Guest Post: Daddy Corner #2
This article was published in the One Handed Cooks Magazine Issue #2. To find out more or to purchase online see the links below:
Winter Warmers Magazine – Available in Coles and all good Newsagents
by Dominic Rolfe
A few months ago, I had an uncomfortable moment in the work locker room. It didn’t have anything to do with Dencorub-soaked underwear, nor a wincing flick with a wet towel. Or even a barely-wrapped senior manager giving me a little wink as he headed for the stalls. But it was an instant that signified a singular development in my life as a new dad.
It started like any other Monday morning. I swiped through the door and saw the same bloke I’d seen almost every Monday morning for nearly two years. I nodded quickly and he nodded back, and I was on the cusp of launching into the usual conversation when he blurted: “So, we started potty-training on the weekend”.
I stared at him. Where was the usual armchair critics’ discussion of the footy – our team’s ruck strategies, that brilliant running goal, or being a handball away from winning our fantasy football games? You know, the important stuff. The vital, essential, Monday morning debrief. He forged on, unfazed by my silent disbelief. “She’s doing really well without nappies but we did have a few accidents. Lucky we’ve got tiles, not carpet,” he chuckled.
I mustered a tiny smile. A necessary, “hey, that’s great”. But inside I knew that was it. I was done. No longer was it mano-a-mano. From here on in, it was strictly dado-a-dado.
For weeks, I let the conversation just come to me. Resistance seemed as futile as trying to wrestle a screeching, planking child into their pram without bribery. I’d nod furiously, listening to the latest poo/vomit/eating-out disaster/triumph and be in and out of the shower before he’d untied his running shoes. Classic avoidance strategy but at least I could read the back page of the paper with the extra few minutes I now had.
But after a month or so, I’d been broken. Others started to join in the child-rearing talk, and no matter my shower-room speed, I’d become hopelessly ensnared in the web of kid talk. Like quicksand, the quicker I moved, the more I sank. “The most magical moment of your life will be when they wipe their own bums,” a complete stranger would regale, towelling down. “Well,” I’d parry weakly, “what about winning the premiership?” Not even a laugh, a miserable little murmur. “Mate, you wait ‘til you have to sit there next to the toilet bowl, waiting for the marble they swallowed to pass!” another would rejoin, the locker room suddenly falling about with laughter. I was invisible without toddler war stories.
So, in the great warrior tradition, unable to beat them, I joined them. I started slowly, telling tales of broken sleep, early mornings and the small prayer I say each night to the Saint of Sleeping Through. Easy pickings. Everyone has an opinion. “Keep them up longer,” said one. “Let them sleep more,” said another. “Feed them brown rice and organic yak milk,” proffered an inner city cyclist. “Play them Leonard Cohen records backwards”. Suddenly, I began to see the sport in it.
I began to build up my repertoire of questions. What colour should you paint the kids’ bedroom? Is it okay for them to chew on 20 cent pieces or should it only be 50 cents? Can they learn the value of money that way? Is ‘Trickle Treat’ the best title for nappy-free toilet-training ever? How many crayons can they eat before they develop an anaphylactic reaction? Is Kids’ Xanax OK to use more than three times a day? OK, so maybe I didn’t actually ask that last question. The banter came easily and after a while, I felt part of this whole other tribe. It was a blokey bonding experience without the nightclub stamp and stinging hangover.
It also built up my respect for that most important of words: perspective. Hearing tales of hosting dozen-strong sleepovers where a third of the kids develop midnight projectile vomiting bugs can help you get over the 5am starts. A story of a broken arm suddenly gives you another way to see that split lip. It’s not about schadenfreude, it’s about realising that the world of kids is not linear, not ordered and sometimes not fair. But it is your world and it is uniquely challenging and fabulous, no matter how much you sometime want to Sudocream over the pain with talk of more facile things.
I’m just not sure what will happen when the football season starts again. Maybe it’s time to move jobs.Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.