“I’ve always wanted five kids,” the checkout chick at IGA said to me last Thursday when the five kids and I rocked up to her counter. She looked about sixteen.
I almost didn’t hear what she was saying because I was busy catching the items Miss2 and Miss4 were ‘helpfully’ almost placing on the conveyor while saying no to Miss10 who wanted a magazine, yes to Master9 who wanted to sit on the bench and come back to Miss7 who was running for the kiddy ride.
It was my first day as a stay at home dad. From here on in I’ll be running the show every Thursday so Tracey can focus on her photography business. I’m doing school runs and shopping and cleaning and cooking. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this.
“We’ll be fine,” I told my wife mid-morning when I headed out the door with my two youngest to do some shopping.
It soon became obvious I was lying.
And I didn’t even have to start the car before I realized this.
“Into your seats,” I told the girls, sliding the car door open and waiting patiently for them to clamber in.
I raced around to the other side of the car to do up Miss2’s seat belt. Only she wasn’t there.
“She’s in the back,” Miss4 told me.
I heard a giggle from the very backseat (we have three rows of seats in our car) where Miss2 had ducked down and was hiding.
“What are you doing?” I asked her. “Get over here please.”
When she didn’t move I went to the back of the car and popped the rear door. She’d moved.
“She’s here now,” said Miss4, indicating the floor below her feet.
I shut the door and moved to the middle.
“She’s in the front,” Miss4 informed me. And sure enough Miss2 was on the driver’s seat, holding the steering wheel.
This went on for about five minutes, with Miss4 running commentary. Finally, I managed to catch hold of a foot and wrestle Miss2 into her car seat.
My whole day seemed to be a series of chase scenes, like on that old Playstation game Hot Pursuit, with my two girls racing off, usually in different directions, and me in the role of pursuit vehicle.
It was a day of tantrums and demands and promises and threats. You know, the normal stuff. And I loved it!
When I wasn’t chasing them down aisles I was trying to find the right spots to put back the groceries they’d managed to smuggle into the trolley.
Or rather, trolleys. I managed to find reasons to make it to all four brands of supermarkets in our town – Aldi, Coles, Woolworths…
…and, of course, IGA.
“So you want five kids?” I asked the young girl at IGA as she scanned five 2ltr bottles of milk. I smiled encouragingly. “That’s nice.”
“Yeah,” she replied, but she wasn’t looking at me.
She was watching my kids.
Miss4 was screaming she wanted to go on the kiddy ride which I’d unsuccessfully called Miss7 back from, while Miss2 wasn’t sticking around to ask – she already had one leg over the side and was in the process of scrambling down the trolley. Miss10 was suggesting a chocolate instead of a magazine in her whiny ‘finger nails down a blackboard’ voice she reserves for public outings and Master9 was oblivious to everything, sitting on the bench staring into the middle distance like this brain was running Windows and needed a reboot.
The young checkout chick scanned the last of my groceries and smiled at me.
“But now I’m thinking I might stop at two,” she said, casting an eye over my brood again. “You know, eventually.”
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