Dear Dave

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Back to Earth

Dear Dave,

Yeah, I know, I haven't written to you much for a while. It's nothing personal - just a combination of school holidays and panicked preparation for the arrival of a new kitchen. My time is split between emptying cupboards and being forced to watch re-runs of Total Wipeout. When you're nine, watching grown adults get punched in the head by an automated boxing glove and then fall face-first into a pool of mud is apparently the funniest thing ever. Personally, however, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. (Snorting hot coffee out my nose as some poor unfortunate does an unexpected back flip into slime is merely an attempt to bond with my children...)

By the time the kids have got to bed recently, I've been too tired to achieve much. Instead, Sarah and I have been catching up on some of the TV that passed us by during the years we were busy with babies. We've been watching Life on Mars. It's about a police officer who has an accident in 2006 and wakes up in 1973. He doesn't know how or why he's there but the situations and attitudes are so different from his previous experience, it feels like he's on another planet.

(You may not be aware of the show because you have small children and haven't slept since 2006. Let's face it, there's a chance you don't even know who the Prime Minister is. I'd tell you, but that could all change in a couple of weeks. All you really need to know at the moment is that someone seems to have checked down the back of a sofa and found the Liberal Democrats, much to everyone's delight and surprise. Oh, and the whole country is going to run out of bananas because of a volcano in Iceland...)

After a few episodes of Life on Mars, we also watched Dirty Dancing. That was made in 1987 but is set in the impossibly odd and distant world of 1963. Of course, as with Back to the Future, the the original release of the movie is now almost as long ago as the 'historical' setting was at the time. Somehow, we got to marvel at the wackiness of both the early Sixties and the mid Eighties.

Golly, hasn't the world changed?

Then again, never mind 1973 - for me, 2006 seems like a different planet. It was still a time of nappies and sleep deprivation. Leaving the house took almost as much planning as a polar expedition. Parent-and-toddler, buggies, nursery and so many other things that are long past were still a part of my life. Heck, I hadn't even started writing to you.

That's a long time ago.

When I was at a ceilidh a few weeks ago, I had a strange revelation when a friend offered me and the family a lift home - I realised that it would we easier making our own way back. We didn't have vast amounts of emergency equipment and spare clothes. I knew all of us could make it to the bus stop, catch a bus to the end of our road and then walk home without a tantrum or falling asleep or turning blue with cold or needing the toilet. Why wait for someone else to be ready to go and then have to faff with car seats and being ferried about? It was easier just to head off.

Somewhere along the line since 2006, I've reached a new level of freedom. My job has also changed drastically. I may be trapped watching nutters struggling knee-deep through slime but at least I'm not having to do it myself anymore. Yep, having three schoolchildren to look after is a very different place to be than having three wee ones under the age of six. My housedad adventure is entering a new phase.

What about you, Dave? Back then, you only had a single toddler. Now you have one at school and another almost at nursery. That's quite a journey. I don't think you really need advice from me, these days. In all honesty, I'm so old and forgetful now, you probably know more about looking after small children than I do. The apprentice has become the master.

All in all, neither of us requires the same type of understanding and support we used to. Don't worry, though, I'll keep in touch - just not that often. Besides, I'm not quite done yet. Once this kitchen's dealt with, I still have to tell you about a couple of things. Rob's new baby arrived relatively uneventfully but Scary Karen's getting married and you'll want to hear about that. I can't see it going smoothly. Let's just hope she isn't trying to turn it into a Total Wipeout special... or giving it a 1973 theme...

Yours in a woman's world,


PS Have you considered taking on a padawan of your own?

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