“DaDDYYYYY!!” comes the cry. “What IS it?” I ask grumpily. It’s not early, but it is morning.
I continue trudging upstairs with the pink-cup-with-cats –on-it full of milk and turn left into the living-room.
“Daddy. Look!” exclaims my daughter, surprisingly brightly, considering there is vomit on the sofa, vomit on the floor and vomit all over her and her nightie. It looks like an ectoplasmic explosion.
“Oh poor you…” I stammer. I fall to my knees and open my arms, but then think better of it.
I go and fetch the kitchen roll. (Douglas Adams was wrong: the most useful item in the universe is a roll of recycled kitchen paper.) I wipe up the semi-digested grapes and pasta, pull her nightie over her head and then put her in the bath as I used to do when she was a milk regurgitator. After she is washed and dressed I finish up the cleaning process, using a fork to dig out all the lumps from the weave of the sofa, and plenty of wet cloth arm-work. It is somehow reassuring to return to the simple days of babycare.
Later my wife emails me: Thanks for cleaning everything up. You are a true stay at home dad!
That’s nice: recognition. That’ll keep me going for a while. I may be two years into the job, but somehow I feel that it’s only now I’m passing my probation
My daughter sits on the dry end of the sofa, watching Big Cook Little Cook with a look of mild disgust. She refuses my optimistic offer of breakfast, but sips the water I have given her.
She complains that she still has a tummy ache. I reach over and rub her stomach solicitously, gladly wiping away the hurt. She shifts a little. “Is the rubbing making it better?” I ask. She looks uncomfortable, and after a pause replies “No daddy”.
It used to be that the tummy rubbing made her feel better; now it seems mainly to be for my benefit.