One of the great delights in reaching the ripe old age of 43 has been the realisation that I’m officially uncool.
It’s not like I was ever very cool in the first place, but my children - particularly my eldest (13) - have now confirmed my status, usually by cringing whenever I try to impress them or their mates.
Rather than this eliciting a feeling of sadness, I really enjoy it. One of the great pleasures of being a parent is humiliating your children simply by asking innocuous questions when they’ve got their mates round.
Chester (13) has a pal, who knows all the current ‘street’ words. He was explaining a few to me as we drove home from footy training one night. Whilst I adopted the tone of 'interested moron', he explained that someone who I might have called a ‘villain’ or ‘scally’ is now called a ‘bad-mans.’ The plural confused me, but I wasn’t arguing, because 13 year old kids know more than me.
More confusing was the revelation that ‘bum’ now means good. No longer is it used to describe your arse or an American tramp. If you really enjoy your lunch, you might say.
“That sandwich was bum.”
The final bit of this tutorial concluded with him telling me that rather than call your friends ‘pal’ ‘mate’ or ‘chum’, they were now more commonly known as ‘blad,’ which is a bastardisation of blood. It was all very interesting and I could see Chester shrinking into his seat whilst I asked pertinent questions like,
“So, could I say a sentence like this? ‘My blad is a badmans but he’s bum with me?’”
It was worse for him the week after, as I incorporated some of my new found, linguistic coolness into the training session.
Whilst warming up with all 18 of my intensely self-conscious squad, I put a shot into one of the goals. One of them congratulated me and I replied in an over-the-top, public school accent.
“Cheers, blad. I am quite the badmans when it comes to bum shooting!!”
The horror on their faces was hilarious, so I carried on using ‘their’ words throughout the session. Each time I did, they all recoiled and howled at me to stop.
I assume that they all had to go home that night and invent some new ones, as I’d ruined it all for them.
Embarrassing your children has got to be one of the great pay-offs to being a parent. Having young kids can feel like a pretty thankless task. It’s all one-way traffic. You do absolutely everything for them: hug them when they’re upset; buy them lots of Christmas presents; try to take an interest in their homework; try not to think ‘Oh, fucking hell!’ when they say, ‘Can we take our bikes to the park?’ What do you get in return? Calendars made of spray painted pasta that are of no practical use, which will remain stuck to the fridge until the next bit of tat replaces them.
But this is fine. I can cope with all of it, as long as I get to make them squirm now and again, by doing some robotics to a Kraftwerk song in the car, whilst they try to hide in the footwells.
We were all waiting in the car a couple of weeks ago, whilst my wife nipped into Morrisons. Because I was bored, I tried on my little lad’s (7) cycling helmet. I looked stupid, but it amused me for a few seconds. My eldest then told me to take it off.
“Why? Is it embarrassing you?”
I had planned to take it off, but then drove home in it, hoping to God we’d see a couple of his mates, so I could shout out my window to them.
Though it seems like I’m doling this 'embarrassing the kids' lark out a lot, of course I experienced it myself when I was young.
We went through a bit of a Bob Marley phase at our house, in the mid 80s, coinciding with the release of his Legend album. Growing up in an Irish household, this was considered quite exotic fare, but - as well as being a stupendously great collection of tunes - knowing the lyrics to Bob Marley songs was an excellent shortcut to street-cred.
Unfortunately, whenever we were listening to the album in the front room, my dad would come in, chuckling and say.
“Is that my mate, Bob? Sure I love this music.”
Regardless of which tune was on, he’d then sing an approximation of No Woman No Cry, deliberately out of tune and with some of the words missing.
Whilst we screamed at him to stop, he’d just wander out of the room laughing, still knocking out his 'Westmeath reggae'.
I try to explain to my eldest that - thirty years from now - he will also be uncool. In 2042, his kids will be shaking their heads slowly at him as he tries to negotiate their world, whilst their grandad Charlie stumbles around in the background, with a tiny cycle helmet on and his trousers pulled up too high, singing the incorrect words to a 68 year old reggae song.