For the last year, as far as Frankie is concerned, she has spent every day at home with her best friend, Mum. She gets to play with her toys, go to the park or the zoo, and catch up with some of her buddies from mother’s group. Every day is a ball. Life is grand.
But then, all of a sudden, everything changed.
Two weeks ago, my wife resumed part-time work, meaning that for three days a week Frankie was to be placed in day care. Of course, being a supreme tactician who could out-strategise Hannibal of Carthage, my wife orchestrated an arrangement where Dad would be the prick who bundles her into the car in the morning, drags her through agonising slow-moving traffic, before finally dumping her in a weird place full of strangers. Then, at the end of the day, Mum gets to ride in on a majestic white horse and rescue her from her dreaded captors.
Deceptively so, the first day wasn’t at all bad. Frankie calmly sat down, played with some toys, I said goodbye and that was that. It was, however, purely a case of ignorance being bliss.
By day two, she had already cottoned on to the obvious rouse, and was acutely aware that I was merely a prison transport warden shipping her off to the Gulag. Upon arrival at the penitentiary, Frankie immediately lost control over any and all bodily functions and collapsed on the ground like an inanimate puppet. Imagine that Gepetto had finally had enough of Pinocchio’s shit and cut the strings. This is Frankie’s new trademark move. A sneak preview of her blossoming tantrum throwing abilities.
So, I got down on the floor with her, where she threw herself on to my leg like a rag doll and attempted an impression of a limp noodle, preventing me from moving, and threw her head back and screamed to the heavens like a Peanuts’ cartoon character on the set of Platoon.
After gradually detaching myself, I had no choice but to back away slowly, while she clamoured at me with her hands like a distraught child being separated from her parents in one of these ‘virus outbreak’ movies.
And that’s how we start our mornings now.
The other major ongoing concern is bestowing me with such a major responsibility in the early hours of the morning. I am as much a morning person as Keith Richards is an advocate for clean living.
And on that note, If you’ve ever spoken to an alcoholic, they’ll tell you that one of the scariest things about alcoholism is the recurring blackouts resulting in total memory loss. This is something that I have had to live with for most of my life. Not the alcoholism (in my line of work that’s just called ‘being a writer’), but the blackouts.
From about 7-10:30am every morning, I am about as useless as an unactivated almond at an inner suburban mother’s picnic. The prime example being only a few days ago. I received a series of texts from my wife informing me that I hadn’t left Frankie’s backpack at day care, and that she’d had a huge poo blow-out and now had no clothes to wear. The day care people had to dress her in some ‘loaner’ clothes. I imagined that Frankie was now likely sitting there in a Hessian bag, or a wooden barrel with shoulder straps.
To me though, this whole scenario made no sense as I did distinctly remember unpacking her water bottle. I even gave the day care girls some cookies that my wife had baked… so I had to have left the backpack there. All that stuff was IN the backpack.
The only other possible option was that I had unpacked Frankie’s backpack and then somehow left with it myself. Which would mean that, and you should picture this, a bearded, tattooed man in a Faith No More shirt had walked OUT of a day car centre wearing a tiny backpack with a smiling watermelon on it, then placed the backpack in the back seat of his Liberty GT, before driving off. What a ridiculous sight that would have been. Which is, of course, precisely what I had done.
It’s a miracle that I manage to leave Frankie there every morning, to be honest.