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Archive for April, 2008

It is 6.45 am.

I can hear it before I see it, before I gauge it, before I’m even sure it’s real and not in my current dream, which involves Monica Bellucci, a gang of dwarves and some french onion soup at an outdoor cafe in the Italian alps.

“WHOO. WHOO. WHOO. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

The sheer volume of happiness is excrutiatingly grim. My knees ache from a pick-up soccer match last night which was played on a field that owed more to equestrianism than footy, and my side aches where I appear to have miraculously found a muscle beneath the middle-aged blubber to strain. 

“WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO WHOO HOO WHOO HOO WHOO HOO…”

Oh no. It’s real.

It isn’t me, it isn’t Monica, it isn’t even me and Monica, it’s my toddler-going-on-teenager.

I brace myself.

This will be, like most mornings, a barrage from the moment I open her bedroom door. Before I do, I must let Fluffy in the from the front stoop, shove my head into the teenager’s den of eniquity (with all it’s egregious teenage odors) and then exchange grunts with a person who has even less ‘WHOO’ and ‘HOO’ about him in the mornings than I have.

“Time to get up,” I grunt.

“I am,” he grunts back.

“No you’re not!” I grunty grunt back again.

“Errrrmmmpphhh!” he gruntles back in conclusion.

I turn his light on as I depart, simply to enjoy hearing one final tortured grunt, and slip into the bathroom to check e-mail before ‘the onslaught.’

When I get to her bedroom door, about 10 minutes later, silence falls. She’s heard my footsteps and something is happening. Does she have a sling-shot? Is she planning an ambush? Anything’s possible. As I try to shove aside the mental fog and contemplate exactly what treat she has in store for me, I take a quick check on the light levels coming out from under the teenager’s door. It’s bright, thus I am satisfied that he’s getting dressed.  I step into her room and see she is sitting bundled up, in the corner of her bed, blanket up under her chin, grinning and pointing at the utter carnage that has exploded across the rest of her sleeping quarters; three more blankets, 7 books, one Cars toy and two complete sets of stacking cubes, dismantled and strewn across the mattress. 

“Oh my word!” I sigh, remembering not to say ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ’ or ‘Jesus fucking christ’ as sure enough she will parrot me within minutes if I do so.

“Can I please wear my Mater jacket?”

“Not sure yet, just woken up…”

“Can I please please wear my Mater jacket?”

“Let’s change you first and put some clothes on…”

“Please Mater, Mater MATER MATER MATER…”

“TOO MUCH TOOOO MUCH, SYSTEM BREAKDOWN SYSTEM BREAKDOWN JESUSCHRISTIJUSTWOKEUP PLEEEEEEEEEEASE GIVE ME TWO MINUTES B…”

“That’s not my name…”

“SORRY! YELLOW TOW TRUCK!”

She looks at me with a little grin, starts to jump up and down on her bed and jabs her index finger towards the hanging Mater jacket. I let out a small sigh of exasperation. She will wear the Mater jacket and she knows it. I have somehow lost a battle that really wasn’t that important anyway. 

The teenager appears in the doorway. He has his jacket on and his back-pack strapped across his chest, yet I know full-well that not a shred of breakfast has passed his lips, let alone a toothbrush.

“Have you had breakfast?”

“No. There isn’t anything.”

I gesture towards the kitchen and the 4 boxes of assorted cereals plus instant oatmeals that I know are residing in the larder.

“There are 4 boxes of assorted cereals plus instant oatmeal residing in the larder for your dining pleasure.”

“Oh. OK.”

“Have you brushed your teeth?”

“CAN I PLEASE PLEASE WEAR MY MATER JACKET?!!!! MATER MAAAAAAAAAATTTEEEEEERRRR…”

“No I haven’t brushed my teeth. I will.”

“YES YOU CAN B…”

“That’s not my name. My name is…”

“Oh CHRIST, YES YES SORRY SORRY YELLOW TOW TRUCK YELLOW TOW TRUCK…”

I glance at the teenager.

“Are you going to dismantle the aqua-lung you’ve strapped on?”

