In our little family, Tracey has often bemoaned the fact the kids walk past me to ask her stuff I could answer.
I know, for example, what’s for dinner and who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher and why they can’t watch the end of their show before bed.
I also know the reason this is a problem.
“Dad!” came a came a shout from the direction of the kitchen.
I opened my mouth to answer but was shouted down immediately, “Ye-”
“Dad, Dad, Dad, Da-aaad!” Miss8 continued annoyingly.
I acknowledge my part in this.
Over the years my children have learned through trial & error I don’t necessarily, or ever, answer on the first ‘dad’. Or second. They’ve realised it takes a solid five to snatch my attention away from the screen or book or dishes so, being time poor when it comes to getting whatever the hell they want, they promptly get them out of the way up front.
Whereas judging by the approach they take with her, Tracey must live in constant threat of whiplash from the speed with which she attends to their demands because they don’t even bother putting a full stop between calling her and telling her what she’s doing wrong.
Historically, “Mum, you need to go shopping! We’re out of food!” is out of their mouths before the fourth ‘Dad!’ has bounced off the back of my head.
And I admit it. For much of the last twenty-six years grabbing my attention has been akin to waving down a passing comet.
But that was when we had babies and toddlers keeping us up all night. My brain was mush.
And before I’m crushed under the weight of hate mail I acknowledge my wife had it worse than me, primarily due to her increased giveashitness levels at 2am when the little buggers liked to wake up, meaning she was more likely to go see what the hell was going on.
Not that I did nothing.
I was, for example, very much focused on keeping our endorphin levels up. Because I care.
But the thing is I’ve had three solid years of good enough sleep now our youngest is six and likes to stay snuggled up in bed nearly as long as I do.
This is where I can come into my own.
If I was given the chance.
So my personal project lately has been to teach the kids they don’t need to rattle off dads with machine gun efficiency as they approach me. That they can, in fact, say it once and wait and I will acknowledge them.
Which is why I spun around and pointed to the far end of the kitchen.
“Go back,” I told Miss8, “and try that again.”
The fact she didn’t ask me ‘try what again?’ I took as a positive sign I’m starting to break through.
“Da-aad,” she said.
“Yes?” I responded.
This was going very well.
“Do we have any fruit?”
Rather wonderfully I even knew the answer. I’d bought three boxes – apples, oranges and bananas – that very morning and had only just moved them off the dining room floor after making room in the kitchen cupboard.
This would, I was pleased to think, help cement the idea I could not only be asked questions in a simple, non-frustrating manner, but also that I know stuff.
I smiled at my daughter, took a short breath in, and opened my mouth.
“THEY’RE IN THE PANTRY!” Tracey yelled from the bathroom.
“THANKS, MUM!” Miss8 shouted back.
So, yeah. I know part of the reason the kids often walk past me to ask their Mum stuff. I wonder if Tracey does? Maybe I’ll bring it up one night when the kids are asleep.
After I top up her endorphins.
I still take that job very seriously.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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