hope that they will either aid you, should you have young children, or bring back memories if yours have now flown the nest.

1. Each child seems to have it's own preferred rhythm that helps them to sleep. Of you find the right song to play out in your head whilst you rock them it can make all the difference.

2. He more the baby sleeps the more they will sleep. (we needed a little more explanation on this one). Basically it means that you shouldn't try to keep the child awake for long periods with the intention of making them tired thinking that this will make them sleep better at night. It won't work.

3. Most babies seem to like noise more than quiet. New parents think that they need to tip toe around and whisper, but experience shows that a normal amount of noise gives some level of security.

Our new parent joined in at this point with the news that his son stops crying when he runs the cold water tap.

At this point it occured to me that the real cause of global warming was rookie parents trying to keep their kids quiet.

If listen ever so carefully you can hear the sound of running taps, hoovers, washing machines, fans, car engines, and Hi-fi's.

We chuckled as we shared stories of late night drives to nowhere desperately trying to get just the smallest amount of peace.

I tried to convince them that the only reason I developed snoring as a regular practice was in order to offer enough household noise to keep the babies from waking but they threatened to check out my story with Mrs M.

With all this in mind I am thinking of inventing an iron that makes a soothing noise as you use it so that way my colleague can keep his son quiet whilst attempting to keep up his usual well-kept appreance.

Dangerous Compliments

I have long known that going out for an evening is a far easier affair for a man than it is for a woman. For men the process goes; Shirt, Tie, Trousers, Socks, Done.

This usually means that I take my place on the sofa with the remote control and wait for the females to work their way through the variety of tasks that seem to make them happy.

My wife often tries to get me to do various task during this waiting period but I usually manage to get out of such work by claiming that once I am ready I need to make sure that I don’t get too hot. To be fair I could wait until a little later to get ready and fulfil the list. Please don’t tell Mrs M.

The usual routine during this time is that my TV viewing is periodically interrupted by the girls and their mother showing me what they are intending to wear.

I try to appear interested but my energies are usually sapped by the fact that I know their outfits will no doubt changed several times before we leave the house.

I try to resist the temptation to ask why they keep asking for my opinion when it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

I have become increasingly aware that offering compliments can also be a dangerous pastime for a husband who is eager to please.

Last week I had collected my bride from the surgery where she works with the intention of making a flying visit past our home before we head off to some friends for the evening.

After a quick freshen up I said to my wife that she look beautiful and that there was no need to change. To which she replied that she had already done so and that before I decide to comment it might be best if I looked at what she was actually wearing.

She had a point because I hadn’t noticed what she was wearing when I collected her but in my defence she always looks good and I just wanted to affirm that on this occasion.

There have been other times when I have been all too eager to offer a positive comment in order to get Mrs M and her daughters out of the door. I don’t think I am the only male to adopt such tactics.

I tried to offer encouraging words a couple of nights ago as my wife put on her brand new high heel boots to attend a local housewarming party.

They certainly looked good but as my wife often trips up wearing flat shoes I was a little concerned for her safety.

“Are those boots made for walking”? I enquired resisting the urge to sing the famous song.

“They are mainly for standing in” came her reply “but they look good”.

It took us twenty minutes to walk a few hundred yards; She did look great but I thought it best not to say anything!

Full Length Mirror

My wife has just suggested that we visit our youngest daughter again this coming weekend. The reason: apparently she doesn’t have a full-length mirror in her new student accommodation and we need to take her ours.

If we do it will be the seventh time in as many weeks that we have made the trip to York. This, to my mind, seems a little excessive.

It is a little odd to me that such a fuss should be made over a piece of reflective glass but the girls in our family all share a certain attraction to such.

When they were younger I managed to buy a particularly large mirror for our hallway. It was both tall and wide and became something of a peacemaker in a family at war with each other over hairbrushes, clothes, and toys.

Before the acquisition of this new piece of wall furniture we would regularly see our daughters tussling with each other as to who could see their own reflection before they left for a full day at school.

