I’m sure there’s a lot to love about me as well, but she’s not letting on what those are. It took a while but I whittled it down to ten, but here goes –
- My one handed dishwashing. While reading a book. Well I was reading already when the dishes needed doing. When it comes to multitasking I’m an old hand – an old withered hand gripped by arthritis and hangnails. My greatest multitasking achievement is being able to simultaneously not watch more than one child at a time. As for the dishes, well I don’t ask Tracey to stop cooking dinner when one of the kids needs help with their homework. Besides, the cutlery is just going to get dirty again at breakfast.
- My ability to produce air. Seriously, I don’t know where you women keep it – you must burp a lot or something. All I know is if I didn’t let it out I’d explode like a baked bean in a microwave.
- How her parents put me to sleep. When we take the kids places we do the traditional “Now you kids be on your very best behaviour or there’ll be no food for a week and we’ll cancel Christmas” pep talk. When we go to my mother-in-laws the pep talk is firmly directed at me. “Don’t you fall asleep!” I’ve tried everything – throwing back extra strong coffees, sleeping in before I go, sipping on V drinks while I’m there. I’ve attempted explaining to Tracey I nod off on her parents’ lounge because I’m so at ease and it feels like home, but she’s not having any of it. “Don’t you dare fall asleep or, so help me, I’ll wake you with a kick to your groin. I’ll do it too. I’ve got enough kids so I don’t need those things anymore.” I tend to stand a lot when I’m over there.
- The way I tidy the house. Tracey can take all day to put the kids’ rooms back to rights. I can do it in ten minutes. Okay, so there’ll be bits of puzzles missing and dolls clothes they’ll never find again, and I’ll probably need to make an extra trip to the dump, but at least we’ll be able to see the carpet.
- My parenting. I have a more ‘hands off’ approach than Tracey. I give my kids permission to hurt themselves whereas around Tracey the kids are more likely to get clipped by the blades of her helicopter. I figure they’ll soon learn the definitions of hot, sharp and high. Tracey is the forest ranger who makes sure everyone is sticking to the rules whereas I see myself more as an SES member who sweeps in at the last minute to whisk them to safety. Or the hospital.
- My shopping skills. You see, Tracey and I have polar views when it comes to essentials. With a flood imminent, I raced to the supermarket to stock up on toilet paper and eggs while they were still available. The trouble is supermarkets have so much nice stuff. Like Bocconcini, which was on special. Then some lemonade – well work was to be cancelled for a few days so I figured we could sip shandies. On a similar theme I added coke, cornchips, salsa, cream and sticky date puddings. And Tim Tams. I figured the flood was essentially a bonus holiday so we may as well enjoy ourselves. Tracey took one look when I got home and labelled me the worst emergency shopper ever.
- My driving. I really don’t know how I manage to drive anywhere by myself. Tracey takes on the roll of spotter when we’re out together. “Truck!” “Bike!” “Lights!” she’ll announce as we scoot around town. She has no faith in my abilities. Which is why when I was driving to the shop with a friend from work it was so nice to hear her say how well I managed to maneuver the big beast around the car park. “I do do alright,” I thought to myself as I parked. Then backed into the car behind me. “You really botched that,” I told my bewildered colleague. “You’re supposed to yell Car!”
- My inability to hear the kids. “Bruce!” Tracey will scream from the other end of the house, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand to attention. “Can you see what’s going on?!” I’ll look up and there in front of me will be Miss5 and Miss2 embroiled in a battle over a teapot lid, both screaming blue murder and baying for blood. “Hey, hey, hey,” I’ll say, almost stepping between them, but more accurately just stretching a hand in their direction. “No need for this. Give me that.” And then I’ll sit on it and go back to my book until Tracey contacts me again. Which, given the girls will now be baying for my blood and trying to dig the lid out from under my bum, will likely be about thirty seconds.
- The way I dry myself. Or more specifically, my insistence on using a fresh towel after every shower. I know it’s wrong but I don’t care. The soft freshly scented material makes me happy. Tracey uses more soaps, scrubs and shampoos than me, so I figure we’re about even. And anyway, I more than make up for this small indulgence by managing to dry all five little kids with a single towel – sometimes I even go the extra distance and use the one I dried myself with.
- My face. When Tracey was pregnant she’d wake up feeling fine. It was only when she looked at me in the morning she’d get morning sickness. She’d glance at me then suddenly freeze, a look of shock and horror on her face, before racing off to the bathroom with her hand over her mouth. Seems when she’s preggers my face makes her vomit.
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‘Raising a family on little more than laughs.’