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