I tended to think that it wouldn’t be quite the same in a house full of lads but other parents have told me that in today’s visual world boys are feeling a similar pressure to conform.

It was different in my day; as a boy I cant ever remember ever carrying a comb with me. Preferring to take my chances with the world looking like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards. A charge my mother would often level at me.

I can’t remember ever trying to climb through a hedge, let alone doing so backwards, but my parents seemed to think it was one of my chosen hobbies.

I was also accused of trying to find all the muddy puddles in the village and rolling in it; granted I did tend to return home from the park in a sorry state.

Perhaps this is why, to this day, I still aim for the large and deep puddles on the road when driving my car. Most men do it. There is something deeply satisfying about driving through water and risking your engine cutting out part way through.

I need to point out that, however tempting it might be, I resist doing so when there is a pedestrian nearby. Honest!

I think that much of our childhood experience is carried into adult life and absorbed as normal behaviour.

I still do not carry a comb with me and see little point in spending ages looking into a mirror before I leave the house.

Mr s M would say that this shows; she often takes an upward glance towards my hairline and holds back a ‘tut’ at how bad my hair looks.

If she feels in a kindly mood she will retrieve her brush from the mysterious compartments of her handbag and tidy me up. Even she is in a rush then she will ask simply ask whether I have ‘looked in the mirror this morning’.

After this weekend it would mean a trip to York to do so.

Competitive Girls

I had the pleasure of being on Radio 4’s Womans Hour last week in order to talk about my favourite complaint; too many women in a house with only one bathroom.

The subject turned towards the competitiveness difference between male and female offspring.

Another guest, who had a house full of boys, told of how they turn even the simplest of tasks into a measure of who is the best.

I can’t say that the Molineaux females have ever been that competitive; preferring to gang together to discuss nails, makeup, clothes, and TV.

There are, however, odd occasions where they are quite happy to move in to fight mode. The one that springs to mind is when we organised family Easter Egg hunts for them when they were children.

As parents we tried to set the rules of the game such that each of the four girls would end up with an equal amount of chocolate.

Our intentions were rarely realised as the girls dashed around the house fighting their way towards their Easter reward.

Our girls are now grown up, with the youngest approaching nineteen, so such events are part of our collective folklore. Last year however we managed to perform a minor miracle and get all the girls, plus husbands, together for the Easter break.

The conversation soon turned to recollections of the fun they had all had during their earlier years, when my Mrs Molineaux’s eldest suggested they organised one now.

What you need to understand is that when she suggested that ‘they’ organised it what she actually meant was that I did it. The collective shout of ‘Daaaaaaaad!’ drew me from the kitchen to hear about their plans.

I dashed to the supermarket to see if there were any Easter eggs left at such short notice and managed to collect together enough items to make it a true competition.

As in earlier years the family were sent out for thirty minutes so that I could run around the house like a mad man with handfuls of melting chocolate.

When they returned I explained the rules not least so that our new son-in-laws could join in too. They looked slightly bemused and for a moment I worried about their safety but I figured they were old enough to deal with what ever trauma might come their way through this new experience.

I signalled the start of the race and too our amazement, and parental delight, the girls reverted to young children again and assumed their earlier roles. Daughter number one screamed her way from room to room. Daughter number two failed to see even the most obvious of hidden treasure. Offspring number three quietly collected a hoard of quality chocolate, and Mrs Molineaux’s youngest happily took chocolate from her sister’s collections.

It was like going back in time except that is for the presence of two rather bemused lads who didn’t quite know what had hit them.

Are males more competitive than females; probably yes but not when it comes to Easter egg hunts.

Empty House

Sunday was a very strange day; it was almost as if time stood still. I am not referring here to the end of the Manchester derby where the ref seemed to be set on confirming that time is indeed relative. Seeing that my allegiances are of a red hue I was more than happy with the result.

The slowing of time that I refer to was when we dropped our youngest daughter off at her new student home in York.