“Maybe. Oh, and for lunch, seeing as it’s early out of school on Thursdays, I’ll just bring three pieces of fruit and have a sandwich when I’m home.”

“What time are you back?”

“Three, three-thirty.”

“Just make the bloody sandwich you lazy bloody sod!”

“Eruummpphhh.”

Cereals are eaten and I get a chance to drag some clothes on, scrub my teeth and brush my face. When the cereal eating (and ‘wearing’ in the case of Yellow Tow Truck) is over, the teenager loudly announces he is off to the bathroom. I shudder.

“2 minutes or 10.”

“Five.”

“Don’t bloody well make it 15 or we’ll be late ferchrissake!!!!!”

“Errayyauummmph.”

16 minutes later we are all in the car. I drive around the corner to pick up my morning coffee. Don’t ask me how I got there, how I navigated intersections, any of that crap because I-don’t-know. Let’s just call it necessity, because I am a dirty, filthy, grumpy and hopeless addict, hooked on morning juice for adults.

I take my first sip of the good ol’ daily shit-shifter, iced coffee with a double shot of espresso.

And a minute or two later, it hits me…

…and I smile…

…and finally, at 7.50 am, I am waking up. 

 

 

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I say good morning to my daughter by her given birth name.
Quite reasonable I thought (I HADN’T HAD COFFEE YET…A GRAVE MISTAKE).
Her face met my sleepy eyes with thunder and dismay, a wave of disgust rolling over her delicate features.   
“THAT’S NOT MY NAME, MY NAME IS ‘YELLOW TOW TRUCK!'”
Oh yes.
That’s right, I forgot.
Silly me.
I feel like SUCH  bad father for so callously forgetting my own daughter’s name, even though it changes with alarming speed. But Jesus, it’s exhausting. I mean, is it REALLY too much to ask that perhaps, just per-bloody-haps, I could be allowed to call my daughter by her (drum-roll) REAL NAME?!
Currently, her appointed moniker makes her (and by proxy, us) sound like native Indians, but trust me, deviate from these titles and you WILL pay my friend, you-will-pay.
Last week it was Mater, the week before Fifi, the week before that June and the week before that Tinky-Winky. This is, of course, all ‘good’ because it is her ‘imagination blossoming’ and is absolutely not a sign of multiple-personality disorder. Personally, I don’t wonder that we shouldn’t just call her Sybil and be done with it…And so it is that I walk my daughter to the local coffee shop, in her Puma soccer sweatpants and her Mater – “Cars – The Movie” character sweatshirt, watching her explain to the usual meeters and greeters that her name is Yellow Tow Truck whilst shrugging sheepishly whenever met with a confused stare. 
She is, indeed, the girl who finds the mud when others are trying to step around it at the park. She is the girl who throws herself into the stickiest sand when opportunity knocks, and she is the one who will interact with any body of water, whether duck-pond (swan in one uninvited) to puddle (I don’t think Fido had done that).
 
When she sneezes and two plugs of snot come flying out, before her fastidiously clean father can rush over armed with wet-wipes and napkins, she’s either wiping them across her face laughing or engaging in her own version of oyster-slurping, and if THAT hasn’t ruined your moment enough, when she picks her nose (because trust me, she DOES pick her nose!) she will try and eat the boogers before I have a chance to stop her. And she likes to wrestle. I mean seriously roll around grappling, getting picked up at high speed, thrown around and brought crashing down to the mattress.
Oh, and did I mention she has a drum kit because she likes drums, that she likes Blur’s ‘Song 2’ because they bloody well scream WHOOO HOOO all the time (something she does every 5 minutes of her waking day), that she likes Metallica’s ‘Battery’ and that she sings Tottenham Hotspur FC songs such as ‘All I want is a team of Robbie Keanes’ and ‘When the Spurs go marching in…’ and while I’ m here, I should mention that just after her second birthday last June, she broke her leg.
And when I take her to buy her a new dress (which I like to do because I genuinely get excited about the thought of seeing her green/blue eyes bouncing off bright new summer frocks) she fixes me with a look of near horror.  Indeed, if I manage to wrestle a dress onto her before she knows what’s happened, and tell her how pretty she looks, she will respond loudly ‘no I don’t look pretty!’ But if you remark that her hair looks like a scarecrow, or she has chocolate on her chin, or that she looks like she fell into a dumpster or that she looks like pig-pen, she meets you right back with a low, dirty chortle of pure twisted glee. An angel with a very dirty face most of the time, and a father who spends a lot of time trying to get her into pretty dresses to no avail. She is fantastic in every way, but she is an absolute, 100% tom-girl. I haven’t shaped it and I certainly haven’t guided any of it*, it is who she is and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it!
By the way, I have been Iggle Piggle, La La, 10 Wheeler, Doc Hudson and Fuzz Buzz, and it is my job to REMEMBER my name whenever I am met with a fresh-faced colleague first thing in the morning.
(*Alright, the Tottenham songs I admit to but NOTHING ELSE! Well, one other thing but I’m not going to admit it…)

