I am at work. My half day a week in an office. Young people, older bosses, a pregnant woman I see and imagine the weeks, months, years ahead. I talk to her occasionally: she spends a lot of time waiting for lifts and coming and going and leaning and puffing out her cheeks. I don’t want to tell her too much of course, so I just tell her my wife was the same. She wouldn’t know I had a child if I didn’t tell her that. The office is one of the few places I have no link to childcare. I am not a stay at home dad there.
I sit at a computer, clicking buttons, looking at newspapers, listening to the things the young people (really young, scarcely in their twenties) say to each other. It brings back memories. I don’t know what they think of the bearded, long-haired man who passes among them for a few hours a week. (Thank you to Sebastien Chabal, by the way, for making the image respectable, attractive even.) I sometimes rejoice in the lack of expectation, the lack of interest; sometimes I want to stand up and shout “I used to work on trading floors, wear suits, transact deals, shout into telephones, entertain in restaurants. I used to be someone else…”
My mobile phone rings. It’s my daughter’s school. She has fallen over and has “a small hole” in her head. I finish my work at ten times the usual speed (I’d like to know how to do that) and head for the nearby hospital. On the roads, nobody seems to understand I’m in a rush and cars loiter and arc lazily. When I arrive finally, she is sitting on her teacher’s lap, draped in a blanket as they wait to be seen. She seems dazed. I hug her and take a look at the cut. It looks as though she has been caught by a stray stud in a ruck. Her teacher tells me how loud the thump was when her head hit the floor, which is not something I really want to recap.
I take over and after a while we see the doctor, who refers us to a nurse, who glues her head back together. The hairwash holiday she will be having brings a watery smile to her lips. “I didn’t cry.” she tells me. I ask why not. “I wanted the doctor to say I was very brave.” she replies. I stroke the left side of her head. “It’s alright to cry.” I tell her.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
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Did they really say she had "a small hole" in her head? I would have passed out! Sounds like you did a good job of staying calm.
Oh, the poor little thing. I hope all is well.
Is it awful going back to work? I'm not sure I could go back to the "office" now after four years.
Please send the daughter a virtual ice cream from The Grocer to cheer her up.
Yes, they did Jen! I think they must have been panicking... I am generally calm to the point of inactivity.
All well now thanks Kaycie. Back at school and chattering away as usual.
I would say it's fine as long as it is in a part-time capacity with no expectations, Grocer. This is just a little bit of part time magazine work anyway. Thanks for the ice-cream!
I think its great that you told her that its okay to cry. Hell, I would have shed a few tears if I had a "small hole" in my head. What the hell? George Carlin would have had nothing on me if I had heard that over the phone. I would have used every curse word in existence. But that's not exactly the best way to solve a problem, now is it? You set a great example of how a parent should react in that kind of situation.
Thanks Terence. I have been accused of being too relaxed about these sorts of things ... Yes I would probably have too. I don't get my daughter's stiff upper lip stuff at all!
So that's where you've been. Hows the patient doing now? Did she get an ice cream or suitable treat later for being so brave?
School doctor phoned me and his opening words were 'Don't worry he's fine, but....'. The heart sinks to the bottom of your shoes. Glad she's okay and do hope the doctor did say she was very brave.
Are you going to Paris on Saturday?
Well, not the whole time Wakeup...! She has been getting lots of left-hand side kisses and hugs and mummy bought a couple of books for her today.
Yes, that's exactly the description that came to mind for the experience @TM, but somehow it didn't appear. Yes, both doctor and nurse did indeed say that. No, I'm not unfortunately but somehow it doesn't matter. I've been grinning my head off for two weeks..
Welcome back SAHD, we missed you. Hope the little princess is better now. My A & E could greet me by name by now, I think. That's boys for you...
OH, I want to cry for her! Hope she is okay; my heart goes out to her. I know the feeling Dad. When my little girl had an accident at school, I was in worse shape than she was...
What a brave little girl.
Thanks Tina. Yes, she's quite proud of her wound now. Two boys hmm, they would need loyalty cards I would think...
Hello Maureen. Yes, she's quite ok thanks. I tend to think of accidents in terms of rugby injuries, which fortunately covers just about everything! I will pass on your sentimment.
I like the idea of you moving incognito around the office, no one paying you attention. They say it's like that for a woman when she hits 50 and becomes invisible, so i've got that to look forward to.
How awful to get that call...and a hole in the head? It makes me feel queasy. Your daughter sounds a poppet, hope she's feeling better.
