Monday, 11 June 2007

Normal Service

It’s Monday and my daughter is in a bad mood. My wife was up early and did the pink-cup-with-cats-on-it and the chocolate-cereal-in-a-bowl. I arrive downstairs and say hello and then fetch the pink-brush-with-fairies-on-it. I brush my daughter’s hair as gently as I can.

“OWWWW-EERRR!!!”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t you think her white dress looks lovely?” says my wife from the other side of the room.

“Yes”, I say “Very pretty”.

“No, don’t talk about me” says my daughter grumpily, ramming her finger up her nose.

“Why not?” asks my wife, smiling gently.

“Now you’re laughing at me” she says.

My wife is about to say something. I say “No we’re not”, and stroke my daughter's hair, since I’m sitting closer.

We both watch her silently. It reminds me of the other times she has shown signs of growing up; adult traits appearing suddenly like shoots. I think you have to nurture these. It is easy to miss them as life rumbles past. If you trample on them each re-growth is more difficult. One moment you’re changing a nappy, the next they’re buying you a drink. It all happens more quickly than you’re prepared for.

I’m in a bad mood too, I realize, as I make my way through London traffic like a wave through mud. Pedestrians try to throw themselves under my wheels, roads are mysteriously closed off, inside other vehicles faces are clenched and set. I lose my temper with a minicab which veers into my lane and a schoolboy who is walking along the middle of the road, hooting grumpily and at length. In the end I drop my daughter off at nursery and my wife at the tube station.

Later I am at home, typing and listening to the radio. The Daily Service is on. It’s somehow become my favourite programme. I don’t really listen much to the spoken parts, I have to admit; but the music speaks calmly and poignantly. I may choose to ignore the message but I can’t resist the beauty of the telling.

25 comments:

Iota said...

As number 3 of 4 children, I always thought that part of family life was learning to take being laughed at. That was until I had children of my own, and had similar experiences to the one you describe. But we can't be affirming ALL the time, can we? Or can we?

DevonLife said...

Oh stay at home dad, don't those moments of time passing just catch in your throat and send memories spinning around your head.

Stay at home dad said...

Hello iota. Yes, I can imagine you might have a had a tough time... It's a good point, but I think it's different to laugh when someone is feeling vulnerable.

I'm sure children sometimes feel noone takes them seriously; particularly first thing on a Monday!

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Devonlife. (Sounds good!) They do, they do. The spinning is getting faster too...

beta mum said...

I used to hate it when my mother laughed at me. I was an only child without the cut and thrust of siblings to get me inured to it.
I try not to laugh at the chldren when they're not in the mood to cope, but sometimes I don't hide it well enough and they're very quick to notice.
And sometimes they just wake up feeling cross and ready to pick fault with everything, even when they're not tired.

Drunk Mummy said...

I am well past the nappy changing stage, but still waiting impatiently for one of mine to buy me a drink. It probably won't happen until they are at the stage where they are changing my nappies!.

Stay at home dad said...

Beta mum - yes, sensitive things, children. I guess it doesn't do to analyze too closely.

DM - you will then be 'drunk granny' of course...

Sparx said...

I can't wait for this bit, when the spud starts talking back... must remember not to embarrass him...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Why do all kids pick their noses?

Stay at home dad said...

Sparx, you will of course rarely do anything else...

Stay at home dad said...

I did hear somewhere that it's a good way of building up immunity, CJ; unfortunately my daughter has a habit of combining it with thumb-sucking so it has developed comfort status too...

@themill said...

I kept a notebook with all the amusing/interesting/sad observations of my children. All of them love reading it now.
Baggy bottomed second son too combined the nose picking with thumb sucking. Thumb in the mouth, index finger up the nose. He's now 18 and the thumb sucking has stopped but sadly not the nose picking!

Stay at home dad said...

@TM, we might as well stop telling her not to now then!

Livvy U. said...

'The beauty of the telling' is what I enjoyed most about this post. Thank you.
Livvy

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Livvy. Funny how the odd word or phrase always sticks out, reading others' blogs.

carrie said...

I am convinced this instant "moodiness" and aversion to parental hair-brushing is a three-year-old girl trait, as my boys were nothing like this.

Even so, I wouldn't trade it . . . and I doubt you would either.

Carrie

Stay at home dad said...

It's another blog, but I find boys amazing, being used to a girl. And I can see no link with me at all. Yes, certainly wouldn't trade it..

Gwen said...

I remember once when I was small I was having a tantrum and my mum saying something like it was OK because it encouraged my individuality. That stuck with me and now makes me feel now so bad if I throw a wobbler (which I try to do less and less now - hopefully)

Stay at home dad said...

Why does it make you feel bad Gwen? Because it is so understanding?

debio said...

I think it must be a man-thing to be able to tolerate grumpiness; I always pick my daughter up on it but my husband either shrugs or attempts to find out the problem.
I am so wrong - you have just illustrated that - thank you SAHD - everyone's grumpiness shall now be excused and accepted by me.

Stay at home dad said...

Next stop Damascus Debio!

Gwen said...

I do still have a slight guilt trip if a throw a wobbler now that I am supposed to be a responsible adult. But it still happens. I'm one of these people who is quite laid back and then something will really annoy me and I will just explode.

Stay at home dad said...

You and me both Gwen.

Annie said...

I hear myself constantly chanting 'stop picking your nose' these days - I have to say there is some comfort in knowing others' kids do it too!

Stay at home dad said...

Take comfort where you can, Annie! I have to say, it's in the DNA on my wife's side...