Adventures With the Toddler

Chapter 34
It’s a Trap!! Part 2

I know some of y’all doubted the smarts of the toddler in its trap setting. I thought the trap phase was over. HOWEVER!!!! I went to take my seat tonight and discovered this clever trap before it claimed me.TODDLER TRAP1

 

Please note the blue cord. The blue cord is attached to the door handle and the bouncy green cow (with the mad eyes) below. Now. If I were to move the bouncy green cow from the doorway, as I am prone to, then I will meet resistance from the cord and might spill my wine or. (Or, most likely, nothing would happen at all.) But this was another trap and I shall ask the toddler when it wakes, what the design of this trap was intended to do.

The toddler set this one late while it distracted us from going to bed. Neither of us saw this set-up, so it is obviously working on its ninja skills.

I’m lucky I discovered it before I moved the green bouncy cow. My wine glass may have wobbled.

Toddlers. Ya can’t trust ‘em.

NOTE: The Toddler is soon to be a pre-schoolar. What!!!??? I know right. I’ll have to change the name of the blog. But fear not. We made another child-thing and that one is now toddling about, so we’re good. For now. Hopefully it’s as fun as the first one in the shenanigans.

CHAPTER 33
It’s a Trap!

The toddler has taken to setting traps. I have no idea where this came from and don’t know when it will end. I have tried asking it to stop, pleading for it to stop, but so far – my cries have fallen upon deaf ears.

Its traps aren’t as sophisticated as say a Rocky Mountain hunter. But I have come to grief twice on them. So far.
The traps basically consist of pieces of string and other material, a little sticky tape, my painting tape and compound granny-knots.
“Da. Can you untie this?”

I first came to grief on a long red bit of cord tied to the table and the baby highchair. My big toe was snagged as I was striding past on my way to water the plants on the balcony and I dropped the water jug all over the floor. Looking down, (after much cursing and leaping about), I saw that I had been snagged by the very same trap I had told the toddler to get rid of the night before.
However dear reader, this is not where this tale ends.
The wife mended my jeans as a tear had opened up in the ass of them. Being a scumbag worker in the entertainment industry doesn’t get me the same amount of money as a State liberal member who does fuck all and needs the dole, so we need to mend our clothes and measure out our gruel. The wife had her sewing kit out which also contained a long piece of fabric. I don’t know the proper name for the fabric strip. But anyway, this was the second trap that got me. This one however was tied around one of our alloy chairs. I hit the trap when carrying my coffee and toast to the end of the table to log-on and check Twitter of a morning. With the force of a large man moving a piece of fabric tied to a light chair – the chair tipped over and caught me on the trailing ankle – very hard. The blow was audible and I was rather hurt. I did however manage to get the coffee to the table before I screamed.
“What’s the matter Da??”
I set a stern jaw as I looked at the cabbage headed thing before me, “why did you set another trap? You’re not allowed to set these traps. I told you not to set these traps.”
“Da. There’s bad guys.”
“There aren’t bad guys!” I checked myself. “Look. Fine. There’s bad guys, sure. But not in here and not they’re not dumb enough to get trapped.”
It looked at me and I could read its mind – “but I caught you.”

Isolation is shit with young kids. But da did manage to get some points with the toddler doing work at the kinder the toddler went to before the plague came. The toddler hadn’t seen play equipment in six weeks and as there was no one at the kinder, da arranged for the toddler to get a go on the kinder gear as he worked. It spent most of the day playing while I was “back on the tools” for a day. I loved having my saws and drills going again. The old Liquid Nails kissing timber and cement sheeting as I bent over my workbench that was cobbled together toddler kinder tables. I’m still a little tender in the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. But by hell it was good to be “back on the tools.”
We do try to get the kids out for walks and avoid other humans between waking-up and day-drinking, but a lot of people have the same bloody idea of heading out into the world for fresh air and exercise. The bloody cheek of these other humans!
“What are these arseholes doing out here disturbing our walk?”

Kudos to the toddler though. In the six weeks of iso, the toddler has only asked to go to Oma and Pa’s, Nannytier’s and the pub for a beer, a glass of wine, a glass of water and some hot chippies. I sighed on that last one as I smiled with pride. “Me too kid. Me too.”

I do think of the impact on the kids. How it will shape them. The isolation, the routine of washing hands and sanitising constantly. Dad washing everything that comes in the house before it gets put into other containers or out in the sunlight. The toddler calling it the yucky viramant – so, we now call it that too. I had nothing comparable to this as a kid. Bros, Right Said Fred and Milli Vanilli, were still some years off as far as tragedy went. The trajectory for me as a child was sunshine and rainbows – I mean, apart from the weird priests that appeared when I went to a “proper school” and the utter scumfucks that now run the “government.”

I’ll say this once and once only. Mothers are Gods. After being forced into isolation to live with my own family over the last month – all stay-at-home mums should be paid one-hundred-million dollars a year. Holy hell! The noise never ends. I don’t know why I thought there was some kind of lull during the wife’s day where she could look glamorous and find the calm to meet me at the door on my return home. But since I’ve been home, I know every. Single. Moment. Is bloody hard work. The baby has a scream that shatters my spine and now that it knows it can bore a hole through my brain and send to me the ground howling, just by squawking – it does it just for fun. The toddler picks fight with me for the sole reason that I react when it does it. The wife says, “you react to her.”
“What!? Am I not meant to?”
How do I father if I don’t address the issue?
“You give her attention for her bad behaviour. Of course she’s going to play to it.”
“What the fuck?”
How am I not meant to react when challenged to a fight by someone that weighs 12 kilo and isn’t even three-feet tall? It should be an easy win, but I never win. Even the baby knows how to manipulate me and make me look like an arsehole.
It just occurred to me that I might not be that bright after all.

The baby is walking now. Just for that part of the eventual story. (More to come in that saga.)

There is a nightly routine that has formed due to the chaos and it’s called the Nudey Rudey dance. Basically, the kids have their bath of an evening and when they get out, we put on some tunes for them to dance around to in the nude. It’s fun for them and funny for us. I like it as I get to play a lot of rock music when it’s my turn to DJ. Although lately, it’s pretty much just the toddler throwing long-eyes at us and laughing as the baby rocks out with right fist pumping the air while the right foot stomps. They both love AC/DC and prefer my choice of tunes of an evening to their mums. At last! I’m in charge of something and The Wiggles never get a look in.

The Toddler, as those of you who have been playing along will know, has had its own room for a while now. It never sleeps there though. I’ve slept in the toddler’s room more than it has, (those are different tales.) However. One evening, we talked it into sleeping in its own room because all big kids have their own room.
We tricked it. Yes, I felt a little bad about it, but I really wanted to sleep with my wife without a tiny toddler unit kicking the shit out of me all night. It argued with its mother that it wanted an apple while it was meant to be going to sleep. The apple was denied it as it had already had a banana and was simply using the apple as a delay tactic.
Anyway, it started the night in its own room and the wife and I share a careful, hopeful smile. The baby is asleep, and we settle onto the couch to watch a movie.
The movie gets to the good bit and the toddler wakes up due to bad dreams. Fair enough. I go in, as I do when the toddler wakes and I soothe it back to sleep. Arriving back on the couch, I settle in again and nag the wife for a foot rub. No sooner do I have a thumb under the knuckle of my big toe, that I hear a whimper.
“Fuck. No.”
Another whimper.
I head to the toddler’s room and there it is, sitting on the floor, looking glum and putting on its best hard-done-by face. I feel guilty for trying to trick it into its own room as I look at it there on the floor. It looks like the roughest cabbage in the patch. I’m an idiot as we’ve established many a time and I fell for its trickery. I pick it up and carry its whimpering form into the living room as I see the wife roll her eyes at my weakness. I let it curl up on my lap on the couch as we change the channel to a show that is more child appropriate. I feel like the greatest father for those 15 minutes.
Then we all go to bed.
I close my eyes as I smile. I’m thinking of my awesome fathering. Sure, I failed at getting this cabbage-headed demon into its own room – but I did some tender fathering and I should be proud of myself.
Sweet, happy, isolation sleep.
‘CRUNCH!!’ My eyes spring open and I hear the sound of sharp little teeth sliding through a hard fruit – ‘CRUNCH.’
I don’t move, as my foggy head starts asking questions. ‘CHEW, CHEW, CHEW’, but I put the question to the dark, amidst the sound of gnawing. “Do you have an apple?”
‘CRUNCH! CHEW, CHEW, CHEW, “yes.”’
Stay calm bro – I tells myself.
“How did you get the apple?”
“Stashed it.,” Crunch – chew, chew, crunch.
It knew! It knew I would cave and stashed a bloody apple in our bed.
“Please give me the apple.
Crunch. “ No. Hungry.”
I lie in silence for what feels like an eternity as the bed begins to shake. The wife is laughing her ass off and trying not to.
CRUNCH! CHEW, CHEW, CHEW.
I have a sip of water as a light spray of apple juice hits the back of my neck and the wife is crying with laughter.
“Please put the apple away. We all went to bed because you were scared and now, you’re lying there munching.”
“Hungry.” Crunch. Then a fart escapes it. “And I farted.”

FUN FACT: The toddler has caught itself in its own traps more than it’s caught anyone else.

CHAPTER 32
The Coronavirus Diaries

When I was a moody teen – sitting in my dark bedroom for days on end writing manic poetry and masturbating incessantly, isolation was fun.

Stuck in an apartment with the wife and two little children – ain’t like those heady days. Not just because I’m asked if I’m going to have a poo or a wee when I step into the bathroom, or because the toddler invented “party porridge” and excretes green or blue turds due to the invention, not because I’m around them every second of every single day; no – it’s not like the carefree days of throwing care to the wind and making acrobatic shadow puppets. In this isolation scenario, I never have the remote and someone has always eaten the last banana.

Government imposed anything always fills me with fear, but when it’s these clowns making stuff up as they fumble through the orgy of darkness they created – I’m utterly terrified. The powers they have given themselves in order to force people into fever wards, must have Dutton’s shorts at full-stretch. Yet, it appears it’s only boats holding poor people that are stopped while the rich may infect the fucking lot of us. Incompetence, thy name is the LNP.

Now, don’t get me wrong folks, I’m glad these brain-dead Murdoch playthings finally listened to a scientist and implemented the 14 day self-isolation. It will save lives, (if people adhere to it) and stop calling this thing “just a cold.” They could have put the country into lockdown, given every worker a wage while we waited it out and done mass testing to ensure a healthy workforce – but if something would actually work, then these no-no’s don’t understand it. I hate them more than I can stress. But we move on.

For me, with two little kids whose entire world is touching things and then rubbing their faces, my face, their mums’s face, the neighbours face and licking any window they can reach — it’s a nightmare that has at least empowered me to describe this thing to the toddler as a “bad guy”. The toddler, ya see, is currently obsessed with bad guys who kill everyone. I have no idea where this came from, but I want to show it SCARFACE so bad it hurts. So, the virus is the bad guy, so we must wash our hands well and the toddler certainly knows how to do that now.

Life, lately, has been nothing but stressful. I don’t believe the kid immunity thing to this virus for a damn second. I think it’s total bunk and I’m going to play it safe and keep them washed and lathered until the science finally comes in and actually proves it. If I’m wrong that’s awesome! If I’m not…

Coronavirus, I loathe thee, not just for showing us that people care more for their arseholes than their fellow humans, not just because you royally screwed up a bloody special holiday, not just because you’ll make people I love sick, not just because I’m isolated with two little kids, one of whom is a threen-ager who argues with every single directive I give it. Not just because you cost me my job. I loathe thee as you’ve cut-off my supply line to Dan Murphy’s. Jimmy Brings, just doesn’t have the range.

I’ve seen some shit in my time and I ain’t seen no shit like the Coronavirus. I lived through Bros, Waa Waa Nee, The Proclaimers, those Right Said Fred Guys and Oasis – and now my family’s live are in danger because someone in China did an Ozzy Osbourne on a bat???? (unsubstantiated).

So – the trip.

We arrived in Buenos Aires excited for a fun time. I had been told of the barbecues and being a guy that loves steak and red wine, I was in for a real treat. We had made a plan of what we wanted to see and do over the 17 days we were away. Then the corona done put the kibosh on all our plans. The truth is, we couldn’t relax and things escalated rapidly. The holiday was basically a day on a plane, two lunches, everyone getting stressed by what was coming through the media and friends telling us the Australian borders were going to be shut and to get out. So we did. Just in time. I won’t go into it all as it leads down a path of disappointment and fear. Fear not just for ourselves, but fear projected from the locals onto us. There was a distrust that grew faster than the virus.

There was fun in those couple of days before it all went sideways and the times we weren’t sanitizing our hands or freaking out if we touched the door of an Uber.

The baby and toddler learnt to say “hola”. So there was that.

Short story short, we managed to scramble flights back to Australia by flying half way around the world and then back again.

Now in self-isolation, we have enough pasta and white rice to bring about the diabetes. We have a big TV that I never get to watch. The rent is due and that fills me with dread. We have the NBN so it’s like being back in the 80’s waiting for the Commodore 64 to load the game that came on the cassette tape. We have a small amount of alcohol and that is my main concern. Although, the wife will probably kill me long before we run out of booze as I think she’s finally seen through my bullshit. But it will probably be because I place the dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher.

Well, the travel blog will now be about self-isolating as we all go quickly insane. Should be fun.

I’m off to make a quarantini and fight with idiots on Twitter.

Wash your hands folks! Wash them well and wash them often.

CHAPTER 31
The Corona virus version
(For those still playing along)

Well it has been a long time between toddler tales. Most of that is my fault because time shakes itself from its worn tether and buggers off from me. So let me fill you in as a best I can before I start a new travel blog. That’s right folks, the family is off to South American for two weeks. Argentina, Chile and Uruguay

Discipline is still the order of the day. Teaching a child discipline that could give a damn about what threats I make leads to some wild times. I did threaten to sell it to gypsies one afternoon when it began playing up in Aldi again. Then the rest of the shopping experience was spent with the toddler telling me it was too fast and strong for me to catch it in order to sell it for gypsies. I kept correcting its grammar that I was going to sell it TO gypsies and not FOR them. Some people laughed who overheard the exchange, some scowled at me – but I didn’t care, it was funny as hell. The toddler wound its neck in thinking it might be sold to gypsies.

The baby and I have a lot in common. The main things however, are that we’re both bald and neither of us can get to our feet from the floor without holding onto something. But the baby is nearly walking. It’s nine months old and weeks away from striding itself across the room. It also loves its food and appears to be growing curly hair. It smiles all the time. The happiest little kid I’ve ever met, and every time that smile crosses its face, my heart swells and I fall in love all over again.

Then the Toddler chimes in —
“Da. Where does poo come from?” After tackling that particular issue, I was asked another big question. “Where does wee come from?” I gave the rundown on the importance of water and how it finally ends up in the bladder to be expelled. The toddler listened and did seem to understand. No doubt these tales will be told to all who will listen. After all, it doesn’t seem to be able to explain why we have night and day due to the rotation of the earth. Tides, is also seemed to grasp but less so. We’re tackling gravity now and learning a new word from the dictionary. A couple stick. Most don’t. But what does stick always amazes me.

The Toddler has started kindergarten. First day I was lucky enough to walk down with it as I had a late start at work. It was telling everyone we passed that it was off to kindy. It still tells all and sundry it’s off to kindy. It loves kindy and the growing up that has been happening is insane. It can express its emotions and isn’t afraid to express them, which is brilliant.

There was a long weekend here which is nice. The team and I have been working pretty hard and I was looking forward to hanging out with the toddler and taking the family to the Yarra Valley for lunch and to catch up with a dear friend. But then the fuckening happened and I came down with some illness that seemed to walk up to me and sneeze into my face. It happened on set and nursey took one look at me and sent me straight to the Doc and then right on home. Three days off work and the weekend to recover. I was tripping balls the first night. The scariest one was when I was convinced the toddler’s doll was fifteen feet tall and trying to tear my teeth out with its fingers. I slept in the toddlers room – which was once my office- which is now just an unused bedroom. This is what happens when I listen to people and allow blood to enter my alcohol stream. Wellness is horse shit.
“If you give up alcohol, you shall feel well.”
“I’d feel better by not giving it up.”
“You shall feel better. Its empty calories and your sleep will improve.”
“Sleep? With two little kids in my bed? The piss is the only thing helping me get any sleep at all! I’m forever being kicked, losing the doona and the scream dreams they have wake me to the point I have to give up sleeping at all.”
I don’t believe a word of it. I tried it for a few hours back in the early nineties as yoga was kicking off and everyone was bisexual for a couple of weeks. But my shadow began to chase me.

Anyway, I shelve the plonk and within five minutes – my body goes into shock. My cells begin to shut down and my shadow runs away as this horrible virus slips in. Two states I should never be in, sober or naked. The Doc said it wasn’t Cornavirus, but he did also try and sell me snake oil (cough syrup) and it was a Broadmeadows clinic. Not judging – but judging a little. Driving home was hell as my eyes were streaming. I had to keep pulling over as I thought I was going to crash because I couldn’t see.

New year and all that.

We took a trip to Maslin Beach in South Australia for the last week of the holidays. I had two weeks off and the toddler was pretty chuffed that every day was now Da and toddler day. It used this information to try and get its paws on croissants every morning. It’s an intelligent little beast and won a few rounds when we wandered off to the shops. I enjoyed myself enormously getting to hang out with the toddler, wife and baby-person.

For our trip preparations, the wife and I had the grand idea of bundling the kids in the car at three in the morning and driving flat stick for at least five hours while the children blissfully snoozed. I figured we could cover a lot of distance and make it to Maslin Beach in around nine hours. Stopping for breakfast and a pee.
Twelve hours after leaving Melbourne, we arrived at Maslin beach. Twelve hours due to stoppages:
“I need a poo.” Pull over for the toddler to have a poo. “Don’t need to.”
“Try.”
“Don’t need to anymore.” We get a hundred metres down the road. “Need a poo.”
I scream!
“Da.”
“What?”
“Need a wee.”
“Can you hold it.”
“No. Need a wee.”
“Argh.”
“What’s the matter da?”
“Nothing.”
“You just need to calm down da. Let’s stop. Think. And access the situation.”
“What in the blue fuck? Who are you”

Among poo stops, wee stops, baby wants fed stops, a lunch stop, a play stop and the soundtrack to Frozen 2 playing on loop – we finally made it to Maslin Beach and enjoyed a week of living like alcoholic dolphins as we swam every day and visited wineries.

I am writing this with the baby asleep in the crook of my arm. I’m tapping keys one-handed which is something I hate as I find it so hard to write this way. My thoughts are constantly on interrupt instead of flow. But alas, this is how I “write” now, with a baby in the crook of my arm. I’m no martyr and that isn’t where I’m going with this, but to be focussed on one thing is very hard when you truly need to split your focus in multiple directions when you have people depending on you for rent, food, laughs etc…

The baby getting to sleep of an evening has been my gig for a while now. Usually I’ll settle it into the crook of my arm and play it some music. We started with the Wiggles as it’s for kids, but it hated them. The Wiggles somehow evolved into black metal. It likes black metal and falls asleep pretty quick to it. It also likes to fall asleep to Marilyn Manson’s song – Tattooed in Reverse. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s white noise to the baby. That, combined with the bouncing of my leg to the beat, sends it off into lala land. Things only get tricky when I run out wine and the wife is still trying to trick the toddler into sleep. Which means I have to wait. But when the wife also falls asleep, makes for a fresh hell I’m never prepared for.

It’s a short one this time because, you know, time and all that. BUT – I do promise to be vigilant and do proper updates during the journey in South America.

CHAPTER 30

There is a moment at the start of each week that fills me with apprehension. It’s called Monday. Monday for me is starting the working week. Monday for the toddler is excitement city as it gets to go to playgroup for hours. Monday is when the toddler and its mates get to experiment and make a snack to inflict on their parents.
“I made this for you da!” I look at the smashed apricot crumble thing clenched in its dirty fist.
“Thanks mate. I’ll have it for breakfast.”
“No! You have to try it now da. I made it for you.” Consuming food the toddler has made with other 3 year olds, brings about a little anxiety. It’s not the hole with the tastebuds I worry about, if you catch my drift.

I had a weird thing happen with my phone. Apparently I no longer show up as myself when I call the three people I call. But it had a thing called ‘ghost touch’. This is when apps open by themselves, the screens shuffle themselves, videos start playing without my permission, ‘likes’ are given without my permission. It was freaky. I thought I had a virus and that the porn site I trusted must have betrayed me. But the first time it happened was really scary.
I walk around with my headphones in my ears most of the time as I usually have a drill or an angle-grinder or some other tool in my hands, and it makes it easier for me to answer the thousand phones calls a day. A lot are work, a lot are from Rajesh trying to sell me energy as I keep ducking him and a guy called Brian trying to sell me life insurance. Anyhoo – I’m elbow deep in the hood of a car undoing bolts when an ominous music begins to softly play. I become aware of it as if takes me out of my thoughts and task at hand. The music grows louder and I’m getting scared as I’m in the workshop alone and we don’t have a stereo system hooked up. The music is building all around me and my heart rate hits the ceiling. Then I realise it’s my own phone that’s begun to play some Opeth of its own accord. It’s an album I bought years ago I never really got into, but here it is, now playing through my headphones because my phone has a ghost in it. I thought the fucking angel of death was coming for me with the orchestral opening. I shit myself.

There have been two big events in the toddler’s life recently. The first was a trip to the cinema to see Frozen 2. I held onto a dream that it would be a Star Wars movie we would see together for its first cinema trip, but Frozen 2 won. I was more excited than the toddler. I still get such a buzz of walking into a movie theatre. It’s so rare for me these days to get to the cinema, but I really wanted the toddler to experience it. We bought our tickets “holy fuck! How much?” Even after the MEAA discount I was looking at taking a second mortgage on my soul. I have also been one of those guys that has to be in the theatre for the start time. I loved watching the previews of what was coming out and I subjected the toddler to thirty minutes of commercials. I was worried I had misjudged this and should have arrived much later. But the toddler didn’t mind and was so well behaved. It sat there as I told it talking during a movie was very poor form. It didn’t talk. It watched the movie with an awe on its scrunchy little face as it munched on the sushi I’d bought it. It loved it. Loved it so much it keeps asking to go back. The other cool thing was how many dads were taking their kids to see the movie. A theatre filled with mostly blokes and their kids.

It was a nice interlude as the toddler has been so naughty of late. I introduce it as “our threenager”. Its manners at times are atrocious and has to be constantly reminded to use them, it’s taken to ignoring me, cracks the poos and throws itself to the ground whimpering over the dumbest stuff. I’ve told it I’m going to sell it to a band of travelling Gypsies if it doesn’t get its act together. It doesn’t want to be sold to Gypsies and has told me so. I found this threat very funny, the toddler, not so much. But it rapidly changed its attitude and it knows now to speak up if it wants / doesn’t want something and that crying for something gets it nothing at all. But it’s all a part of growing up and dealing with big waves of emotions. I get it. Dealing with emotions as an adult is also hard when you have a circus of bell-ends running the country you love. I understand the desire to scream and cry, tear your clothes off and pound the earth until your tongue swells and you soil yourself in catatonic frustration. I get it. I do.

The other big development in toddler world is that it now has its own room. That’s right. I sacrificed my office so the toddler can have its own space. I think I broke a finger getting the desk out of the room. There was the throwing away of a lot of things and moving around of others. Today we went to Ikea and bought it a bed just like real consumers. We went to Kmart and bought it pillows and a dinosaur pillow case and doona cover set. Glow-in-the-dark unicorns adorn the walls and a porcelain rabbit light sits upon the windowsill to chase away the dark. We have plans to to add some extra nice things to the room. But for most of the day, the toddler has been hanging about in its room and practising calling us for when it needs us in the middle of the night. It’s very excited about its own room and I’m excited for it. It now has a space it can bring its little mates too when they come over for a play.

Will it stay in its new room I sacrificed so much for? Maybe for a bit, before it seeks us out, as it has no ass cracks to ram its feet into or ears to tweak when it wakes up and gets bored. I dare say there will be a period of transition before it stays in its own space and I get to reclaim some mattress space for a bit, before I lose it to the new one who is already encroaching out of the cot and into the big bed.

Exciting times ahead. Maybe the wife and I will get to have a grown-up cuddle again.

Chapter 29

Questions

Sometimes you have to ask yourself questions. Like, “does this count as a calorie? How’d this prick get my number? Do I really want more wine? Why do they want to pay me fuck all for this job? Why do my balls and back always hurt at the same time? Why am I always so exhausted? Am I getting old?” or maybe, just maybe, it’s children that have done this to me. They changed me into that guy that goes directly home, locks the door and falls asleep in front of the television. There was a time I would never fall asleep if the telly was on, especially if a movie was playing. Now it’s a guarantee, put a movie on and I’ll be asleep within minutes. The little humans I helped spawn into this dimension have sucked the energy from my bones.
“Da, Paw Patrol.”
“What?”
“Paw Patrol.”
“What’s happened to you?”
“I want to watch Paw Patrol.” I stare at the creature blankly waiting for the magic word. “Please.”
“There we go! Did you forget your manners or were you just being rude?”
“Being rude.”
“Why?”
“It’s faster.”
“It’s faster being rude?”
“Yes.”
“But being rude isn’t nice is it? You wouldn’t like it if I was rude to you.”
“I wouldn’t care.”
“I think you would.”
“Would not.”

Free range kids. Great idea when they’re young and cute and can’t do anything except lie on their backs like a potato. Bad idea when they get to an age and develop the IQ of the average LNP politician and will scream a house down when things don’t go their way.

This past weekend was great fun. The toddler and I got up early Saturday morning for our tradition of going to Leo’s to buy croissants for breakfast and to catch up on things on our walk. Only this morning we added a new member to our gang. The baby came with us and quite happily, grinning at the toddler as the toddler waxes lyrical about everything under the sun. The toddler is quite fascinated by nature and we have talked about how nighttime happens, the formation of the Universe, where rain comes from, how planets are made – among a plethora of other subjects. I cherish this time with the toddler, and until very recently, it was just da and the toddler, walking on walls, jumping off walls, racing around the supermarket in a trolley and generally being scallywags. I have figured I’ll need to wear the baby now so the trolley races can still be a thing, and once the baby gets strong enough to sit beside the toddler, I’ll have a crew of two in my race machine.

