There are only a few occasions where it’s alright to wear a tracksuit in public

I have turned into one of those bad-joke telling, anecdote-repeating dads

'‘If you want to dress like a car thief,’ I say, ‘you might as well go and get a crowbar and a balaclava while you’re at it.’'

'‘If you want to dress like a car thief,’ I say, ‘you might as well go and get a crowbar and a balaclava while you’re at it.’'

 

I’ve turned into one of those dads. So my boys keep telling me, anyway. I regularly find myself cracking fairly bad jokes, jokes that I have no reason to be proud of. What’s worse is that I just can’t help it. It must be genetic, although I don’t remember my own dad ever having such a terrible sense of humour.

For example when one of them objects to the other getting more chocolate, getting to go somewhere they aren’t or to the other gaining some slight advantage, they may protest to me that “aw Dad, it’s not fair”. And every single time I will respond that “there is no reason to bring snot into it”. It is of course referring to the tendency to run the “it’s” and “not” together. Geddit? See, not awfully funny, but as I say I can’t help it. I won’t even begin to talk about my baaaad sheep jokes. Terrible stuff.

I also find myself repeating anecdotes in the full knowledge that I am repeating anecdotes (which definitely is genetic: you know who you are Mary Logue). I always tell the boys that the first time I was ever on an airplane was at the age of 20. This is a true story. I was on my way to Paris for an Erasmus programme in Université Paris 8, Saint Denis with four of my journalism comrades from Dublin City University. This was also my first time living away from home, but I generally repeat the anecdote to point out how life has changed since 1995 and that, by comparison with then, children have a lot to be thankful for in mod-er-din times. I often wonder has the message sunk in or are Old Man River’s wise words just a source of annoyance. But I just keep telling the story and the kids roll their eyes so far back in their heads they can see things approaching from behind. Even our new dog Fenton has started rolling his big brown puppy eyes at me, but that’s for another column.

I also find myself holding forth in front of the kids on particular subjects, another source of deep annoyance with my offspring, both old and young. I’m not sure if this is a familial trait or if it is something that comes to all men with children at a certain point. Some would call it mansplaining, I suppose.

One of them asked me recently if Ireland was a rich country. “That depends,” I explain, when they are really just looking for a yes or no answer. It sets me off on a lengthy explanation of relativity. Paddy’s theory of relativity is a lot more straightforward than Albert Einstein’s but I think it’s important so that the kids understand how to better express themselves and also to teach them a bit about the world. I begin to labour over the the facts and figures, that Ireland and her people suffered greatly, and more than most countries, during the economic crash over the past decade but that relative to the most underdeveloped countries on the planet Ireland is a rich nation. It makes it all the more disgraceful, I say, that we find ourselves with such high levels of homelessness, that people spend days on hospital trolleys, and that broadband is considered a luxury in some parts of rural Ireland. Logue’s “That Depends Theory of Relativity” is a real bore; ask any of my kids.

Nothing wrong with Speedos in the pool, my son, but at the school gate not so much

All of which brings me neatly to my latest ventures in turning my kids against me, or “Context and Tracksuits: Irish Youth’s Obsession With Shell Suits and Sports Gear”, as it would be titled were I writing an academic paper on the matter. The conversation usually starts with me saying something like “you’re not coming into town with me dressed like a car thief”, to which a son will reply “Why not?, aw come on Dad, it’s fine”. Said child will invariably be dressed in a tracksuit bottoms, maybe a football top and a pair of battered looking Astros. “Why?” I say.

“If you want to dress like a car thief,” I say, “you might as well go and get a crowbar and a balaclava while you’re at it.

“There are only a few occasions where it is alright to wear a tracksuit in public,” I continue. “One obvious occasion is, for example, while on a track performing some sport or other, maybe to keep warm prior to running a race or before you throw a javelin. This is where the tracksuit got its name, after all.”

I get accused of all sorts, even that I am classist, and it is pointed out to me that the economic crash was largely expedited by men in pin-striped suits running banks.

I quickly put an end to the argument by making a promise. “If you want to wear that into town, I’ll turn up to collect you at school wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos,” I say. “Nothing wrong with Speedos in the pool, my son, but at the school gate not so much. It’s all about context.”

Fenton performs the biggest eye roll a little dog can achieve and the young fellow comes back in a pair of nice jeans.

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