I’ve been a parent for almost 5 years now and in all that time there haven’t been many days that haven’t been pretty much awful at least for some proportion of waking (or sleeping) hours. But when fatherhood pays off it’s such a high that just one more or less non-bad day can make your heart fill with joy. And one day of heart-filled joy makes all the years of uphill struggle to get there worth it.
I drove my daughter to her gym class and she wanted me to give her sums to do and so when I asked her for example what eleven plus three was, I could hear her counting the whole thing on her fingers (even though the sum required her to use one hand twice). She got it right too. Later she’d show me how high she could count with every number ending in nine having an extended last singsong consonant as she tried to work out which number came next. You forget the joy of learning to count once it becomes second nature. This was a thrilling adrenaline packed ride for her, as she surprised herself by her own knowledge.
She was a fizzing delight as we walked from the car to the class too, insisting on kicking her way through the pebble strewn border to the path, like the crazily spontaneous heroine of a French film (I now realise that those heroines are in fact just behaving like children, which suddenly makes it odd that they are romantic ideals for some). We chatted and sang and laughed and joked and I realised that nothing in life is as good as this.
Later I’d take her and her brother up to the rec to cycle and scoot on the basketball court. Again, just tremendous fun, even the bit where my daughter realised she needed a poo and I had no option but to take her behind a bush and hold her as she did her business like an animal, whilst trying to stop my son running off. It was the best fun you can imagine involving someone else doing a shit - well unless you have a very different way of looking at the world than me.
Some other kids turned up and everyone started playing football. My son was a couple of years younger than everyone else, but really wanted to be involved. But of course it was too hard for him to be. So my daughter chased after the ball, picked it up and brought it back to him so that he could have a kick. Come on. If it’s possible for something to burst and melt simultaneously then my heart did it today.
I was tired as Hell after the minimum amount of sleep after last night’s gig, but still enjoyed pretty much everything today. Not quite out of the tunnel but certainly can see the light at the end of it and hopefully a few years before we enter the more upsetting tunnel of adolescence.
Having little idiots to remind you of how much fun the world is, is a great privilege and joy. And the jail sentence that comes before you get to this point is more than worth it. Though this might just be Stockholm syndrome.