After our breakfast we all went to Aldi to do the weekly shop. With the new fridge that actually works and doesn’t freeze the food and create its own water – we can plan meals and the wife doesn’t have to send me off to the shops on a nightly basis for an avocado and potato and I come back with bags of stuff she didn’t ask for and a bunch of nice cheeses. I like Aldi, but there is some kind of leyline cutting through the one we go to that turns the toddler naughty and totally nuts. It becomes unreasonable right around the aisle where the soy milk gives way to the canned food. I’ve tried to figure it out as human behaviour does fascinate me and the behaviour of the toddler really changes in that one place. Leylines aside, it could be a ghost. Someone may have been murdered in that spot that uttered a curse to make children naughty when walking through that spot. it could be the energy of the planet, or that the toddler got pissed-off before in that spot and that memory sparks in its scruffy head and it goes rabid. Or, it could be the soy milk. The sight of the soy milk drops a gear in its head. Ya see – the toddler hates soy milk (technically it’s juice, not milk). The toddler once liked soy milk before it knew there was anything else on earth, but then someone gave it cow milk and changed its world. I detest cow milk but the toddler’s mind was made up that the milk da gave it was rubbish and cow milk was the way to go. I still resist the cow milk thing as I despise it on many levels. Anyhoo – the toddler turned into a demon child that would give Damon from The Omen a run for his money. It was so naughty I had to become discipline da – a role I hate. I told it, “that’s it, we’re not going to the park.”
“Don’t care.”
“Good.”
It kicked and bucked and screamed as it inverted every cross in the place and…. Okay. It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was close. The hissing and projectile vomiting of bugs was enough.
“I’m happy you don’t care, I’ll get to some writing done and you can sit in the naughty corner.”
We drove in silence for fifteen feet.
“We’re still going to the park though aren’t we da?” It knows I’m a soft touch and we had been wanting to take it to this new park which also has a farm where it could pat animals. Hell, I wanted to go to the farm and have a break.
“No. You have been so naughty. You have treated me horribly. So no park.” Stern, that’s how ya does it.
We rode in silence for thirty feet. “Mama, we’re going to the park aren’t we?”
“You’ll have to ask your father.”
“What the…”
“Da. We’re going to the park.”
“What I just say? No park. I told it no park.”
“Mama. We’re going to the park.”
“No. You’re not going to the park. You were very naughty.” I says, putting my foot down.
“Was talking to mama.”
“What the…”
“Mama? We’re going to the park aren’t we?”
“You’ll need to ask da.”
“Ask me what? I’ve said no a bunch of times. Why are you doing this to me?” Then I see the wife’s eyes. “Oh fuck no. You want to go.”
It was the longest twelve minutes of my life driving home. But I held firm.
Then I broke. I relented and said we could go to the park/farm if the toddler promised to behave. See – soft touch – but you all knew that.
But the toddler was playing with its train set and time being the traitor that it is – robbed the toddler of park time and boy was it pissed off when it realised it had done itself out of fun.
The weekend faded to memory and the work week began anew, interrupted by a horse race on the Tuesday.

However, we got the toddler to the farm park this Sunday. We pocked a lunch, bundled the kids in the car (despite the toddler going loco in the same spot at Aldi the day before), and headed to Eltham. On the way, we passed a festival that was setting up and like anyone not knowing what they were in for said, “the kids might like that.”

The farm park was okay. There were some cute animals, but it was the park side of things the toddler loved. I hadn’t seen it do half the daring things it was doing – like sliding down the fire-poles and swinging across things and climbing ropes. The balancing, the jumping, the joy of being young.

Then the fuckening happened. It saw a kid with a balloon and then needed one. I told it the kid had a balloon because of a party we weren’t invited to and would get it one at the festival. It then asked for a drink. I reach into the bottom of the pram, scratched about for five seconds for its water bottle and looked up. IT WAS GONE. Vanished. I search the kids before me that were part of the party. Not there. I looked down the path a couple of joggers were on. Not there. I spin around searching the bush, looking for the toddler, a clown, Christ I don’t know. I’ve failed. I lost it within five seconds. The wife now knows something is amiss and I tell her I can’t see the toddler. The toddler is nowhere to be seen. I’m trying to remain calm but my heart is pounding so hard my breathing is rattling. No sight of the toddler on the path and it couldn’t have jumped the fence. Years in the security trade sent me to head-off a scenario of a car leaving the car park. I’m calling its name, people are looking at me now and looking around. They now know something is amiss and begin to gather. A woman has seen the wife in frantic tears and offered to join the search. She’s asking for a description as I’m tearing down on a ute leaving the car park like King Kong, prepared to tear the panels off to find the toddler. Then I spot it. On the other side of the bloody park, in the other section. It’s scruffy head pops up as it bounces across my field my view. I signal to the wife I’ve found the beast as the horrible sickness ebbs away to be replaced by relief. I approach it and it runs off on me again. I catch up to it and talk to it. A talk we’ve had before about running away. Turns out, because I couldn’t magic a balloon, it bailed on me. It sees its mother, tears streaming down her face and its da worried so sick, and it clicks that it has seriously messed up. It has a dawning and it says sorry to its mother. Da gets to suffer because he couldn’t magic a balloon.

We finally trick the toddler to leave the park and head to the festival. It appears the Gods are smiling upon us as no sooner do we end the conversation of the difficulty of parking – THAT, someone indicates they’re leaving, right in front of us. I park and we all head to the festival, the toddler swinging its hair and imaginary tail as it gets to have fun again.
Balls to places with lots of people crowded around me. Balls to it. It’s hell. The crushing, the trying to get a pram through a crowd where assholes are standing on the walking track eating their fancy spiraled potato on a stick whilst talking to other assholes about asshole things in their asshole world while making my world harder. No. No to that.
We escape the hell of other people and find a new park with play equipment. The toddler and I have a frozen yogurt that is AMAZING, we pop some bubbles blown by a guy on stilts. The toddler gets to meet a flamingo played by a beautiful girl on stilts and proceeds to put its fingerprints on every single piece of equipment and play with the bigger kids. It always plays with the bigger kids. So much so, it scared the balls off me again by climbing all the way to the top of a climbing structure. This thing was over two and a half meters tall and I couldn’t reach the toddler as it perched on top with other kids. The thing was covered in children. I imagine if you put a dog ball under a microscope to look at the bacteria on it – that would be close to resembling what was crawling over this structure. Kids were sliding off it, jumping off it into the arms of any adult knowing we would catch them. I saved two of them! It was chaos and my poor heart couldn’t take much more. I was jealous though. I miss those days of feeling immortal and being able climb things with gusto and not run out of breath.

The toddler can write its own name now – the letters may not be in a straight line, but it knows what they are and how to create them. It’s been toilet trained for over a year and on the rare occasion it needs a leak in the middle of the night, it wakes me up and makes me carry it to the loo so it can stay somewhat asleep. It’s smart. It has its own butler. It likes photography, acting, singing, drawing, painting, blocks, creating anything. It also loves animals, knows to respect plants and will go up to any kid it finds in any situation, introduce itself and then recruit said kid for fun times. It’s an awesome little unit.

We have managed to knock-out what was its very public habit of inserting a finger into a nostril as it searches for something eluding it within its head. I just need a priest to fix whatever is happening at the spot in the Aldi store.

As for the baby, (the other child within our care). It still occasionally explodes. It’s into proper food now. It smiles a lot and it has this little grin like Elvis, that is uncanny and adorable. It’s figuring out how to crawl now. It flips itself over a lot and it’s working out how to get its knees under itself to crawl. It also has its first tooth coming through. Also, like its older sibling, it has me figured and wrapped around its finger.

The weekends go too fast and come Monday morning, as I pull my exhausted hide from bed at five in the morning, I’ll look at the three of them blissfully asleep and ask myself a questions, “how did I get so damn lucky?”

CHAPTER 28
Getting nothing done
(Contains some bad language and terrible rap lyrics)

How do you get nothing done as an adult? Have children. Then have the daft idea of being able to work at home.
As a writer – this is the dumbest thing one can do. It’s complete balls. At least in my case, with no doors that can be effectively locked as the toddler has learnt the ability to circumvent anything in this place with a ‘no’ attached to it.
Trying to write a horror movie with a baby crying and a toddler crawling over me, wasn’t easy. Especially when the evening came and the toddler could watch a few of its shows before bed time and the mood changed from dark drama to the abject horror of The Wiggles.

I have been back in Melbourne for weeks now and have had to move out to the library during the day to actually get any writing done. Every idiot choice I’ve made of working from home, has been met with the same insanity of getting absolutely nothing done. Even if I do manage to drown out the noise for a bit to write a few lines of brilliance, there is always something going on in the background that is circling to drag me into it. The wife will call my name and pull me back into the reality I made for myself. She loves having me around to dump a child in my lap so she can actually have a shower, do some exercise or have five minutes to herself. As I am trying to create, this kind of thing simply will not do.
And people ask me why I drink. Pfft.

Then there’s the toddler and its mate Sia, who are always on adventures that require endless bandaids and the odd blood transfusion.
“Da. You know my friend Sia?” the toddler asks as I’m furiously typing.
“Huh?”
“She got bitten by a dog yesterday and lost her face,”
“Dang, really?” I ask, as I’m not listening because I’m busy.
“Yeah. She lost her face, and the dog ate it and pooed it out.”
“Hmmmm…Really”, I says as I contemplate an impalement for one of my characters.
“Danny – she’s telling you something!” Here we go, the wife’s chimed in now. I have to leave my comfortable world of horror to emerge into the fearful light of a toddler tale.
“For the love of….This is how Kubla Khan got ballsed up,” I protest. “What happened to Sia?” I ask.
“Did you buy me any chocolate when you went to the shops?” the toddler asks.
“Of course. I buy you all the dumb stuff and leave it for your mother to deal with my immaturity.”
“Thanks da.”
“Now. What happened to Sia?”
“You know my friend Sia.”
I refrain from throwing myself out the window.
“Yes. How is she?”
“She going to South America!”
“How lovely.”
(For the record and the more sensitive among you, Sia is the toddlers imaginary friend.)

I’ve taken to eating a bit of chilli since I’ve been back. It’s more of a study in how to never leave any evidence behind with the clean-up I have to do after, to ensure no one except me gets to experience the chilli. I could vanish a body with how precise I am with clean-up now. The toddler, however, has been a direct victim of my chilli addiction, when it somehow licked my finger after I’d cut up a Carolina Reaper. It accused me of setting its tongue on fire. Before I lathered its tongue with Greek yogurt, it was seeing through the fabric of time and speaking in tongues. (So, it was tripping and talking bollocks). I have been very careful since.
Ya see, I like Carolina Reapers. Love them. I usually have to end up eating them raw as I can’t put anything near them anyone else will be using before it goes through the dishwasher a couple of times. The one time I did get to cook one up, everyone was gagging, eyes were weeping, children were screaming, the neighbours called the cops and I slept on the coach. So, from that day on, I eat them raw.
Raw is fine, but it has its drawbacks. Reaper Ring, is one of those.
Reaper Ring, occurs anywhere from six to ten hours after ingestion. Depending on ingestion level, Reaper Ring can also be instantaneous and this has happened a few times. When there is the potential of Reaper Ring, one works from home, as venturing beyond the front door of a tiny apartment is fraught with troubles. The end of the street is a long, long way when one has Reaper Ring. I know as I’ve tried it a number of times. I’ve had my laptop bag slung over my shoulder and heading off to the library when my inner self tells me I’ll never make it. I get twenty feet from the front door before the demons of hell begin to play in my bowel.

During one particularly tough morning suffering from the Reaper Ring, the toddler approaches and hands me a roll of toilet paper, “sometimes they can be hard, da.” The concern writ across that little face made me weep. It understood on a different level. But it understood.
The very next day we were at Toscanos and I was eyeing off the Carolina Reapers. I’d been there a little while, as I was wrestling with myself whether buying of the things was going to be  worth it, when one of the fellas there I talk to a bit, asked if I was looking for the milder chilli.
“Milder? What? Hell no.” Pfft. As if.
The wife strolls past – “he’s just an idiot.”
The fella laughs and I know I’ll regret it in some form, but what the hell.
I bought three of them.
That night, I ate two just to prove to the wife I was in control of my chilli addiction.
This was a mistake. It was a huge mistake. I don’t recommend doing this. Ever. Especially raw. The aftermath is a suffering saved for the seventh level of hell.
Ten hours later, there was a banging on the toilet door.
“Da.”
“What?”
“You in there.”
“Out in a minute.”
“Mama said you have the rope rings.”
“Yeah, yeah I do.”
“Why Da?”
“You know how da always says mama’s in charge?”
“Yes.”
“This is one of the reasons why that’s so.”
“Like what mama said when you ate them? That it was silly?”
“Exactly like that.”
“Mama was right.”
“Yes… Oh Christ have mercy!”
“What da?” Silence. “Da, what’s wrong da? Why are you crying?”

I finally emerge to find the toddler sitting directly outside the door.
“Why do you put yourself through it?” the wife asks.
“Why’d you put yourself through child birth twice?” I retort.
“Look for yourself,” as she gestures grandly and I see the toddler searching for a booger that’s eluding it and a baby that explodes in its nappy.
“Why?” I ask again. “We could be going to Europe every year.”

Then the toddler releases a hacking cough and my eyelids peel back as I wonder what horror it has contracted.

Then the disease spread. Days of reminding the toddler to cover its mouth when coughing, so it didn’t pass on the germs, was wasted breath. The toddler ignored the instruction as it was getting attention by openly coughing over everyone. Then the baby got it and the poor thing couldn’t breath properly and had a cough, then the wife got it – and I’m all high and mighty as it didn’t touch me. “Not enough blood in my alcohol stream for the thing to take hold”, I grin, truly believing I’m simply genetically superior to everyone else.

But the sickness mutated into a super-massive man-flu. It was no longer the mild, weak-strain the rest of the family had managed to tolerate. No. It had become a superbug. (That I can write this blog is testament to my strength to battle through adversity). I was hallucinating this morning. Anytime I closed my eyes I ended up in a dimension to warn my other selves in other dimensions not to close their eyes. While this was initially interesting, I feel there was a lot of story I missed in the weird dreams. I eventually woke feeling harassed. As though I’d quaffed fifteen pints of Stella Artois, a flagon of “white wine” and chocked back a lot of Amsterdam scoob on top of 40 Marlboro reds. Basically it felt like waking up twenty-four again. I felt I was going to die. I still feel that way. Something has moved into my lungs and refuses to be evicted. Like whatever dark creature it is that rents space in Peter Dutton’s head – I feel how it must look.

The toddler took pity on me and made me unicorn soup. What’s actually in unicorn soup, if one isn’t watching it make said meal, ranges from the dish water it fishes out of a pot left to soak, cut-off bits of food it finds on the bench or floor, foods it tells you it needs from the fridge, usually lots of herbs and spices that I’ve left out, all the salt it can get its tiny hands on and lashings of olive oil. “Put the oil down darling, da isn’t working at the minute.” It then gave me a massage and asked if I was now feeling better. I mean, how could I not be after unicorn soup and a toddler massage?

Another part of feeling so sick, is me losing my mind. The baby still explodes and covers its back, front, forehead – whatever. We’ve touched on this in the previous blog. However, I made up a rap I found funny. It’s probably because I’m ill, but the toddler loves it and has been walking around singing the nicer parts of it. Eminem and every other rapper on earth is safe from me – but here are the lyrics. Imagine a baby singing it in the awesome voice of Ice T. It really works in my head and I did enjoy myself when singing it as I danced the baby to the beat.

(Intro)
“You want a nappy filled?
Then come put it on me.
‘Cause I’m the mother-loving-nappy-filling O G.

No sooner will you do it up.
Then I’ll go and relax my butt.
Yo – there’s no one holds a pin to me;
I’m the mother-loving-nappy-filling O G.

I’ll grin as you sit down.
In the best fucking place in town.
I’ll wink as a rumble flows from me.
I’m the mother-loving-nappy-filling O G.

When I release, best fill the bath.
This load be the devil’s wrath.
You other babies can’t compete with me.
I’ll be the mother-loving-nappy-filling O G.

(Outro – if that’s a thing)
That’s right.
Filling nappies by day. Draining boobs by night
O G, right here.
Wasn’t a nappy I met I couldn’t fill. Nor a boob I couldn’t drain.
Word to your mother.”

There has been another revelation with the toddler – fine blond hair. It’s freaking everywhere. I’m forever pulling it from the baby and out of the air. I open the front door and a hair will descend as if on cue. I pull them off my top as I leave the house and then again throughout the day. I’ve even had to pull a strand out of my throat that had become part of my scrambled eggs. The toddler is a hair-shedding beast and like asbestos, it appears the hair remains in the air for years.

Anyway – time to get back to writing a story about a witch that kills children. (I had this story long before I became a parent.) Honest…

Adventures with the Toddler

CHAPTER 27

They’re Coming! And now we’re back…

Lucky I was a never diary writer as there would be far too many blank pages to make it worthwhile for anyone to try and piece together my life. If anyone did undertake such a feat, it would be sections of toddler blogs, heavy metal videos and dwarf porn – but I imagine that’s most of us.

The subheading on this blog (for those playing along at home), is part of the original blog I was writing, as I figured I’d have it out well before this one, combined with the new blog you’re currently reading. Let me s’plain.

Ya see – I finished the job in Queensland a few weeks ago and I am now back in Melbourne. This is great as I’ve managed to connect with my youngest daughter whom I didn’t really know for the first nine weeks of her life. We have shared smiles and I’ve learned what calms her down when she gets annoyed. The wife and kids (I can say that now), came up to the Gold Coast for a week after the baby had its first round of vaccinations. We rented an apartment in Q1 (the tallest residential building in Australia) for a week. We were on the 36th floor and the view was amazing. Bath with a view. Everywhere there was a view. We hired a car and had a family holiday.

I’m so excited. I got my family with me, we’re going to have a relaxing holiday. Go places and smile and be like those commercials where everyone is happy at all that shit. After the first day – I vowed I wasn’t travelling with my children again until they were at least 40 and could control their inner voices. I once thought the whole “are we there yet?” thing was a Hollywood movie trope. It isn’t. The toddler was saying it endlessly as Da ground his teeth to nubs. The number of times we had to pull over for a bush wee/poo/nappy change/boob feed and general fuckery the toddler dreamt up – made me convinced, traveling with ones children only works once they’re adults.

But back to the time before all of that when I was filled hope and dreams —

The wife warned me that the toddler now had an American accent with certain words. This freaked me out. I had seen the toddler on FaceTime, but it rarely spoke to me as it was usually pissed-off at me for leaving. It was far more interested in saying goodnight to Uncle Andy, Aunty Fi or wanting to know where Uncle Steve was; than speak to the bad Da who had once again left it. I never picked up on the accent. but, when I met them at the airport and got to  talk to the toddler – there it was. It had listened to “Let it Go” from Frozen so many times it had adopted the accent in those particular words.

At the airport, the toddler was out of its tiny mind to see me. It was wonderful to have them all together again and have the toddler tell me how much it had missed me (it stills me now). For the first week we were together, the toddler wouldn’t let me out of its sight. The wife stepped off the plane a little dishevelled. Like afternoon sex in a small plane cubicle. I learned the story to this particular look as we walked to the car. Their flight was 40 minutes delayed as I knew, because I was sitting at the airport waiting for them. They were on the tarmac in Melbourne when the delay was relayed to everyone.

“There’s a forty minute delay.” Then the baby shits itself. Full poonami. These things involve a costume change and wiping the baby from the ears down with a large sponge

“I need to change my daughter.”

“You can’t leave your seat ma’am.”

“I really need to deal with this.”

“You can’t leave your seat.”

Then you know what happens? The baby power-chucks all over the wife. Baby vomit soaks all the way down to her underwear.

The wife had her hair done for the occasion of seeing me after so long. I didn’t notice and I hate myself for it, but the vomit and the poo and the stress kind of covered-up that fact in all fairness to me.

Anyway – we drive into the Gold Coast and find Q1. I pull into the waiting area and the wife goes in to get the room key and carpark pass et-al when – the baby shits itself again and the toddler decides it also needs a crap.

“What is this hell?” I scream inside my head.

“Da. I need a poo. I really need a poo.”

The toddler is turtling, I’m parked in a five minute zone and the baby has literally exploded. The wife is not only nowhere within eyeshot or screaming distance, but she’s left her phone in the car.

This was the beginning of the fuckening.

I try to convince the toddler to have a shit in the raised garden bed but it will have none of it. It wants to be taken to a toilet and a girls toilet because she’s been in the boys loo with da before and it traumatised her. I have no idea where a toilet is to begin with and the baby is now pissed-off and screaming. The wife is sipping a champagne cocktail by the pool under a palm-leaf being waved by a better-looking fella than me – I imagine – as she’s taking so long.

The wife finally emerges and I throw her the toddler with the instructions – “it’s turtling!” and I do the nappy change.

I’ll never get used to babies.  They’re compact units and fire liquid shit under enormous pressure. How in the blue hell can something shit on the back of its own head? And it isn’t just once, it’s a regular occurrence. The explosion is audible and the next thing I know, I’m wiping poo off its nipples as I do a total outfit change.  I once saw a stripper fire a banana across a bar – but my sense of awe in what I once thought impossible with the human body has been updated since having children.

We finally got to the room and the wife left me with the children as she went to have a shower. I imagined I’d be pouring us a drink and checking out the view as we relaxed. But then again – I’m a moron. I spent the time chasing the toddler around telling it to stop making a mess as it decided the couch cushions would look better in the bedroom on the floor. It looked at me with an expression that said “you don’t get to just arrive back in my life and tell me what to do.” I turned its energy into something positive instead . hah, ya see what I did there? I turned it to my advantage and enlisted the toddler’s help in pushing the two single beds together in the second bedroom. We rigged a system where the room chairs were used to stop the toddler from falling out of bed as it was determined it would be sleeping with me on the holiday. That was my one victory for the week.

The toddler sleeping next to me lasted one night only. The rest of the holiday the toddler slept in bed with the wife and baby leaving Da alone in the spare room. My birthday came around and Da was in the single bed by myself in the second room. This was the way it remained – awwwwwwwww.

So – anyway.

I had promised the wife for at least seven years I’d take her to Queensland so she could see the whales. This was something that meant a lot to her and a promise I’d made in the days when I was still trying to impress her. To see the migrating whales was a big deal to her. I don’t get it personally – but I love her and want to make her happy.

We went to Byron Bay as neither of us had been there before. As we crawled through a huge traffic jam into town, I imagined how awesome this place would be if the angel of death was to pay a surprise visit to every tourist motel within ten miles.

Anyway, we drive up to the lighthouse and I pay a man eight dollars to park the car – but I may have to wait until midnight to get a spot. As luck would have it, Azrael had heard my prayer and a space suddenly appeared. We went for a walk and saw dolphins riding the waves and low and behold!!! Whales!!!! Whales off the starboard bow! I called out “whales!” and other tourists took up the call and the pointing. I was excited for a reason I don’t know, maybe because I’d spotted whales and felt a little chuffed about it. I looked around for the wife who was stuck on a bench with a baby attached to her, sucking away. The wife couldn’t see the whales and the baby was hungry. My tits don’t produce milk so all I could do was shrug and point and call out “whales” with the other excited apes as I looked at her dejected face.

Finally the baby let the nipple drop from its lip and the wife was once again free. We looked out to sea when she spotted it – a whale, but not just one whale – two whales!. She had a religious moment and I was blessed as hell to be there for it. The joy was infectious.

The following day we all tumbled onto a boat for a whale watching tour and went out to sea to see what we could see-see-see. We saw some whales far away and I was hoping like hell we’d see more. not for me, but for the wife and toddler. There would be a grey hump emerge at a distance and everyone would lose their shit and then it was over. I was thinking to myself, this couldn’t be it, as all the advertising photographs where of magnificent beasts leaping majestically out of the water giving a thumbs up and a wink. The toddler was board and I was packing it that there would be a toddler incident on the boat as i could read in its eyes it was wanting to climb the rails. Then after an age, a whale threw itself out of the water before us. It was was either being cheeky or showing off to impress a girl. It was great to watch. Everyone crowded at the front of the boat, the wife beside me and me with the toddler standing up on the front so it could see. the Toddler was also excited and cheered every time the beastie leapt into the air. I was standing beside the photographer and he was showing me the photographs he was getting between leaps. They were stunning.

We spent another few days knocking about the Gold Coast and then it was time to leave. After spending the morning cleaning up all toddler evidence – we headed down to the car.

I pulled the car out of the underground parking and into the 5 minute spot out front so the wife can settle the bill. Within 3 seconds of the wife leaving the car the toddler says, “I need a widdle” and the baby shat itself. A complete nappy fill. Argh!

The toddler refused to do a bush piss and refused to listen to me when I said I couldn’t leave the baby to find a toilet for it. So, the holiday ended as it began.

The wife came back and was thrown the toddler, which meant having to get the swipe card back, while I rolled up the sleeves and attended to the nappy. I was chuffed however to see that investing in the larger nappies was now paying off with the payloads going into them. I might just get away without a full costume change… I lift the legs and see the carnage. “For the love of all…”

We get on the plane – I’m in the exit row due my long legs and the wife is stuck at the back of the plane with the kids. I did try to get them close so I could be of use. Then five minutes into the flight the flight hostess arrives by my seat. I’m having a great time with the two lads in the row with me. “Excuse me sir, your help is required with the children.”

I stand and look behind me, wondering what fuckery has happened now – and I see the cabbage head of the toddler looking over the seats at me. It ducks when it sees me and I make my down the aisle and into the unknown.

TO BE CONTINUED:

Adventures with the Toddler

CHAPTER 26

Our threenager

The toddler turned three today. I got to watch it open its presents remotely, as it nearly brained its sister with the largest box. It seems for days it has been opening presents and being far more awesome in every photograph. I look up from my work to read text messages of the toddlers exploits on the back of a pony, or having its face painted into a butterfly as all the while it makes a balloon hat fit several occasions. Basically it’s living la vida loca, while I write risk assessments on how fire can be hurty, whilst listening to the bats that live in the wall of the office. At least we get to blow something up again this week – so that makes me happy.

I could not be in Melbourne for its birthday alas and this destroyed me. Being the sensitive bugger that I am, I may have been a little weepy at this; especially last night as I wouldn’t be able to hand it a present and give it a hug and kiss it and say happy birthday to its squashy little face this morning. I’m amazed three years have flicked past. I remember very well my life pre toddler, pre marriage and pre responsibility. I managed to side-step responsibility like a boss for a good forty years before the toddler won its first swimming race. But now I can’t imagine my life without this creature that never shuts up and is is entering its threenager years of moodiness and tantrums and waking up at two in the morning to sing the BLOODY SONG FROM FROZEN! Responsibility now has me firmly tethered by the very things that gave me responsibility.

I was lucky enough to see it briefly last weekend when I made a quick trip to Melbourne. We went to her mate Eliza’s party at BOUNCE! Which is an indoor trampoline park of chaos. Imagine hundreds of people bouncing up and down and only a couple of them can do something interesting – like a summersault. The toddler loved it and I loved watching the toddler – especially the bit when the staff were chasing it as it bounced from trampoline to trampoline across the section where the big people get to bounce. It was a NEIN on toddlers in that section. But the toddler didn’t know (or didn’t care) and was off like a three foot spring, bouncing amongst the breasts, balls and bellies of the larger humans with an enormous grin on its head.

Later that day I bought it some PJ Masks toys and got the look from the wife when I presented them to the toddler person. It was the same look she gave me when she told me I was irresponsible with money and took my credit card off me. Then took over all the money and now allocates me pocket money. Pocket money I spend on stupid shit for the toddler. And vodka.

Three years old. I was the first human the toddler ever saw. It was only up from that moment.

Happy birthday you amazing little human. I love that you never shut up – ever. I love that you want to ride on my shoulders on the way back from the shops as you munch a croissant and tell me stories. I don’t mind that you rest your feet on my head in bed, but tweaking my ears has to bloody stop. Your paintings, drawings, invisible friend and bird Twinkle. The way you can make up a story on the spot and carry it through along with the songs you love to sing. Your joy of dancing – especially in public as you give High Street a rendition of Let it Go. The smiles you bring out in people that have just met you and those further down the street who are about to. That you are so polite and introduce yourself to other children and ask to play with them before leading them astray. I love that you bring back the kid in me that will play tag with you in a crowded shopping mall and balls to anyone who disapproves.

My little mate. You are my sunrise and I love you.

Now go the F**K to sleep so your poor mother can watch the telly and have a glass of wine.

CHAPTER 25

Big Sister Duties

At 15:20, on May 27, the toddler became a big sister to Wilhelmina Isobel Matier. Our little Billie Goat.

Billie arrived right when she wanted to, in the apartment, thereby turning Da into a midwife, gynaecologist and nervous wreck. Da being the quick thinker he is, man-squealed and called an ambulance when it was evident Billie Goat was coming and coming fast. On my knees with a flashlight, a little knowledge and the emergency services guy talking on the phone, I was Dougie Howser and Mcguyver rolled into one.

The paramedics arrived and the bloke was as big as me with a magnificent beard to boot. Between us (and a little help from the wife), we brought Billie into the world. I got a cuddle on the magnificent bearded fella and now need 7 shots of tequila to feel normal again. Fucking hell. It scared the balls off me.

