This morning I took the empty cardboard carton that had contained our new living room lights from IKEA down to the recycling bin outside our apartment block. The wind was gusting and so when I opened the box up to unfold it, various plastic bags began to fly out. It must have been quite comical to any onlooker, watching me swearing and running around after little teasing wisps of plastic. One bag blew into the trees running along the e6of the estate; I went to pounce, caught my foot on the edge of the footpath and found concrete flying up at my face.
I managed to get my hands down first, but I had bruised and bloodied palms and I banged my knee hard too. I’d hit the deck hard enough that my shoulders ached all day today, and my knee has been sore throughout. I swore a bit, stuffed the remaining plastic and cardboard into the recycling bin, then staggered home for my wife to paint me with iodine.
Then I took the girls out to the Botanic Gardens. I was on a mission to pick up a dressing up costume for Destroyer; La Serpiente has a bright pink vet’s outfit that she’s envious of, and my wife found somebody selling a doctor’s outfit online. However, I took the train to the Botanic Gardens, which put me 2.2km away from where I was meant to be meeting the seller, so I marched the kids through the baking sun in order to get there. I almost passed out myself (not much sleep last night, plus scant breakfast) and it was only the apple in my bag that saved me. Pushing one child in the stroller while carrying the other on my back was… hard work.
However, we made it just in time to collect the outfit (though the kids missed out on feeding the catfish in the Botanic Gardens pond) and then La Serpiente began to complain that she didn’t have a present when her sister did. I tried to placate her by telling her she could have something that cost the same ($5) as the doctor costume, but there’s seemingly nothing in the mall that satisfied her below $100. Somebody was going to be unsatisfied.
But then I was saved by a demonstration of traditional Chinese … well, Chinese something. There was a man who was throwing what looked like nicely painted garden pots in the air and then catching them with the back of his head. Then another man, five feet tall, stripped to the waist and entirely muscle, clambered up a metal pole and spun around in various ridiculous acrobatic poses. This was "vertical moonwalking" which sounds like something Michael Jackson had been working on. It was much more impressive than I’ve described, or the title.
But then they showed the strangest collision of physical talent and inability to market things properly: "Balancing Pots". That sounds like somebody rearranging various vases so they don’t fall over, right? Not a woman lying on her back, holding her legs vertical and spinning and throwing a huge earthenware pot in the air with nothing but a series of kicks, her face betraying no strain whatsoever. Lying on your back and raising your legs is hard enough on its own, before you introduce pots.
Then the first two guys brought out a 50kg iron pot (about the size of a wine barrel) and the woman kicked and spun that in the air as well, while my kids were totally enraptured and I was terrified that it would fall on her head and traumatise them for life. But she survived, we were amazed, and then they did five minutes of "Extreme Gymnastics" (mostly people standing on other people) before calling it a day. Amazing physical prowess, no idea how to give things interesting names.
I fed the girls cheesecake and drank a coffee, bought La Serpiente some stickers, and we took the bus to the National Gallery to meet my wife, who had been cleaning our old apartment while I distracted the girls. Destroyer went to sleep.
For the last week, we’ve removed Destroyer’s nap. I was very opposed to this, but it removes the constraint of having to be home in the middle of the day, and though they go a bit crazy by mid afternoon, Destroyer now falls asleep in the evening in five minutes, where previously she had the stamina to stay awake for an hour and a half. So that gives us back our evenings. Today, though, she was suffering from a cough and sleeping badly last night. (She can’t open the round door knobs in our new place and so when she woke and tried to come out of her bedroom, that provoked extra night time panic.) I let her sleep for fifteen minutes, then woke her in the Gallery and fed her pretzels to keep her copacetic until my wife arrived with cheese sandwiches and spelled me off. I went home, planning to work, discovered I was so tired I had double vision, and fell asleep until they got home.
Then we had another catastrophe. My wife bought some cough medicine for Destroyer, but knowing her antipathy to medicine, put the (flavourless, colourless) drops into a cup of apple juice for her to drink. Which would have been fine, but La Serpiente went and proudly told her exactly what was in the apple juice, after which Destroyer refused to touch it, and my wife, much aggravated by La Serpiente, poured her apple juice down the sink, so then my eldest was screaming and inconsolable for an hour, and we had to spike Destroyer’s watermelon with cough medicine instead.
At least they went to sleep quick (not even three books for bedtime tonight). I could then concentrate on my battered hands.