To be honest, I’m a bit of celebrity in my house. As a full time salary Dad that’s out of the house by 7 am and home about 6pm, I tend to get the best of my daughter. In fact it would be fair to say that she is completely elated to see me in the evenings when I get home with screams of delight and kisses as I walk in the door.
Interestingly, (and many of you relate to this perspective) up until the moment I walk in the door my wife is getting a lot less than my daughters best. Instead there’s a two year old, three hours from her last sleep (if she had one at all), still an hour away from her next one with her patience in tatters. Consequently there’s a mum with patience in similar condition and a reduced enthusiasm to find a win-win resolution to the night’s argument about whether teddy can come in the bath or not.
I’ve been guilty of thinking that it can’t be that hard to look after a toddler. I do a lot of looking after on the weekends and have a great time. But I’ve recently realised that looking after a toddler is always going to be easy when that looking after is full of adventures with Dad to the park or the shops, playing in the sand pit, riding around on bikes or scooters and most importantly sharing the parenting. Last weekend I got a little reminder of what happens on a normal weekday, without the adventures.
My daughter wasn’t in the best form. Three weeks of cold, molars coming through as well as a late night and an early morning had put her in a less than optimal mood. It’s a good example of how little I know that I hadn’t picked up on the increased amount of meltdowns, the lower threshold for disasters and the need to get dressed “by my own”. Had I put these signs together I may have known better than to take her up to the shop, without a pram, snacks or fluids. Sign number one missed.
We got to the shops but only after we negotiated which walls we could and couldn’t walk on, sitting in the middle of the pedestrian crossing and then deciding she needed to be carried. (sign number two…). On getting to the shops her hand was wrenched out of mine as she bolted away from me. Trying to keep the “casual dad” aura going (just look at any shopping center before 10:30 am on a Saturday morning) I jogged after her, got down to her level and reminded her that she couldn’t run off or she would need to hold my hand…”yes daddy”. That’s when she went passed the gift store grabbing every card within a meter of the ground and pulling them onto the floor (yip… sign number three).
Now, hand in hand we made our way to the supermarket where we had out next philosophical disagreement about whether we would sit or stand in the trolley from which she managed to grab as much as she could from the shelves as I pushed it around. The morning continued like this with her falling to pieces at various points, with increasing volume. When we got home it was with great relief that I got to share the “adventure” with my wife again.
So… here’s the insight. I’m lucky that I get to come home and be the toddler equivalent of Justin Beiber. I’m also lucky that most weekends I get to explore the world through a toddlers eyes but most of all, I’m lucky that the hard stuff normally happens on weekdays.