When I am driving, I often look in the rear mirror and see my two little sons, aged 7 and 5, staring back at me from the back seat with their irrepressible cheeky grins. And every now and then, I would lean slightly toward my wife on the passenger side and whisper: “Honey, you notice those two boys back there? Who are they and where did they come from?”
It is one of the many running jokes between us since we have become parents. Indeed, I often find it incredulous that we have children, given that my wife and I still behave like ditzy teenagers who probably wouldn’t get a job as babysitters if our lives depended on it.
Just the other day, my wife confessed that she came home from work and felt that the car-ride was strangely quiet, until she realised to her horror that she had forgotten to pick up our kids from her parents’ place!
I am not much better. Occasionally, I would see an advertisement for a concert or a 13-course degustation extravaganza at a fancy restaurant, and excitedly tell my wife that we should attend.
“But what about the boys?“, my wife would inquire.
“OUR CHILDREN!!!! You know, your sons? Who’s going to look after them while you’re drooling over Beyoncé in her short skirt or duelling with a 700g sirloin steak in a restaurant? Huh? Well? Pray tell!”
So, it is the case that we are parents and have been for more than 7 years. And while my scatter brain forgets this fact sometimes, there are many things in life now that remind me of it .
To start with, I can no longer sleep in on weekends. In the years B.C. (Before Children), my wife and I used to peacefully doze in bed on Sundays until 11am, waking up just in time for a leisurely brunch at a beachside café while planning where to go for lunch.
Now, we get rudely interrupted from our beauty sleep by 6am, 6.30am if we tell our boys to switch on the TV and leave us alone. And shortly after at that ungodly hour, my boys and I would often arrive at a café before the cook has even put on his apron. We would demand that he whips up pronto 3 eggs sunny-side up, 6 toasts with plenty butter, sautéed mushrooms with even more butter and all the bacon he could fit on the hot plate, fried extra crispy. While waiting for the pile of food to turn up, the boys would tell me what they want to do for the day, all of which are either impracticable (“Can we go and see a giant octopus, Daddy?“), imponderable (“Can you help me make a Harry Potter magic wand?“) or downright impossible (“Can we use a Harry Potter magic wand to fight a giant octopus, Daddy?“).
Secondly, I am constantly reminded that I have children whenever we need to leave the house to go somewhere. Before we had kids, walking out the front door was a simple affair. I say to my wife “let’s go, honey“, we put on our shoes, get in the car and away we go. Estimated time of the entire exercise? Approximately 3 minutes.
With our two boys now in tow, getting out of the house is now a seriously major production. Typically, the process goes something like this:
Me: Let’s go, everyone.
7 year-old son L: Just a minute Daddy, I’m almost finished with the iPad.
5 year-old son C: Where’s my shoes, mommy? I can’t find my shoes!
Wife: They’re right in front of you, C. Now, come on, put them on, we’re going to be late.
Me: L!!! I said let’s go, Stop playing the iPad and come NOW!
C: Daddy! How come L gets to play with the iPad and I have to put on shoes first. I want to play with the iPad.
Wife: NO! We’re running late. L, please come and put your shoes on!
L: OK, mommy, I’m coming. Relax, take a chill pill!
Me: FINALLY! Everyone out so I can put on the alarm and lock the front door.
C: Hang on Daddy, I need to do a pee!
L: And I’m thirsty Daddy, I need a drink!
By this stage, I’ve lost 10% of my hair and have an ulcer. Then I lose 10% more and get another ulcer when C yells out: “Daddy, I accidentally peed on the toilet seat!“.
By the time we are all finally strapped in the car, I’m already worn out and ready to call it quits, but not before hearing L scream out from the back seat: “Daddy, I drank too much water. I need to a do a pee too, NOW!!!“.
Estimated time of the entire exercise? Approximately 40 minutes, 45 if C managed to pee more on the toilet seat than into the actual toilet.
Speaking of toilet, if I ever want to double-check that I have children, I just have to go to the toilet with a magazine, with a plan to relax and enjoy a little quiet reading. Within a minute of closing the bathroom door, it is almost guaranteed that one or both of my boys would barge in, be it to pee in the toilet, see me on the toilet or plea to use the toilet. It is as if the bathroom is their exclusive domain and no man (or woman) is allowed to be comfortable in that sacred place without their supervision.
At the end of the day, however, I am very grateful of these inconvenient reminders that I am a father, a father to two wonderful boys. And I am fully aware that I should cherish all these “inconveniences” before L and C become teenagers. When they are likely to sleep in until 11am on weekends, sneak out of the house behind our backs and are too cool to be seen in the same room as their Daddy, be it the bathroom, the bedroom or the family room.
In fact, knowing how teenagers seem to behave these days, I would gladly freeze time right now so that L and C stay exactly as they are, notwithstanding the ulcers they cause me due to their mischievous antics.
Keep on pounding.