The apartment looks like… well, it looks like childbirth occurred in it and a fat bastard splashed about in it. Christ on a hover-board.

Now we’re done. No more pregnancy. Ever. I never want to be this sober or terrified again.

Chapter 24

Park Life

Today the toddler and I spent the day at the park. Along with playing on the swings and slide, we enjoyed a cup of tea with sprinkles on top, chocolate cookies and a stew. Sand is an amazing item in food preparation in Toddler park life.

I have been in Melbourne for 9 days. I took a few extra days off work to have a good time with the wife and toddler. Well – mainly the toddler as the wife being pregnant and all can’t drink or climb things and isn’t interested in adult cuddles so is a little boring at the minute – (I kid. It’s a joke.)

As some of you know – I’m quite a sensitive bugger. I was looking for a video game to play with the toddler as it’s developed an interest in my Xbox. I’m happy about this as maybe now that it knows it’s an awesome machine of adventure – the toddler will stop mindlessly opening and closing the drawer on it and turning it off-and-on, putting crayons in it and messing with my controllers.
As I was searching for a game to play, I started to feel a bit sad as I was heading back to Queensland. Not that I dislike Queensland at all, but because I’m leaving the toddler again. You know what it did? It picked up its guitar and started strumming. Now don’t be thinking it was a Gary Moore standard of guitar playing. It was a toddler strumming a guitar to cheer me up. “I’ll cheer you up da.”
An out-of-tune rendition of “rockaby your bear” then ensued and I lost the damn plot. The toddler patted me and told me to cheer up. It’s 2! It played me a song on its little pink guitar to make me feel better. Who is this person?
To top that off – it also gave me random kisses all day. We’d be sitting drinking our tea made of sand and it planted a kiss on my shoulder. “I love you da.”
These random little kisses happened all day. It was so lovely. Why? Why be so cute and lovely when I’m leaving!? Just the night before it had frustrated me relentlessly by getting me to tie knots in its spaghetti before it would eat it. Every. Bloody. Strand. “Daddy has to get this rewrite done darling.”
“Tie it da!”

We have had many great adventures since I’ve been back. Once of which was taking it into the boys toilet for a pee
It was very uncertain of this as it turned up its nose as it looked about, “da, are you sure about this?” it asked as we entered the hell of the male toilet at a winery during an Easter party. Dante should have visited one of these for his research. I had to explain to the toddler that da’s couldn’t go into the girl toilets. Poor kid. The wife got most of the toilet duties after that. But the toddler is toilet trained and doesn’t wear a nappy. Sleeps through the night without having to piss. I’m jealous. I’m up at least twice. Seven if I’ve been on the turps.

Tomorrow I go back to 1957, I mean Queensland. But 9 days ago – this journey began and this is the tale—

There I was – Terminal 4 at Melbourne airport. The asshole end of Tullamarine. I was on an outer wrinkle of the anus this place is. Hauling ass across the ridged tarmac it is to get to the waiting wife and toddler who had already been waiting 10 minutes. I’m walking fast to baggage claim – not knowing there was four miles of walking ahead of me before I got a sniff of the baggage claim. Four miles – because poverty dictates, one may not have nice things…

But previously that evening —

I arrived at Coolangatta airport very early for my flight. I arrived early as I’m a little paranoid. Scenarios manifest in my head of what and why, and what if this and that happens? So I’m a bit mad.
You still following the yarn? In a nutshell, I would prefer to twiddle my thumbs somewhere watching the oddness that is humanity, than be late. This is a sickness. Being late for anything sends me into a state of utter panic. I set 2 alarms each morning and I wake up a good 3 hours before the first bastard is meant to ring. Maybe I need to talk to someone about this and let go of whatever it is that thethers me to normality and bullshit. Sleeping through an alarm is something I have never done.

I was about to check in for my flight that was to leave in four fucking hours when I got the idea – “can I bat my eyes at someone and jump on an earlier flight?”
The negative angel said, “you daffy prick, it’s Easter – everyone booked these flights months ago. It’s a low budget airline. You’re screwed.”
I asked anyway and was sent to a service desk.
The dude was asleep. His fingers were moving, but he was asleep. I know this as I was witnessing it and it happens to me quite a bit. I stood there for a full 5 minutes as I scanned the place for anyone who might bust the fella so I could warn him.
I did the ol polite “cough” and he came awake with slight alarm as it was my face he woke to. He muttered an apology as he put his phone away. He may have just been updating his status and not asleep after all. Anyway – my interaction with this man from Jetstar was the greatest experience I have ever had with them. Ever. He was an absolute gentleman, got me on a flight that arrived in Melbourne at the time my original flight would have been leaving the Gold Coast. I paid no extra dollars for this which surprised me, “we’ll do this for you at no extra cost.” Well, I nearly fell on my knees before him. When I got on the plane – I had a $10 credit. What the hell good fortune is this? A wine costs $10 on a Jetstar flight. Fill my glass and let the holiday begin!

Previously on the toddler blog —

After my journey through the bumpy underworld of terminal 4 – I raced to the pick-up to meet the wife and toddler. I was huffing it – not because of the aching need to see the toddler person, but because the wife was putting the hurry-ups on me as the toddler needed to piss. I hurdled a drug dog, German tourists and a baggage trolley of fancy suitcases on my elegant dash to the meeting point. Anyone who has seen me run will testify that I am graceful like a gazelle.

I arrived in what appeared to be an Uber parking lot and looked around for our car. Then I saw it. The toddler. Running full pelt like a crazed little wombat and screaming “da”! as it hurtled toward me. I threw my bag to the ground and grabbed it. Hugged it to me so hard I squeezed a fart from it. It kissed me, “I really missed you da. It’s good you’re home.”
Holy hell. The language on it. It had grown so much. We held onto each other for the longest time and I noticed an old lady in a car beside us crying as she watched us.

“Mama’s waiting.” The toddler leapt from me. I picked up my bag and it took my hand. Leading me into nearly 2 wonderful weeks in the company of this awesome little human.

If only the moments that truly make up what matters in life could be stretched a little longer. But I guess the point of a moment, is in noticing it.

Toddler fact: It can eat its body-weight in pistachios. As long as da opens them.

Chapter 23

Toddler maintenance

An important aspect of owning a toddler – is toddler maintenance. Toddler maintenance ranges from teaching it how to wipe its bum, keeping the hair out of its eyes, making it blow its nose as it discovers a hard booger can make for a great whistle and trying to get it to keep its pants on. I do envy the freedom the toddler has in choosing not to wear pants on a whim. Whether that’s a choice to refuse to have them placed on it, or to tear them off on impulse and go about its day ass-out. I have considered throwing my hands in the air and saying, “to hell with it, no pants for me today.” I would of course have to remain indoors so as not to kill anyone with the shock of seeing my tackle thumping about in the wind. But even a pantless toddler has its limits – especially when every time I turned around on the weekend all I could see were naked toddler cheeks and what looked like an inverted exclamation point ! every time it called me to witness it trying to stand on its head.

I flew home to Melbourne last weekend to surprise the toddler. I climbed into bed beside it at 1 am on Saturday morning. It woke at sunrise to find me there and the shock, thrill and confusion on its scruffy noggin was awesome. Thrill won out and it swamped me with hugs and kisses. It told me how much it had missed me and now that I was back what we would be doing. The most immediate on the to-do list was to cook it eggs. My worst fears were confirmed – the wife doesn’t know how to make eggs to the toddler’s expectations. But there we were, back in our proper spots, the toddler on its ladder, giving me my instructions, and me following those instructions as I prepared breakfast for the three of us. By Christ I had missed this.

After breakfast, we took the toddler to get a surprise. I was so excited about it as it’s something the toddler has wanted for a while and I was enjoying winding it up and refusing to tell it what it was. Its legs vibrate like a clock-work toy when it gets excited and it grips its hands together like Mr. Burns does when saying “excellent.” I had a limited window with the wife and toddler before I had to be back on a plane and back to work and I had planned this weekend perfectly.
Planning perfection with a toddler in the mix, is like planning to be able to twirl pasta again after juggling live grenades while pulling the pins. (It’s an odd analogy I know, but it’s all I have at the minute.)

My weekend plan of placing a loving child into its carseat, while a sunbeam and rainbow simultaneously shone upon us – was blasted into hell when the toddler erupted into a screaming pile of dark-fury that could have taken out John Wick, Riddick and Keith Richards at the same time. It decided a car ride for a present was for wankers and kicked me in the face. It wanted to stand in the back of the car and twirl its finger around a strap on its seat and do nothing else.
“We’re taking you to get a present.”
“Don’t want a present.”
“What!”
“No.”
“You were excited before.”
It ignores me and refuses to get in its seat.
It was messing up my awesome plans and the sunbeam and rainbow were engulfed by cloud.
It was a stand-off and I did what any mature man in his forties would do when his toddler who he hadn’t seen in 2 weeks blanked him for a full 15 minutes – I got the sads and walked off down the street.

I knew I was being an immature dickhead. However, I have too much man in me to admit I was being an immature dickhead – even though the facts all point to getting the hump and walking off – is the behaviour of an immature dickhead.
I was fifty metres down the road checking my emails when the wife called. “I’ve got it in its seat. Do you want to go get it the present?”
“I guess…” says I, in my immature hump.
“Where are you sulking? We’ll come and get you.”

We drove up to the shop and the wife tells the toddler to look out the window and what does it see? A window filled with scooters! Its scruffy head exploded with excitement and the first thing it said was, “I’m sorry da.”
I lost it as the tears erupted and spurted back —
“No darling. I’m sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for.” Awwwwwww….

We bought it a scooter and then spent the afternoon in the local park watching the toddler scoot and continuously pull to the right. It was having so much fun and had no idea what it was doing. The young me, the young skateboard riding me, gave it advice that it ignored. But it’ll figure it out and get better and better and discover the freedom of going like a bat-out-of-hell with the wind in its hair.

I got to spend 2 days with the toddler and leaving it again tore my heart out. The wife and toddler dropped me off at the airport and the toddler cried all the way home, saying it wanted to go to Queensland with me. I walked through the airport with tears streaming down my cheeks that I couldn’t control. It was so much harder to leave this time. When the new baby lands – I’m driving my family of four to Queensland.

One thing that hasn’t slowed in its ceaseless march to realisation – is the growing of the new person about to enter the world and join our family. Not knowing who they are is exciting. They will simply arrive sometime in the next 50 days and then there will be 4 of us – and da better make some real money. Those 27 years of writing screenplays, better keep paying off. Because the Melbourne gigs sure don’t.

One toddler person alone can eat its way through a small fortune in bananas and lemon yoghurt – two of them will send me to the poorhouse.

The toddler is very excited about meeting its sibling. It talks to the wife’s belly and tells “Cheeks” everything. The toddler doesn’t shut up, so Cheeks is going to have a hard time getting a word in. I can already see the second one being the silent type as its big sister does all the talking.

On Saturday night the toddler fell asleep while talking – its head resting on the wife’s belly. Cheeks began kicking. Its movements are getting stronger as it kicked the shit out of Its big sister asleep on its mother’s belly.

As I watched the toddlers sleeping head gently bounce back and forth from the kicks it was enduring – I smiled. I thought of all those times the toddler has kicked me in the balls, done heel drops on my face, elbowed me in the ear, kicked me in the back of the head, aggressively placed its feet between my ass cheeks as I slept or head-butted me during the night and I smiled – a little. Come on, who doesn’t like a good revenge tale? What the toddler is about to experience is what the wife and I have had to endure for the last couple of years, and that is ball-bouncingly funny to me. The toddler will begin to experience the wide-eyed confusion that mostly makes up my days as a parent. Not just the – “you want us to do what!? For how much???????” – but the “why won’t it listen da?” This is a reality rapidly descending on the toddler.

Within 50 days it all changes and I am excited about it. Terrified of course. But excited. I’ll have soon two small people telling me what to do. Two kids telling me how to make breakfast and hogging the telly.

To be continued:

Chapter 22

Missing my mob

Thursday March 7th – I stood at gate 2 at Coolangatta airport waiting for the wife and toddler to emerge through it. I was nervous. I didn’t know if the toddler person  would speak to me and if it still believed I had betrayed it by leaving for work. Then they emerged and my heart beat faster. My family was going to be with me again and I was fucking excited.

I watched the toddler leading the wife into the arrivals part of the airport. It was so confident, it had taken charge as it led its heavily pregnant mother into this world it didn’t know and something quite profound hit me. This tiny 2 year-old was taking on the responsibility of looking after the wife.

I know all folk think their kid is smart – but damn – not only is the toddler smart, it has an empathy way beyond its years – and that to me, is the true sign of humanity. Love. Care. Support.

Then – its gaze met mine and it stopped in its tracks. My heart stopped for a moment and then the toddler’s face lit up and it ran into my arms screaming “da!” I lifted it and it wrapped its legs around me as its face pressed hard against mine. I finally felt whole again. Being without my family is very hard for me.

The toddler looked me in the eye and said “I missed you da”, as its little face turned sad and it hugged me hard again. The tears smashed from me. I was a blubbering mess as I held it – trying to impart how much I had missed it. A six-feet-four hundred and…. kilo man, losing it in public over a 13 kilo girl that was hanging off me as though I was the last thing on a sinking earth it could cling to.

I had been forgiven for leaving.

The toddler then regaled with every moment of the plane travel as all walked arm-in-arm to the baggage collection. It told me about all the clouds it had seen. It stuck to me like glue through the airport and insisted I carry it so it wouldn’t lose me. At the baggage claim it showed me its jumping skills and helped me put its car seat in by sitting in it and generally getting in the way – but hey! the toddler was with me.

On the weekend I had a blast with the nutters that are my kin and my best mate and his wife whose house we’re currently living in and trying not to toddler up. It’s very easy for a place to get toddlered. All it takes is one toy left on the floor as you turn around to get your phone. When one turns back – the walls have been destroyed and the toddler has somehow got into the locked cabinets and is covered in peanut butter holding a flare gun. Those of you that are yet to be parents – this is what happens.

Watching my wife and daughter play in the pool – I know I was favoured by some higher power. The toddler swims as though it’s the greatest thing on earth. The sheer joy on its cabbage-like head is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

As I write this, they are both asleep on the couch. I took a photo of them for my own amusement and memory. They leave me on Thursday to return home as they both have a movie they are in. It will be weeks before I see them again and I feel like howling.

The toddler has been loving its time on the Gold Coast. It has been to Dreamworld (which I never have and I used to lived here) and it got to drive the Aquaduck – which was a real highlight for it.  It gets to swim in the Jaccon resort pool every day and its swimming skills are coming along well. It’s seen so much of the Gold Coast and got to spend time with great friends. There is so much love around the toddler.

I will attempt to milk the limited time I have with them until they fly out. At least the toddler will get to float among the clouds again and Easter isn’t that far away.

TO BE CONTINUED:

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 21

The things a da must do.

It’s one in the morning on the Gold Coast as I write this. I arrived at Coolangatta airport on Thursday morning and got an Uber to Mt. Tamborine. My Uber driver rated me below 5 stars for a reason I can’t comprehend. My passenger rating is now lower than my driver rating. My driver rating is crazy high (flips hair back) and well beyond his. So far beyond in fact – he could never catch me. You’re a 4.82 mate and I’m a 4.98 – pffft. I hold no bitterness though – YOU BASTARD!

After getting over my initial impulse to punish the prick in some way – I moved on and headlong into work.

When I was young – I yearned for adventure. I loved to see different places and when I got to fly to different cities on a company dime I thought life couldn’t get any better. Then one day I met the cabbage-head that sleeps in the middle of the bed. The very same cabbage-head that deliberately sings the song “Bingo” wrong by pronouncing the B as a P because it knows it annoys me. The same toddler person that is refusing to speak to me over FaceTime because it is punishing me for leaving it. Since Thursday, it has been punishing me and it really hurts – because just before I left, we had so much fun together.

Thursday morning the toddler and I went to Woolworths for a loaf of bread and eggs. It had been awake for fifteen seconds when I asked it if it wanted to come to the shops with me. It responded with an enthusiastic yes and jumped into my arms. We belted down the stairs with it still in its jimmy-jams and headed for the shops. Placing it in the trolley, we preceded to race around the supermarket in our drag-cart that was complete with sound effects of gear-changes and drifting rattles. I even made the sounds as the turbo kicks in. We screamed with joy as we roared and weaved our way through trolleys, carts the guys stacking the shelves still had out, an unimpressed entitled knob-end and the odd customers one meets in a supermarket at 7 in the morning. The toddler and I raced around the supermarket like it was the freaking Nuremberg track.  I was sad I would be leaving it within a couple of hours and it was ecstatic it was having so much fun with its childish father.

At the checkout it wanted me to apply the brake to the trolley in case it raced off again as the girl serving us got a twang in her ovaries. The toddler had its cute head on and was interacting with her. The toddler walked away with a gift and a new fan.

We returned home and made breakfast. The toddler on its kitchen stool / ladder telling me how to make the eggs properly  – “I don’t like the yolk da”. I tried to explain to it that I had to go away for a bit for work. It was silent for a moment before it made a choice.

“I come.”

“No darling. I need you to stay here and help mama.”

“No. I come with you da.”

I packed the last of my bag and it climbed into it, trying to button itself in so it could come on the plane with me.

As we drove to the airport it got excited. We’d recently taken it to watch the planes come in to land and take-off as it likes planes. So to the toddler – going to the airport is fun as hell. As we pulled into the departure lane I felt the toddlers mood deflate a little. I kissed the wife farewell then said farewell to the toddler person. It knew this wasn’t news in its favour, da was leaving. I kissed it and gave it a cuddle and the tears hammered within my head as it stayed silent – letting me know it felt I had betrayed it. Could I trust the wife to make its eggs correctly while I was away? How was it going to warm its feet during the night if I wasn’t in bed? Where could it rest its legs if my head wasn’t available? How would it go sharing my pillow if my noggin wasn’t on it. Who would be there to catch it when it tried to dive off the bed? Would the wife wake at the exact same time as the toddler when it needed a drink of water? These are real concerns.

Every moment since getting on that plane I have missed it. Even though there has been awesome news in the process, “we want to buy your script”. It doesn’t rise above my missing the toddler person. The toddler that now flatly refuses to speak to me when I FaceTime it as it thinks I’ve abandoned it and it needs to punish me. That stubborn bloody streak it has.

I have had my heart broken in relationships, family, lost friends and deals that have gone bad – but nothing compares to the pain of the toddler refusing to speak to me.

TO BE CONTINUED:

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 20

This one is all about me – (and some about the toddler.)

Casa de obstacle.

Obstacles. Life has them – especially in love, sex and careers. Like my emails that must be hitting the junk folder of all I’m writing to as I do my best Bob Hoskins – “Got a job?”

The wintery silence that follows my question aside – what has me on my toes at the moment, is the gauntlet that is our home. Not a bloody day goes by that I’m not stepping on something. Lego! those shitty little pieces one can only spot if they’re 20 and some kind of ninja. I’m stepping on dolls, rabbits, cars, bits of wood, bottle tops, a London taxi, whathefuckisthats, sample containers, plastic animals, wet tissues – you name it – if it’s been made for or come from a child, then I’ve stepped on it or in it.

I came home tonight covered in sawdust, sweat and whatever the weird fucker on the tram sneezed on me. I was also very out of breath from trying to keep the dreams afloat. No sooner do I step in the door than I trip over Scott Morrison lying across the doorway like a frigging trip-wire. “Scott Morrison” is a clown on a stick that beats a little drum when in motion – so the name works. I hit the floor with an earth-shattering kaboom – rattling my teeth, joints and fun bits and offer a curse to the Gods as I peel my front teeth off the rug and suck-in a snot bubble. I have dirt in my eye, sore knees, probably a displaced hip. But to top it off – there’s no one home to rush to me and fawn. One day, the toddler will unknowingly put down a toy that will end me. The years will pass quickly as they do as the Great Animator shifts the cells of those I love into the future to my inevitable funeral. Along the way – the toddler will continue to grow and look at the fading photos on the walls of the smiling fat wanker as I slowly fade from memory, until the toddler that is now a tenager asks the question – “how did da die?”

The wife will have a planned story for this very moment – that is unless the teenager has been an utter annoyance and the wife forgets her prepared speech and snaps – “you killed him with that troll doll!”

Poor da. Came home from a hard days work covered in sawdust, sweat, the sneeze of a madman and died after tripping over a toll doll.

ONWARD!

I’ve seen some weird things in my time on this rock led by clowns on sticks. Being in “the arts” as they say and knowing a higher percentage of people who were on “the drugs,” as they say – I have been front and centre for some really weird human behaviour. I still laugh my ass off at what the naked ape will do when under the influence of anything that makes it not itself. Humans fascinate and bewilder me.

I met a guy when I was 17 that firmly believed he was Spock. He was adamant that he was Spock and he was telling me all about his adventures on the Enterprise and all the worlds he had seen. It was amazing! He didn’t shut up for an hour. He then got bored of where we were and called on Scotty to beam him up. To him – Scotty did beam up and the drunk tank we were sitting in was the frigging Enterprise. Then my day got even weirder until I managed to get home and had to explain to my parents how I ended up in the drunk tank. On a school night.

I met a breatharian when I was a mere slip of a youth of 20. I was thinking the bloke down the road that dripped hot wax on cockroaches to capture them in various death poses to make a chess set was an A-class nutter, but the breatharian pulled-up his cotton shorts, showing good separation and grinned. His one goal in life was to live on air. I was curious as to how such a feat could be accomplished and asked him the question – “how may such a feat be accomplished?” His reply was the air would simply flow through him, into his mouth and out his ass. I chortled at that as I already thought he was full of wind. Apparently the lungs can filter all manner of plant and creature that exist in the air – like plankton. His lungs simple absorb the readily available nutrition – and yes, for those playing along at home and a little quicker on the uptake, I did ask the question – “well, if that’s true, why do any of us need to eat then.?” He had an answer! Because one needed to prepare themselves correctly to a-tune to the air. I wished him all the best with his breathy thing and promised to check in on him. I called around a couple of weeks later as he had one of my books. No one answered. I tried again a week later and the place looked empty. He had either ascended or moved.

Now – what does any of this have to with owning a toddler I hear you yell. “This is a toddler page, where’s the toddler, we want to know about the toddler. Why you no talk about the toddler human?”

Hold your horses.

So – just with those examples of weirdness that I have witnessed – what I saw the other night was hands down the most, the complete, the gold label in oddness I have ever seen my child involved in.

Let me tell you all about it.

The wife and toddler have a game where the toddler pretends that it’s a dog. You read that correctly. Now, please picture me witnessing what I am about to witness without an explanation. Yesterday, I watched the toddler walks on all fours and sniff at things. No big deal, it’s a weirdo. Then it climbs on the dining room table and I tell it off. Fair enough right? But you know what? It was dog toddler who had climbed on the table. Dog toddler gets told “bad dog, don’t climb on the furniture!” Dog toddler barks at its mother and continues to do exactly as it wants – but in dog mode! What in the crazy hell is this new oddness? They play this game for 5 minutes and I’m an open-mouthed moron as the toddler gets to every naughty thing it wants to do and gets away with because it’s dog toddler! As its role play, somehow it gets to climb on all the stuff we don’t want it to climb on and do all the bad things we don’t want it to do. One guess as to who invented the game. This toddler thing is frigging Skynet.

My mistake was thinking this crazy horseshit was limited to the wife and toddler in the safety of the living room. I was given a list and sent to the supermarket. The todler wanted to come – cool. We get to the lights and the toddler sits down and starts panting. I side-eye the woman next to us and a smile slides out of the corner of my face that is part apology and part Peeeee Herman. Then the toddler takes it up a notch. “Tell me when to go da.”

The lights change and I say “onward” as I pretend this is totally normal. The toddler woofs the entire way across the road – on all fours as I try to make it stand and stop pretending to be a dog.

We make it across the road and the road and the woman pats the toddler on the head. “What a well behaved doggy.” The toddler woofs and pants and I wish I was Monkey and could summon a cloud to flee.

The magpies are still around. One came inside yesterday to hang with the toddler and taste a tasty morsel from the toddler’s plate. The toddler and the magpie are cool, they’re hanging out, watching Peppa Pig together as the magpie chows down on the toddlers uneatens. Then the wife walks in the room and freaks out the bird that flies into the window and shits itself. Then the toddler yells at it, “naughty magpie. You poo on the potty.”

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 19

Great Big Knickers

There are moments in life. Key moments that transition us to our next state of being. For me, that was today when we took the toddler shopping to buy “big girl knickers.” This is something the toddler has wanted for a while, but toilet training was still a thing and if it wanted actual underwear instead of a nappy, then it had to prove it knew what it was doing in the down below feelings. So over the last 3 days, the toddler has been going to the potty and running back for high-fives and to take us to have a look at the various deposits left therein. It’s actually been a bit exciting with all the cheering and hand slapping and the beaming face of a small person who managed to take a dump in a vessel to feel as though it conquered the world. The toddler wakes up excited so it can go and have a piss on the potty and prove itself once more.

It has the hang of it now, so much so in fact that it lifted the potty to empty it down the toilet. I was walking by at the time, grumbling about running out of peanuts when I spotted it on its toes trying to deliver the pee into the toilet bowl. I said to the wife – “It’s trying to empty its own potty in the loo.”

“Don’t worry, it’s not going to make any more mess on the floor than you do.”

The toddler empties most of the potty on the floor.

“It emptied all of it on the floor,” says I.

“Just like you,” retorts the wife as she shrugs.

“That’s not fair, it’s usually dark when that happens.”

“I manage not to piss on the floor,” is her comeback.

“But you don’t have a huge hose hanging off the front of you.”

“Neither do you.” The silence slid between us like Merlin’s dragon and she never broke eye contact. It was at this moment I turned and went back to my office.

So – back to the knicker buying. I can honestly say there have been way less than a few times in my life that I’ve found myself buying knickers for a girl. But today that changed. There I was in a serious discussion with the toddler about whether it preferred Peppa Pig undies or the ones with the Unicorns, or how about PJ Masks or these pony idiots. Then – the greatest thing happened – it pointed at a set of pajamas with a Storm Trooper on them and I knew beyond any doubt I was raising it the right way. As I was patting myself on the back and off searching for girl undies with Darth Vader on them – the wife blindsided me and bought a pack of rainbow knickers instead.

So now the afternoon has been one of watching a very proud toddler person prancing around in its underwear and running off to the potty when it needs a pee or when it needs to pretend to pee so it can simply drop it new knickers and pull them back up again when finished. I’ve been there. I was high at the time, but I’ve been there. It also performed the dance the wife did in the Christmas show to much applause from myself and the wife. I had no idea it was the dance the wife did in the Christmas show until the wife informed me. I just thought the toddler was being awesome but now I know the toddler is even more awesome than the awesome I thought it was. They grow up so fast.

The toddler has its own magpie army. I don’t mean thumbless, toothless unevolved football supporters either (I kid, I kid.) The toddlers nannytier (my mum,) has magpies at her house among the thousands of other critters that her and the toddler feed. So when magpies appear the toddler loses its little mind. The story goes as this. Da managed to trick the toddler into a nappy change (before knickers were a thing.) As da was taking off the toddler’s pants, a magpie was sat on our balcony staring at me. I did as any dad would – “Donkey, check out the magpie.”

The toddler sits up fast and looks at it, waves at it and says “da, can we feed him?”

So, we feed him a bit of mince. Then his mates rock up, and we give a little more mince out. Then the wife makes the mistake of leaving me and the toddler alone and da starts feeding the magpies out the window to amuse the toddler. Over several days, da and the toddler have no supervision and put out food for the magpies as we find it fun how many of them we can summon. You know what happens now? Magpies come in to the apartment. Bold as brass. The bastards hop into the apartment through the open balcony door or the open living room window (that we always have open.) I walked into the living room to find 5 of the bastards sitting around the toddler as it watched TV and was half hanging off the couch. One was picking at some crumbs on the floor, another was wrestling to swallow a peanut and I swear the others were watching television with the toddler. I tried to take a picture, but I spooked them. The toddler leads a magpie army.

Another red-letter day happened recently. The toddler and I watched our first movie together. All the way through. Just the two of us as the wife was out street-racing in our Kia or whatever it is she does when out. The movie was Arthur Christmas. It’s a fun movie but I was gutted as I did have a dream it would be Star Wars, the original Karate Kid or Malcolm that would be our first movie. But mainly I was hoping it would be Star Wars. My desire there is hampered also by the wife who won’t watch any Star Wars movies; (I’m trying to get her in to have her head examined) but I still have to live with her.

A week ago (pre-knickers) I changed the toddler on our bed, on my side. It was a particularly full load and some of it got on the sheet, on my side. Bah! Anyway, I wipe it up. It’s a little toddler turd, who cares – I’m sure I’ve tumbled in sheets with a hell of a lot worse in them in my time on this planet. I did live in Queensland for a bit after all and the bugs up there get into everything. But – back to the tale. It’s midnight, I’ve ensured the door is locked, the taps are off, the oven is off, the lights are off and I’m on the way to plug my phone in to charge. As I’m doing all of this, I’m chatting with the wife, making comments on life, various wankers that annoy me and the Universe and how I have toddler poo on my sheet. You know what happens? Siri pipes up from my phone and says – “you’re not happy, are you?” Holy hell. I shit myself and the wife hits hysterical laughter. Siri just hung there, knowing she’d scared the balls off me but amused my wife.

When I finally calmed down, put the phone on charge, kissed the wife goodnight and rolled into the four inches of mattress the toddler allows me, I fell asleep. Then I had a fist in my eyeball and a foot between my ass cheeks – “da, fresh water da.”

Da drags his ass out of bed and fetches the toddler’s water bottle, fills it full of fresh water and comes back to the bedroom to find the toddler and wife sound asleep. The toddler across my side of the bed with its feet on my pillow and the wife in all her pregnant glory snoring like a dinosaur, (a big one.)

I look at them and I smile. They’re perfect and they’re mine.

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 18

A Very Toddlery Christmas

Santa Claus. He’s a touchy subject these days in the modern world. My sister and I believed in him for a bit and when the time came that I discovered a big jolly man didn’t really break into our house to leave gifts – it made a lot of sense. It also answered that question as to why he had forgotten to bring me the bat-mobile three years in a row. I certainly wasn’t upset or felt I’d been lied to. Santa and the elves and all that guff was part of the magic of childhood and soon after the vanishing of Santa Claus came the end of childhood.

The toddler believes in Santa Claus. I was curious as to whether it would get the Christmas thing at 2, but it took it to like a duck to water and Santa Claus became a wonder. The toddler believes Santa brings a couple of small things for the stocking and mum and da buy the rest. I did have a few questions about keeping the myth going and whether lying to the child about a stranger coming into the house to leave it some presents without having an angle and drink da’s whiskey before operating a spacecraft was a healthy thing – but then I got over myself and figured the toddler could believe in the big guy until that time it asks if he really does exist. I mean really, how dangerous could it be – we aren’t talking about religion here. “Sorry Tommy, it was all balls. Heaven and hell and a cloud fairy that judges you for just for being yourself or playing with yourself or the fun bits of a stranger – a total load of balls. Soz.”

My main observation from Christmas, other than I fall asleep quite rapidly, is that the toddler loves presents. Loves getting them, loves giving them, loves opening them. My sister made the observation that the toddler will open a gift and be amazed by it and want to play with it while other gifts abound unopened which led to me thinking, “are we buying it too much stuff?” Before it was born, I was worried it wouldn’t have enough toys. I don’t know where this fear came from but it was there for the longest time. I really had nothing to worry about as the wooden spoon and cream whisk it pinched from the drawer were the greatest toys in its world for a very long time. Now however, I look at all the stuff it has and wonder where the hell it came from and how I can get rid of it. The wife has packed a heap of it in the top shelf in the cupboard in my office, but there is still so much. Is it too much? When I was little, I had a favourite toy that went with me everywhere – he was called Baa and when I lost him the world would stop turning and the demons of hell would run amuck until Baa was found. I lost that rabbit toy in so many places, whether it was a picnic area that was easy to retrace the steps and pull him out of the grass – to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl where he could have been anywhere. The memories are there of me screaming like the very fabric of time had unraveled – the old man huffing as he went searching for the lost rabbit yet again and my mother trying to calm me down which was like fighting a chemical fire with a water-pistol. Baa was the entire world to me. The toddler seems to have a few toys it favours, but I couldn’t say there was one toy to rule them all like I had with Baa. Maybe it was Bae, but Bae was lost to Paris. At times I fear the toddler may have been given too much in my attempt to ensure it had enough. Balance is key, but since I was born without a moderation switch – I tend to go all out or shrug and go back to sleep. Gene wise I’m okay, (apart from the obesity and alcoholism). The obesity thing is easy to fix and simply requires me giving up beer, which I really like, so I then fall into my other bad habit of total denial in giving up the beer and I’m back to square one.

Balance – I’ll find it right after I find the next job as there is a pressing need to pay the rent and eat.

The wife and I have been discussing the toddler extracurricular activities of late. Discussing – in that I’m floating ideas I want the toddler to start learning karate and piano. Karate so it can defend itself against the growing wave of wankers the world is producing and piano because – well Elton John, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Alicia Keys, Mozart etc. If rock stardom doesn’t await, then it’s a good back-up for playing in hotel lobbies.

I bought it a kinder surprise last week. As we’ve established, I’m a sucker and will do anything it wants, but it had been so good and was so polite when it asked me for one. So, I got it one. We were having a lovely time the toddler and me. It had swung back to mum being the bees-knees, but today da was the cool one and was getting hugs and it wanted to come to the shop with me. So – there we are stood outside Woolworths – me with arms full of shopping bags and the toddler with a kinder surprise it couldn’t open and had dropped four times at this stage. It was out of its little mind with joy.

“Do you want da to open it for you?”

“Yes,” it says and presses the kinder surprise into my hand with a smile.

Da opens the kinder surprise and separates the two halves and pulls out the middle bit that contains the toy.

This was incorrect.

The oxygen was sucked out of our suburb as the toddler summoned the cry of the banshees. Christ on a hover-board! Even the beggar that sits out the front of the supermarket jumped with the scream. I tried handing the halves to the toddler and this caused a greater flood of tears.

It stood so still as its little shoulder heaved with the weight of the worlds woes and its tear ducts emptied it of all water.

“It’s still chocolate. The toy is the same,” I says, paddling for dear life as the judging eyes abounded. “Did I do it wrong?”

The toddler then did the thing I really fear – it lay on the ground and cried and cried and cried. I really messed up and I started feeling bad. But I didn’t know breaking the thing in two was not the done thing.

“To be fair, you did drop it four times,” I says. This caused a greater eruption of tears that were sliding off its face to pool on the bricks. Pool. On. The. Bricks.

It’s having none of it. The beggar fellow and I are staring at each other trying to come up with solutions and we’re as useless as each other as we make faces at each other and tiny shrugs and gestures. Useless. Then I get the bright idea to press the ends back together – which I do and try and hand it back to the screaming toddler. Nada. It actually cries harder and now goes stiff as it lies prone on the ground. I’m getting accusing looks from those without kids and those with kids are laughing at me. Then I get the bright idea to put the toy back inside the two halves and then close them over. Voila! This calmed it down, a lot. I then pressed some of the foil to the chocolate and this solved the problem.

The toddler does not like its food being broken apart. This doesn’t just hold for kinder surprises or chocolate – it holds for all thing’s food. Don’t mess with it.

With its kinder surprise under control – we went home and put away the shopping before playing the toddlers favourite game of “no” as I tried to dress it and get it out the door to see its mums play.

Long story short – I managed to get a new nappy on it and some nice clothes and out into the world we went to catch a tram. Now this play was something I was a bit apprehensive about. A play that has the toddlers mum in it, is a bit like a juggling grenades and hoping one of them doesn’t go off. We get into the city early so went to see the Myer windows and joined the rest of the wankers in the worlds longest line. The toddler sat atop my shoulders as we took small shuffles forward. The toddler effectively got to see the windows twice this way. Once over the heads of everyone and once between the legs of people. After we’d seen the windows it announced it needed to practice its jumping.

“Your what now?” I ask.

It led me to a planter box and proceeded to jump off it, makes its way around it, befriend another child and they play chase. It can now ignore its dad who was trying to wrangle it and get it to the theatre. Trams are going past, my heart is beating fast and then it finds a slant on a planter box it’s using as the world’s shortest slide. My powers of negotiation are laughable. Then after it has a photo taken by itself on Santa’s chair some knob has squiggled their ignorance on with black spray-paint, we head-off down the laneway full of graffiti, piss and tourists and make our way to the theatre.

It was so well behaved I have to applaud it. It sat on my lap and watched the show for a good 30 minutes before it looked at me and wanted to go to its mum. I explained we couldn’t until after the show and it accepted this. After a brief stint it asked to go home – so we left the theatre and once out the door it said, “I want to watch the show da.”

“But you need to be quiet. Can you be quiet?”

“I promise da. I’ll be quiet.”

And it was. We went straight back in and the toddler sat quietly and watched until its mum scooped it up and it got brought on stage for the last number which we all enjoyed.

Then it was Christmas and now it isn’t. New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, and all manner of goals shall be set. I’ll most likely be asleep with a small knee jammed under my chin and little fingers tweaking my earlobe, because it doesn’t matter what time we go to bed – there is a toddler that wakes up with the sun with a real need to dance.

From all of us lot we wish you and your lot a happy and prosperous new year. May 2019 be filled with beauty, wonder and a heap of cash.

FUN FACT: I felt the toddlers soon to be sibling kick for the first time today.It’s very real now and very exciting.

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 17

It’s baby obsession here in Kew. The wife and toddler have gone baby nuts. If they weren’t my family, I’d be finding a way to flog them baby stuff so I could have a holiday. I can understand why the wife has an interest in the whole baby thing since it’s happening to her with her being pregnant and all, but the toddler is so excited it shakes with excitement when the baby is mentioned. It talks to the rapidly expanding bump, tells it stories, guesses if it’s a boy or a girl (I know – they don’t – hehehehehehehe). It’s very cute on the wife’s part – I just find the toddler odd. I’m kidding, of course I’m kidding.  The toddler has taken to carrying around a small teddy bear it dresses up in baby clothes. She refers to the teddy as her baby and cradles it like it’s a child. Now I admit, this kind of thing would once have freaked me out as I’m a skittish bastard, but it is the toddler working out the whole baby thing. She doesn’t quite get the connection to all of it but tries damn hard to. She thinks she does and then talks about how she met her sister or brother when we were sleeping. It is amusing and fascinating watching this little mind explode with information and ideas. But for now, everything is a baby, a little baby, that is crying and needs cradling and sometimes da just needs to drink beer and listen to black metal. Oh! That reminds me, the wife bought me tickets to Dimmu Borgir when they played Melbourne (I don’t think I’ve mentioned this), but for about 80 minutes, I totally blissed out whilst in the mosh pit. I was getting slammed into from all directions the entire concert and it was bloody brilliant. The band were brilliant, I relaxed and got to listen to my music without getting my headphones tugged out of my ears “I’ve pooed”, or the phone ringing to interrupt a song I’m really into “can you pick up some carrots and toilet paper?” Then I caught an Ola home and chatted with a great bloke and that was brilliant. Then it cost me nothing because – voucher! and that was brilliant. Then there was beer in the fridge because the wife loves me – brilliant! I drank the beer whilst smiling and that was brilliant. I climbed into bed with the greatest friends I have on earth and that was brilliant. Then I woke up, made them breakfast, kissed them farewell and went to work with people I love.

The toddler has become totally obsessed with a game we (me and the toddler – but mainly me), made up – called slippery kid. I was off-my-head with sleep deprivation one morning and pretended I couldn’t hang onto the toddler who wanted to climb on me and I kept throwing it from hand-to-hand, turning it upside down and sideways always with the risk of it dropping to the bed. Well, from this dear reader, was spawned the game of slippery kid. Slippery kid started innocently enough as something I thought was a once-off. I was very wrong. Today’s incarnation of slippery kid is a cross between the World Wrestling Federation and…Who the hell am I kidding, it is the WWF for toddler peoples and immature da’s. I can guarantee I have mates wanting to get in on this now that they’ve read it – I know this because they’re as grown-up as I am. Men on the wrong end of 40 that have never grown-up and never will because they’re bloody perfect. Grown-ups mystify me, they once intimidated me, but I got over that.

Slippery kid is very easy to play. After a couple of weeks of playing the original slippery kid and getting knackered because I’m old and fat, I came up with a new version that is much more fun for the toddler and better on da’s stamina. The old version required me to essentially do the equivalent of 15 kilo dumbbell raises front and side as I tossed it about in the air for 15 seconds pretending it was too slippery to get a hold of. This made the toddler howl with joy but doing that over and over and over again for 20 minutes flat, made da tired. It gave me a pump, but it made me tired and the toddler loves the fun all the time. So the new slippery kid game involves the toddler holding da’s hands (da really does the holding) and it walks up his fat belly with the goal of reaching his shoulders and standing tall on top of them – but! it’s a slippery kid, so it falls from da’s grasp repeatedly on its journey to da’s shoulders and falls into 4 pillows, a couple of doonas, a soft blanket set atop a mattress. I think I best mention the safety aspect. Once the toddler reaches the zenith and survives its own slipperiness – it stands high atop da’s shoulders – before being body-slammed into the pillows and doonas. Or suplexed or whatever the technical wrestling term is. Controlled slamming now, I don’t just throw the toddler into the air. The toddler howls with happiness and the first words out of its gob are “one more da, one more.”

I have found the ultimate game for the toddler and myself. The wife isn’t sure as it involves her toddler, wrestling, body-slamming and her immature husband.

The toddler and I have been having the best fun lately. Now that work has trailed away over Christmas, we are inseparable. If I need to go the shops for anything they cry of “I come,” is always there and off we go together, Donkey and da on another adventure. (It’s nickname is Donkey for any new players we have). If we take the pram, I usually have it on the back wheels making spaceship noises or sliding side-to-side making car noises and telling her about da’s and Uncle Steve’s movie. We sing ‘The wheels on the bus’ and we don’t care who hears us. WE sing so much we should be a band of bad singers. We dance when dancing needs to be done. This usually occurs in Woolworths as at times there are good songs playing. Sometimes we race around Woolworths like morons, especially when the toddler gets the “flee” impulse and needs to hide. We track each other at the end of each aisle and poke our tongues out at each other. We’re both known to the staff – (in a good way, I think). We play in the park for frigging hours and at times I go mad trying to get it out of the sandpit and back to the apartment.\

I look at these blogs and I know how long some of them are, but they don’t even cover a fraction of the crazy shit this kid gets up to. I write notes to remind myself of the nuttier stuff, but then I start writing and the focus changes to a more organic story. I don’t think I’ve touched on how much the toddler makes me laugh my ass off and how we laugh ourselves stupid together over a cloud, un-swallowed food or a pungent nappy. How can I impart such things that started out as silly as ‘upside-down kid,’ and have it make sense to anyone else but my family as the two of us look each other in the eye as it hangs upside down? This tiny human is all the awesome I wanted to be. The confidence, the Chutzpah, the independence, the ‘let ‘em weep when they see me walk in’. The toddler has style and I love its style. Tomorrow it will choose a different style and that style will be awesome too. But the toddler has such positive role models. Obviously its mother is first and foremost for role models and does far more than I do in the shaping of its young noggin. But all the amazing women its mother knocks about with also deserve a mention in shaping this young heart. The Girls Act Good theatre group always have the toddler along to readings and rehearsals, they have it up on stage where it can interact with everyone and get to be with all these wonderful women who embrace it and teach it and whom it loves – and then it gets to come home and be a complete idiot with its da.

There is more to come from this musing.

Fun fact: It likes to share. It will always offer the best piece of what it has.

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 16

I came home from work at dumb-o-clock. Night-shoots are fine apart from doing a bunch of them in a row with overtime. Micro-sleeps when driving back from far, far away are bad, as is hoping the dude you nearly side-swiped didn’t notice you napping in the 100 zone. Then there’s the fun of the Westgate roadworks and the 40 zone every truck and entitled wanker ignores. Doing 40km an hour is great for sleep. From the first noddies, I invested in things I normally hate, such as instant coffee, Coke, Red Bull and Mother energy drinks. Basically everything except the speed I truly needed.

After one of the last night shoots, I arrived home with a throat on me that needed curing, an attitude, chaffing and feet that needed rubbing. I entered the apartment to the call of “da, Dan!”

The toddler has taken to calling me Dan. I ask it not to, which seems to only enhance its desire to do so.

I removed my boots and poured small stones out onto the floor as I tried to ignore the pain in my hips and balls. I limped to the kitchen with the toddler giving me its breakfast order and how it would like its bread made. I did everything right. Ya see, the day before the wife told me the toddler had exclaimed, “I’m never going to see my da again, ever, ever,” and threw itself dramatically on the floor. This was nice to hear and heartbreaking at the same time as I had more nights to work. The toddler was missing me as I was working so much. I also missed the toddler. I missed it breathing on my neck, I missed it sleeping on my head. I missed it kicking me in the head, the back, the balls. I missed waking up and having to reposition it and put a blanket on it. Basically I missed being a dad. Between work and exhaustion, I had lost so much time with the toddler. I wanted to sit up with it and have a chat. Find out what was happening on Daniel Tiger.

As I carried the toddlers eggs on toast into the living room and poured myself a wine from the box with the tap, I happened to notice the toddlers sketch book lying open on the floor. Upon its pages, the wife had drawn the entire family. I’m talking the whole family, not just the three of us currently in this one. I can only assume it was to prove that the Toddlers crayons weren’t broken and could be used to create more than the mad senseless squiggles the toddler employs. Upon those pages in crayon was displayed an artistic ability way beyond the toddlers and far beyond mine. It had artistic value – except for when it came to my likeness. “Holy shit,” I thought, “holy fucking shit.”

Ya see, the wife drew me with an odd head. I know it’s me because I’m bald in the drawing. I also have these big confused eyes and a manicured goatee. I look like across between a sweater-wearing school teacher at an ultra Christian school and that guy that knocks on the door in those movies and says, “I’ve come to clean ze pool.”

I stared at the thing in my state of no-sleep. Usually my first reaction to anything is denial – ‘“your hand is broken mate.”

“Nah, it’ll be okay.”

“No. It needs to be pinned. When you hit that prick, you got what is known as a boxers fracture,” – an odd silence ensues until the doctor stops talking.

“Nah. Just strap it.”

My hand is grabbed and manipulated. The doc stares at me, “doesn’t that hurt?”

“I can feel it.”

“Your small finger bone has telescoped into your wrist. I need to pull it out and pin your hand back together. You hit him in the head.”

“I got him good with the first two. I changed his behaviour.”

“Well you fucked yourself on the third hit. Why hit him again?”

“He was still moving.”

“I’m amazed he isn’t dead.”

I grin proudly and he presses his thumbs into the break. “That has to hurt.”

“I’m Irish, we’re harder to kill than cockroaches.”

(The pins coming out is another story altogether insane.)

Anyways. Back to the toddler tale.

“Why did mama draw me weird?”

“That’s you da,” says the toddler as it jabs some egg at my cartoonish self.

“Yes, but why do I look so odd?”

“Mama made it,” it says as it chuckles. Then it looks right up to the top of my head, “you’re very tall da,” it says as it inhales its breakfast, grabs the remote and buggers off away from me.

“Oi, no telly, we’ll have a chat instead,” says I as I reach for the remote.

“Need to watch bananas da.”

“Please don’t make me stand. I’ve been on my feet for thirteen hours.” The telly goes on. “Hey, I said no telly.”

“I need it,” says the small human as it hits the middle button on the remote and Morgan the bear steps on a skateboard.

“You’ve seen every episode a hundred times. It can wait.”

Then it stares at me, daring me to make a move. Thus began a hostage negotiation for the remote control that lasted through 2 episodes of Banana’s in Pyjamas and Christ alone knows how many micro-sleeps as I couldn’t leave the chair I’d fallen into. So we sat there, watching the Banana’s and the shenanigans they get into and I’m between odd dreams and B1 and B2 getting into trouble, and something called discipline. The final micro-sleep led to REM sleep and the toddler had won. However, it didn’t count on da choking awake, spilling his wine over himself and swiping the remote control the toddler had placed nearby and went to turn off the television before I caught the cabbage head staring back at me, its sad little eyes knowing it was about to lose its show. I simply couldn’t do it, I didn’t have the balls. So I pulled my ass out of the chair and went to bed, kicked the wife out of it to go and be the bad guy and turn off the telly and deal with the toddler. I then fell asleep for 30 blissful minutes – before school started across the road and all the bells of hell began.

The toddler came in at that point holding a candle it had found in my work shorts.

“What this da?”

“It’s a candle, darling.”

“What it do da?”

“Well, you light the wick and it burns the wax and gives off light and heat. It’s what people used a long time ago for light,” I say through a haze of sleep and a little bitchiness, as I think – ‘why is the wife not in here shuffling this small human out the door?’

None of that made sense to the toddler as it enthusiastically jumped on the bed and smacked me on the dick with the candle. I wasn’t expecting the toddler – let alone the toddler armed with a candle-stick, so things weren’t as hidden/protected as they would usually be. Being woken by the school bells and obviously being the fertile beast that I am – things come-up, so to speak. The timing was just all bad and as the toddler can open the bedroom door now and is yet to learn decorum, sleep or rubbing one out is paranoia induced and always disappointing. If we think Google is watching us – try having a wank, root or piece of chocolate with a toddler in the house.

It is now asserting its independence. This is something I am fine with until it insists “no I do it,” when it comes to crossing the road. This is met with an absolute NO. NAH-UH. NO WAY. YOU’VE GOT BUCKLEY’S MATE. No way in hell does it get to cross the road without holding the hand of an adult and looking right,left, right and left and right again. I’m teaching it about idiots, Uber drivers and the entitled that use the roads and it must be ultra aware of the entitled. Baby boomers in BMW’s and Mercs are the worst.

“You’re the best road crosser there is. I’m not trying to help you across the road,” I lie to the grumpy cabbage head, “da needs help to cross the road. Do you think you’re strong enough to help da across the road?”

“Yes!” It says after thinking about it. This bit of bullshit has the desired result and it takes my hand. At each road I thank it for helping me and each and every time it responds with, “you’re welcome.”

“Watch now for the idiots and the entitled,” I say.

“I am, Dan,” says the toddler as it checks the road.

“Da. Call me da.”

“Okay Dan.”

“No. Da. Da or daddy. Don’t call me by my first name, it’s weird.”

“Yes da.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome Dan.”

The wife finds this funny. The wife says it’s because Dan and da sound so similar – I just think the toddler is being a smart ass and the wife is encouraging it.

The toddler is growing up. There are no secrets in a young family and no one gets to go to the toilet without being observed. Seeing your poo-face reflected back to you by a young audience is humbling to say the least.

I’m sure by the time it’s 12 I won’t know much of what is happening in its personal life and by 15 I’ll sure as hell have no idea and rightly so. I hope by this time not only will girls have finally taken over the world, but we will still trust each other and she will always feel she can share everything and anything with me. You just bring them up right and tell them the truth and how everything works right? Never lie or hide anything. Raise them to be able to read situations and make good choices. Choose good partners and let them know what sex truly is. To always be honest with them and let them know they can always be honest with us – like today when the toddler had a hand in its nappy, “what are you doing?” I ask.

“Scratching my box.”

“Is it itchy?”

It looks at me like I’m stupid, “yes,” it replies.

“I’ll run you a bath.”

“NO!” it screams with fury.

“You want an itchy box?” I ask it.

“Yes,” it replies after a moment of contemplation and its hand goes back in its nappy.

I stare at this for a moment as the toddler stares back.

“You know what’s cool?” I ask.

“What?”

“Nah. You wouldn’t want to know,” I wave a hand dismissively and thereby throw out a hook and walk off.

But the toddler takes the bait.

“What da?”

“Foam paint.” I say casually. “With it you can magic all sorts of colours of foam paint and you could paint the walls of the bath and even yourself. We can have it in the bath.” It’s wide-eyed as it stares at me. “Does that sound fun?”

“Yes,” it nods.

“Awesome, I’ll run the bath then.”

“No bath.”

Four hours later and after several attempts to get it washed, as it managed to get a toe-hold on the doorframe, the bath, or just sent me deaf through protest – I pondered what life would be like if Adam gave up an arm and a leg instead of just a rib, (I kid.) The toddler won and didn’t get a bath.

The toddler is currently helping its mama make dinner and I have a new angle to get it in the bath. Ya see, the other day, before I could swap out its nappy, I had to change every single animal in the house first. All the teddybears got a nappy change. When I say change, I mean we take off an imaginary nappy, wipe the non-existent things away and then put on another nappy. Timing however is paramount. It must be timed as to be believable as a nappy change. After I changed the 12 teddy’s, I changed all the dinosaurs, then the doll collection I have been buying for it, then the unicorns, the Duplo guys, every stuffed toy and the damn rabbit. There was 30 minutes there I had to go through before I could get the steamer off it. That’s a lot of bullshitting to have to go through to change a nappy. However, it was invaluable in teaching me the bullshit the toddler will fall for. Bullshit I am about to employ as I send all the frigging toys to go through a bath so the toddler isn’t the only smelly one in the circus of deceit.) Yet, this is another tussle I lost. The wife ultimately got the smelly kid into a bath.

We’re on the frontline of all things toddler here folks and each day it gets smarter and more cunning.

FUN FACT: The toddler likes to fake injuries. I don’t know what it’s all about yet, (attention probably) but it has hit the deck with a knee injury so many times it would qualify to play for the Italian soccer team. (Once I buy it a handbag.)

 Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 15

Home Alone-ish

Sleep. It’s a mystery isn’t it. Science still has’t fully worked it out, but if we don’t get enough of it – we die. So ‘God,’ in its wisdom gave us children to ensure that we never sleep again.
I often wonder how our bed would look if viewed overnight from above on a time-lapse. I have an idea that it would feature something out of Paranormal Activity as a small blond demon skittered across the sleeping adults, waking them with a knee in the eyeball and a foot in the teeth. It would also answer for me the question of how the wife can end up in the cot and how I can wake up with the toddler’s lower half on my head or have to rescue it after its turned itself upside down and found itself right at the bottom of the bed by our feet. Speaking of waking up, I was dreaming I was looking at a wooden fence with a hole in it. I was staring at the hole intently. I could see something within the shadow of the hole, a slight movement then breathing – it was alive, the hole had a presence, a presence that was looking right at me. With a pounding heart and sucking air I woke to – the toddler standing by the bed staring at me in the dark.
I man-squealed as I felt its breath on my face and my initial terror gave way to the only thing I could grasp – a question.
“What are you doing?”
It stared at me a moment more.
“Watching.”
I glance around the room. It’s dark. The wife is half in the cot. I’m naked, sans doona and a little shy.
“Why?” I stupidly ask.
Then it makes snoring noises at me, sucking air into its distorted throat to mock me before it clambers back on the bed, grabbing a wad of my chest hair for purchase to lever itself back onto the mattress. It clambers over me and kicks about for a bit before falling asleep. I close my eyes and force myself to stop thinking about the thousand stories I’m neglecting writing, then the hole in the fence is there again and the breathing thing is staring at me, always staring – only now there is a wisp of smoke trailing out of the hole. My eyes fly open and there is nothing there but the dark, the wife is now fully curled up in the cot and the toddler is controlling all the bedding while sleeping beneath none of it. I look at my phone and the horrible light reveals it is nearly 5 in the morning. I groan and get out of bed, flick on the kettle and ponder the day ahead.
“Da.”
“Yes darling.”
“Da.”
“Yes darling.”
Da.”
“Yes darling.”
Silence.
“Danny.”
“Huh?”
“Danny.”
“What happened to da?”
“Da.”
“Yes darling?”
“Da.”
Yes sweetie.”
“Dan.”
“What?”
“Dan.”
“Call me da or daddy.”
“Danny.”
“No.”
“Da.”
“Yes.”
“Blueberries and strawberries for breakfast please.”
With its order placed and having had its fun messing with my name, it saunters off into the living room and switches on the telly – which it knows how to do now, and selects its show – which it also knows how to do now. The volume control and thankfully You Tube, remain a mystery to it. Anyone out there that has had to endure “Baby Shark” even once, will relate to how I wish keep You Tube a mystery.
This weekend the toddler and I had fun. We played in the park for hours, mainly with sand and water, then I bought the toddler a sushi roll from her favourite sushi shop and we sat in the gardens and watched the ducklings and the odd people that hang out in that park while she ate it. It was a morning of oddness when I think about it – avoiding eye-contact with the weirdo with the transistor radio and erection was one thing – but when leaving the ‘water park’ we came across a couple of scallywags scoping cars in the parking lot. They were quite intent on one BMW until they saw my rough head looking at them as myself and the toddler walked out of the child-safe gate. Something about me or the toddler changed their behaviour. There was a bit of nose scratching and pants adjusting before one nodded at me and asked me “how’s it going?” Now this stumped me as it’s a question I’ve never been able to answer due to its meaninglessness. The meaninglessness then leads to frustration and I stared at the guy as I thought of some kind of answer other than “how’s what going?” The frustration must have been there on my face and he read it as ‘I’m about to kill you’ as he hurried on his way. The toddler grabbed my fingers “will you hold my hand da?”
“Of course mate.”
Taking the toddler’s hand, we walk up the street as I ponder the encounter.
Now, I have been told when people first meet me (then get comfortable enough with me to tell me) they think I don’t like them as I have a certain look that ranges between ‘you’re a tiny thing’ to ‘I’m going to tear your head off just cause I can.’ Of course I have no idea about any of this and always think I’m being friendly.
Anyhoo – about a quarter of the way through the sushi roll, the toddler has decided it is much too lazy or far too important to be feeding itself and hands me the roll, “you feed me da.”
So I did.
Ya see here though, my thought process was on keeping the thing fed and watered as I was not only in charge of it during the park adventures, I was in charge of it until Sunday! That’s right – the toddler and I had our first night away from the wife. Well, the wife had her first night away from us. She got in the car, dropped the clutch and I’m certain I saw her smile growing in the mirror the further away the car roared. I had the toddler for a full 24 hours. I had to ensure I also got it through the night.
So, there I am feeding the thing like some father bird would feed its baby bird, smiling at the ducklings and the mama duck eyeing us off suspiciously, the weirdo with the stiffy listening to his radio – when the toddler announces it’s time to go home.
“What!” says I. “The day has only just begun. We could go to the museum.”
“No. Home.”
Off it marched and I had a moment of wondering who might actually be in charge. Once I got myself in order with the backpack I must carry around when hanging out with the toddler filled with toddler needs, supplies, toys and demands (mainly nappies), I caught up with it and told it we were going shopping first. It wasn’t happy and said no. It sat down on a rock and got the hump and I told it I’d collect it on my way back and bid it a good day. I walked on nearly 2 very slow steps when the little voice “I chum” rattled across the street. The toddler doesn’t understand the art of the bluff or calling a bluff just yet, so this tactic gets me some wins. I don’t know about long term psychological damage I might be doing to the toddler however, but I am sure such things can be dealt with in future fights “you’re not wearing that out!”
“You don’t own me.”
“I’m your dad.”
“No you’re not, mama said so.” The art of the bluff I envision shall be instilled by the time this hypothetical fight happens.
Anyway, da won the argument and we went to Toscano’s to shop for lunch. I was happy with my purchases as was the toddler who came out with a carrot we didn’t need and a passion-fruit I didn’t want – but had to buy anyway. Excited about what I was going to make for lunch, we walked passed Dawson’s and the toddler headed in through the automatic doors announcing it was time to have a baby-chino. Baby-chino, soy baby-chino. I won’t order them on principal because they’re a wank. But da’s reaction to baby-chinos doesn’t stop the toddler from getting its grubby paws on one. It has a friend on the inside, a friend who gave it a cuddle and said “soy baby-chino and a prosciutto pizza,” to which the toddler replied “yes, thank you.”
My 2 year-old ordered our lunch. I placed my shopping on the seat beside me, now clearly the outsider in the toddler’s world. It had friends here. It was 11am and I thought oh bollocks to it, and I ordered a pint. Our drinks arrived at the same time and the toddler raised its soy baby-chino and I raised my pint and we said a collective ‘cheers.’ People judged me but I didn’t care, I was wet and somehow I had sand in my underpants.
The rest of the day was doing things the toddler wanted to do. Playing with the Duplo, the running, the hiding in plain sight, the talking to the rawwwrs that only it can see, the making of various foods and the watching of rubbish on You Tube. But I put the kibosh on the rubbish as it was without creative merit and it was driving me mad which is now a rule. No creative merit, then it has no place in our lives. I convinced the toddler to watch “BRAVE” as I want it watching positive female characters and not princesses that need a prince to rescue them. A girl with a bow, an attitude and the empathy to see the whole picture is the kind of picture I want it to watch. The toddler loved it. Maybe now it will trust me when I try to show it something positive instead of screaming in my face so hard it shakes my fillings loose.
The night went well. Apart from it wanting strawberries at 8 in the evening. So dutiful da bundles the toddler in the pram, consents to its wishes of going really fast ‘heart stay with me’ and shoot off to the shops to buy strawberries, blueberries and crackers for the feast we were to have on the couch. Da got in a fight with an idiot that went through a red light – but other than that minor fracas – the toddler and I made our purchases and rolled on home, the toddler falling asleep as we entered the street.
I picked it up along with the shopping and carried it up the stairs and into bed. It woke as I placed it in bed:
“I love you da.”
“I love you too, cabbage head.”
“And I love my mama and I love my cheeky bugger,” and with those words it was out like a light – only waking twice through the night to ask where mama was. The first time it was a little frantic but I managed to settle it and we cuddled through the night. It was then I realised the immense responsibility the wife has every minute of every day, especially at night looking out for this tiny human. But we got through and I’m a bit proud of the toddler and myself for being mature enough to be okay for a night without the glue that holds us together.
FUN FACT: Cheeky-bugger (Cheeks) is the nickname of the next installment in the Matier clan.

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 14

The Birds

I never really listened to my mother when I was young. Well, I mean, I heard the words she said but kind of figured she knew nothing about being young. Not listening to her advice mostly just resulted in heartache –

“I told you she was wrong for you.”

“Gawd! I know. Okay. Get off my case.”

“I told you she was too old for you…”

“Gawd! I know. Okay. Get off my case.”

“I told you she was nuts.”

“Gawd. I know. Okay. Get off my case.”

“What in the world where you thinking there.”

“Well…”

“Shut-up.”

But then again – happily ever after wasn’t my angle in my youth.

This weekend past, however – my mother told me, the wife and the toddler not to turn right out the garden gate.

“Don’t turn right out the garden gate.”

“Oh. Why?”

“Because there’s a swooping Magpie! He nearly got me. I bent over to tie up my shoe and he went right over me.”

“Good to know,” says I and promptly grab an umbrella with which to protect the wife and toddler from the rain and a potential Hitchcockian event.

Myself and the wife follow our marching toddler across the wet back-garden as it sings the Old McDonald farm song.

“Turn left out of the gate,” came the warning voice of my mother as she called from the back step.

“Gawd! I know!”

At the gate, the wife and toddler turned right.

What rebellion is this?

“Oi, you heard mum, swooping magpies be that-a-way.” Then I spot the golden gumboots on the toddler – “oh hell no.”

“It wants to jump in muddy puddles and the best puddles are across the bridge in the bush.”

“But that means we’re turning right and we’ve been warned not to do that. Bugger what it wants. Let’s go this way.”

“It wants muddy-puddles.”

“I want a bunch of stuff I don’t have. Like money. Do you remember that stuff?”

“Da. Muddy puddles. Da. Please. Jump in muddy puddles.”

“Toddler person – there are swooping magpies that will carry you away. They will eat you, like that Moose you were upset about in that doco your mum showed you.”

“Don’t tell her that.”

“Muddy puddles! Da, let’s find muddy puddles.”

Like the moron I am, I raise the umbrella and steer my family to the right out the garden gate. For me to hold an umbrella is a big deal as some of you will know. But there I am, dutiful da, holding a banner of protection over the toddler should any feather-pecker want to mess with it on its search for muddy puddles.

The muddy puddle search yielded bugger all. There were no muddy puddles in which the toddler could leap about in. But whilst on the subject of muddy puddle jumping – it is worth mentioning the concentration – nay! the dedication, focus and insight the toddler puts into jumping into a muddy puddle. I’ve seen Olympic athletes win with less preparation.

Puddle jumping should be a sport. There is the arrival to the puddle. The puddle is checked for depth, muddiness, puddleiness and I believe splashiness. Then the feet are brought together at the very edge of the puddle and the knees are thus bent, elbows should be brought back and tucked into the body. Then – there’s a moment that passes between toddler and the soon to be conquered muddy puddle, before the toddler launches itself a full inch-and-a-half into the air to land with a slight splosh and a massive grin. It’s a thing to behold and for some reason makes me stupidly happy. Then the whole ritual is repeated at each puddle. This can go on all day after a good bout of rain. All. Day.

So – without all of that going on, it was just a small family of three searching a scraggy bush path with nary a muddy puddle.

“Well, let’s go the market,” suggests I.

The wife and toddler were in agreement. We began to head back and then it happened! I got swooped and bitten by a frigging Magpie. I saw the hate writ large on his feathery face as he circled back to finish me off. I man-squealed as I grabbed at my missing ear and the wife lost her damn mind she was laughing so hard. The toddler – well the toddler just kept asking, “what happened mama, what happened?” as with all my manly strength I hustled the wife (carried the wife) and toddler across the little wooden bridge as I fumbled with the umbrella to get them safe and under cover. Graceful like a gazelle.

Once safe, I examined my poor throbbing ear. The wife couldn’t breathe as she was still laughing too hard. I kept touching my sore ear and making the ‘ouch’ sound – which made her laugh harder which in turn made the toddler laugh.

I tried to listen to my mother, I really did, but I got steered wrong.

“I told you to turn left.”

“Gawd! Okay. I know.”

INT. KITCHEN – MORNING

Da cracks eggs into a bowl. The toddler wanders in making an odd squeaking sound. It’s as though its hips need oiling as it climbs up on the stool I made for it. It rarely uses it as a stool anymore now that I made it a ladder. It climbs to the top of its ladder-stool and plops its bum on the kitchen bench to swing its legs over the side. Then it squeaks again.

“G’Day.” The toddler says as it munches on an unknown rubber teat that is the cause of the squeaking.

Da pauses in his egg cracking to extract the rubber teat from the toddlers head with a pop. “What is this?” I ask as I turn the thing in my fingers.

“G’day,” the toddler says again with a grin.”

“G’day. But you need to say g’day mate.”

“day mate.”

“It’s g’day mate.”

“day mate.”

“Close enough.”

The toddler looks into the bowl of eggs.

“No like yolks da.”

“I remember.”

I start to spread the butter on the toast and catch a glimpse of the toddler with its foot in its mouth. It’s gnawing like hell, like a dog with a bone. Its wild eyes meet mine across its foot and it appears to be tying to bite a toe off.

“What are you doing?” I get in for a closer look to see it gnawing on its toenails. “Would you like me to trim those for you?”

It answers with a grunt as it keeps on chewing.

“I can put a couple of clippings in the eggs if you want to keep chewing on them.

The toddler shakes its head and drops its foot. “No thanks da.”

“Where are you going?”

“Go watch Daniel Tiger.”

I physically shiver.

“Ciao,” it says as it leaves the kitchen.

Ciao?

Just when I think the toddler can’t outdo itself – it hands me its sippy-cup, pulls up its nappy and says “you look here now, da”.

Those of you who know me, know I have certain issues around the areas of umbrellas, things with tentacles and anything gross. So when the toddler goes searching in its head for something elusive, then pulls out a lump of what it thinks is gold, I have to fight to stop myself from spewing. However, when it pops the tasty morsel in its mouth and smiles – I lose my lunch. The wife actively encourages the toddler to hand me its boogers; knowing full well I’ll have a fit and flap my hands as I try to fly away from the incoming contaminated finger. This is something the wife finds great amusement in and of course now the toddler thinks it’s great sport and the game of, wipe a booger on da, was thus born. This is a game that is played at any time in any venue, be it in the living room when da is handed a perfectly shaped booger that has been kneaded, or simply has a surprise slimy one wiped onto his pants as he watches telly. I do not like to play this game and scarper anytime I see the toddler start a search within its head – as I now know, no matter how much hand flapping and neck tensing I do – I simply cannot fly.

Gross stuff aside – the toddler and I have been on a winning streak of late. It wakes up, then wakes us by announcing “it’s morning!” and that it wants a “nana” and to watch the “nana’s “. But, of late, it has been more considerate and tells its mother “you rest mama, da will make me breakfast.”

Da does make it breakfast. Even though there was another 30 minutes until da’s alarm was set to activate, he uses this time to bond with the toddler, grunt, try to read Twitter through blurred eyesight and ignore the banana detectives song on the TV.

Da delivers the toddler an egg white – uncooked toast (yes it’s a thing), a banana that has been peeled without any stringy bits left, cut perfectly in half and served on a plate with a fork and a freshly-filled sippy-cup of water.

The toddler surveys its breakfast and if it approves, gives a simple “thank you da.”

Lately, I have been invited to sit beside it as I have my own breakfast. We sit on the couch and either watch Banana’s in Pyjamas or just chat.

“What you having da?”

“Black coffee and two eggs.” A few moments roll by. “How’s your breakfast?”

“Good.”

“Excellent.”

“Da.”

“Yes darling.”

“Where’s mama?”

“In bed. It’s very early.”

The toddler accepts this.”

“Da?”

“Yes darling.”

“Peanut butter sandwich?” as it hands me its plate.

“Sure.”

I go and make its sandwich and consider having another coffee as it wanders in after me and climbs on its jungle-gym stool. It’s little arms grab me and it says “I really miss you da. You go work today?”

“I do go to work today.”

As the blond head hits my chest and it gives me a hug, I catch our reflection in the kitchen window. I ignore all but the awesome small human hugging me, putting all its weight into me.

“You play Duplo with me?”

It looks into my face and the things like responsibility and always being that guy are the first things to surface. But then there was another voice…

“Sure. Let’s play Duplo.”

So we did, and we made a house on a farm where the rabbit got to drive the tractor and the toilet was on the roof. I then went to work happy, with a dozen kisses I had to catch as I was making my way out the door and one final hug.

“Have a good day da,” said the toddler.

I had a bloody great day.

FUN FACT: Magpie bites hurt.

Adventures with the Toddler
Chapter 13
Censorship
(Warning – Contains no parenting advice.)

Well, the Peppa Pig obsession has returned as has the default setting of “no.” It loves to watch Peppa on my phone and not on the telly. Peppa on the phone, Daniel Tiger on the telly. This makes things hard for me as my phone is my lifeline, I’m never without it and I have control issues if someone else possess it. The other thing is, the Toddler hates advertising – hates it with a passion. Hates it so much in fact that she has taken to flinging my phone away in disgust while yelling “ad!” This isn’t new, but now that da has the latest and greatest i-phone – he sees $$$ in the thousands flash past as his phone hurtles toward a wall. I was never much of a goalkeeper in my limited soccer career, but I would outplay Schmeichel in his heyday at Man United when diving to rescue my phone. I am graceful like a gazelle and beautiful to behold – until my ass falls out of my pants when I bend over.
Da however, is still treated as though he’s a butler –
“Da, cracky egg,” as I rise from slumber to find it tweaking my eyes.
Dutiful da goes and prepares cracky eggs and the toddler climbs up and watches on, giving advice.
“No yolk da. I don’t like the yolk.”
“I know. I remember. This is the eleventh billionth egg I’ve made for you.” I look down to the toddler standing on its stool helping me, to see it’s wrapped one of it dolls in ham.
“Why is the doll wrapped in ham?”
It shrugs and points out that the water is boiling – “Cracky eggs.”

I make the eggs.

Sometime later that morning —

“Da. Away,” it says as it offers me its plate.
Even the wife has taken advantage of butler da and hands me things as I move past to put in the dishwasher or a drink to prepare.
I came home from work last week and it took me a full hour before I could sit down I was running that many errands for the females lolling about on the couch. Great quote I once heard from a friend, “the man may be the head of the marriage, but the woman is the neck and the neck will turn the head where it wants it to look.” I have no illusions about who is really in charge at our place. The Toddler, then the wife. Da just gets to live there.

I built the toddler an add-on to its Ikea stool a couple of weeks ago. The add-on I made is a frame to keep the toddler from tumbling off. It had never tumbled off in the all the months it had the stool, but I finally got around to making the add-on. It’s safe as houses and I’m very proud of it. Heavy screws ensure it’ll never snap or bend and the wife gave it a cool paint job. It looks great and added a couple of feet to the whole structure. I thought it really set off of the kitchen and want to add some pockets to it, so the toddler can keep its dolls and animal toys on hand. Basically, it’s a toddler cage on top of a kitchen stool. I enjoyed making it as I got to use my new power-tools. Power-tools the wife gave me the side-eye for buying as I tried to justify the expense.

I have unwittingly made the toddler a ladder. I walked into the kitchen yesterday to find the toddler had moved the structure to the fridge and was standing right at the very top of it.

Our eyes met as I stood aghast in the doorway. The toddler knew da did not approve and its eyes shifted slightly.
“Wha…”
“Need this,” says the toddler as it grabs at a glass jar filled with vitamins sitting on top of the fridge.
The music from Chariots of Fire appeared out of thin air as Da’s got a toehold between a couple of tiles and launched himself – full sprint across the kitchen. Like the best linebacker in history, I threw an arm around 12 kilos of reaching toddler and pulled it off the top of its makeshift ladder as it made a valiant grab for the goodies on top of the fridge.
“Nooooooooooo!” it hissed.
“What do you think you were doing?” Did I really just ask that dopey question? Holy shit, I just became my parents – asking obvious questions to the obvious situation. ‘Of course it’s a cigarette – duh.’ Damn it.
“I need it,” protests the toddler, swiping a hand at the jar.
“You don’t need it. It’s very dangerous to climb high like that,” says I. Then the toddler bucks and squirms in an attempt to escape my clutches. I place it on the tiles and it runs off and I realise I’ve made the toddler a jungle-gym in the kitchen. But I cannot destroy my creation. Not now. Not when the toddler has said, “thank you da. I love it.”

Love. That most elusive beast of truth.

The toddler now “loves” a show called “Daniel Tiger”. Now I know, it seems we allow it to watch a lot of television, but this isn’t true. It has some television time at night before a documentary is put on. I don’t like her latest show but I’m not their target audience. Daniel Tiger’s dad is a sweater-wearing type that always has that one answer for any conflict. Conflict that is sorted out via song, ever so calmly and very annoyingly. The guy never gets rattled and this makes my teeth itch.
His idiot son, Daniel, invites anyone into their house as their “neighbor.” ‘Come in neighbor.’ Yeah, I get it, it’s a cartoon – ‘stop being so literal man. It’s just a kid’s show. Sheesh.’

Yes, I understand that it’s a kid’s show meant to teach conformity; but solving problems through song only ever worked for the von Trapp family, and the father figure in that one started off as dubious and they got chased over a mountain.

Daniel Tiger episodes seem to focus on emotions. So, the miniture person gets emotional on emotions it doesn’t yet understand. The unfortunate thing for me in this world of Daniel Tiger, is the toddler emulates these daft emotions without understanding them. So, Da (and Mama) mainly Mama, try to explain them to the toddler who doesn’t care and just wants to feign sad, mad, bad or whatever idiotic trope got put to song. Okay – it’s all Mama, Da has bugger all to do with explaining anything – he just walks into the living room after being at work all day and asks the pertinent question – “what’s this shit?” But Da has to deal with this nonsense when the wife is out hustling pool, (or attending acting classes) – or whatever it is she says she’s doing.

Ban it then? If you don’t like, you can ban it. You don’t have to let the child watch it. You’re its parent. Forbid it to watch the tiger man. Forbid it then. FORBID IT!

“Hang on there, Tiger. I’m not a card-carrying member of the LNP. I believe in the good things like freedom and democracy.” Those wonderful things we once had before – well now. Like when the ABC was independent, and a potato wasn’t calling for spyware to be implanted in the device of every citizen – you know, the good ol days before the frightened took power.

Now I admit that wanting to punch animated characters is daft and implausible, but it doesn’t stop the desire. There was only one time before I felt it justified and that was when Bart got that stupid racehorse that made everyone question how things got to be so bad. After that episode aired, all of us lost something – mainly innocence – it changed a generation. What I want to know is, was Daniel Tiger raised alone in a room without mirrors, living within his own head with a toenail clipping for a friend? Wondering what his hands, feet and penis were; before finally being punted into his happy-clappy family within “the neighbourhood.” How does he know so little at his age? Surely, he’s carved his name into the school desk by now or stolen a peek at his old man’s adult ‘Tiger mags.’

How is it that he’s such a blank canvass? ‘It’s just a kid’s show man. Ban it if you don’t like it. BAN IT!’

If it was me as a child that dirtied the towels like Daniel did, there would be no breaking into song for me to think about what I’d done to understand my mistake and how I affected those around me. No. I would have coped a pants down, red handed, cheek quivering spanking with a word placed between each strike to emphasize the sin. I would learn and call out, “give me back my bottom!” before running away from home for about half-an-hour.

There’s a lot of advice out there and I get a bit of advice – but that isn’t what this blog is about. This isn’t parenting advice for anyone. My advice if you have a kid or are just about to – is strap yourself in as you are no longer in control of your world. You will watch its edges crumble with each passing week. Sometimes you’ll regret that orgasm, sometimes you’ll wish it happened sooner. You can either try to grasp the unraveling threads of freedom, or turn and embrace the full-throttle of the unknown as you hurtle headlong into the blackhole of parenthood you shall never escape from. But having said that, the unknown is fun. Never look back.

Keep them warm, keep them safe and keep them fed – just learn how to laugh along with them and climb on walls again. They are ball-bouncingly funny and they’re all your problem. I don’t write these adventures as parenting advice. I’m just on a ride, being pulled along by the will of a 2 year-old who sees dinosaurs and fairy’s and is part of the Universe experiencing itself. I think it’s an awesome thing to be a part of.

I have learned the best way to deal with something the toddler likes and I detest, is to simply offer the toddler choices. Like the devil would if you’ve ever read that book. That guy had some good ideas. For example, if the toddler began to enjoy Justin Bieber, I would like to offer a more appropriate alternative in music like Motorhead, Pink or Black Sabbath. Better content aside, it’s all about the choices. It’s how I’ve stopped it doing stupid things for the last year and a bit – make it think by giving it choices or to distract it long enough to remove something dangerous. Choice, you see, is the winner here. Like the choice our government have been giving us for the past few decades – do we vote for democracy or do we vote for Murdoch? Choices make the world go round, (and bullshit, don’t ever forget the bullshit.)

Fun fact: It can’t keep a secret.

Adventures with the Toddler

Chapter 12

(It’s learning)

Skynet became self-aware a lot later than the toddler did. Just putting that out there as they both have the same destructive force when suitably annoyed.

The amount of words it now has in its vocabulary and can construct into a sentence has left me impressed. The swearing was funny when it was innocent, but now the thing is a bloody parrot and will repeat anything, and I mean anything. So divulging secrets to the toddler, even unwillingly, is a no-no as it’s a great way of getting found-out.

The toddlers rapid grasp of language and its ability to now tell a story makes me very proud. I was regaled just the other night about how it came to have a bump on its head. It didn’t simply walk into a wall, there were at least dozen events leading up to the incident where the bump occurred, and I heard them all. I can also have conversations with it now and it’s honest when quizzed – “did nannytier let you have that elastic or did you swipe it?”

“I swiped it.”

“Why?”

“Need it.”

“For what?”

Silence.

“What do you need it for?”

“Need it.”

“For what?”

Silence – “da! Watch Daniel Tiger.”

Swiping stuff is a real skill the toddler has. It has got things past me and shop keepers without any of us noticing until I see it playing with the new item. It’s little things like a chili from the supermarket or an elastic-stretchy-exercise thing from my mother; so, nothing major like cash rolls just yet, but such things can be taught. It did try to get away with a vase once, but due to the fact the vase was bigger than the toddler, it was nabbed fairly quickly.

What really gets me in the old heart strings about the toddler is the empathy it has for all living things. I don’t know where this comes from, so it fascinates me. The wife has taught her to respect nature and not to hurt plants and to be careful with animals, but her connection with living things goes deeper than this. We went down to our local last weekend and the plants in the beer garden were dying. They were all withered and dry and the toddler noticed this, and it upset her. It looked at the issue and poured some of her water into one plant, so it could have a drink and then checked with it, asking if it was happier. She then asked for her cup to be filled and proceeded to give the rest of the plants a little drink. I was beaming like an idiot as I watched the toddler tend to the plants, asking them if they were feeling better and shaking its little head in sadness at the state of one plant. She’ll never get to be a member of the LNP with that kind of attitude.

Empathy for plants is one thing but her love of the moon is quite another. It got really upset with me when I told it we couldn’t bring the moon inside. It was worried the moon was cold and that bringing it inside would be the right course of action as it stood in my lap staring out the window at the moon – sad as can be.

“It’s cold da.”

“It’s bloody freezing,” replies I.

“Please da? Bring moon inside.”

“If I could, I would, but I can’t. It is very far away and very big.” The little face begins to quiver and da thinks oh shit, “the moon is warm though. The sun is shining on it.” It seems to think about this and da scrambles for more, “that’s why we can see it! It’s reflecting sunlight.”

This seemed to work – for a bit.

“Moon is sad da.”

Then it started to rain, and she started singing a song about the rain going pitter-patter.

Speaking of singing, we were at the park yesterday and it was just the two of us. Donkey and da day as it’s called. Me being da. I was looking forward to today all week. With the toddler on the swing it kept asking to go higher and higher. I pushed that kid for a full hour and a half and it sang the whole time. All the songs it knows came rattling out of the tiny head much to the merriment of the others in the park. It was a hit. We also had to hide from a big blue rawr that kept coming to annoy us. But we had to hide in the cubby house which is built for toddlers. So da squeezing nearly six and a half feet and well over a hundred kilo of pure man into the small cubby house – was crushing and embarrasing. I sat there folded in half, waiting for this creature of the imagiation to get bored with us and bugger off so I could unfold myself and put my spine back into place. Crushed into that tiny space I now know what it must feel litle like to be packed into Tony Abbotts budgy smugglers.

The toddler is very confident (also very demanding). It has a real independent streak that I don’t want to crush, but at the same time it needs to know the world has rules. Yesterday it decided it would walk down the stairs of the apartment by itself and not hold da’s hand. Of course, this filled me with the terrors as I projected every scenario of what could go wrong.

“Well, you need to hold onto something.”

“I hold onto this,” it says as it grips the thin metal rods of the stair rails.