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Whenever the teenager calls, my phone blasts a custom ringer. It is an emergency siren, the likes of which you might hear if your house was about to be hit by a tidal wave, or if a nuclear attack was seconds from melting your skin.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Dad, can I ask you a quick question?”

“Yes.”

“Can I get both my ears pierced?”

“No you bloody well can’t! Jesus Christ, what next? Gangsta chains? A tatt-fucking-too?! Good God boy, get a grip and be grateful I’m letting you get ONE pierced!!!!”

“Oh. Uhhh-huh.”

“OH? UHHH-HUH? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? BE AWAY WITH YOU AND BE GRATEFUL! AND KNOW IF YOU COME BACK WITH TWO I’LL TAPE THEM BOTH UP UNTIL THEY CLOSE UP AND DIE!!!!!!!!!!”

I hang up.

There will be rules.

No ‘pimp’ studs (BTW, how the hell did the word ‘pimp’ become so acceptable in modern vernacular? Last time I checked, ‘pimp’ was the word for a thug who mistreated women and hired them out for sexual favors. Now it appears that anything shiny, new or upgraded is ‘pimp’ or ‘pimping’), no big stupid hoops and no plugs the size of a water pipe.

It will be a small, discreet stud of some description.

It will be allowed to shine but not in a fashion that blinds me indoors.

And it will not usher in any other crappy teenage accoutriments, not yet anyhow, not while I still have a modicum of control over his life.

The emergency siren rings again. My skin starts blistering.

“Yes. What?”

“Err, my phone keep on turning itself off and…”

“It’s working well enough now.”

“Yeah but it turns itself of a lot and I really think I need a new ph…”

“NO! NO, NO AND NO. JUST GET YOUR GODDAM EAR PIERCED AND BE DONE WITH ASKING FOR THINGS!!! THE PHONE IS FINE. IT DOESN’T NEED REPLACING! IT DOSN’T NEED IT’S GODDAM EAR PIERCED! HANG THE BASTARD THING UP NOW!!!”

“Uggerrrruuuuugggghhh…”

He is currently like a materialistic shark, his appetite never satiated, his mouth always open, and I am like the guy with the harpoon gun-thingy who repeatedly tries to parry and jab his advances away.

Christ it can be exahausting work. Right now  I want a beach, a book, an endless string of cocktails and no fucking phones within 20 miles…

