When I was young, maybe six or seven, I would go to my parents’ bedroom and try to sleep there, and when they eventually retired to bed, my father would have to carry me up to the dizzying heights of the loft extension where my bed was, and I’d get to cling to him on the way up the stairs.

Which was nice for me but I imagine inconvenient for my father.
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Daddy Daughters Day

Each year there’s a Bring Your Child To Work Day, which translates to an afternoon of the girls running amok in the office. If it were to be an accurate depiction of my daily duties, I suppose La Serpiente would sit at my desk and make a combination of obscene gestures and awkward puns about data, while Destroyer raided the microkitchen for snacks. But since that might be frowned upon by any right-thinking person, instead the kids are entertained with child friendly activities.

They both got to paint, and to make their own soap, both things they enjoyed but I fear gave them an unrealistic expectation of the world of work (and probably tells them I spend my days goofing off) but better than that was the Balloon Room.
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Father Of Tbe Year

Friday night is pizza night, and Destroyer has shown an obsession with chilli flakes. Up until now it’s been benign; one or two flakes sprinkled on a slice. Today, while I was distracted/stuffing pizza in my face she took matters into her own hands and covered her slice of pizza in chilli flakes. When we tried to wrest this from her, she wailed, and when we gave it back to her and she bit it, she howled even louder when the chilli hit.

To be fair, when I tried the monstrous chilli-pizza creation, it left my mouth burning and I’m not a two year old child.

We doused her with milk and she forgave me, and then I tried to get La Serpiente to tidy up her toys by telling her if she didn’t, Jason Statham would fly up on his massive, leathery wings and eat all her toys.

She didn’t tidy up, she just clutched me in abject terror.

Well, I saw “clutched”, I mean “ran headlong into me and inadvertently caused me to bite my tongue”, which is almost the same. I guess I deserved that.

My wife left rather than bear further witness to this debacle, so I put the kids in front of the TV and played them Dinosaur Trucks, which turned out to be terrifying volcanic apocalyptica when I was expecting dinosaur dump trucks and building site shenanigans. Destroyer’s psyche proved resistant to this, La Serpiente yelped and whimpered.

I guess it could be a long night.

Day 4 of 4

After yesterday’s beatific performance, today wasn’t so great. Maybe it was because I couldn’t sleep until 2 in the morning, just when Destroyer came in to see me in some distress, and we slept in her room for the rest of the night. Or perhaps it was that she’d grown tired of me after three days together. Whatever. We made it to Ikea, where she ran around quite happily until I told her she couldn’t sprint through the lighting and fragile ceramic section, and then, despite a babycinno at the Starbucks over the road, I don’t think she ever really forgave me. I can’t point to a particular conflict we had, but while on the surface everything was fine, I feel I wasn’t doing as well by her as yesterday.

We got home at 1 with new pillows and I tried to get her to sleep. I fell asleep before she did, and woke up, and she only deigned to nap at 3pm, which meant I had to wake her up at four. I’d got nothing done because she was sleeping on me, and then although we had a pleasant walk to buy pastries at the bakery, and she was fairly happy in the supermarket, she turned her nose up at my bribe of a Cadbury’s Caramel.

I got dinner into her (finally digging into the meals my wife had prepared and left in the freezer before she flew away) and got her to eat half a navel orange and some yogurt for dessert, but then I let her watch TV too long while I took a call about Excel spreadsheets (oh, the lucrative world of expertise in SUMIF formulas) and then she was in a mood with me, that consisted of lying on the floor and screaming when she was meant to be having her shower.

Still, we got through it, we got to bed, we read five books and then I sneaked out and did the washing up, the laundry and all the other stuff I should have done more than three hours before my wife’s return.

It’s something of a cliche that looking after children is far harder than people get credit for, but it’s true; it feels like I’ve had no time to myself these past four days, save moments snatched at midnight, while filthy crockery piles up in the sink and laundry metastasises. On the positive side Destroyer and I have spent a lot of time together, and I may be hallucinating but she seems to have suddenly shifted from her cherubic burbling (“gibber gibber breakfast gibber yippee!”) to full-blown sentences in the last weekend. I kind of miss the gibbering already.

But we survived, even with overreliance on takeaway pizza. Maybe next year I’ll take La Serpiente somewhere and my wife will take Destroyer somewhere else on the same weekend. Or just us adults will have a holiday. I don’t know.