She is technically an adult so one might wonder what the fuss is all about but there we were with all the other worried looking parents, letting our offspring fly.

Time stood still as we watched and waited for the right time to leave and return home.

It was obvious that all but a few of the new university students were more than keen for their parents to depart; I believe the announcement that there was live music and cheap alcohol available in the student bar drove this wish to be left alone.

My wife did what mums do and fussed her way around our daughter’s new room. I did what dads do and made sure her TV was tuned in correctly.

It was clear, however, that we could stall no longer; we were no longer required and so Mrs M stopped fluffing the pillows and I put the remote control down and we prepared to head back to our quiet and daughter free home.

I had made the ultimate sacrifice of missing the football in order to deliver our precious package to York and so on the way home I was quick to switch the radio. I managed to catch the last and controversial five minutes and twenty-seven seconds of the match.

Judging by the tone of several text messages my many Man City supporting g friends did not share my delight in the result.

Still celebrating this Mrs M and I began to reminisce on our twenty-five years of having children in our home.

It was at this point that time started to speed up as we asked the question that all parents of a certain age ask at times like this; ‘where has all the time gone?’

The paradox of time is that in the same moment of reflection the birth of our youngest daughter seemed like only yesterday and many years ago all mixed together.

We arrived home to a house that still had all the signs of having had a teenager manically filling suitcases with essential items of clothes.

We enjoyed having the freedom of being able to choose any programme on the TV and waiting for a text message from daughter number four assuring us that all was ok.

When the message finally arrived we eagerly looked to see how our precious girl was coping without us.

It read: going 2 club, can U bring my coat phone charger and extra money on Tuesday night.

We should have been annoyed at having to make the trip to York again but felt comforted that we were still needed.

When lol means laugh out loud

Some friends were rather pleased to receive a hand written letter this week; yes, a hand written letter!

They were both amazed and excited, and I have to say I understand their feelings. I cannot remember the last time I had the fun of trying to decipher the scrawl of another human being.

Most communications these days are either computer generated being sent by email or text. The language and writing style in these new forms of dialogue are often completely different than the more traditional style.

Mrs Molineaux’s youngest, who is fully versed in this new condensed messaging system, got me thinking the other day. She was sending a message via her mobile phone and asked ‘How do you spell………?’

Herein lies the problem; she wanted to know how to express the noise you make when you are offering sympathy or emotional agreement. The sound that phonetically sounds like the word ‘or’ but with more of an ‘a’ sound in it.

She tried Ah but that can sound like an expression of surprise. Her sisters joined the conversation and offered Argh then realised that it sounded like what you would shout if you had trapped your finger in a draw. Apparently the inclusion of the letter ‘g’ makes it a harder sound.

The eventually settle on Aaaaaaah which, to my mind, still has the potential to lead to confusion.

Such is the world of the mobile phone conversation. Even though they have the facility for what is known as predictive text (it guesses the word you want as you start to enter the first few letters), we still feel the need to shorten words and phrases.

Using the number 4 instead of taking hours typing the three letters FOR is a favourite. Time is of the essence it seems because it is not unusual to receive a message containing ‘NE’ as a replacement for ‘ANY’. It hardly seems worth the effort. Daughter number three answered one of my messages with a simple Gr8 to let me know that my suggestion was, in fact, GREAT. Marvellous!

Some of this is a generational thing and I can see a difference in the way I type these quick messages compared with my daughters. This said, my mother, who is in her seventies types text messages in a different way than my generation. She still insists on including correct punctuation; something that must take her a long time to do.

The whole thing is set to cause generational confusion I am sure. A male colleague recently sent me a joke via my mobile phone and ended the text with ‘lol’.

I was surprised if not a little scared because had always understood this to mean lots of love. I mean, I appreciated his friendship but I wasn’t ready for such shows of emotion.

When I asked him about his greeting he informed me that the youth of today have now redesignated lol to mean Laugh Out Loud.