February 13, 2014 by Dadinator
I spent Saturday and Sunday nights alone. I left The Mamanator and the kids in Melbourne, you see Saturday and Sunday were high fire danger days. Our Fire Plan is simple: The Mamanator and the kids leave when fire danger is bad. Well really on this occasion they stayed in Melbourne and I came home. I took train up to Castlemaine, drove home and got in late. The next morning was a scheduled CFA training day, so I was down at the station ready to go. We looked at things, practised pumping water into the truck’s tank (draughting its called), looked at the radios and chatted about the coming day. It was supposed to be pretty hairy, and it did not dissapoint.
I was out on a truck from 2pm to 8pm on Sunday doing “asset protection”. Essentially we try to stop houses catching on fire by stoping the flames from getting too close it sounds simpler than it is. I don’t want to go into detail, but it was intense. Hot, smoky and hard work. We are going to have people on that fire – and another one nearby till at least Friday. The only other thing I will say is that as a raw recruit to the CFA, I was so grateful to my more experienced colleagues mates in the truck with me. I was looked after, and I think I made a big difference both in terms of my safety and in terms of helping me make a real contribution to the effort. I may post about CFA experiences at some later stage, but this post is about something else.
I came back to Guildford, at about 10pm, got shouted a cider at the pub, chatted to some folk and came home. I got home and checked the answering machine, The Mamanator had originally planned to return on Sunday, but that didn’t eventuate. The road home from Melbourne (The Calder Freeway) was shut all day and I was out all day so it would never have worked. I spent the last of my energy dicking around on the computer, and then I collapsed into bed.
I woke up spacey. Very spacey, clearly still tired, and pottered about. I called The Mamanator to let her know I was fine and find out when they were coming back. I called mum to let her know I was fine. The family returned Monday around 1pm, after a lot of time in the car, two children who missed their dad and lots of disruptions to their routines.
I was overjoyed to see the pair of them. The hug you give your 2 year old when you’ve been missing them is a special thing. I would not put The Lad down for the first 20 minutes or so. I noted he is learning the way of the “man hug”, patting my back as he squeezes me across the shoulder. I honestly have no idea where that came from, but there it is. And the Lass beamed at me from the car seat as soon as I saw her. I felt 20 foot tall. It lasted about half an hour till the first bout of tears. As all honeymoons must end. And for a two year old, they end fast.
Anyway flash forward in the day. We had a meal at the local pub for dinner. It was great, relaxed, there were some friends there too and The Lad played around on the beer garden almost constantly (it’s full of toys). The Lass, bless her, slept almost the whole time. We even got to eat dessert, which is rare for us.
We walked home, and I noticed The Lad running through piles of oak leaves on the ground. They had dropped from the trees early this year because of just how hot the heat has been. It’s been really really really really really really really hot. For many days in a row.
I had a thought. If he likes running through them, how much will he love running through them as they fall to the ground? So I grabbed a handful, told him “Watch this” and flung it into the air.
And so it began, and it was terrific. His eyes lit up, his mouth gaped wide and he giggled. Together we laughed and we ran through the crackle of dry leaves. I cast handful after handful to the heavens. He squealed with glee as The Mamanator pushed the pram home and left us to play. It helped tire him out and gave him an amazing time with nothing more than dried leaves and a parent to play with.
There are moments in this parenting gig where you want to throw yourself out a window. Where you feel like an abject failure – not as a parent, not even as a human being, but as matter in the universe. You feel like you’re wasting the universe’s time by existing, it can get that low sometimes.
Then there are moments of unbridled joy. As if you get the thrill of a roller coaster without the fear or nausea. Where each breath elates you, and you’re so happy you think you’ll explode and rain bright confetti on everyone. Yes, your innards turn into confetti you are that happy.
And you know what? Those moments can come from something as plain as throwing some dead leaves into the air. Go try it. You won’t be disappointed.