A lovely Sunday

Destroyer slept in til 9:25 today, two hours later than yesterday. She came in and woke me up, and then a few minutes later a friend called to see if I’d go for breakfast over the road. So, remembering how sad I’d been for the last two days not to see anyone, I rushed downstairs and Destroyer and I gobbled a bowl of granola and marinated raspberries before sprinting back to the flat, because I had a brunch date at 11 on the other side of Singapore.

We went to a bakery called Firebake; it had four tables outside in the direct firing line of the sun, and a table for six indoors that was occupied by a family that appeared to have forgotten to bring their iPhones with them. Empty plates lay on the table, and the family were all just slouched at various angles, scowling at one another or the world and not speaking. After a while we got moved inside, and after the staff had tried to seat six of us on four bar stools, the Family Grump moved off and we got to sit down.

All through this, not a complaint from Destroyer. I feel bad to say how surprised I was by this, but she was absolutely the model child. She was happy throughout breakfast II, not making a mess, even without a sticker book to leaf through. I think this was helped by having a four year old girl to sit next to her, the two of them playing with Beany Baby unicorns, but it was altogether uncanny. Even when I gave her some of my pistachio sorbet and she was visibly disgusted, no vocal complaint was forthcoming.

So we took her for ice cream, and then to a friend’s condo, where she swam and played in the fountains for two hours, and finally I provoked a few years when we had to leave to get the bus to the Stadium. (Also, I’d run out of snacks.) She’d not had any attempt at a nap, but we got through another 90 minutes of play in the suspiciously murky waters of the waterpark at the Stadium, before a few tears (and a bladder full of pee squirted onto my shoes as I was changing her out of her swimming costume).

She remained mostly stoic on the way home, then devoured another few slices of pizza, complained in the shower when I washed all the lather off her and wouldn’t give her more soap, and only took an hour to have all her stories and agree to sleep on her bed instead of the floor, leaving me with time and space to put away laundry and relax. It was almost like I was a good parent today.

Tomorrow may be less fun. On noticing a stench from my pillow, I removed the case to find the pillow a nasty brown colour. IKEA may have to be our first stop. At least on a Monday it should be calm…

Halfway point

My wife and La Serpiente have now been away in Tokyo for two days, and Destroyer is now asleep once more, so there’s just two days to go before I can be irresponsible again.

Yesterday, I placated Destroyer’s demands by letting her watch Frozen as much as she wanted. I learned two hard lessons: “as much as she wanted” means “at least twice a day” and most of the first 20 minutes of the film makes me cry. I took her for a walk, she got very angry with me when I refused to let her play in traffic, we went running together, she went to bed without much complaint (although it was at least ten by then so she was exhausted).

Of course, I stayed up too late watching Game of Thrones and so I was a ruin when Destroyer came in at 720am. I was so tired that when I eventually got a coffee (1130) I fell asleep ten minutes later and woke up just after three. But at least we were both fully rested by then.

Meanwhile in Tokyo, my wife had to contend with La Serpiente having some kind of gastric issues that led to having to throw away a set of pyjamas and get the bed cleaned. So nobody was having a very relaxed time. I trooped off to the shops to buy new pyjamas, and cheesy puffs for Destroyer, and then we had to spend half an hour in Hamleys stroking electronic bunnies before we could go home. Oh, and despite my wife filling the freezer with nutritious meals for the rest of us, we dined on fried rice in a Thai Express restaurant. It’s like I’m not even trying.

At home, I gave Destroyer a little bit of TV (Ben and Holly, which I suppose is like Game of Thrones for kids – there’s castles, incompetent kings and magic and stuff) and then another run in the stroller, then a shower and into bed.

What I haven’t mentioned are the less glamourous parts, like the running battle Destroyer and I had in the morning about whether she needed a new nappy or not, and whether she was allowed to jump on her chair or not. I lost an hour of my life to that screaming rage. Or putting her to bed tonight, when she insisted she wanted to sleep on a hardback book, on the floor, rather than on her bed.

But although she wriggled and complained when I tried to leave her room tonight, after I went back in she was down in ten minutes, and I could finally lie on my own bed. Peace at last.

I’ve felt strangely lonely this last day and a half, with only Destroyer to talk to for most of it. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be less sleepy, and I also have enough interactions with human beings planned, to keep us all on an even keel. And if not, well, there’s just 48 hours until handover…