One of my life’s great joys occurs when I take one of the kids out for a bit of time alone. Yesterday I took Fraboo out on what we call a Daddy-date. When I’m in the car with her, just the two of us, I like to take the opportunity to talk about what is happening in her life, to see if she has any worries or concerns or what she is really enjoying. I have to be careful though as she has a way of turning the questioning onto me, and I have talked my way into some pretty difficult areas. Not so long ago I found myself saying “When a Mummy and a Daddy really love each other, they sometimes have a special cuddle….”. This was a conversation which started off about addition and subtraction, certainly not multiplication. Fortunately, in yesterday’s chat she told me that she doesn’t mind school except for hand writing. We agreed that it probably wasn’t worth leaving school because of that. Still, I’m glad that she shared this with me as I can perhaps work on it with her.
We had gone to a local shopping mall as I needed to get some new shoes and I thought that Fraboo would enjoy coming with me. I wasn’t counting on her enthusiasm selecting footwear for me. Unfortunately they didn’t have the hot pink stilettos she chose in my size. Or the knee length red patent leather boots. Or the animal print platforms, at least not in the shop that we went to! Once she got the general idea I wasn’t planning on becoming a drag queen, she was actually really helpful, and after we’d chosen some shoes for me, I thought she might like to choose some for herself. We looked around and I found several likely contenders. Almost immediately it became obvious that I was as good at selecting shoes for her, as she was for me. “No Daddy! I like pink not purple! No Daddy! I want some with laces! No Daddy! I like purple not pink! NO DADDY!”. It was apparent that she didn’t want (or need) any new shoes but I felt really bad that I’d dragged her along with me and that she wasn’t going to get anything out of it. So I asked her if there is anything she wanted. Yes she did, she wanted some sweeties. “What?” I enquired “You don’t like the look of that bag? Or that jumper, or pencil case?” No, she was really pleased with her small bag of sweets, and she even generously shared them with me. She had had enough of being at the mall by then, and so had I frankly, and so we started to wend our merry way home.
On the way back we continued her conversation, but our chat was cut short. She got very excited when we drove past a little park, right on the beach and wanted to know if we could stop for a play. Unfortunately we had passed the park by and as there were a number of cars behind us I had to say no, but promised that we would stop at another park which was on our way home. A short time later we reached our destination. Fraboo, jumped out of the car, almost strangling herself on the seatbelt in the process, and rushed to the play area. I have to say it was pretty impressive, with the centrepiece being an absolutely enormous slide! Needless to say she couldn’t wait to have a go, and climbed up the ladder before launching herself down it. As immature as it is to say, I was immensely jealous of her but sadly, I think that my sliding days are over (and in any case there was a gaggle of other parents there watching my every move).
She happily played for about 45 minutes. I pushed her on the swings and on the roundabout, and watched her go up and down the slide. She even had a go on the flying fox, while I ran alongside her, and all the time she was happily laughing and squealing. She was obviously having such a wonderful time that it seemed a shame to go home, but eventually it was time to get back into the car.
On the way home she was chattering, telling me that I was the best Daddy in the world, and that she loved me sooo much. She told me how much she loved her Mum and brothers and how she was so proud of them all. She could barely contain herself, and I was happy just to listen to her. It occurred to me that I would happily have spent a small fortune on her, to buy her a treat, but really all she wanted was to spend time with me.
This is a lesson that I’m finding particularly hard to learn. Both Boy-Boy and Jojo, are happiest when they are spending time with Mrs L. or I and they are the focus of our attention. But inexplicably, in my mind, buying them gifts, somehow equates to love. Perhaps it is because I feel guilty spending so much time at work, or at when at times I am physically there, but my mind is elsewhere? Who knows? All I can say though, is for that morning, it was wonderful.