Xander started crawling a few weeks ago. Now I’ve finally got round to writing about this proud parent moment, he’s decided that it’s a tad boring. Now, he’s climbing anything and anyone and trying to walk by cruising along the sofa. That’ll teach me for dithering. His new-found ability has also seen me having to reprise an old role of my own – being a referee.
Yep, once upon a time, I was a qualified football official. I used to be the man in the middle for kids’ games. It kept me in beer money while I was a student and was, for the most part, good fun.
The reason I eventually gave up wasn’t the kids taking after some of the brattish pros they looked up to. Most of them were perfectly behaved, in fact. It was the parents on the touchlines that drove me to quit.
It turns out that Competitive Dad from The Fast Show wasn’t far-fetched at all. There were some truly awful people spoiling it for everyone else. Sad but true.
In fact, the only person I ever sent off was the manager of one of the teams for foul and abusive language. I wish I were joking. I digress. Back to the main point…
Before Xander arrived, everyone who’d been there, seen it, done it and had baby sick on the proverbial T-shirt had told both Kate and me that our second child would learn things sooner than Dylan did. They weren’t kidding!
He’s eight months old now, but it looks like he’ll be confident on his feet well ahead of his first birthday. Dylan was over a year old before he was sauntering around the house with aplomb.
None of this is a slight on Dylan, of course. He’s a really bright little lad who amazes us with his persuasive charm and Rainman-like attention to detail every day. It’s just that Xander has a distinct advantage that he didn’t when he was at this stage. He has someone of a similar size to copy.
Not that Dylan sees it this way, of course. As he’s the older sibling, it’s inevitable that he’s going to be envious when we applaud his little brother’s achievements. Herein lies a problem…
Thanks to Igglepiggle falling on his arse at the conclusion of In the Night Garden every night, he thinks people hitting the deck is hilarious. The fact that Xander inevitably loses his balance when he tries to move, it would seem, is a gift that keeps on giving.
Especially as he has realised that he can help him on his way with a carefully placed nudge. Or blatant shove. Little monster. He’s getting quite inventive with it too. The other day, for example, he sent his poor little brother sprawling with a push cunningly disguised as a stretch.
It’s got to the point where he knows the naughty corner is beckoning as a result. Like the experienced centre back who knows his last-ditch sliding tackle has been horribly mistimed, will often be walking towards it, head bowed before one of us ‘referees’ have arrived on the scene to give him his marching orders.
That’s where the metaphor ends. Although it would be funny if referees picked up stricken players and gave them a cuddle…