This did happen. Thought I'd write about it from the third person. Enjoy.
9:51. The microwave counts down inevitably, silently.
It isn’t cooking, it is counting. Counting down. Simon doesn’t usually use the timer feature to remind him when the ‘no brand’ spiral pasta is al dente, or something close to al dente, but Simon is tired, and checking pasta for two kids who may or may not be fussy tonight is something he can’t be bothered with.
His daughter, Lola, two years old, is at his feet.
‘Pick me up, Daddy.’
‘Honey, I’m trying to cook dinner.’ In truth dinner is pretty well organised, the pasta sauce has been pre-prepared and only needs heating, the garlic bread is in the oven, and the ‘no brand’ spiral pasta is contentedly bubbling away with...
9:01 to go.
‘Pick me up, DADDY!’ More urgent this time.
Simon looks around the kitchen. It isn’t strange that he should do this, he knows the room, but he doesn’t really know the room. He and he wife, Trinity, are separated, and have been for 15 months. In that time she has moved things, given them new homes, and he doesn’t always know where something can be found, or where something belongs. His eyes come across a tub of Playdoh and a bucket of accessories on top of the fridge.
‘Do you want to sit at the table and play with the Playdoh?’ Simon asks his little girl, more in hope than anticipation.
He sits Lola in her booster seat at the end of the table and places the blue Playdoh in the yellow tub in front of her.
‘Open it, Dad.’ Simon complies, and ventures to the pasta to give it a perfunctory stir.
‘And the toys!’ She is referring to the larger bucket that contains the cookie cutter shapes, the roller, the plastic scissors that could only cut Playdoh, the press to make Playdoh spaghetti, etc. etc.
He offers her the bucket, telling her she can choose five of the colourful plastic accessories. The tub has about thirty in it; he doesn’t want to be packing up thirty pieces in...
Lola takes three handfuls of accessories and ends up with seven pieces. She is happy with that, so is her Dad.
She busies herself pulling apart her Playdoh and doing nothing very creative with it. At this time Anzac, her older brother, three and a half, wanders in. He’d been pretending to surf on a piece of cardboard in hallway, and is still naked from the bath he’d had 15 minutes earlier, actually, naked apart from the pale blue Haviana thongs he is wearing.
‘What’s Lol’ doing, Dad?’ His interest sparked by the apparent excitement happening with Playdoh and accessories at the kitchen table. Without waiting for an answer he climbs onto his seat just to the right of his little sister.
Seeing potential for trouble, Simon takes a seat at the table, ready to adjudicate over the inevitable squabbles. Lola looks suspiciously at her brother. At two, she knows this is how things work; she has something, he wants it, sometimes it’s that he has something, she wants it. At 32 her Dad also knows how things work, and takes the opportunity for a pre-emptive strike, ‘Lola, how about you give Anzac this much,’ breaking off half of her portion of Playdoh, ‘and you can have this much,’ returning half of her original amount. For a nervous moment Simon holds his breath. It could go wrong here.
‘I’m going to make a Christmas tree,’ Anzac offers, breaking the silence. It appears it’s enough to distract Lola from the fact that she is short half her Playdoh.
Simon breaths again.
Trinity left on Friday morning for a weekend in Queensland with a girlfriend. It’s Sunday evening and he and the kids are ready for ‘Mum’ to intervene in their collective lives. He misses her; as the kids’ mum, but more so as his... wife. Yes, she is still his wife.
Moments after Anzac commences the construction of a Playdoh Christmas tree, Lola decides she’s bored with it all. She clumsily climbs down from the chair and heads for the lounge room. Seeing an opportunity, Anzac turns to his Dad and says, ‘now I can have Lola’s Playdoh, can’t I, Dad?’
Lola hears this and turns.
Simon can actually see her mind ticking over, he can hear it.
She eyes her brother. Her hair is falling all over her face, not yet brushed or tied back since her bath. Her dummy is firmly ensconced in her mouth. The hair and the dummy conspire to perfectly frame, hide, and slightly reveal – all at once – Lola’s almond shaped eyes. Even though he loves this girl unconditionally, and in a logical, intellectual sense, he knows it’s not true, those eyes look evil, and if not evil, potentially evil. It’s Simon’s second nervous moment in the last minute and 43 seconds. Anzac glances from Lola to Dad, Dad to Lola. Simon looks from Anzac to Lola.
Lola decides this battle isn’t worth it and wanders off to wherever it was she was headed.
‘Dinner’s in three minutes, Lola Pearl,’ Simon calls out.
Anzac continues shaping a Christmas tree from Playdoh.