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.”
“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: