Thursday, 26 April 2007

Perfection

I woke this morning full of worry. Was I late? I wondered as daylight rushed in at me, accompanied by the ching-clang-ching of scaffolding up the road. Where was my wife? What about school? As a revving circular saw around the corner and a rumbling rubbish truck joined the party I began to make out familiar shapes around the bedroom. Gradually I realised that it was in fact my morning off. One day a week my wife takes our daughter to school, leaving me to get up when I want, unless I have something better to do than sleep. It’s a glimpse of freedom; a rear view mirror into life before parenthood. For one morning I can leave the plastic crockery in the cupboard and pass over the pink-cup-with-cats-on-it in favour of the china cups.

The galling thing about childcare is how near to perfection it is. If you weren’t sitting at home watching Lazy Town you could be watching the Cricket World Cup, sipping on a beer. The bus taking you on the school run could instead be bringing you back from a long lunch with friends. And of course if you weren’t spending half your money on your children then you could be buying a lot of exciting stuff for yourself. And to cap it all, what did you do before all this freedom was lost? You spent your days in the confines of an office, surrounded by people you wouldn’t ordinarily have passed the time of day with in the kitchen at a party where you didn’t know anybody and you were reeling drunk.

As the result of a complex process of negotiation I arrived to pick up my daughter from nursery on foot today. It turned out to be a bad day to choose, since it was raining and I hadn’t brought an umbrella. Still, this was unlikely to be a disappointment to her, since it meant a chocolate lolly from Waitrose. As she emerged, laden with bags and coats I couldn’t help noticing a crumpled piece of paper in her swimming bag, nestled atop a damp towel. I unfolded it and discovered a picture of a pink sheep with blue legs. “Who’s this for?” I asked, expecting the worst. “It’s for … you daddy!” she said, beaming, before adding “I couldn’t do it with white. I very love you.” Not a victory for her in the short-term perhaps, but a perfectly judged long term strategy.

6 comments:

Pig in the Kitchen said...

A fine post SAHD, I have been drinking Cointreau, but still, I would say, a fine post! And you got a picture! Yey!

Drunk Mummy said...

Excellent observation about "how near to perfection" childcare is. That's why I always feel so churlish when I have a little moan about it.

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Pig. Cointreau - how nice and more importantly perhaps how alcoholic!

Yes. It's a remarkable coincidence about the picture. I'm really not making this stuff up...

DM. In the so near yet so far category I think. So even more important to moan...

Sue said...

I remember once, before having the children, a friend said to me "having children is really hard work, but worth it".

I think I replied "how much is the 'worth it' bit compared to the 'hard work?'".

But when you've been given something by your children, that is totally out of love for you, then the 'worth it' bit stands out a mile.

A lovely end to your day.

Dee said...

Aaww.. see!! you get your own art work at last. And it doesn't get sweeter than this I would think ('I very love you').

Stay at home dad said...

sue - absolutely right. My time seems to have come!

dee - I know, I don't think I have heard anything that cute before... (sorry about the cricket btw).