The days of being top dog in the house are long gone

Graeme 'Yer Man' Cousins
Graeme 'Yer Man' Cousins
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Four weeks ago Ben started sleeping through the night, three weeks ago he started walking and a week after that he met Ulster Rugby player John Afoa.

In the space of a month my son has proved to be a better sleeper than me, steadier on his feet than me and looked far more comfortable side by side with a sporting superstar than I ever have done or will do. To add insult to injury he’s got more hair than me.

I’m afraid my days of being top dog in the Cousins household are gone. Not that I begrudge him of it, there comes a time when the old guard has to make way for young blood, with the apparent exception of Ryan Giggs.

In terms of Valentine’s Day I got one over on my 10-month-old son by getting more cards than him. Though even this victory came with the realisation that he will blow me out of the water in terms of Valentine’s cards in years to come.

Ben is going to break hearts, that much is clear, given that he breaks everything else he lays his hands on.

I’ve never had a great Valentine’s strike rate. In a single year I’ve never got more than one card. I’m not a fan of sending cards either.

It stems back to my days in the boys’ junior high school when I developed an obsession with a girl from the girls’ junior high school. I would see her every week at Glenavon games and had never so much as made eye contact, yet at the age of 14 I decided this was the girl I was going to settle down with.

Once I’d made up my mind to send her a card it became a top secret operation.

I waited until McMurray’s mobile unit in the town centre was clear of customers then bought a card, quickly sneaking it inside my favourite heavy metal magazine Kerrang to smuggle it out of the shop. Having deliberated for days as to how to sign it I ended up using a sticker from said Kerrang magazine in lieu of my signature. As far as the recipient was concerned the card came from Glenn Danzig, The Evil Elvis.

The plan had been to tell no one of my plan, but I ended up having to ask my dad for a lift to deliver the card because I’d left it so late.

Not surprisingly nothing came of my stab at romance, however, a few years later the girl came up in a conversation among the lads during which we were discussing the merits of sending Valentine’s cards.

A mate of mine told the group he’d got a kiss off the girl of my dreams on the strength of a Valentine’s card he’d sent her. Thankfully, no one except me knew she was the girl of my dreams so my blushes were spared.

I later pulled him to one side and asked for more details. I wanted to know what was so special about his card that had got the desired result as opposed to my abject failure.

It emerged he didn’t even send her a card. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time, most importantly wearing a Glenn Danzig T-shirt. When, with a glint in her eye, she’d suggested he might be her secret admirer he didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Turns out someone had sent her a Valentine’s card signed ‘Glenn Danzig’?” he explained. “What a tube!”

I wholeheartedly agreed.

My young self learnt an important lesson and it’s one which I’ll be passing on to Ben when testosterone starts to get the better of him.

Though maybe in order to retain a bit of credibility when I tell him the anecdote I’ll be the one who lied about the card and got the girl.