Da puts out a hand to catch the toddler should it tumble down the stairs but is promptly slapped away. “Away da. I do it.”

My mouth was dry by the time we got to the ground floor and headed off to the park

We spent the entire day together swinging, going down the slide, playing in the sandpit and taking selfies. It threw its arms around me and pressed its head against my chest and said, “I missed you da.”

“I missed you too.”

The toddler can get the hump with da if he isn’t around and as it happens, sometimes da has to work overnight on a shoot and there was a week where that was what he was doing. By the third day of da sleeping well past 7 in the morning (an hour in bed by this stage) the toddler was firmly pissed off. I got up for a Jimmy Riddle and met the toddler in the hall who cracked the shits and ordered me back to bed.

“To bed! To bed!”

The toddler was that furious with me that I wasn’t up and playing with it that it was sending me back to bed. So, the next day when I arrived home to the sunshine, I walked in and the toddler was awake. I took it, peeled it a banana and we watched Banana’s in Pajamas together on the couch. Within 15 minutes I was drooling on its head as I’d fallen asleep. I woke up and the toddler was still seated beside me, eating the banana with a fork which is its thing. I wiped the drool off its head.

“Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay da.”

It looks up at me and grins, then rests its head on me – “I love you da.”

“I love you too Donkey.”

“Miss you da.”

“I’ve missed you too Donkey.”

We sat like that for a good while and all the promises I made her when she was a just a few days old as we sat on the same couch came flooding back to me. She was asleep and tiny as I held her through the night to my chest whispering to her as we worked our way through Father Ted. Two years had already flicked past.

The wife got up and I went to bed, filled with joy and pride for this little human. What a sensitive little soul I thought as I fell asleep.

I woke to mayhem an hour later. The toddler was flatly refusing to put a nappy on, or any clothes. It had made the choice that today it would be naked only. I tried to help, believing the connection we had shared earlier whilst watching Bananas in Pajamas was still there and da had this. But I didn’t have it. If the wife can’t control it, my chances of gaining respect is slim to none at best.

The toddler screeched at me like the Alien and ran off in a flurry of “noooooooooo.”

I looked at the wife and I took the easy road. “I have to work.”

I slowly closed the bedroom door under the gaze of the wife and toddler and crawled back into bed, to listen to the ensuing mayhem outside the door, and I laughed.

Adventures with the Toddler
Chapter 11
Toddlers; who’d ‘ave ‘em

Da is out of favour at the moment for a reason he does not know. Anything he attempts to do for the toddler is shunned and the call of “no! Mama do it!” rings through the town.
“Help me with your peely egg.”
“No! Mama do it!”
“Let’s get your pants on.”
“No! Mama do it.”
“Strap you into the car seat here,” as I’m kicked in the eyeball.
“No! Mama do it!”
“Let’s get you out of the seat.”
“No! Mama do it!”
Up until last week she would help me make breakfast. It was one of our things.
“Want to crack that egg?”
“No! Need mama.”
“Mama’s in the shower. We’re making breakfast.” More howling.
“Need mama.”
“She’s only 10 feet away.”
“Need mama.”
“Give the poor woman 5 minutes to herself.”
“Need mama.”
The call for the last week.

Weekends are gold for me as I get time with the toddler, but lately she forbids me from doing things.
Example. I place it in the shopping trolley and give it its free Woollies banana as the wife takes full advantage of her freedom and vanishes among the shelves. After delivering the fruit to the toddler, I become obsolete and deemed unworthy to even push the shopping trolley. If I touch the trolley I am shouted at with the cry of “no! Mama do it!”
There have been occasions lately where the wife has found the toddler and I in the same place she deserted us, as da had his hands slapped away anytime he touched the shopping trolley.
.
The toddler and I also had our first real disagreement today as the toddler went back to its default setting of ‘no.’ The ‘no’ thing isn’t amusing any longer. What is amusing however, is how it talks in its sleep. The wife and I have stared at it as it converses with whatever creature is prancing about on its forehead.
On Friday morning, I was quietly getting my socks out of the drawer in the dark. It’s one of those moments where one is trying to be quiet as can be so as to not wake the ‘womens’ of the house. So, there I am, knees and back creaking. And as I pluck a pair of socks from the drawer – the toddler sits bolt upright, opens its eyes and looks about in the darkness, before its gaze settles on its naked da, half squatting with socks clasped between thumb and forefinger as he stands frozen, breath held, knees groaning and balls gently swinging. We lock eyes and it stares at me for a full 3 seconds before saying, “fuck it” and going back to sleep.

It has an imaginary friend called Henry. Henry is a tiny ‘rawar’ – as in dinosaur, that lives under the grass blades. Henry is friendly. There is also a spider that appears in random places who is also friendly. The friendly spider thing makes da the killjoy by explaining to the toddler that she’s Australian and Aussie spiders on the whole aren’t friendly. There is also a massive blue rawar with blue spots we need to hide from. But big rawars are afraid of da, which makes me feel like a king as I lift the toddler into my arms to protect her from the thunderous blue monster menace by throwing it my best blue steel look.
Now – let’s be honest. I have tripped-balls in my time. I once thought I was a cartoon character with swivel-hips like a lego person that survived by plucking butterflies out of the air as I lay on a grassy hillside beneath a green cloud that gave me water. That was cool – I could have stayed there – but I would love to hang out with a tiny dino that lives below the grass. Although – there was this one time I…

On a more serious note. We had the toddler into the Children’s hospital last week with suspected measles. How that could be a thing floored us as all her shots are up to date. We believe in science and herd immunity. The Children’s hospital are amazing and there were kids there much sicker than the toddler. But she got a government tacking number due to them thinking it could be measles. They took swabs and let us out of the isolation room to go isolate the toddler at our home. No one could figure out what this illness was. I found myself wondering if the tracking number would flag the toddlers Dutch passport and have her file slapped on Dutton’s desk. Anyway, turns it was a viral infection of some description no one could identify and not measles. But getting panadol into this kid is like putting boxing gloves on a cat. But we’ve covered this before.

Now back to our disagreement. The toddler threw cornflakes on the floor tonight. I asked her to pick them up and she refused. She then asked for “Bananas in Pyjamas” to be played and da refused.
“Pick up the cornflakes and you can watch nanas.”
“No.
“Then no nanas.” Discipline right? I got this.
“Nanas.”
“Pick up your mess.”
“No.”
“Then no nanas.”
This went on for an hour and it still has no resolution. But I find myself admiring her determination not to back down while being slightly pissed that I suck with discipline.

She’s gone to bed without seeing her nightly “Bananas in Pyjamas” and the cornflakes are still on the floor. I want to leave them there until she accepts she needs to clean up her mess.
I could be waiting a long time.

She also wouldn’t give me my cuddle or kiss goodnight. That one broke my heart. I live for those cuddles. But it’s obviously all a part of growing up and going through things. Perhaps she still feels like hell getting over her illness and just wants her mum. I get it. Some days i feel like hell and only want Jack Daniels. It’s another wave on the ocean of toddler-hood.

A great movie quote has been rattling about in my brain. “No one can eat fifty eggs.” I have held this to be true, until I met the toddler. But that is for the next installment.

FUN FACT: She loves animals and really wants a guinea pig. She asked me for a guinea pig. Which means I have to get 2 so it has a friend.

I’m buying guinea pigs aren’t I?

Adventures with the Toddler
Chapter 10

There’s a new thing the toddler has adopted.
I don’t understand it.
I don’t agree with it.
“I just don’t like it” to quote Pauline.
That new thing is the toddler wants to walk around with a swishing brown tail in its nappy.
“Say what?”
“True story”.
It’s hanging onto it’s turds as if they were gold. The fight I had with this creature on the weekend to get a steaming nappy off it’s body and it’s toddler cheeks into something clean, was an eye-watering test to parental patience. For a full 15 minutes we were both saying “no”. The toddler of course started the ensuing madness, and me being the delightfully daft prick that I am, decided to go along on the journey. It kicked me in the chin as I tried to wrest the swinging mass from its nethers, whilst it screamed with all it had.
I managed to calm the toddler down after a bit and the game of “no” thus began. She said “no”.
Then I said, “no”.
She said “no” with a pout.
I said “no” with a frown.
She said “no” with a side-eye.
I said “no” with a foot stomp.
She said “no” with a grin.
I said “no” with a turn.
She said “no” with a smile.
I said “no” while folding my arms.
She said “no” was a kind of question.
I said “no” with a flourish.
– and on it went and on it went with all the many ways to say “no”. The game became fun. Which was my angle. Get the beast on my side. Use misdirection to get my goal. Confuse it and ultimately defeat it. Hahahaha.
Thinking I had regained the trust of the toddler, I tried the nappy change again to be met with a scream combined with a fart that sounded like a rusty screen door opening.
My powers of negotiation are pretty good at times. Usually the idea of getting a couple of bucks out of a guy I find totally pedestrian, but on high-ticket items, I usually get a guy down to the price he was willing to let the thing go for….
Toddler negotiation however is filled with traps and I fell right into one. I had gained its trust through a shared game and now, to the toddler, I had betrayed it. We were playing fine and now I wanted to burgle it’s turd. I could read it’s eyes, “you bastard. You total bastard.”
“Darling, we need to change your caboose”.
“Nooooooooooooooooooo!”
“Jesus save me.”
“Nooooooooooooooooooo!”
“You can’t keep a swinging turd in your nappy.”
“Yes!”
Then it tried to escape off the change table. I grabbed it as it squirmed and kicked and howled at it’s God to destroy me.
Lucky for me, it’s God ignored it.

The wailing went on for some time, as did the swinging nappy. My humour had left a little while before and my patience was tapping its watch. I found myself wondering what kind of weight was hanging in that nappy for it to swing so. Usually the only thought I give to a nappy is to get thing off fast and have it destroyed.
I finally won and got the nappy off it. Yet, winning wasn’t my first thought when I looked at the horror within.
“Holy Jesus! Did you get into my Guinness?”
What lay before me was destined for hell.
It took a dozen wipes to get rid of that one and a dozen beers to erase it from memory.

We have all taken to watching a thing called slow tv. When I say “we” I of course mean myself and the wife. The toddler hates it. The toddler thinks it’s for old wankers. The toddler is correct.
Slow tv is basically someone mounting a camera to the mundane so the rest of us can stare at that mundane in a kind of odd club of the mundane. It can be a really long train ride, or a river cruise or a merry fire burning in a hearth, or some knob trying to catch a fish for 8 hours – you know, basic stuff that is so ball-numbingly boring that you go back to searching for midget porn or watching lawn bowls or darts.

However! We liked one particular fire called Birchwood and turned the 65 inch super ultra high def, (usually locked to kids shows), telly and turned it into a virtual open fire. It’s a pretty cool thing to watch on a cold night if one is depressed, hung over, married or looking for a virtual open fire they can play on their telly. All it really needs is the virtual bearskin rug and it would be fully twee.
George Ford is the filmmaker and must be laughing his balls off as he goes to the ATM. “I can’t believe Netflix paid me for this. I can call myself a filmmaker now!”
George, and I love George’s movies, has set-up a camera in front of some logs within a hearth and hit the record button as the logs burn. I imagine he enjoys a snifter of sherry as he giggles to himself and signs the talent contract. There’s a slow fade at the end after 1 hour. That’s all we get. 1 hour. Shot on a DSLR and edited in iMovie. ‘Edited’ – as in a title placed at the front and a slow fade out at the end. We’re fans of George. He saw a market and he won. So much so we tried his other 2 fires that Netflix has released. Not as good as the original I must say. Logs weren’t set up as well, fire didn’t take hold on the front logs, cheap consumer lens was set to autofocus and kept dropping out with the light changes (damn L series lenses), daft music in one episode that I guessed was meant for Christmas. In fairness to the filmmaker, I believe those might have been his earlier work as he was reaching for the ultimate one-shot, one take, fire in a hearth opus. But George has 5 IMDB credits as a filmmaker. He’s released more commercial content than me and I respect him for that. Setting up his DSLR and making a fire for us all to watch is awesome. Selling it to Netflix for the world to watch is pure genius.

Fun fact: The toddler freaking loves miniature railways. We took it to a miniature railway on Sunday and it lit up like a billion Christmas lights. So much so, I got my ass in that tiny train so I could be among the wonder that kid was going through. I wish I could see the world through her eyes.

It also loves waking on walls. I’d still walk on walls if the terror of flashing my hairy ass to the world didn’t keep me in my place.

Adventures With the Toddler
Chapter 9
A most momentous day

It’s a red letter day folks! The toddler can say it’s own name now. The wife called me on the car phone, and I heard the toddler say its name. After months of fun asking “who’s Donkey?” and getting much merriment as it pointed to itself; it can now say it’s name properly. There has been much cheering in the apartment tonight.

It also has a gnarly skill of being able to spot a dog hair from 20 paces and remove it from carpet, vinyl, my bald head, things that resemble fur and seemingly – thin air. I’m very impressed with her dexterity as I have never been the most dexterous fella. I couldn’t walk in a straight line until I was 23 and I didn’t grow up until Wednesday of last week.

Despite all the cool stuff it does. There is still the annoying and downright weird.

Three nights ago I woke up to the toddler tweaking the tip of my ear. I don’t know why this was happening, but I remember climbing my way out of a nice dream believing there was a spider munching on me. Gasping awake, I realise it’s the toddler lying beside me tweaking my ear.
“Oi! Stop.”
It stops for a second. Then starts again, tweaking betwixt thumb and forefinger – as I’d seen a dog judge do many years before when checking the testicles of my show dog when I was a child. To this day it still makes me cringe – as does the word ‘entire’ when used in relation to the rattlers.
“The dog was entire.” Meaning – the dog had both his balls. He was ‘entire’. He was the mutts nuts, the terriers testicles. You get the point.

You now know far too much about me that I was once upon a time on the show dog scene.

Once I’d told the toddler to “knock it off”, she huffed and went back to sleep – for a bit. The next thing I know, I’m wakened by a small foot pushing its way between my ass cheeks.
“What fresh hell is this” cries I, as I throw my hips forward to avoid the invading foot. Another few millimeters and there would have been a big toe against the halo.
“Do you do this on purpose?” I enquire.
The toddler rolls over and tweaks the wife’s nipples only to have the kibosh put on that. Ya see. We are going through the weaning.
The toddler had pretty much weaned herself before we went overseas. But the travel and unknown sent the little beast back to the comfort of what she knew, and that was right back to the boob.
If anyone reading this ever wants weaning advice. Do it before the thing can speak properly. Listening to a tiny human cry and saying “please, please; I need it,” like some milk junkie – well, it breaks the hardest of hearts.
Anyways. The toddler finally goes back to sleep and so do I – kind of. It’s only 47 minutes until my alarm will go off. Even though I set an alarm, it very rarely goes off as I wake at least three hours before it’s meant to ring. What then follows is entering a sleep of paranoia. Knowing I have to get up soon, but wanting a little more sleep, sees me in a state of misery and feeling harassed by my own brain.
So, is this state of harassment – I enter the paranoid sleep – for what I feel is about four minutes – until I get the ear tweak and a big toe in my date.
“Christ on a hover board!” I cry. Will you please knock it off?
“Duplo “
“What?”
“Play with my duplo.”
“It’s 3am you nut. Go back to sleep.”
I roll over and shut my eyes.
“Duplo”
“No”
“Duplo”
“No”
“Duplo”
“NO!”
“Duplo”
“Christ.”
“Duplo”
“Sleep.”
Silence. Then the ear tweak.
“Oh sweet Jesus why? Why the ear?”
“Da. Duplo.”
“Da needs sleep. Da has to get up for work soon.
“Poor da.”
“Yes, poor da. But it must be done. So sleep.”
Silence.
“Duplo.”
Fuck me gently.
“Burglars stole the Duplo. We were burglarised.”
Then the alarm goes off and I groan.
I lie there for a moment then notice the toddler is asleep. The wife is asleep.
For a moment I consider allowing the alarm to continue for a bit, but alas I’m not a bastard. I was awake, harassed and not well rested.
I rose, showered, dressed, looked in the mirror and regretted doing that; made my coffee and looked out the window at the dark morning.

Then the call came.
“Da! Da!”
I scramble to the bedroom and there’s the toddler with arms outstretched.
“Tuddle Da. And a tiss “
I got my cuddle and a kiss and went out the door feeling like a million bucks.
I threw the tool bag in the truck, pulled the beanie down and drove into the dark morning off to pick-up my team make. Another bloke that is soon to enter the world of fatherhood for the first time. He asks me questions and I tell him stories – and boy, do I have stories.

Fun Fact: Tonight, she asked to watch a documentary and not Peppa Pig.

Adventures with the Toddler
Picture Edition

Today the toddler decided she was coming to work with me. So she got a bag and packed an old pair of shoes, gum boots and a toy lobster. She put them beside my tool bag and lunchbox, convinced she would be heading out to work. It broke my heart having to tell her I couldn’t take her and it broke hers that she couldn’t come.

I assume the lobster was lunch.

Toddler bag

Adventures With the Toddler

CHAPTER 8

Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow the toddler turns 2. It has gone like a flash – as though the great animator plucked out my cell to project me onto this timeline within a second of her birth. Two years with this little person who has given me so much laughter, tears, heart-stopping terrors and questioning expressions, have been the most fulfilled of my life. Sure, if it was just the wife and I, we’d have cash, but then we wouldn’t be able to play that game “hey, remember when we could afford to eat at that place?”.

Seeing her born was the most powerful and beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. I’m not going to lie to you, my role in making a human I am more than fine with, I like the work; but being able to make another person must be pretty awesome and mothers are Gods.

When the toddler was born, the midwife lay the squishy alien on the wife’s chest – she opened her eyes briefly for the first time and looked right at me. I was the first thing she saw in this world. It would’ve been the equivalent of looking at me through a greasy wine glass – but I lost my heart to her for all time. From that moment on, I had my best mate. I cut the cord and she has the perfect belly-button because of me. I gave her that. Yes I did.

The toddler and I have started a tradition of late. The wife goes and stands on her head or something of a Saturday morning, so the toddler and I go shopping. The purpose is usually to get croissants, but the toddler insists on buying carrots. She won’t eat carrots, but she buys them. She’ll saunter over and take one despite me protesting, “not another bloody carrot. I don’t need a carrot.” Sometimes she’ll grab two, nibble the ends and voila! Da now owns two carrots he didn’t want. Potatoes and chilies are another favourite the toddler grabs and refuses to let go of. The chilies were the first thing she did this with and she did it because ,she knew I loved chilies. So. she’d go grab chilies and when confronted she’d say, “for da”. I mean come on, what a champion.
There was an occasion there were 3 beans I placed on the counter at Toscano’s. I answered the quizzical look by putting the blame firmly on my toddler, “she wanted them” I said as I nodded at the anxious child that was waiting to get its beans back. They gave me the beans no charge. I handed them to the toddler who looked as though she’d been handed the entire world. She also enjoys riding in the supermarket trolley these days, kicking back and eating a banana, “da, na-na.” It doesn’t matter if I’m there to buy two apples or spend a thousand bucks, she wants her trolley ride – which leads me into one particular story.
We were at the supermarket and I just needed 2 items and forged ahead with toddler in tow – shuffling along beside me singing her version of the Wheels on the Bus. I enter the supermarket.
The toddler doesn’t.
I notice the singing has ceased and the toddler is outside the automatic doors pointing at a trolley.
“I need two things.”
“Trolley.”
“We’ll be fifteen seconds.”
It stomps its feet. “Da. Trolley!”
“Jesus help me.”
With the toddler now planted in a trolley and munching a na-na – I head into the supermarket to get my 2 items. Then of course the weird mash of chemical interactions that control this toddler thing, mix in a different order and change its operating system.
It decides the banana is shit and that it’s better off walking.
“Da. Down.”
“You only just got in – you know what, bollocks to it.”
I set the thing down and it proceeds to grab things I don’t want and throw them in the trolley. My fifteen second shop turns into 25 minutes of negotiation and ultimately giving up and taking stuff out of the trolley (I’m not smart enough to abandon) when the toddler is distracted by another object or a human that thinks it’s cute.
Then comes the ultimate insult. I arrive to pay with the toddler, the shopping trolley I didn’t want and the two items I came for.
The serving guy looked at me the same way I would look at someone with 2 items in a trolley. I could see the inner-dialogue flash across his brain in a second – ‘that’s a very big guy, looks strong enough to carry that onion and jar of pasta sauce’.
I judged myself through his eyes and felt I needed to defend myself as my internal critic called me a wanker.
“My daughter like to ride in the trolley,” I volunteer.
He nods – ‘sure, sure you lazy bastard. I bet you’re going to want a plastic bag for these too.’
⁃ Fuck me gently, I didn’t bring a bag. He’s going to think I’m an even bigger asshole now.
⁃ The toddler is watching the exchange like there’s going to be something bigger happening than what is occurring before her. Like Mick Foley and The Undertaker are going to have a rematch in the Kew Woolies, kind of cool.
“Cheers mate.”
“‘ave a good night.”
I wheel the trolley into the cold night and feel my scrotum retract, more from an odd shame than the cold wind. I take my onion and pasta sauce and look at the toddler who is gazing up at me, blinking in sweetness, a smudge of na-na stuck to a cheek.
“Thank you da.”
I smile, and we walk home together, and I recite to her some Hamlet. She responds with “wow, wow, wow.” Whether she understood any of it – I have no idea, but she was responding as though she was impressed. But I know there’s a lot rattling around in that mind of hers. Her mother has played her classical music since was in the womb and I covered the rock and roll.
Reciting plays and poetry to her is something I have done since she was tiny. I would wear her in a carrier and we would head-off to the shops when the wife was back at the gym or standing on her head. She’s probably heard most of Hamlet, King Lear, a lot of Macbeth, a few sonnets and plenty of Yeats, Keats and Banjo Patterson and a thousand other plays. Oscar Wilde is another favourite to recite to her.

So, each Saturday morning, the toddler and I go through the ritual of nappy-changing, getting dressed, avoiding Peppa Pig and head into the world. Only over the last couple of weeks, the toddler insists it is far too important to walk and must be carried everywhere like some Princess.
“Da Up!”
“No. Walk.”
“Up.”
“But you love walking. We sold your pram because you thought all other forms of transport were for wankers.” She sniggers at that one.
“Up Da. I need up.”
So, da picks the child up and carries it, all the way to the shops and back again. Carries the toddler and the shopping. Then today, I made it walk up the stairs to the apartment and oh boy did it put on the struggles. It’s huffing and puffing and climbing the stairs on all fours. Has a look back to me to see if I’m going to offer to carry it.
“On you go. You’re doing well.”
It sighs and huffs. Reaches a hand to the next step as though it’s carrying a brick.
“Adz, knock it off. You climbed all the way to the top of Rockamadour without missing a beat because you wanted independence – so three flights of stairs in an old apartment block in Kew, doesn’t register.”
It seemed to understand.

Another thing the toddler and I (well mostly me), has introduced, is collecting little toys. She likes cute things and has taken to dolls and that’s fine as she also loves cars, garbage trucks and bulldozers. I’m onboard for whatever it is she’s into as she finds her way. So, I buy her a new little present each time we go out on our adventures to the shops on the weekend. These have been all manner of different things. As my time with her is so limited, I like to be a part of something that she likes, and at the moment she has taken to these little dolls. They have a chart with the common ones, the rare ones, the ultra-rare ones and the limited edition. The wife might be correct in that I’m more excited than Adz when we pull a rare from the pack and you know what – last weekend we got the limited edition and today we got an ultra-rare. The toddler and I fist-bumped over that one.

The wife and I swear a bit. Not to be uncouth, but sometimes one needs to get a point across. The toddler is smart enough to know when and how to use swear words and I don’t care if you believe me or not. She knows when and how to use please and thank you. She knows when and how to say sorry (or pardonne as she still says in her cute French). So, when she points out the car window and yells “da! Knob-end!” at some wanker swerving into our lane, she doesn’t get reprimanded because she’s right. That guy was a knob-end and should be publicly spanked. She knows the bad words and she so rarely uses them – but when she does, she’s uses them in perfect context.

Peppa Pig has become a freaking obsession. The toddler blanks out to the world over Peppa Pig. It’s as though she’s receiving a download when she watches it. I’m becoming convinced big pharma started Peppa Pig as there are so many references to taking medicine. The other thing about Peppa Pig, without the visuals and simply hearing it – the voice-over can sound sinister. I imagined an entire horror story listening the voice over today as the toddler watched it on my phone.

We have to watch Peppa and her mates on You Tube. This is fine until a commercial comes on and the toddler hits the roof. She detests commercials. Anytime one comes on, it’s as though the world is ending. It doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial her da is actually in flogging something he doesn’t even remember doing – commercials to her, are the damn devil. The toddler and Bill Hicks would relate so well.

Something that is very apparent in the toddler is her empathy for all living creatures. She is so considerate and thinks of others. One example is wanting to move her toys, so her mum wouldn’t trip on them. That was the thought process with her. She saw a potential danger and wanted to eliminate it.
She loves animals and plants and enjoys finding worms in the garden. The care she takes not to hurt anything makes me very proud of her and the sheer delight she gets from feeding the magpies at her Nannytier’s house, makes me believe the world will actually be okay, (from her sheer selflessness and all the utter wankers currently in charge, dying.)

Her manners are simply beautiful. She will thank me again, days later for something I have given her. Just today, she told our friend Dave Macrae, “thank you for my book.” He had given her a present for her birthday and without any prompting to do so, she said those words. However, she also stole my peanuts out from under me the other night while the wife was out hustling pool. She took the bowl right off the table and sat down in her chair and ate them.
“Can I have the nuts back please?”
“No.”
“Why?”
“Mine.”
“They’re mine.”
“No. Mine.”

So – perhaps she’s not that perfect. But every time she says “da”, my world gets that much brighter.

Fun facts: The giraffe, is her favourite animal and tomorrow she turns 2.
(2 fun facts for turning 2.)

Adventures with the Toddler:
CHAPTER 7:
Puddles and Stuff

Well – it has been an interesting few weeks. I’m back working full-time hours on a moovie – which is nice. Working with awesome humans, many of whom I have worked with before which is a real plus. So – my days have pretty much been – get up, eat, go-to-work, work, come home, kiss the wife, tell her about my day, eat, go-to-bed and repeat – so my interactions with the toddler have been limited as she is asleep when I leave and has gone to bed before I get home.

I’ve missed her terribly.

Even though the days of driving ride-share mainly sucked a fat one for the sheer suckage of no income protection / insurance / wanting more from my life / paying GST without collecting GST and at times being an exercise in wanker gathering – I had the choice to say “fuck all ‘y’all” and go hang with the toddler when I wanted to or go to the pub. Doing that kind of work – as Fortune decreed I shall due to the insecurity of the Australian “filum industry” and the fickle freckle of investors (yeah I got 2 mil for ya) – it at least let me feed my family and pay the bills. The real advantage to it was being able to log-off whenever I wanted to or when I cracked the shits with humanity.

Ride-share is a terrible idea for anyone with an artists soul that has to do it full-time; especially a writer. Self-employment when I was a full-time writer was awesome – I lived to get up and smash the keys like a pneumatic drill and lose 5 years of my life to World of Warcraft on my breaks. But self-employment in wanker-gathering, I’m not a big fan of.

However! Driving ride-share has been some of the funniest times of my life. I have met so many cool people, had great financial advice I wished I had 25 years ago, made friends, met far too many rich people, got great hugs from drunk blokes (always blokes putting on the hugs and kisses and wanting to stroke my beard) and made crazy good money. But no-one has ever topped the two drag-queens I had in the back of the car singing Whitney Houston songs in my first week. They were singing, I was singing, we were all singing – then it was over. Over far too soon. They disembarked in all their glory of sequins and feathers and I drove away to pick up three drunk wankers on their way to the races. I peaked way too early.