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Sandbox politics. 
Absurd, infuriating and guaranteed to create an inner monologue which will require every last ounce of strength to prevent the irretrievable journey from brain to mouth. 
Take, for example, the concept of toddlers sharing. 
Now to me, sharing is a pretty easy concept to get across to your wee ones; child has a few minutes with object A, then they are told that it is time to give object A to the waiting child. And if object A is snatched by your child from another child, then your child is briskly told it is unacceptable behavior and your personal intervention guarantees that object A will be returned to the hands from which it was grabbed. So imagine my horror when I saw a child at our local kiddie gym who belligerently refused to give up a turn on the one swing in the facility! Crimeny! Useless parent shocker! My horror was not for the child but for the feckless moron of a Mum who purported to be a positive influence over this grunting little horror of a brat she had no doubt carefully nurtured to be the rudest toddler in the world. The conversation went like this.
Feckless moron: “I don’t think X is very good at sharing.”
Me: “Errum, haha, no, it can be tough having to help them deal with it…”
Feckless moron (to toddler in a koombayah voice): “Now listen X, that’s really not very nice is it? Could you get off now and let her have a turn?”
Her toddler: “NO! NO! NO! MY GO MY GO MINNNEEE NURRRFFFFNNNNOOOO!”
My inner monolgue: “Jesus Fucking Christ woman, take the brat by the hand, pull him OFF the swing, sit him ON your lap and briskly explain what the fuck is wrong with his behaviour? I mean, how hard IS that?”
Feckless moron (a hair above koombayah voice): “X! I won’t tell you again, you really need to get off the swing honey, because (adopts lilting twerpish child voice) ‘udder childwen want to have a turn.’ “
Her toddler (sounding like a dirty great swamp-thing):
“NOOOOOOOOOAAAGGGGUUURRRGGHHHRRHRGGGGGHHHH!!!
My toddler: “I wanna go on the swing now Dada, please can I go on the swing now please?”
(IMPORTANT POINT; THIS IS NO EXAGGERATION.  OUR HOUSEHOLD PURSUIT OF THE WORDS ‘PLEASE’ AND ‘THANK YOU’ HAVE BEEN SEEMINGLY SOAKED UP BY OUR WEE ONE).
Me: “I know XX, I know, it’s just that this child’s Mom seems to be having DIFFICULTIES dealing with her boy, he might just be really cranky, I’m sure he’ll be off in a moment.”
My inner monologue: “I mean, why the fuck hasn’t this fucking inept fool stepped in and TAKEN CHARGE OF MATTERS, I mean, WHO’S THE FUCKING PARENT AND WHO’S THE FUCKING CHILD, HELLOOOOOOOOO, DOES YOUR RUG-RAT BEHAVE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME? WHICH ONE OF YOU ASSHOLES DID HE LEARN IT FROM YOU ‘P.C.’ BULLSHITTER…”
I got a little concerned that my inner monolgue had done a runner out of my incredulous gob; thankfully it appeared not, as the feckless moron continued twittering away about how “difficult” it was to “handle” these situations whilst not moving so much as one inch of an ass-cheek towards the child.
My toddler was strangely quiet, as if even she could see the absurdity of it all.
And I threw one, last, waning grin at the feckless moron, realizing that the only hope I had was to quit before it got ugly.
And trust me folks, it’s getting pretty goddam ugly out there, especially for those of us who actually care about our work as parents…

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Is it just me, or whenever you wander down to the playground with your child during the week, Mums look at you with the sort of stare reserved for bums, pedophiles and wasters, or perhaps even a glorious combination of all three? And then if your little angel comes off the slide a little too hard and bumps their bottom, thus inducing a waterfall of tears, if you’re not seen to be applying immediate triage services along with more hugs than a Grateful Dead reunion gig, then you are obviously just another clueless, feckless male moron who somehow got visitation rights for a couple of hours and should not be allowed ANYWHERE NEAR CHILDREN BECAUSE YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT YOU’RE DOING?!?!!!! And hey, here’s one for all you daring Daddies out there…try saying a simple ‘hi’ or ‘your little one’s a cutie’ or even ‘have you got the time I seem to have forgotten my watch’ to one of these Gucci’d up souless shopping vessels, and you’ll be lucky if they haven’t started flailing their fake-tanned arms screaming ‘FREAK FREAK HE’S TRYING TO HAVE SEX WITH ME!’ at the top of their voices! And so it is that the Monday to Friday park-dwelling Dad is afforded all the warmth, love and respect of a leper wearing an ‘I LOVE AL QUEDA’ shirt, which is PRECISELY why the next time I head to the park during a weekday with my toddler I shall be wearing my SLAYER anti-christ shirt, because goddam it, if I’m going to do the time I might as well fit the profile of the crime…

 

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