I’m slipping deeper into the tiredness as if it were a warm, soapy bath.
Lying on the sofa, I’m about to experience the forbidden indulgence of an afternoon nap. Like the magic Turkish Delight from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, once it is experienced it can never be forgotten.
There’s the beginning of a dream. No clarity has emerged from the narrative yet, it’s more just feelings at this stage, fluid and smooth like liquid metal. I imagine I’m smiling.
But then an intruder smashes into the scene. There are hands on my face. Sticky hands. My beard is being yanked.
‘Wake up daddy! Wake up!’
‘You fell asleep daddy. We’re supposed to be playing.’
The little hands are pulling my eyelids open. The first thing I see is a Coco Pop stuck to the elbow of his jumper.
The water in this bath has suddenly gone cold and spilled all over the floor. And I’ve got my big toe stuck in the water tap.
I’m pulled upright. PJ Masks is on the TV.
‘Daddy, you said you’d play with me.’
‘I have been buddy. We’ve been playing for the last seven hours.’
It’s the first day of mid-term break. Just the first day and already I’ve exhausted my creative store of role playing scenarios. We’ve been pirates, adventurers, policemen, ninjas and knights. We’ve had a sword fight which ended ingloriously when I was struck with a light sabre in the testicles. We’ve spent an hour searching toy boxes for the Darth Vader figure (‘No daddy, it’s the other Darth Vader toy I wanted!’). We’ve been to the park where we played a game which involved climbing a muddy hill to rescue crystal dragon eggs. We’ve completed a wooden obstacle course (my son clambered over the obstacles while I had to walk alongside humming the Indiana Jones theme tune). We’ve fed the ducks at the pond and bought an ice cream against my protestations that it’s the middle of February. We’ve argued over the ice cream after my son claimed that I was stealing the strawberry sauce while I reasoned that I was just licking it to stop it melting. We’ve been to the diner for lunch and argued over whether he should eat pasta or chips. We’ve argued after he accused me of stealing some of his chips. We’ve played storytelling in the car when I had to extemporise a narrative about a fire breathing dragon getting killed by a tiny mouse. We’ve played wrestling (he was Big Daddy, I was Giant Haystacks. He won). We’ve done some colouring-in, played a game on my phone and read a couple of story books.
And now we’re watching TV. This was my idea because I thought at least it was an action we could pursue without me becoming physically or mentally involved (and perhaps even allow for a nap). But watching TV with my son is an interactive experience. We have to assume the characters and act out the plot as it plays before us.
‘I’m Cat Boy daddy. Who do you want to be?’
‘Uh….I’ll be Omelette.’
‘It’s Owlette daddy, not Omelette. Duh!’
I’m pretending to fly across the living room floor while simultaneously battling some masked baddie. My son watches me throughout, ever eager to find fault (‘Higher Daddy! Higher!’).
‘After we finish this daddy we can play the treasure hunt game. And then after that we can play the game where I throw you off the bed.’
I can’t think of anything to say so I just nod along. I also have to get to the shop and to think about his dinner and bath. And to get some professional work done. And maybe even write a blog.
Mummy is due home from work in four and a half hours. That’s two-hundred and seventy minutes. Or sixteen thousand two hundred seconds.
It’s the first day of mid-term break. Just six more days to go.