But – this isn’t about me – it is about my mini-me.

There is a light in this tale of super dad and his work. The toddler knows how to use FaceTime and when she’s missing me, she calls! When I see the wife’s name on my phone and the FaceTime request, I know it is the toddler on the other end. Sometimes her mum knows she’s calling, sometimes not. (This also upsets me as I don’t know how to use the i-pad as well as the toddler does). However, in the last week, she has taken to waking up when I am about to leave the house. I always come in to kiss the wife farewell and get my instructions (that I’ll instantly forget) of what to bring home on my return journey via the supermarket. But in the last few days, the toddler wakes and asks for a kiss before I leave. Luckiest dude alive! Kisses from two beautiful girls before the day begins and I walk out the door feeling as though I could conquer the world.

It makes up for how my You Tube channel looks these days. There was a time it was filled with rock, alternative and heavy metal videos. One would be hard-pressed to scroll through it without seeing Lemmy, Shane, P.J, Janis, Stevie, Ozzy, Amy, Dani or Shagrath looking out. Now however, all of my suggestions feature the Wiggles, Peppa Pig, cartoon cows and the frigging Farmees. I get alerts on my bloody phone when a new Farmees video “drops” and it makes me sigh when I see it. Not a happy high sigh, but more of a deep – what have I become? sigh. The sigh of a man who knows he should be playing his child far more Led Zeppelin and Queen.

The weekend was spent visiting Inverloch to see my mum or “Nannytier” as she is known to the toddler. The toddler loves coming down to Inverloch as she gets to play on the beach, harass the dog and move soil from one side of the garden to the other without being asked or if the action is needed. But Nannytier takes it all in her stride and is always smiling – even when the toddler pours the soil onto the strawberry bushes or pokes the dog in the asshole.

Whilst all of this was going on – I was doing some work for mum such as cutting the hedge, digging ditches, putting up new fences, changing the roof, using big power tools and generally being really helpful – the wife heads off to buy a couple of things for dinner. I’m working like a third-world-donkey and a couple of hours later I realise the wife isn’t back and it’s been ages. She’s only gone and taken the opportunity of being toddler and husband free – to piss-off to the bloody pub! Fair play to her, I would have done the same thing if it was her on the end of a power tool and me with a smirk on my face – but I wouldn’t have remembered the groceries.

A beat —

We bought the toddler pink gumboots on the weekend. She wanted red ones. I promised her red ones.
“Da, red ones.”
“Yes love. We’ll get you red ones,” as the toddler and I were buying croissants while the wife was standing on her head at yoga. (I don’t understand the attraction.)
“Red ones.”
“I’ll get you red ones.”
“Da! Red ones!”
“Yes. Red ones. I have my orders. Red ones.”
She was satisfied with this. She trusts me.
But Aldi only sold pink and yellow and yellow wasn’t in her size. Holy shit! What was I to do now? I’d promised red and have just shot myself in the foot. But I caught a break. Just the fact that she had gumboots was an awesome thing. I was soon to find out why.

The toddler wanted to jump in muddy puddles. Yes, you read that right. Muddy. Bloody. Puddles. It took me a good six-and-a-half-seconds to figure out where I had heard that phrase and where this daft desire came from. With a trembling angry finger, I firmly pointed it at Peppa Pig. So, muddy puddles were now a thing. Muddy puddles! We live in the flipping city.
“Da. Muddy puddle.”
“I can get you a gutter with a little rain, dead dreams and urine.”
“No da! Muddy puddle.”
“Jesus.”
“No. Muddy puddle.”
“The fuck I’m going to find that?”
“Red gumboots.”
“I’ll get ‘em.”
“Muddy puddle.”
“Christ. Okay.”
“Da.”
“What?”
“Red ones.”
“I’m on it.”

Gumboots are a great idea.

Strapping the toddler into a pair of lovely new pink gumboots – we went on a muddy puddle hunt in what is effectively the bush by the beach at Nannytier’s place. The Toddler, the Wife, Nannytier, Nannytier’s dog – Jack, and yours truly; ventured into the cold black afternoon on a muddy puddle search. It was cold and stupid and the dog was pissed-off as the poor bastard just wanted to have a walk before lying in the front of fire and farting loudly. I felt his anguish as my goals were the same.

After much looking and plenty of talk of muddy puddles and what actually constitutes a muddy puddle to the toddler – a muddy puddle was found! The toddler approved of the muddy puddle and after several seconds of preparing itself, it leapt in. Then! It instantly freaked out that its nice new clean gumboots were now dirty. Jack then freaked out at the toddler freaking out and the rest of us laughed our tits off. The toddler went to ground in a frenzy and furiously went to work cleaning her muddy gumboots and Jack howled at the sky. I thought to myself – “self, what happens when the day comes that she wants you to jump in a muddy puddle like daddy-pig does and make it vanish?” Myself thought about this for a moment –
“Well, I think banning Peppa Pig might be a good thing.”
“But that would make us a right-winger wanker and fearful of the world and all that is different to us.”
“But you wouldn’t have to jump in a puddle.”

A beat.

If she wants me to jump in a puddle like daddy-pig, then I’ll bloody-well jump in a puddle like daddy-pig.

Fun Fact: She can count to ten.

Adventures With the Toddler
Picture Edition.

Da. The Toddler. The Beach.

Todsbeach

Adventures With The Toddler
CHAPTER 6
The loss of stuff:

I’m no longer permitted to sit on the couch. This is official as of 5PM yesterday. The toddler has annexed it and screams if I try to sit down. The call of “no” rattles through our suburb, scaring bird, bat and the Uber Eats guy that always seems to be standing in the foyer looking lost.
“Where can I sit then?” I stupidly ask.
It points down the hall to my office “you go work da. Go work.”
“But I’ve been working all day” I daftly respond, as if I’m talking to some kind of boss.
“You work. Da.”
She’s probably right though. But I’m not so dumb to leave this thing alone long enough as it will do something stupid. But, having said that; I’ve never seen it step on LEGO, set off the smoke alarm while cooking, cut itself with the big knife or fall down the stairs. All of those things that happen to me on a regular basis.

But back to the couch. What hurts the most, is that she now sits on my side. The side that was best for telly viewing. The side closet to the kitchen fridge and the beer. The side I rocked her to sleep on when she was first born and all squishy and weird looking. The side I sat on through a couple of long nights as I watched all the seasons of Father Ted so her poor mum could get some much needed sleep. The wife then took over for the next couple of years, but I sacrificed man. It was my side of the couch. Where I landed after a day on set and hassled the wife for a foot rub. A leg rub. A… you get the point.

I feel betrayed. I’ve already lost my telly to the toddler and now I can’t sit on my side of the couch! Having ones own side of the couch has always been an important part of my world and now it has been lost to a tyrant that hasn’t been in the world as long as I spent in frigging stage combat school. Yes. Stage combat school. One never knows when they’ll be called upon to hit someone with a sword or a large stick in the interest of film, television or theatre.

I have realised I am a living, breathing remote control.
“Da! Nannas! Da! Peppa Pig! More Peppa Pig! Da! More Peppa Pig,” and then follows the oink noises.
Dutiful Da switches channels better than any vision switcher in history. I don’t need to even look at the telly or the remote. My sub-conscious simply knows how to work my fingers as the toddler commands. I’m sure the toddler already knows what to do as she actively calls her grandmothers on FaceTime. She knows how to use the I-pad (somehow) so figuring out a remote must be easy.

Its latest oddness is refusing to put clothes on. Yesterday, the toddler decided it wasn’t quite ready for a nappy to be applied or her singlet. I’ve been here before and I know how to handle this, “all good, you just let me know when you want your nappy on,” says the all-knowing moron. It agrees and I feel as though we connected. I hold out my paw for it to take, thinking we just shared a moment. It thinks about it, laughs and drops into crawl mode. It then proceeds to crawl out of the bedroom and down the hall, naked toddler cheeks waging in the air like a sauntering cartoon cat.

One cannot force the clothing thing as all hell breaks lose. I give her choice over her choices and then try to circumvent the toddler’s choices by being sneaky – just like the LNP.

The toddler and I have spent the last 3 nights together as the wife is off doing her various acting things – at least that’s what she tells me she’s doing. She could be hustling pool in a Chinese dive bar for all the checking up I do.

The toddler has been told that come 8PM (if it isn’t asleep as it should be), dad is watching the State of Origin and Peppa Pig will be on the grill (oh no you didn’t). By default she’ll be cheering for The Maroons.

It’s running in circles at the moment.

Fun Fact: It runs in circles when it’s crazy tired.

Adventures With the Toddler
CHAPTER 5

So. The toddler and I have been hanging out together a bit of late as the wife is off doing her thang. I’ve realised that I don’t have a thang. Unless anti-social is a thang. I go to work. I come home and work some more. I go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

Speaking of the wife – I got myself in trouble yesterday. You see, the toddler and I were running around in circles on our toes. It had to be on our toes as that was part of the game, along with the hex-head drill bit we had to run around set by the nose of a toy Donkey. This was the toddlers game, she made it up and I was along for the ride. The toddler stops, looks at me as it grabs its hair and says “da cut.” So I did. I figured the hair was in her eyes and causing her discomfort. So I had at it with the kitchen scissors, the same ones I open the coffee bags with and cut the can in half with that time. It was tough going as only a small part of the scissors are sharpish. It was a bit of a hack job, but what did it really matter – she isn’t going to a formal yet. Right? Wrong.

Giving the toddler a haircut is off-limits. Never again am I to attempt to do such a thing and I was told such. The wife you see had been nurturing its hair for months so the toddler would no longer have its weird fringe, (that’s even weirder now). There was a plan in place that I set back by at least three months by making the toddler version of Billy-Ray Cyrus. I’d already had the side-eye that morning as the wife had got more fan mail from a foot fetish fan due to a movie we made some years ago where she gets her toes sucked. It’s pretty funny – I have no fans at all, so I’d be chuffed if someone took the time to write to me and tell me I had a beautiful something. But it’s a regular thing now with guys telling her how beautiful her feet are. The movie itself was a comment on how all of us are drawn differently – so it’s great folk are reaching out.

The toddler has a cold at the moment. Then it had some odd spots on it Google couldn’t help us out with. Then the next morning there was a rash on it, so a swift booking was made for the doctor down the road. The doctor I go to every couple of years asking “what’s this thing”? I like him. I know others don’t take to him, but he’s my kind of doctor. He’s dry as hell, smirks at my jokes and isn’t afraid to grab a scalpel and cut things out, or off me. His school report cards probably read, “doesn’t play well with others” as he is an odd roster. Anyway, back to the story. I’m at work, so the wife and the toddler see my doctor and neither quite took to his oddness. The toddler kicked him in the nuts and flatly refused to behave and is still referring to him as the “bad man.” There were several “puks” uttered and a fair amount of screaming I’m told. Turns out the rash is some virus and she has as ear infection which means antibiotics as it’s got a bit of a hold in the ol ear-canal. Getting any kind of medicine into the toddler is like trying to get shoes on a cat. It’s a liquid antibiotic made for children, so we tried shooting it into her mouth – which she promptly spat out. I then tried reasoning with the toddler on the next round, using her language that there were bad rawrs (dinosaurs) in her tummy and the milk-like looking stuff in the syringe was filled with good rawrs that would kill the bad rawrs and make her better. That didn’t work either, so we tried the old distract it and quickly squirt the medicine in its mouth method. I don’t recommend the old quick squirt method as she ended up looking like a performer in the final shot of a bukakee film. Today however, I put the stuff in some yoghurt and fed her most of it. I wish I could take credit for the idea but the wife figured that one out as the first option before any squirting was done. Me being a bloke however, realised she wasn’t eating all the yogurt and squirting it down her throat must be the best course of action. I was wrong. Yogurt delivery delivers more antibiotic down the gullet than the old bukakee method.

There has been talk of late of a baby brother or sister for her. This idea has been floated by various people (I’m not one of them). I’m quite happy forever struggling to support the little family I already have. The toddler however, loves babies and wants her mum to have one. She also loves cows, horses, bugs and Peppa Pig and does just fine without having any of those in the house. I’ve tried to explain to the toddler (purely from self-interest mind you) that it needs to go to sleep, stop climbing into the middle of our bed or get a hobby in order for mum and dad to be alone together long enough for this magic baby thing to happen. Too many quick knee-tremblers have had the kibosh put on them before a result is had, when the toddler comes ambling along demanding the “Bananas” be put on the telly or the call of “da, egg” puts the old block on. Dad has uttered a few “puks” himself during these events as he limps out of view.

Along with its amazing ability to block its dad at each and every turn – it has an annoying habit of picking at its toes and creating a hangnail. This leads to a call of “da, sore toe”. It then presents said sore toe with a face of such infinite sadness, it should be on a Radiohead album cover. I then have to cut off the hangnail with a pair of clippers, (that takes forever to find, because why wouldn’t they be where I last left them?). Cutting off these hangnails is precision work. One cannot just chop the top off – oh no! If one leaves even a skerrick of hangnail, the toddler is back at it, picking and pulling and showing me its sore toe. All of the bloody hangnail must be removed. All of it. This requires a very steady hand. I’ve had to stop drinking so I’m fresh as a daisy for when I’m summoned to the call. But I not complain. Sometimes I band-aid its big toes so it can’t pick at them. The cloth ones work the best as they stay on for longer.

I’m convinced the toddler saves the weirdness for when I’m left alone with it. For example. Last night, I caught it faking that it had fallen off the couch. Faking it. Lying there. Pretending.
“What are you doing?”
“I fell?”
“Off the couch?”
“Yeah”
“Really?”
Silence.
“Did you really fall off the couch?”
“Bananas. Da, bananas.”
(It hadn’t fallen off the couch – I’m a good father. I watch my child).

I’m now watching it try and eat uncooked coloured rice. The wife dyed some rice and made a garden for the toddler’s animal toys to frolic in. It’s a lovely idea and would be great if we had a toddler pit we could lower the thing into during playtime. You see, the rice was once contained to a large pan. Now that the wife is out and I’m left in charge – the rice is all over the living room. I know the toddler does these things on purpose. It knows it can’t eat the rice. It knows it shouldn’t. It knows it makes me rattled as it looks at me and pushes the crunchiness into its face and that’s why it’s doing it.

“Da. Egg!”
Here we go – and thus the evening begins.
I deliver to its gawping maw a lovely egg I’ve prepared.
She surveys it and waves her hand like some spolit Queen, “Da, away,” as she shoves the plate my way and I question my worth and reach for the remote.
“DA, NO!” It cries, as I try to watch something on the telly.
“But it’s my telly and I never get to watch it.”
“Da! Bananas!”
“No. I’m done with B1 and B2 and the daft rat always saying ‘cheese and whiskers.’ I want to watch a movie.”
“Bananas!”
“We’ll watch a documentary.”
Then it actually does a header off the couch and begins to cry.
We’re watching Bananas again.

Fun fact: I caught myself singing “banana detectives” yesterday as I showered.

Adventures With the Toddler
Chapter Four

The toddler blog has been lapsing of late, I know. I have been keeping notes of its odd behaviour however.

Sadly, the need to make money has kept me from hanging out with the beast as much I’d like. After traveling with it and spending so much time in its natural habitat, I was able to keenly observe certain behaviour’s and dutifully report. This is such a pity that dads traditionally miss out on a lot of the mad and awesome things their children do through the need to make the readies to buy the stuff and pay the endless fecking bills.

So, to make up for the missed blogs, here are some observations.

The Danger:

The toddler has a knack for finding the most dangerous objects to play with. I had no idea we owned so many pens and pencils until the toddler arrived in our world and invented the running-around-the-apartment like crazy with-a-sharp-pencil-in-hand-game. It’s also good at finding razors, broken glass and dried dog turds. It’s latest haul was a pack of hatpins. Six-inch long needles! If it’s dangerous or just gross, the toddler will find it and the toddler will want it. But I’m wise to it now. I’m onto its mind-games. I know I can’t freak out anymore when it has something dangerous because that triggers the chemical dump in its little melon telling it it’s onto a good thing and to never give it up, that it must fight with all the strength it’s tiny body can produce to hold onto the dried dog poo that’s obviously of value if dad wants to take it away. So when it had the hatpins, my learnt non-reacting negotiation skills came out and I try to swap the hat pins for a soft teddy bear, which of course makes the toddler suspicious, which in turn made me go nonchalant, (while I’m in full panic mode) as I view it side-eyed, ready to pounce and stop it stabbing itself in the head.

Parent hearing:

I felt very lucky that I got a couple of hours of time to myself during the week to actually watch a movie. I wasn’t working or pulling a small child out of a tight place as it said, “I’m tuck. Da, I’m tuck.” Sweet freedom was upon me. So I poured a glass of wine (from a box, because with children one can no longer afford the good stuff that comes in a bottle unless one is a politician or owner of a religion) and settled into the couch for a couple of hours of just me, my wine and a movie. I choose the Michael Bay film “13 hours”, mainly because I hadn’t seen it and I know Michael Bay’s work is loud and filled with action and I can’t watch those kind of movies when the wife is around — and that was the kind of mood I was in. Excited as all hell, I settled in for 2 hours of mayhem on MY telly that for once wasn’t locked on kids TV. But, of course I was wrong. Wrong on the time I had, the peace I had, the having time to myself part mainly. The toddler and the wife came back home when I was 15 minutes and three sips of my wine into the movie.

It took me 6 hours to watch the movie. Ya wanna know why?

Well ya see, the wife had promised the toddler some TV time in a bribe to get it to behave at some other place and time I wasn’t a part of. So, this promise now affected me. Bu okay, that’s fine, I get it, I totally understand. When I was a kid I was constantly kicked off the television if I was in the middle of a show, so the 7.30 report or an endless stream of news could be played. So I don’t want that to happen to the toddler…hang on…the toddler is now kicking me off the telly watching my shows…WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? I’M IN CHARGE NOW. AREN’T I? So, after what seemed like a hundred years of Bananas in Pajamas, it decided it wanted to go to bed, which was bloody magic to hear. It went to bed and fell asleep. Now, with time to ourselves, I turned my movie back on and the wife was on her computer doing her work while wearing my headphones. Bliss right? I had the film turned up nice and loud – because I love a gunfight. Love them. My favourite things in cinema are gunfights and car chases. Because why else make movies?

Anyway. I now have parent hearing, which means I can hear a fart over a gunfight. So of course I hear the toddler wake up in the middle of a series of explosions. Not only do I hear it, the wife has heard it over the explosions on the telly and the video she was watching through headphones. Toddler was awake and wanting company. So, another long break ensues for some more toddler time watching yet another episode of the Bananas. Argh. At least it isn’t the fecking Wiggles or that stupid lamb from the Farmees.

Anyway. WE get her to bed again (the royal we, as in the wife got her to bed again while I looked at Facebook) and I finally got to the end of the movie. While credits were rolling, the toddler wakes again. We eventually work out later that night that she has a new tooth coming through so has been restless.

Bringing her out to the lounge again however, I got to introduce the toddler to Fawlty Towers. Usually when she’s watching television shows we like to watch she yells for the Bananas or her Farmees rubbish. But watching Basil and all, she lay on the beanbag and absorbed it, she loved it, which made me proud indeed. We’ve also tried her on Black Books to the same result. I’m the world’s happiest man. It’s the Flying Circus next. If the kid can love the Pythons before turning 2, she’s going to be something special. More special than she already is of course.

I Have No Idea What The Following is About:

The toddler decided that today was a great day for the natural evolution of walking on ones knees. I know she’s Australian, but the LNP haven’t quite demanded complete obedience just yet, (it’s coming, Dutton is trying, but we still have the illusion of freedom). We were only going to the shops and decided a family walk would be a nice thing to do in the lovely Melbourne Autumn afternoon. The toddler however, figured, a walk to the shops on its knees was in order.

It took some time to reach that goal of shopping with the knee walking things and then it figured lying on its stomach and having dad yell “ready-set-go” every ten metres was much more fun and would slow us down even more.

When we finally got home, the wife told the toddler she would be having a night with dad and that dad would be putting her to bed.
“That means no boob,” says dad, trying to be helpful due to the weening we are going through. The toddler got upset that its mum was heading out and there would be no boob. “Daddy doesn’t have the kind of boobs you’d want”. Says I, thinking I was being funny.
“Puck”. Says the toddler. “Puck it”.

The wife and I lose our damn minds laughing.

Sooooo…Being left once again in charge of the small human thing – brings me to the last little section in this here toddler tale.

Choking:

As though walking on its knees wasn’t enough to upset its parents, tonight the toddler decided pretending to choke was funny. So, the toddler acts like it’s choking and dad loses his damn marbles. If you’ve never seen a 6’4, 300 pound man move like a lightning bolt; then friend, you ain’t seen nothing. I arrive at the infant with nothing but concern writ large on my face as I apply some swift taps betwixt its shoulder blades to dislodge the culprit of the choking. It grins at me. I’m first-aide trained, I’m an old bouncer, I’ve stemmed blood-flow, patched-up chefs chopping parts off themselves, breathed life back into a girl in a crowd-crush at a concert and I witnessed one of my actors actually hang himself for a shot – so I know that when one can speak or laugh while seeming to choke, air is getting through. I figure a little bit of rice may not have been swallowed properly and hand the toddler the sippy-cup to force the annoyance down it’s gullet. It drinks the water and proceeds to act the same way. What is the blue f—-k, thinks I. It snorts and a corn kernel pops out of a nostril to be readily shoved back into the nostril by an index finger, so the fun chocking sounds can be made again. Jesus H Christ! exclaims I. What is wrong with you? I retrieve the kernel from its head and then confiscate all food in a fit of righteousness and hand it a cracker.

It looks a the cracker and says “egg.”
“You want an egg?”
“Egg.” It repeats.
With a sigh and hanging my shoulders, I head for the kitchen.
It follows me in and I wonder what order it has for me now. But she hugs my leg and rests her little cheek against my thigh. “I ‘ove you Da.’
My heart explodes all over the kitchen.
“I love you too darling.” says I.
“Mum?” It asks.
“She’s with Jenn and the girls from GAG. They’re making another show. She’ll be back later.”
She looks up at me with those lovely blue eyes.
“Puck.” She says.

Then she turns and leaves the kitchen. I prepare her egg.

FUN FACT: She loves shoes.

Adventures With the Toddler
Chapter 3

So. It talks in its sleep. It’s official as both the wife and I have conferred on various things it has said during the night. This comes as something of a relief to me, because one night I thought devils were talking to me in a deep chant. Turns out it was the toddler doing a voice that mimics my snoring. So, you have no idea how thankful I was that nothing had shown-up to collect on the second mortgage on my soul.

It also wakes up singing. Which is bloody delightful when relating the tale across a lunch table, but being dragged out of a deep sleep where one is with the faceless lover, to be regaled with the toddler version of “incy wincy spider”, feels like devils turning up to collect on the second mortgage one has on their… Nevermind.

Sleep time, as sacred as it is, has no sanctity in this home as far as the toddler cares. Dad goes to bed early sometimes. Always after the toddler but mostly before the wife. Dad is kind of old, drinks a bit, gets bored easily and sometimes needs to sleep in the bed as opposed to passing-out on the couch where he may wake to catch the wife not performing the foot massage duties she reluctantly started. So… I get into bed and fall asleep. A nice sleep. A sleep where dreams come and the little voice that likes to whisper to me about bills, film investors and all that nonsense goes away. I’m dragged out of that sleep exactly 12 minutes later with the toddler waking, looking at the hunk of snoring fur on the other side of the bed and yelling “mama!” Which in turn wakes me in a snuffling mess preparing to fight whatever monster has dared enter the room. I imagine as a small human, waking to something like me in the bed that wasn’t there when she fell asleep, as her lovely mum put her to bed, must be a bit of a shock. Even though the toddler has known me all her life and witnessed me bent over of a morn searching for my pants – sans knickers; there are some things no one is ever quite prepared for.

Yet…the being awoken by the toddler talking, singing, kicking me, or farting loudly and giggling; pale in comparison to dad waking and needing to take a leak because he’s cold as hell. Ya see, the doona is sacred to the wife for her warmth and the toddler for her warmth. Dad doesn’t get a look in and the poor fat bugger is usually left to sleep balls-out in the open breeze, despite having started the night tucked up nice and warm. Basically, night time in the bed here is a turf war. A turf war between the Crips and the Bloods and the dumb elderly neighbour that refuses to move. I’m the dumb elderly neighbour in this scenario. However, the toddler hates the doona. She kicks it off as she likes to sleep out in the cold because doonas are for wankers. But as caring parents, the rules state to keep it warm and keep it fed. So, any time it looks as though the keeping warm bit is lapsing, one must act. But she’ll yell at my caring self when she catches my soft ass trying to tuck her in at 2 in the morning because you know — I love her and I’m awake because I’m cold and she’s been jabbering nonsense. However, she shuns the doona that by rights is mine.

They don’t give you much instruction when they hand the squishy, alien-looking thing to you at the hospital. Keep it fed, clean and warm are the basics. You need a license to own a fucking frog for crissake, but these baby things any idiot is allowed to have.

I’ve been woken so many times during the last week needing to take a pee that I was thinking I may need to see a finger doctor. (The dread and analogy of this I would love to write, but it probably belongs to another blog). Turns out it’s just because I’m cold that I need to pee, as the females in my life abuse me by stealing all the bed clothes. Consistently, I might add, steal all the bed clothes.

The toddler has asked to go to bed now. It’s in there with the wife, relaxing, mumbling against a boob. I have the telly on pause of course, because to finish the movie would be wrong.

The toddler said “daft bugger” this evening. I don’t know what the context was, but she was looking me in the eye when she said it.

Daft bugger. They grow up so fast.

FUN FACT: She loves helping wash the car and has her own sponge.

Adventures with the toddler
Chapter 2

The wife is out doing a voice-over gig, so the toddler and I are watching “Bananas in Pyjamas” and eating peanuts. It’s the episode where the Bananas make a movie to bail Rat out of trouble. I know you all know it. Right? Right?

A female friend said to me a couple of decades ago, “a man may be the head of a family, but a woman is the neck, and the neck will turn the head wherever it wants it to look”. That phrase came back to me with blaring trumpets tonight as I was left in charge of the toddler.

The evening started with me putting out the fire of her mum leaving. There was screaming and gnashing of teeth. I managed to settle the thing by putting on the telly. It was late enough so she (and I) could watch Octonauts. It’s actually a cool show and you learn about sea creatures so I’m cool with her watching it. Trouble is though, she is freaking obsessed with “The Farmees” on You Tube. The wife won’t let her watch it at all, but I’m a weak prick and will give her whatever she wants, as we’ve already established. The show creeps me out as I keep thinking of what Peter Jackson would have done to the lamb character if it appeared in “Meet The Feebles”. After five minutes of The Farmees, I want to do an Elvis on the telly.

Anyway, the toddler wanted me to cook it an egg so I made it one. It ate a little of it and decided it wasn’t up to scratch. This isn’t anything new as it is very fussy when it comes to eggs. So, it told dad to make another one. Which dad did. Mostly because he could escape the inane Farmee show for a few minutes and look at the gin he can’t drink — because you know, responsibilities.

Dad comes back with a freshly cooked egg-white and some other munchies, to find the toddler now perched on the arm of the couch. It was asked nicely to sit properly and of course it ignored me. So dad explains the danger of its current choice in seating position, hoping reason would win the day, as it did one time in the past.
“No.”
Shit, I thought.
Then I get the bright idea of turning off the television. Victory!!!!! No more Farmees and I’m teaching discipline and how the world actually works under an oppressive government. This act of course brings all the devils of hell crawling out of the shadows to lend power to the blond demon currently sitting on the arm of the couch staring at me.
I’m all cool with it. I’m discipline dad now.
“Hey. I asked you nicely to sit on the couch properly. Not sitting properly, means no television.”
Oh my God, the power I wield!
It thought about this.
It didn’t move an inch.
Now silence.
“So. No telly if you sit on the arm of the couch,“ says I smuggly.
It thought some more about this. Didn’t move an inch.
“So, if you want to watch the telly again, you’ll need to sit on the couch properly.”
It slips off the arm of the couch and sits properly. Of course I think I’ve won until it requests it’s dumb show is turned back on.
I could read it in its eyes, “check-mate, f****er.”
I had promised it the telly. I had no leg to stand on. If I didn’t do it, I could never be trusted.

