July 21, 2015 by Dadinator
The day had turned.
Somewhere between the second park outing and home it had turned. His tricycle had crossed some invisible line between sweet and sour. I am not sure when he crossed it. Was it leaving the park? Climbing back onto the trike? Moving from sealed road to dirt road? Rounding the big tree? Turning onto our driveway? It was somewhere on that journey, because by the time we were home he was in an almighty stink.
I was making cheese for the first time, and during some of the stages that involved waiting I took the kids to the park. We’d been out while I was draining Whey off the curds, and we’d returned after I’d put the cheese in to cook. It was Haloumi, and I was nervous about how it would turn out.
On both occasions my son spent a lot of time climbing up and down the play equipment. Well climbing up and the jumping off it in a way that I wasn’t quite 100% comfortable with. He had also managed to go a couple of rungs across a monkey bar with only a little bit of support from me, he is always growing and getting stronger. His little sister had spent her time trying to pedal the trike, which she was too small for, and sliding down the slide. It had been great fun and wonderful to watch my children carrying on so independently and with such joy.
Leaving the playground hadn’t been an issue. A blend of confidence, assertiveness and enthusiasm from me had seen to that. The Lad was riding while The Lass was in my arms being born homeward towards the setting sun. That’s not a metaphor, we actually do live due West from the playground and the sun was dipping in the sky.
He peddled up the hill slowly. There had been a car or two coming passed us, but we’d avoided them without much issue. Every time I’d guided him off the road to give way to an automobile he’d managed to run his front wheel into my foot. Each time he picked out the little toe of my left foot, which I’d stubbed a or so week ago and was still aching. Each time the toe was struck it hurt. Considerably.
I stood holding the gate open for our children as my daughter jumped up and down in puddles and my son assaulted the slope. I wasn’t sure of the time, I don’t currently own a working watch and I’d left my phone at home. He was taking his time. He’d stopped to throw rocks into a drain near our house and watch them splash. The Lass’s pants were starting to wick water up from the puddles towards her knees before my eyes, and I suddenly became rushed.
The Mamanator was ill, what if I had to throw together dinner? What if she needed something? What if time had gotten away from us? WHAT ABOUT MY CHEESE? PLEASE THINK OF THE DELICIOUS CHEESE!!!!
As I look back on it now, I think that was the moment when the day changed, when I changed, but I’ll come back to that.
Exasperation is infectious. I tried to move The Lad along. As we approached the driveway he asked to do “laps” which meant doing a circuit around the potholes, and my immediate response was a sharp no, as I continued to try to herd my children through the gate, which I managed.
I got The Lass inside and unshod. I ran down to check the cheese, it was very important to me. The Mamanator had taken good care of it. while The Lad refused to get off the trike. I lifted him off the trike and he ran off. I offered him a staff (a piece of a fallen sapling) to play with and he dropped it on the ground and yelled the toddler equivalent of “I’LL SHOW YOU WHERE YOU CAN SHOVE YOUR STAFF DAD!”, before storming off around the house. I went inside to check on The Lass, and to take a break from the human volcano that my son had turned into.
Still, I had to go out there to retrieve him and drag him inside, it was getting cold, really cold, and dark. He came in reluctantly, but left the house again a few minutes later after I told him to take off his boots. He was throwing them out the door, leaving me to retrieve them.
After a bit of TV it was dinner time and it started up again. He was hurling spaghetti around everywhere, making horrible noises. It was a mess. He wouldn’t try the sauce. He wouldn’t touch the vegetables. The Lass was starting to follow his example. And both The Mamanator and I were nearing the end of our tether.
And then there was the bath. Cars, splashing water everywhere, snatching of toys. There was screaming, yelling and fuming by me. At the end of the bath The Lad went off. I’d taken his cars away because he’d thrown them or because he wouldn’t stand up so I could get him to bed, or because of something or other. He kicked his legs up and down and a torrent of water cascaded over the edges of the bath. I threatened him with no story tonight, I told him how upset I was and how tired I was. I told him that I didn’t appreciate his behaviour. I told him things I probably shouldn’t have.
Later he was in bed. He had thrown himself around. He hadn’t stayed still. He was making silly noises and I thought he might wake his sister. I walked out for a while and he howled.
Howling for me. Howling at me.
Howling because of me.
I closed my eyes. I breathed and I thought. I returned. I was always going to return. The Mamanator had read him a story. I just sat with him, feeling guilty. Feeling sadness. Feeling failure.
“Hey Lad. I love you. You know what I really enjoyed today? I loved the way you rode your bike all by yourself to the park, and the way you played with your sister. I loved the way you were polite and confident with those big girls who were playing in the park. I’m proud of how you were when we were out shopping earlier today, you listened really well. And thank you for turning off the TV straight away every time your were asked, that was really helpful”.
I must confess something to you now. A few nights earlier I’d made this forgotten resolution to myself to tell him what I’d enjoyed with him each day before he went to bed, to tell him that I was proud of him and why. To remind him I loved him and remind him that he does good things all the time. To remind him how happy he makes me and how much fun we have together.
And to remind me too.
It’s important to do. Each day.
I need to do it more. Each day.
Each and every day. Even days like this one.
And the cheese? It was delicious.