Up the Chabal look!
I've always been like that, Pig, it's a good and bad thing equally. Well they're all poppets aren't they...
Enjoy the final. And Chabal tonight!
Nice you're back but sorry re your daughter; it sounds OK though, doesn't it?
Have had plenty of A+E experience, including one Xmas when Son (2) appeared to have scoffed 1/2 a Xmas tree bauble...so he was duly rushed off to be checked out. Rather embarrassing next day to find the said bauble (with all its pieces) under the sofa...
Best wishes to Miss SAHD - inevitably such occurences are more harrowing and stressful for parents than our offspring!
It's interesting isn't it - this concept of being brave! Once solely the domain of boys it has now crept into the pysche of girls also - what next - "real girls don't cry" ?
We (as parents) want our daughters to remain sensitive, yet somehow it is no longer cool (at least in their eyes!)- my daughter is very similar in outlook!
As ever, a beautifully written piece, drawing all of the emotions of such an event into full view!
Hello Jan. Yes, all ok now thanks. I like your bauble story, sounds such a familiar situation...
Thanks very much VI. You raise a good point. I was quite surprised and what a modern phenomenon a father advising his daughter to shed a tear!
What a safe pairs of hands are yours!
If my daughter hadn't been crying I know i would have - well, afterwards anyway.
When daughter had a karting accident I was falling to bits inside but managed to hold it together till we reached home - dying a thousand, slow, painful deaths seems to be part of this parenting lark.
Well she made me cry! What a kid you've got, so brave! Did the doctor tell she was brave? I hope so!
I think you did well not to cry yourself, SAHD! Whenever my kids got hurt, as soon as they were sorted and OK, I could have cried buckets. Don't know whether it was relief or delayed shock, I still do it and they are 30 and 26!
Hope your daughter is OK, she sounds like a brave little girl.
AWW. What an ordeal for her and how amazing was she for trying to be so brave? Wee sweetheart.
I know that feeling so well 'I used to be someone else' - it takes a long time to let go of that, some days I wonder if I ever really have, fully.
How did job come about? Am riveted? Is it some chic office full of earnest young things forging their careers - and did you have to conceal your anxiety in front of them?
The thought of that thump! shiver... hope she's fine now.
It was encouraging to read you're back to work - I'm trying to do that. And you didn't used to be someone - you ARE someone :)
My heart missed a beat once when I returned home to an answerphone message which began "This is the school here. Your son has had an accident..." My heart picked up again as the message continued "Could you come by with a clean pair of pants and trousers?"
When, on another occasion, a nurse told me she was going to glue my son's head, I thought she was joking. "You think I'm joking" she said, as she produced the glue tube. They didn't have that stuff in my day.
Did you really finish your work before you left for the hospital? That was devotion to duty.
Sorry, my last comment wasn't very sympathetic. I meant to send some sympathetic blog vibes in the direction of you and your daughter. These incidents are horrid, and quite a shock, and "a hole in the head" does sound awful. The kind of thing that even Chabal would shed a tear over.
Hello Debio. It was her answer to my question which I found saddest in fact. And we spent a lot of time in hospitals when she was young, that could be it too.
Hi DJK. I hope not, it was alright really! Yes, he did. I don't know why brave is a good thing, but there you are...
Swearing Mother, did you swear a lot too? Yes, it tkes a firm jaw on these occasions doesn't it, although I'm not nturally over-burdened with emotion!
Annie, I marvel too, and yes it's a common sensation isn't it, although I believe you need to get a little bit of that back.
OM, it's a magazine and came about through my involvement with a financial publication. I don't think chic would come into it, convenience, yes. I was almost finished anyway, so I just rushed away in my usual style.
Yes, the idea of the thump is pretty nasty, Merry. Good luck - I have changed what I do so it is the beginning of a long process...
Iota - lol! Yes the glue is a new one for me, too. I was very nearly finished and they were on their way to the hospital. It would probably have taken longer to explain what was going on and tell someone else what needed to be done etc.
Can we PLEASE have a post that doesn't bring tears to my eyes??
I think I shall send your daughter a piglet when they are born, I feel she's just too adored not to have one.
Sorry Frog! I can imagine her with a piglet - that would be a lot of squealing...
Stay at home dad with super shiny halo - calmness personified! I greeted my daughter from school recently and was handed a note from Matron indicating that Rosa had suffered a minor head injury in the playground. It was nothing more than an extremely minor collision of the non bruising type but I still went weak at the knees...please pass on your rudiments of calm!