If I could have stepped out of my own body, I would have publicly spanked myself. A trousers-down, bare-arsed spanking for my idiocy.

Yet, after what felt like an eternity of the same 3 daft songs on loop and my teeth grinding to nubs, it got bored.
“Do you want to watch the movie dad wants to watch?”
“No.”
“The Bananas?”
“Yes!”
So now we’re watching the Bananas and eating peanuts as we bond.

FUN FACT: Rammstein and Rob Zombie once calmed it down when it got upset. True story. I could rock it to sleep with Du Hast blaring.

Adventures With the Toddler

Chapter 1
(Maybe ongoing – I don’t know)

Well. Due to popular demand, (all 3 of you), I figured, with some coaxing from the wife, to continue the story of toddler-land. What’s the worse that can happen? So I’ve renamed the blog-type-thing as above.

Since we’ve been back the toddler is still running on European time. This makes nighttime and the gentle art of sleeping, a kind of stealth mission to try and get to sleep as fast as bloody possible. I mean, a deep, full snore-only-waking-from-apnea-but-no-idea-you-do kind of sleep. This is a skill that requires the right amount of gin and would be far easier if one could still buy Codeine over the counter. I have yet to master it however.

I awoke last night to the toddler in the middle of the bed slowly kicking me in the back and sighing deeply as it looked at the ceiling.
“Sup?” I asked when I met its gaze.
My reply was a large sigh and it promptly rolled over and grabbed a boob in its strong little fists, pulled and stretched it to its gaping maw, clamped on and sent itself back off to sleep in a slurping, gulping chaos. So, now that I was awake, I had the trauma of trying to go back to sleep while wondering what the time was and how long it would be before the toddler woke up again. Then there was the little voice reminding me about the bills that needed to be paid. You know, horrible adult stuff. When everything starts to become something other that what you believed it to be.

The toddler did have some mad moments yesterday where it decided it could only enter doors backward. On its bum and backward. I wasn’t even surprised by this. It felt normal. Today however, this behaviour has been forgotten or put away for a time. I have no idea. But it does like to say it’s pooed when it hasn’t. It’s an attention thing. But it’s easy to tell when it’s backing one out because the face changes to a state of betrayal and it needs to hold onto someone’s hand during the event. I’ve even seen it put its other hand on a knee during one particular tough one. It’s pretty funny to witness. But we’ve all been there.

“Puck”, is its favourite word at the moment. When it drops something it says “puck”. I keep laughing which only encourages it to say it again and then I laugh more – and so on and so forth. It’s funny because I know she’s saying a swear word but she isn’t actually saying it. She got it right on the Eurostar, or I thought she did. But her speech is clearer now so maybe I heard “puck.”.

Another one that sends me into laughter is when she says “oh tit.” That’s just funny for a bunch of reasons. It also says “balls”, if something goes awry.

Her mother says she has no idea where she gets this language from. <.< oh rly!!!

We are trying to get her to try new kinds of food as her palate is limited. But she can smash a punnet of strawberries in 27 seconds. It’s a thing to behold. A strawberry vanishes into that head at a staggering speed. It goes in like it’s on a conveyor belt and is mashed to a pulp by pure suction. I’ve never see it chew the things. But getting it to try new food is a work in progress. But hardly surprising since her mother only ate avocado, cruskits and caviar until she was 6.

Tomorrow morning, when she wakes bright and early, we spill into the car and head down the coast so she can see her nannytier. We attempted to go tonight but the screaming was going to shatter the windows along with my nerves. She decided that being strapped in a car seat was for wankers, and did her level best to escape and mind-melt me into a blithering mess.

FUN FACT: She’s now started to write. She can draw the letter ‘A’ like a boss.

Until the next installment…

The Travel Blogs

Traveling with our toddler
PART SIX
(The final part)

Yes, alas, it is the final installment in the Traveling with our toddler blog.

London was a great trip and all too short.

It all began after changing out a nappy at Kings Cross train station. Changing nappies in public bathrooms is always a fun experience, especially if it’s a particularly potent one. The stares of the put-out amuse me; eye flickering accusation as though I woke up deciding I wanted to upset their day. What makes it even more exhilarating, is when the child decides it would prefer not to have its bum wiped or a new nappy put on and tries to escape. This doesn’t often come off well for either party. It’s bad enough it likes to pull things out of its head and hand them to me while saying “yuck”, but the naked ass vanishing over the side of a change table is a different matter altogether. The pleading, the coaxing, the grappling, the lucky one-handed swipe to nab a leg and haul the squirming demon back to the table to wipe it (and now me) clean, in order to continue with our day.

With nappy changed, we ventured into the old streets of my youth. I had looked up the address of where we were going to be living for the next five days (at my friends house) and assured my traveling companions (wife and toddler) it was a just an 11 minute walk from the station. My friend Amanda had been extremely helpful in telling me what tube to catch and how much an Uber usually cost from Kings Cross / Saint Pancras to Highbury Islington. I read all of her messages of course and wondered how on earth an Uber could cost ten quid when we could walk it in 11 minutes. So off we trot, with the toddler strapped into the carrier on the wife for added speed. It didn’t like this at all. Usually it loves catching a ride on mum, but when it sniffs that we need to be somewhere or are lacking in time, a chemical is released in its head to sabotage it. I do love how she sees all of nature’s gifts, from the fluffy clouds, leaves, dogs, bunnies, dinosaurs and ants; but sometimes we don’t have 15 minutes to study a dead bee and get a little sad about its demise. So, with the confidence of a man who has no idea what he’s doing, we walked, and walked, and walked — stopping every now and then to check the Google map with the blue line on it.
“Yep, we’re right, straight up this street.”
Stopping some minutes later.
“How the hell did we end up over here? We’re meant to be over there.”
Off we trot again. For a couple of hundred metres.
“Hang on a minute. The frigging street’s missing.”
“What do you mean the street’s missing?” asks the wife.
“Look here,” says I, “the fecking street’s missing.” As I gaze at the map, I have a very strong realization that I am in fact a twat and have been following the path the tube takes. It takes 11 minutes from the station we arrived at, via tube and a short walk to get to my mates place. It takes humans 45 minutes on foot from the station we arrived at, to my mates place.
So we got to see a lot of the area and had worked up a real thirst by the time we hit Amanda’s house.

Within minutes of our arrival, the toddler and Amanda’s daughter were BFF’s. Amanda’s toddler took our little Donkey under her wing and welcomed her with an open heart into her home. Which I thought was very good of her since the toddler kept swiping her toys and refusing to give them back. But the diplomacy and patience our host toddler used to coax the Donkey into handing the toys back, taught me a great deal about patience. I learned a few things about raising a child from a 4 year old. The girls had a blast together and it must have been wonderful for our toddler to have another young person to hang out with and not the old prunes that keep stopping her from walking out of shops with cool loot.

There was a 45 minute negotiation one morning for her to leave a doll at the house. We didn’t own the doll but apparently it was crying because a green cow that lived on the moon had made some kind of egg sauce the meows ate. I think that was the reason. 45 minutes of negotiating. We didn’t get to see a lot that day. But she’s got imagination. Maybe she’ll be an artist and chase that dream so she can work in hospitality and drive an Uber.
“Daniel, stop it!”

I also caught up with my old mate James. James and I have been friends for 20 something years. We met in a pub called the Six Bells at a time my hair hadn’t yet migrated to my back. We’d last had a drink at our wedding, 2 years prior. So on our trip to London, he got to meet Adelaide and we got to meet his meet his partner Sue, and his son Bertie who is 21.

Now, here’s the thing. I used to babysit Bertie when he was the same age as the toddler and I hadn’t seen the kid since he was running around in a nappy and mind-f***king me so he could enact escape plans while I was in charge of him. Come to think of it, my history with toddlers has always been sketchy. So when I walked into the restaurant and the little boy I knew walked toward me as this big, beautiful young man, I nearly burst into tears. He’s now about the age I was when his dad and I became friends. He’s a great bloke too and I know I’m the reason for that. It all comes down to my influence as a babysitter. The toddler loved him and it was an absolute thrill for me to see him now as a grown-up and share a couple of beers.

The first few days were pretty much spent catching-up with people and trying to avoid breast-feeding a demanding child on the underground. “Mummy, boot.”
“No.”
“No, mummy boot.”
“When we get home.”
Screaming ensues – “mummy, boot!”
Ah yes the memories. Getting out the mammary’s on the old tube.
The toddler met the rest of her immediate family in her grandfather (my father) and his partner who also live in London and my Uncle Brian. She certainly didn’t want for attention, presents, or things to do in those first few days.

I know I’ve talked about the tantrums and the funny mad stuff she does, but I probably should mention how proud I am of her. She takes everything in her stride and her fierceness I love. Even though it frustrates me in public sometimes trying to get her to release another stuffed toy or a crystal vase she’s picked up in a shop and is either about to break of flog. Even though we didn’t get to see nearly half the things we wanted to, even though she’s kicked me in the nuts countless times, and got in the way of the “adult cuddles”; I am so proud of her. I love her defiance, her independence, her assertiveness, her absolute wonderment of the world. When she calls me “da”, asks me to cook her an egg or runs full pelt down the hall squealing in happiness to give me a hug — are the happiest moments of my life. Being a dad is the coolest thing ever. Other than a Ferrari.

Over the last month her conversational skills have grown enormously. Her vocabulary has expanded ten-fold — and yes there are swear words in there now and my wife has to put up her hand for all the bad ones. Yes, the toddler’s mum is responsible for the swear words.

We arrived back in Melbourne yesterday. I tried to finish this then, but I was fried. I must be getting old as jetlag was never a thing for me. Yesterday I would have fallen for anything, pyramid schemes, giving my card details to backpackers on a street corner, even Malcolm Turnbull. Yes, even the words that fell from Malcolm’s thin lips I may have believed.

It is nice to be home, even though I opened so many bills our apartment feels like a duck pond.

Will the toddler remember any of this? Unlikely, but it has shaped her, and the adventures we had I shall remember at least. I’ll remember for her all the people whose hearts she melted on this journey, right down to the last one, an old Indian lady on the plane who smiled and watched her for a straight five hours as she played. Adz was the perfect little kid and gave her a wave and a hello – which only added to the staring that had been freaking me out for most of the journey.

I do have to mention Singapore airport and their free foot massage machines as an absolute highlight. Getting a spot on one these machines is as rare as rocking horse shit. I probably have pelican foot or some toe plague now after using it, but I gotta say it was bloody worth it.

I’m glad I didn’t have to change a nappy on the plane, the thought of having to use an airplane toilet fills me with terror and thankfully I’ve never had to use one. Yes, you read that right, even on long haul flights. Airplane toilets, prison, umbrellas, the LNP and anything with tentacles are my phobias.

We caught a taxi home (as small children can’t be taken in an Uber), and after I dropped the rent on that taxi ride, we tumbled into our street like cast members of the Walking Dead. We looked like shit and smelt like old underpants, but we’d made it.

As we stood in the street, the little punk looked at the apartment block and then to us and said, “we’re home.”

With one final effort hauling bags, duty free, suitcases and a frigging pram we bought that we never frigging used because someone thought it beneath her, (I pushed that bloody pram around Paris empty, for a straight week), we finally walked in the front door.

After nearly a month of every single day being filled with new sights and sounds, the toddler was back home to her toys, her bed, her comfort.

She slept for most of the day which was something that was needed. This made me happy that she was content and asleep after such a long journey.
However…
All that sleep during the day meant that night time was for dancing. I woke up to her kneeling on my face while tapping me on the shoulder and saying “tap, tap, tap.”
“Go to sleep Donkey.”
“Tap, tap, tap.”
I could see the face framed by the moppy blond head.
“Donkey, go to sleep.”
The knee pressed into my cheek a little harder as she tapped on me again.
“Tap, tap, tap.”
I thought of Chucky.
“Tap, tap, tap”, it said again.
Then it laughed.

Traveling with our toddler
(Photo diary of 1)
“No mama. No.”

Tods London.jpg

Traveling With Our Toddler
PART FIVE

Well. It has been eventful.

We caught the train from Bordeaux to Paris. Bordeaux I really liked. The transport system is fantastic and if one was to miss a tram, one could skate to their destination on the dog shit lining the streets.

Our hotel was good. I mean it was 3 stars by whoever gives hotel stars out, but those people that actually do online surveys had said enough positive things about it on booking-dot-com for me to shell out the readies. It was in the centre of a construction zone, so we were guaranteed a wake-up a call we didn’t have to pay for. Yay! But the room was clean and had a kitchenette, so we made a lovely pesto pasta. That’s the highlight on that one.

We visited the wine museum while in Bordeaux. I tell ya. Do it. Just do it. If you ever find yourself in Bordeaux and you like the drink of the Gods, this place is a wonderful experience. But don’t bring your toddler. Toddlers should never be allowed in a wine museum. Just saying. The wine museum / toddler experience is a book unto itself.

However — we caught the train from Bordeaux to Paris and after a nice walk we arrived at our accomodation for the night. I was instantly impressed as we had to be buzzed in through a security door. The place was awesome. Free mini-bar in room and in lobby (not booze alas). The room also had a little balcony. As we all went out onto the balcony, the wife and toddler ohhhh-ed and ahhhh-ed at the Eiffel Tower at the end of the road, and I found myself wondering what the loading-weight of the thing was as I stared at the street 6 floors below.

We had dinner at a lovely restaurant we were happy to spend some time in, but the toddler decided it was time to declare shenanigans. So, with shenanigans declared, mayhem ensued and salt was tipped on tables, napkins were thrown to the floor – just after she caught my eye to ensure I was watching her do it. There was jumping, there were cries of “no!” as I tried to catch the gremlin thing as it leapt and side-stepped like a great running-back to vanish under a table. Then it’s head emerged above the table and I zeroed in on my quarry. But it escaped across the bench-seat in a flurry of squeals and one loud fart, to fall off the end and crash face-first into a fire hydrant to then be rescued by a pretty German girl.

The German girl set my quarry at a distinct advantage away from dad. Dad is losing his mind and his ass is hanging out of his jeans due to the chase, and all those who are sans toddler are laughing their asses off. Those laughs were the taunts of the free.

We paid the bill and dragged the screaming, bucking, blond demon thing back to the hotel (its Lair) to try and get it to sleep. Which it flatly refused to do. Flatly. Refused.
“Go to sleep.”

“Get a dog up ya!”

The wife had a great idea for the two of us to spend the evening on the balcony, watching Paris at night, drinking wine and eating cheese. You know, romantic stuff. We could stay up late and have fun — then a blinking moppy blond head arrived between us to remind us our plans were doomed.

“No.”

After a peaceful nights sleep of being kicked in the back of the head, we packed and dragged our luggage to the Gare Du Nord to catch the Eurostar to London.

At immigration, the wife was leaving the queue with the toddler to go through the EU gates which were empty, but the kibosh was put on her arrogance when we were instructed families must stick together. Quite right thought I. Quite right. I laughed out loud as she had to be tethered to the idiot Aussie with the Aussie passport in the line with the other idiots. I even tapped the sign saying families had to be together. I tapped. The. Sign.

The security check into the British section of the train station went smoothly and swiftly. I was very impressed at how fast it was and would love to tell the Australian government about the efficiency I witnessed. They should send someone to check it out. Fast trains are also cool. But we’d probably need to make one that runs on coal for our ruling clown class to take any interest in advancement. Or evolution for that matter.

But I diverge. At the security check, the toddler got stage fright and stood in the middle of the metal detector. She wouldn’t move. She just stood dead-centre. The line began to build behind her as my best pleas of “come on. Come on. Come on Donkey”, were entirely ineffective. The line continued to pile up as folk started to push into one another in a mouth-gaping confusion; yet still she stood in the middle of the machine — those blue eyes blinking at me and the policeman standing beside me in the tactical war gear holding a heavy machine gun. It must have been quite a sight for a small innocent human, walking through a machine in a strange world with lots of trains and people. Seeing a heavily-armed man standing beside a fat, bald git who was saying “come on now darling.”

I assume the cop was also a dad as he knowingly smiled at me and we shared a chuckle. I thought that was nice. Laughing with a heavily armed fellow in charge of an immigration line my 10 kilo daughter stopped in its tracks.

The wife took the last of the Euros and headed to duty free to spend them (as exchanging them is daffy she said and I agreed). All I know is I got a bottle of Evian and she returned with a bottle of wine she claimed cost 11 Euro when quizzed. “How much was the wine?”
“11 Euro.”
“Cool.”
What happened to the other 50 Euro is a game I now like to play with myself. “I wonder what happened to the other 50 Euro.”

We left Paris as Spring gently pawed it’s way into the city, shaking its golden mane to chase away the grasping fingers of a Winter refusing to leave. I gazed out the window of the fast train to the sounds of “boot! Boot! Boot” as the toddler was requesting boob, which is her comfort as she constantly finds herself in different places and looking into the grinning faces of different waiters. I sighed deeply as I watched the beautiful sun on the pristine fields as a small pair of sneakers kicked my in the knee repeatedly. I found the kicking reassuring, relaxing. At last, some fine weather was to be had.

We headed into the 50.45 miles of tunnel — to emerge into — the grey rainy shit of England. The shaking golden mane of the Spring puppy that pushed Winter from Paris the morning we left, had dumped the bastard in the U.K complete with billowing nostrils and wet dog smell.
“Fuck, “I thought. “Fuck,” I said.
“Fuck” repeated a little blond monster that was staring at me with cracker crumbs on its lips and one of its socks in its hand.

There was a moment between us I tried and failed to figure out why it had taken off it’s sock.

“I’ve pooed”, it said.
There was a little more silence.
“Fuck me gently”, I said, as I looked back out the window.

Traveling with our toddler.
PART FOUR (the piece I didn’t want to write)

Little person or a little shit?

I didn’t want to admit it, but we are dealing with what is known as the “terrible twos”. My lovely little kid has become some demon child who only knows how to say no. No. That’s the word. The word is no. No. All the time no. Like being 15 and getting caught in elastic straps, hair ties and clips to then be told, no. It’s just more frustrating now.

I really thought she would have been more original with the enfant terrible stage.
Let’s put your shoes on. No.
Let’s get your coat on. No.
Nappy change. No.
But you smell like a cave troll and you’ve shit yourself. No.
Would you like a strawberry. No.
Would you like some water? No.
But water is good. No.
Do you love daddy? No.
Do you want to play upside down kid? No.
But you love upside down kid. No.
What about fighter pilot? No.
But you love fighter pilot. No.
Should we buy these shoes? No.
But you need shoes. No.
Would you like to wear these shoes? No.
Let’s look at that building. No.
Let’s take your picture. No.
Let the little girl play with the turtle statue. No.
Hold daddy’s hand walking down these ancient steps. No.
Hold it. No.
HOLD IT. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…..
It’s raining. No.
It IS raining. No.
IT IS RAINING AND YOU NEED TO PUT ON YOUR COAT. ……..No
ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Where did my little punk go? Why is this demon possessing my child?
Who are you demon!?

I never thought I’d say this. But I’m glad I have a job to go to each day. Mothers are surely the holiest of beings.

Anyway. To bed. We have things to see in the morning. No.
Don’t want to miss it. No.
Will Tony be PM again? No.
Dutton?? No.
Bishop? ….
Bishop? ……

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Byeeeeeee.

No.

Wait. What?

Traveling with our toddler
PART THREE

We left Saint Cyprien today and caught the train to Bordeaux. Any wine lover must make the pilgrimage and this is one I embraced with an open heart. I am humbled to ensure all is up to standard for you wine drinkers. Someone has to do it and it’s a sacrifice I accept.

We left Saint Cyprien in sunshine – jovial with the memories we shall hold until old age, booze or something more interesting finally replaces them. I think I will miss the church bells at Saint Cyprien. They were comforting in a strange way — like the lover you hate, but must have one last time.

We also leave a few days of illness behind. I got hit by some pestilence that made me bow before the porcelain for a night. It was either a stomach virus or a curse. When I was retching “ohfukofmercywhatinhellsnameisthis”, I was convinced it was a curse, but no; somehow a little blood must have found it’s way into my alcohol stream and weakened me enough to allow a virus to coil around a strand of my DNA to enact the ensuing horror show. I spent the following day sipping tea with lemon in it. I have no idea why I did this. It seemed like the thing to do. Anyway, at least that didn’t last long and I bounced back to enjoy the holiday once more. But then! The little one came down with it a couple of days later…

The only times in my life that I have felt totally powerless, (other than several dealings with the Victoria Police in my youth and our current government) was when Constance was giving birth and the toddler being sick. The toddler being sick is very, very rare thank Christ. The poor thing was crying that she wanted to go home and it totally broke my heart. The wife was soothing her and telling her she was home as her family were around her, but I knew she wanted to be back at the apartment in Kew and started pulling my shoes on. We all know that feeling of wanting to be in our own space when illness is upon us. She has been such a trooper on this trip and she’s a positive little kid, but it shattered me when she was asking to go home and I couldn’t banish this thing from her. But, after 24 hours of feeling horrid, she finally bounced back after a big sleep and was her little talkative self again.

Yet her illness did yield a nice tale. My brother-in-law and I went to the pharmacy to find some baby paracetamol to bring down her temperature. He speaks better French than I do (but not the greatest French) so was enlisted to do the talking and I would do the standing-and-not-understanding-but-grinning-and-nodding-a-bit-more-daftly-bit like the best of comedy duos. He was meant to ask for baby paracetamol for a young girl of 21 months. Simple enough, he starts talking and I do the nodding-open-mouthed grinning idiot character while also worrying about what drugs they’re talking about giving my child. However, he manages to tell the staff in his French, as he’s finding the words to describe our ordeal, that we’re in a relationship and have a young daughter who is sick. For a remote town in Southern France, the staff were wonderfully supportive. It was beautiful.

We are now in Bordeaux. Being pragmatic, which is not a state I am programmed to, we found a hotel-type thing close to the main station to catch the train to Paris in a couple of days. Hotels located close to major train stations aren’t usually in the best of locations I have come to observe. The hotel is fine – so far – the area however reminds me of B-grade crime films of the 80’s. Dudes in flat-caps standing in doorways mouthing toothpicks amid bad signage for erotica clubs. Basically Saturday nights from my youth.

Anyway — shall update all who are interested in a few days when I’ve once again eaten my body weight in butter.

Traveling with our toddler
PART TWO

Just to give fair warning, I’m really bad at keeping a diary or updating anything.

We caught the train South to Bordeaux a few days ago. What a bloody city!! I think we will have to go back. The morning before we left Paris, we spent looking for Bae, without any luck. I couldn’t leave without hunting for Bae and searched the gutters and the streets but Bae was not to be found. The toddler did however get her first carousel ride. She was a picture of pure happiness – until it stopped. Then all hell broke loose when she had to get off and her pleas of “one more” were — well let’s face it — denied. I’m a sucker and will give her anything she wants and I’m sure this will include horses and all manner of dumb things; but her mother is thankfully in charge of the family and right in that Adz has to learn she can’t always get what she wants. I ended up making her a doll from a champagne cork and a length of nylon cord. I thought it was cool and the wife named it Cork-head. Not quite the same ring to it as Bae, but I figured it was something she could carry around with her. Anyway, I don’t know where Cork-head is anymore, probably crushed under the wheel of a Citroen in a French car park. Cork-head isn’t missed. I ended up buying her a toy cat (as she loves meows as she calls them) so there is now another inanimate object for her to love; along with the frog toy, the beetle and the bracelet I also bought her. I did say I was a sucker.

But – onward.

The train to Bordeaux was a lot of fun for me. Watching the speed top out at 320kms was a real buzz. The seats were tiny though and I came up with a new reality series idea titled “Getting big guys into small places….” I think it would be a winner.

The toddler has been having a ball. We joined her uncle and aunts and oma and pa in Saint Cyprien and she has had no end of an audience. The town itself is medieval and the house we are in is 14th century. Updated to all mod cons obviously.
We are also right next door to the abbey. Right. Next. Door. Which leads me to the next part in this tale.

I am very jealous with how the toddler can sleep through pretty much anything. I wish I could sleep like she does. The abbey must believe the way to everlasting life is to ring the church bells every hour. Every hour just so you know when they drag you out of sleep at 3am with the clanging bells, that is 3am because the damn bells ring three times to tell you. These aren’t chimes either, they are enormous fecking bells in an enormous fecking church tower. Motörhead never played a concert as loudly as these bells ring. It was a novelty the first night. I actually smiled about it. “How cute” I thought.

During the day they mark each half hour. At 5am the bells ring like it’s the second coming. As though Quasimodo himself is swinging on the ropes – up-and-dfown, balls bouncing as he leaps back into the air. But then they do it twice!! Just in case you missed the first brass clattering world ending announcement. But the toddler doesn’t hear any of it. The clamour of the end of days washes over her, not even causing so much as a twitch in her angelic face. But me however, I’m dreaming up all manner of things I could do the bell-ringing bastard and his mallets of hell. However, I am an optimistic kind of fellow and tend to find advantage where advantage is placed. Hey, I’m awake, and with a subtle nudge in her mothers ribs and a twinkle in my eye — guess who wakes up then!? GAWD! WHAT? NOW YOU’RE AWAKE? I RUSTLED A SHEET FOR CRISSAKE!

Sigh.

We visited Rocamadour yesterday which is a village built on a cliff filled with religious buildings. The Black Madonna is in one chapel and pilgrims would make their way on their knees up the hill. It’s a big walk and the toddler walked the whole thing. She refused to be carried being the independent little punk she is. She walked all the way to the top, ran around chasing birds at the top and then walked back down again. I guess when blessed with the ability to sleep so deeply and for so long one has the energy to do such things.

Well, it’s dinner time. Then it’s time for a sleep filled with the bells of hell.

Adieu.

Traveling with our toddler.
PART ONE

Traveling with the toddler I knew it would be a bit of a challenge and I wasn’t wrong. But it’s also been hysterical.
3 days in Paris and the toddler already knows more French than me.
She is great at making friends with waiters and barkeeps which is very helpful. So many people kiss her that I’m kind of jealous.
In such a small room, it’s 3 to the bed, which means I get heel-kicked in the plums half-a-dozen times a night.
I’ve also been head-butted twice.
I’ve had a nipple tweaked before she realised her mistake of grabbing a man-tit and not her mum.
I’ve woken up to her staring into my face trying to pry one of my eyes open while repeatedly yelling – “awake!”
Shev loves saying “cheese” when her picture is taken which makes her look like some cute toothy blob-fish.
We had a conversation at 4.30 this morning about what we’d all have for breakfast before she got back to a blissful sleep and I stared at the beams.
She had a creepy little doll she called Bae that came everywhere with us. It was on the plane, the train, in the bed. It even ate with us. Bae mainly interacts with another doll called Abbey that is a Sesame Street Muppet and not creepy. I wanted to Punt Bae into the Seine so many times. I hated the stupid thing. Yet today we lost Bae to Paris. Don’t know where or when, but the creepy little doll has joined the other creepy critters of the city. I feel awful that she lost her best mate. I really do. I got sad. I considered going to look for it, but Christ alone knows where the fateful jump occurred and I’m sure God will judge me for my inaction. But I would give at least a couple of Euro to have it returned. 2 Euro – tops.

So. 3 days down. I can’t wait to see what the next month brings. Now we drag our asses South for Easter.

 

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