How To Train Your Daughter

Big Family Little Income Emily-3

“Can you get dressed please?” I asked Miss4, trying to hit just the right note of loving father and do it now or I’ll cancel Christmas.

We were cutting it thin again this morning because I keep forgetting I can’t stand at the coffee machine knocking back shots and expect the kids to remember how to get ready for school. The only thing they routinely remember to do on any given weekday is wake me up by yelling to get them porridge, followed by another kid yelling they don’t like porridge because it’s ‘mweryuck’ –  something which for a couple of years now they’ve seemed genuinely concerned I’ll forget from one day to the next.

As is becoming more and more the norm around here, Miss4 answered my question with a question of her own.

“Can I have a Dippit for breakfast?” she wanted to know. In anticipation of my answer she’d already dragged a chair across from the dining table, climbed it and grabbed the box from where I’d cleverly hidden it.

“No,” I told her, taking it out of her hands. Then quickly went on when it looked like she was going to lose her shit, “But you’ve got two in your lunchbox.”

I know what you’re thinking – two packets of Dippits? Don’t judge me: I have a wife for that.

“Where’s my lunchbox?” Miss4 suddenly wanted to know.

“In the other fridge,” I said, pleased she was going to pack it because that’s another job done, even if it wasn’t the one I’d asked for.

Rooky mistake.

“Bruce,” called Tracey. “Didn’t you tell her she couldn’t have a Dippit for breakfast?”

“Yeah,” I said. Tracey couldn’t see me but for some reason I felt compelled to point at the pantry as I said, “I even took it off her and put it away.”

“Well, she’s got one. Where did she get it?”

I went in search of Miss4.

“That was supposed to be your lunch,” I roused on her, totally over faking my loving father voice I’d gone all Grinch on her ass. From where I was standing Easter was looking a bit dodgy too. “I’m not putting another one in to replace it. You can just go without. Now do what you’re told and go and get dressed.”

Mentally, I was praising myself on such a fantastic speech. Things would get moving now.

“Stop talking to me,” she said, frowning like I was in some serious doo-doo. “You’re hurting my knees.”

I couldn’t help myself – I got sucked into her world.

“What do you mean knees?”

“You’re hurting them with your angry talking,” she said, giving them a rub for good measure. “I can’t walk now.” Then she turned all sweet girl on me. “I will have to stay home and watch Dragons-” How To Train A Dragon “-because – owwwww – my knees are so sore.”

I’ve got to hand it to her, she’s a good little actress. I had to remind myself I hadn’t just hurt my daughter.

If I was to stand any chance of getting a third and final shot of caffeine into my system before we left we did not have time for this nonsense.

“We have to get going or you’ll miss the morning song,” I said, bringing out the big guns.

The morning song at pre-prep (Happy You’re Here by Hap Palmer at 14mins 15secs) is a big incentive. It’s the equivalent of my 20-year-old self missing happy hour. It is her catnip. Her extra shot latte. Her Cadbury chocolate egg.

Or at least, it was until Tracey opened her big mouth again.

“Like yesterday,” she called out from the kitchen.

I saw in the slight tilt of her head and the widening of her eyes the very instant this registered and reminding her had become a bad idea.

Unusually, the day before Tracey had been running late getting Miss4 to pre-prep on time – the unusual bit is not that Miss4 was getting there late but rather it’s usually me mouthing apologies to the teachers.

The difference this time was the teacher didn’t simple nod and continue with what she was doing. She stopped and said, “Hello! Everybody turn around and say hello.”

“Hello!” the class chorused.

And Miss4 loved it so much she’s apparently determined being late to class isn’t the end of the world, as we’d previously been led to believe, but rather a chance to make a grand entrance.

“That’s okay,” she said, grinning. “I will miss the morning song and everyone will want to say hello to me.”

At this point I figured her sensitive knees be damned, and I lost my shit. I politely explained she needed to get dressed and pack her bag and put on shoes and brush her hair and clean her teeth, ending with, “Now what have you got to say for yourself?”

To her credit, she seemed to give her response a good bit of thought. Then she answered my question  with one of her own again.

“Can I have another Dippit please, Daddy?”

You know, since we had time.

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