Hello Dulwich Teacher. No, halo I assure you; but yes I'm not the most excitable of people...!
I can't imagine what you must have been feeling when you got that call.
I'm glad she's okay. She is brave, so brave - even if she cried, I'd say that!
Oh, no. I'm sorry to hear about your daughter hurting her head. What a poppet to be so brave. Nasty for all of you. Wishing her a speedy recovery
Hi Carrie. Well I was glad it was a small hole anyway! Yes, she is a brave little thing.
Thanks M@L - all ok thankfully.
It's so awful when they tell you proudly that they didn't cry, when you know they would have cried if it'd happened at home.
It's all part of seeing them grow up and away, which is sad... if also a bit of a relief.
Hello Beta Mum. That's a good point - I hadn't thought of it like that. You've summed up childhood rather well!
Here I am, late again. Hell, I would've cried. Always tried to do the bravery thing when I was little and could never manage it - even now I cry too easily. Work - makes me stomach knot a bit at the moment - I am trying to get back to work, not with a great deal of success yet, it has to be said. I used to do the part time thing and remember that feeling of being invisible, of seeing glimpses of your past life all around you. A slightly schizo existence, but money needs to be earned.
Hi SM. Not late at all... No harm in crying easily is there? Yes, the work is difficult, particularly when City-based jobs rarely do part-time. It's a question of picking something and building it gradually I think.
How awful that must have been for you. Very worrying time I am sure. However, it sounds like you have a brave little "princess" on your hands there. Well done to her and best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Thank you CJ. All fine and nothing serious really. Hope all well with you...
Glad she is doing better! I remember calls from the school. Never did like that. Driving form home to the school always seemed like the longest drive in the world.
Yes you're right about the drives, MFB. She is a very happy girl as she hasn't had a hairwash for over a week now. We are going to have to do something soon I think!
Oh god, oh god, last to know as usual: now I feel SICK for you both, all useless and too late but hey, I am sending healing vibes over the blogosphere. Oh the lurching heartaches of parenthood, and the many incarnations and trying-on of identities we go through as we do it.
Oh don't worry Livvy, it's all ok now. You're absolutely right about the many vicissitudes though...
You are turning into a Rarely Sighted Stay At Home Dad...
I know Jan. Suddenly, it's been over a week already ... I must do better.
Glad she was ok and was so brave.
What's going on? I didn't check your blog in a while (crazy busy as usual), and I find only ONE new post? I'm glad I'm not missing anything, but I'm concerned! You used to write so frequently. Everything okay? Write more! I love reading your stuff.. x
Thank you casdok. Back to hairwshing now unfortunately for her. Not so brave about that!
Hi Lilly. Thanks again for your unflagging support! Sorry, what with one thing and another - I will explain, maybe in an entry - I haven't had the chance. Hope to get back to normal shortly.
ok, as long as you ARE planning on coming back. what with drunk mummy bloggering off and all, I'm getting twitchy.
Ouch. What a brave girl she is!
It's a funny feeling when you start to realise you're quite invisible to the younger generation isn't it?? I've been noticing it a bit lately - particularly with teenage girls.
Hello Pig. I am shocked by how quickly the time whips past between posts. There are drugs you can use for that twitching..
Hi Rebecca. Yes it certainly is. I became invisible once, before, then the hair and beard seemed to resuscitate me for a while. Now I've gone again.
You're not still drowning your sorrows, are you?
A permananent state of affairs @TM...
A "small hole"! Crikey! Poor dear, poor you!
Are you writing a book? Have you written a book? You write so beautifully; I am such a fan.
Hello your ladyship - thankfully all is well now and the hairwash holiday a distant and treasured memory for her!
Thank you for your kind compliment. I am trying to write something, yes, but nothing has worked out yet.
Very nice blog! I will be a SAHD in about seven months and have been looking around for others out there. I'll definitely come back to see how you and your daughter are faring. This is by far the most interesting and from the heart SAHD blog/site I have come across.
Hope your little one is OK! Kids seem to be pretty durable and bounce back quickly.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Ole and good luck with your upcoming sahdness!
(She's fine thanks, was almost straightaway as seems to be the case with children.)
I'm a bit late into your blog, but can appreciate the things you write about as I'm a stay-at-home Dad as well. The only difference is I have twin boys. They're six now, but I've been with them since day one. Anyway, I've been reading your blog and enjoying the things that you write. I also write a blog about the same thing, but only started it in February of this year so I'm about five entries into it. Cheers from the States.
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