Caroline Verdon: When you realise you’ve become ‘one of those’ parents

Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
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I’ve become ‘one of those’ parents.

Last weekend we went to a fun fair and they had bounce cars. I’d never seen them before but essentially they’re like dodgems but for smaller kids – seats inside giant rubber rings that are battery powered and operated by two sticks to make you go forwards, backwards, right and left. Our toddler was desperate to try them and at nearly three he was probably a bit little for them but it was quiet and no one else was using them so we let him hop on.

He was an absolute natural. Within minutes he was whizzing all over the place and turning before he hit the sides and reversing out of corners. We looked on in awe. He had this gigantic smile on his face and it was clear that he was absolutely loving it. The bell went and his time was up but he stayed on. And on. And on. After about ten minutes, three kids aged about 10 came and joined him. I’ve never heard him laugh as loud as he did when he bounced into them and they bounced into him.

They were eight years older than him, they were thinking about secondary school and he wasn’t even in pre-school yet but despite this he was still very much holding his own. It took me seven attempts to pass my driving test yet he looked about ready to take his there and then! He was a child driving genius!

We took little videos and text them to our parents and siblings who responded with ooohs and ahhhs. We continued and Whatsapped them to a few friends who all responded with the agreeable “well done” and “what a clever boy”. Then we put them on Facebook and I even tagged a friend of mine who’s a professional racing driver. To be fair, he didn’t seem that bothered. And that’s when it struck me.

It happened quite suddenly and it caught me completely unaware but there was no mistaking it. I’d became ‘one of those’ parents. I couldn’t stop my mind from getting carried away - should we take him somewhere like go karting to enhance this skill? Being a racing driver is a dangerous job but if he enjoys it then he’d never work a day in his life right? How expensive is it – how do people set about getting sponsorship and funding? How do you make the move from gokarts to Formula 1? It was genuinely difficult to bring myself back to earth and remind myself that in actual fact he was a toddler on a fun fair ride.

It’s not the first time this has happened either. I have form. A friend of mine bought him a drumkit when he was three days old (don’t ask) but by six months old he was loving it. By one he was playing it every day and by two, we bought him a full on electric drumkit. He’s played it about 10 times. Then there was the first time he started dancing. He did a little bottom jiggle and I found myself googling ‘dance classes for tots’. It seems I actually can’t help myself.

I’m a bit of a secret pushy parent at the moment – I’ve not acted on anything but what happens when he gets to school? What am I going to be like if he’s in a school play? What if he’s picked for a sports team? Will I be the mum sent off the pitch for bad mouthing the ref? Where will it end?!

I want to be able to nurture the talents Arthur has for the things that he enjoys. I want to be able to give him the opportunities to achieve whatever goals he sets and to experience things that make his heart sing and his entire body smile. How do you do that and not accidentally become the parent who forces their child into training for something they don’t actually want? He’s two. I’ve got very carried away. I mean the fairground assistant didn’t even bat an eyelid when he whizzed around so she’d clearly seen it all before. Unless she was playing it cool? Realistically I just need to give him opportunities to try new things and encourage him where I can. That’s what a rational adult would do. Alternatively if anyone knows when the fair is next coming to Leeds or has seen some bounce cars up for sale at a good price then let me know!

Making music once again?

I saw a post on Facebook this week that’s got me really excited. I was saying a fortnight ago how I wanted to be more productive with my time. How rather than watch endless Netflix of an evening, instead have a hobby.

I’ve a cupboard full of jewellery making kits and musical instruments and fabric to make a patchwork quilt and I’ve done nothing with any of it. About a month ago I took my flute out of its box in the hope that seeing it everyday would mean that I’d actually play it but I haven’t, it’s just sat on the table for weeks gathering dust. Until now. I saw an advert on Facebook for a show that’s coming to The Wardrobe on September 26. It’s called ‘Buswell and Nyberg’s Spectacular Pop-Up Orchestra’ and essentially it’s a one off concert with an orchestra but the orchestra is made up of local musicians… musicians that are yet to be found! They’re on the hunt for anyone and everyone who can play any sort of instrument, those who can sight-read, those who play from chords and improvisers as well. I’ve dropped them an email and am waiting to see if I’ve made the cut – I used to be pretty good but I’ve not played since college which is now a terrifying 17 years ago. No idea at all if there are further requirements, how difficult the music will be or how much time it’s going to take but I am absolutely up for the challenge and have my fingers firmly crossed.

If it’s something that’s up your street too then email address 10dayorchestra@gmail.com for more details.

Walking with Dinosaurs

Last week, Walking with Dinosaurs came to the First Direct Arena and First Direct Bank were kind enough to let us borrow their box and give away a heap of seats on air.

Wow. What an incredible show that was. I wasn’t sure what to expect and everyone I spoke to said the same. It said suitable from three so I brought Arthur with me but I was worried it might be scary or boring. Minus him deciding to leg it whilst yelling “I’m going home” the second the lights went down we massively enjoyed it. The seconds the dinosaurs came on he was captivated. They were giant part animatronic part puppet things that you had to keep reminding yourself weren’t actually real, they were so lifelike. The audience was so mixed – small kids, teenagers, couples or all ages, all mesmerised. My stand out moment was when two triceratops had a little fight and Arthur stood up on his chair, pointed angrily and shouted “no, you must be kind”. Well done my boy, well done.

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show on Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.