Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Sunday, 5 September 2010

30 Minutes In The Life Of a Dad

You know how it is....or at least you do if you're a father. Somehow the day-to-day parental tasks discharged seemingly effortlessly by one's wife suddenly take on a whole new, and impossibly enigmatic dimension when she's not around. Welcome to the non-political world of Womble On Tour, who, when not ranting about the latest excesses of the State or watching his beloved Wimbledon (top of the Conference now, please note) is the proud and loving dad of 13-year-old boy/girl twins.

It all started easily enough. Mrs Womble On Tour is away for the day, taking part in a Crown Green Bowling competition. I've been instructed to pick up the Daughter (hereafter known as D) from cricket coaching and then await the return of the Son (S) from football practice. Then knock up some lunch. OK, no problem.

I duly retrieve D - on time and all - and make her a quick sandwich (she's due to go to the cinema with a mate soon) then decide on spaghetti on toast for S and me. Good call, I reckon; he likes spaghetti.

D eats the sandwich and then sits brooding that her brother hasn't come home yet; she's like an old mother hen. S eventually walks in, which means I can persuade D into the shower ahead of her afternoon out. S announces that he doesn't fancy spaghetti and says he'll make something himself. That'll be chocolate spread on toast, then. Then he goes to see his sister. Next thing I know, there is loud sobbing coming from the bathroom and S comes back, slightly red-faced and embarrassed-looking. "Dad", he tells me, "You need to go and see...she says she's started her periods". Oh, joy.

Men aren't geared up for stuff like this. And what's more, I'm not ready for it either. I know it's been coming - I've got eyes - but that doesn't help.

I knock on the bathroom door and see D, standing there, naked and crying, bloodied knickers on the floor. I don't know whether to hug her, comfort her or turn and flee. "OK, don't panic", I say, panicking.

I root through my wife's things, looking for some sanitary towels. No such luck. They're not in the bathroom cabinet either. D is in the shower by this time, and slightly calmer. "I think it'll stop now," she says hopefully. I'm no expert, but I know enough not to bank on her being right. She's still distinctly tearful. I set off to the village to buy some sanitary towels.

As I drive, I'm conscious that once I get the bloody things I'm not entirely sure how you fit them. Thank God there's an alternative to tampons; I'd be way out of my depth with them. And I'm thinking that really I'm a bit unlucky here, really; the waters breaking, or however you term it, when the wife is away. I was there for S, when he needed his first cricket box; I thought I'd done my bit. I'm also thinking that no daughter should have to go through this without her mum being around.

I get to the shop and of course I can't find what I'm looking for. I ask the Asian Bloke behind the counter and he directs me. Needless to say there's a choice. Well there would be, wouldn't there ? Normal, or Normal - With Wings. How the hell would I know ? I decide that wings sound good. I feel obliged to explain the purchase to the Asian Bloke, who duly sympathises.

I get back to the house. Smoke is pouring from the grill, the kitchen seems near ablaze. Transpires that S, having started making his toast, has then gone to offer D some succour and forgotten all about the grill. I turn it off, open every conceivable door and window, and tell S to bin the toast. "The bin hasn't got a bin liner in it" he says. "So put one in". "Where are they ?" "Kitchen drawer". I'm a bit short with him really, and it occurs to me afterwards that there probably aren't many 13-year-old boys who would try to comfort their sister over such a delicate matter.

Before venturing into the bathroom I open the packet of sanitary towels. "5 signs of protection" it says, but no bloody instructions (pardon the pun). OK, it can't be that difficult. I knock on the bathroom door and D lets me in. Out of the shower, but still naked and very emotional. "I don't know what you do with them", she says through the tears. "Don't worry", I say, trying to sound all parental and knowledgeable, "it's OK".

We open the wrapper on one of the towels. The promised wings are there, I note. One side is sticky. Best not get it the wrong way round, I think to myself. D hands me her fresh pair of knickers and there's an intensely award silence as I try to fit the towel to the right part, towel and fabric going this way and that. At this very moment, S walks in - seemingly oblivious and unashamed - complete with a roll of bin liners, to announce that he can't tear one off. And there we are, the three of us, D standing without a stitch, me fiddling with her knickers, and S with his bloody bin liners. And at this point, looking at one another in our little circle, we can do no more than descend into laughter; there's is just nowhere else to go.

For the record, D departed, suitably sanitised and protected, to the cinema; S eventually managed to bin his cindered toast and make some afresh. And I finally experienced a return to standard heart rate and,when I last looked in the mirror, my face had returned to normal from its brightest pink shade.

But should parenting really be so hard ?


The Filthy Engineer said...

I hate to worry you, but.

You're in for far worse in the dark days to come.
Boyfriends/girlfriends, illicit drinking/foul temper tantrums/GCSEs/etc,etc.

Just saying.

Joe said...

No offense but this is why I'm glad I've decided not to have kids, too much bloody work ;)
Well handled though from the sounds of it Womble :)