Dear Dave

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Being a dad in the house

Dear Dave,

Thanks for the sympathy over the home improvements. The kitchen should be finished any day now, though.


Bear in mind that the foreman who told me this also said he'd have some guys round here first thing last Friday and they didn't show until half-past two. Yesterday he promised to arrive at lunchtime but failed to mention the other two workmen handily scheduled to turn up three hours earlier in the ten minutes I absolutely had to be out of the house in order to take the kids to school.

As such, I'm not exactly going to hold my breath until the work is completed.

In the meantime, we're all surviving being cooped up in the lounge with piles of displaced oven dishes. For now at least. Who will drive who mad first? I think it may actually have become a competition.

What do you call it when you tip out a skip full of uncooked, impoverished entrances?

A poor, raw door pour.

All those words have the same 'or' sound for me. They all rhyme. For Sarah, none of them do. The kids are somewhere in between. Arguing over pronunciation kept us busy for a while.
Yes, we're definitely losing it.

That said, I did get a bit of break on Saturday. Sarah got the kids' breakfast while I slept in and then I took Marie to a birthday party for one of her friends. I got to sit and chat to adults while she amused herself on the softplay. Then, in the afternoon, I put up shelves while Sarah looked after the children. I was still busy at teatime, so we ordered pizza. By the time I was finished, Marie was already in bed.

It was an unusual day. Having the kids around but not being in charge of them (or even really seeing them much) was odd. It was different from the times Sarah has taken the kids away for the weekend in order to give me a rest. Those occasions have been more like a brief return to the days before parenthood and I've slipped happily into the armchair with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other. On Saturday, however, we were all living our normal lives but the children weren't my problem. In ten years of being a housedad, this has almost never happened before. I had to deal with them for half an hour here or there but mostly I got to watch them pass by every so often and overhear their squabbling whenever an album ended on my iPod.

Strangely, I kind of missed them.

I suppose I got a taste of what many dads must experience on a regular basis. I didn't think much of it.

Yours in a woman's world,


PS As I suspected, Marie has succumbed to Lewis' persuasion and decided to become vegetarian too. I wouldn't have cared but she made up her mind during her friend's party. Suddenly she wouldn't eat the cocktail sausages. Half the sandwiches were out of the question too because they contained meat. Then she turned up her nose at the rest of the sandwiches because they had bread in. The nachos were refused for being too crunchy. She wouldn't touch the apple for no other reason I could make out than that she was on a roll by then.

She had to make do with a slice of pizza and some raisins.

Shortly afterwards, one of the helpers at the venue arrived with a tray heaped with bowls of ice-cream. She got the kids to shout how much they wanted it. There was much leaping and screaming from every child but one. For some reason, the helper chose to serve that child first.

"I don't like ice-cream," said Marie grumpily.

The helper tried to give her some anyway.

"Are you sure you don't want any? I'll put it here and..."

"I DON'T LIKE ice-cream."

Marie can be awkward and goes through all sorts of phases and fads but she's not kidding when it comes to ice-cream. She's tried it plenty of times and has always hated it. I had to step in. "She really doesn't like it."

The helper looked blank. Encountering a child who didn't like ice-cream was clearly a first for her. After serving the other kids, she wandered off in a bemused fashion with the spare bowl, muttering to herself.

Thankfully, if there's one thing I can cope with after ten years of being a housedad, it's other peoples' confusion. I just shrugged and ate Marie's sandwiches.

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