The Machines are taking over…

Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I rather suspect not.

I’m sure you know how it is. You’ve had a long day at work and the drive home is pretty hideous. Every man and his dog has left work at the same time as you, and often the dogs are better drivers than their owners. It’s hot, you’re getting a bit hungry and you just want to be at home. If you’re really lucky you might get a call half way home to pick up some supplies (just after you’ve gone past the shop), which you duly pick up.

When you get home, all you really want to do, is to have a few minutes on your own, just to gather your thoughts.

This is often how I feel when I get home. But due to the fact we have 3 (often screaming) kids, downtime is something of a luxury.  Unfortunately for me I am not the only one who feels that they need a rest. Mrs L., as saintly a woman as you are ever likely to meet, is a full time Mum, and so looks forward to my getting home, so that she can have, if not a rest, a bit of help, or someone who can hold up the other end of an adult conversation.

As you may have gathered, I am often not in the best frame of mind when I first come through the door, and so it was a few weeks ago when I got home after a particularly trying day. I made it abundantly clear that I really just needed a few minutes on my own, and went into the bedroom to seek refuge.

I was feeling particularly grumpy (a fact that Mrs L. and Fraboo had pointed out to me, improving  my mood no end), and I wondered if anyone else had days like this. I’d been thinking a lot over the day about how precious the time we have as a family is, and this had been weighing heavily on my mind.

I therefore decided that today would be the day I would stop being a miserable git, and engage with the kids. The trouble was, I was still in a bad mood, and couldn’t see any way that I could get out of it, and in a hurry.

But what if I didn’t have to, what if someone else was able to represent me?

I appreciate that this does sound, a little bit mad, but please bear with me. I’m not talking about some sort of stand-in Dad, it’s more about a change in mind set. In the past I’ve heard people say words to the effect that if you can’t change a situation, change yourself to fit the circumstances better. Thus it was that I decided that I’d had enough of being Dad/Ross and I was going to become a robot. More specifically, I became the “Daddy-bot”.

As far as the kids are concerned, grumpy and tired Daddy goes into his bedroom, and moments later, an almost identical robot replica of their father emerges to take his place. I say almost, because whilst the Daddy-bot appears very similar to me, it is different in a couple of critical areas.

Of course, as one would expect, it speaks in a robotic monotone, but it also has little awareness of its surroundings, regularly walking into large items of furniture, and walls. It is also terrified of spiders, especially the large, and obviously fake plastic variety, which, I have discovered, we a great abundance. Such is its fear, that it will shut down, and fall to the floor, in very dramatic fashion.

The kids have discovered that it can easily be rebooted, but when it is switched on, it may have serious errors (for instance, its legs may no longer work, it speaks in a foreign language, or it becomes a Killer-bot, and chases them around, making menacing noises, and bumping and falling over any and all obstacles).

Obviously the Daddy-bot is me pulling off some of my best body popping moves (which, truth be told, are pretty lame), but Fraboo especially has begun to think that the two of us are separate entities. The Daddy-bot explained to her that when Daddy goes for a rest, he slips through a rip in the space-time continuum and is replaced by an android, which explains why they are never seen together. It became a little awkward when I was asked to explain the space-time continuum, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) a system error occurred and it the robot shut itself down!

It also told her that she if her Daddy ever found out about the Daddy-bot, it would cause the android to be destroyed.  It seems unlikely that I will ever accept the existence of my duplicate robot self, as whenever Fraboo brings it up, I adamantly refuse to even talk about it. Initially this was a source of great annoyance to her, but now she talks about it, as though she is the guardian of a great secret.

I’m sure you are sitting there, wondering what on earth you have been reading. Are these the musings of a mad man? Perhaps they are, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. The kids love the Daddy-bot; Fraboo actually told me tonight that she does. I have to be honest. I have a bit of a soft spot for him too.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, when I am him I am able to play, in the words of those great poets Daft Punk (and latterly the greatest bard of them all; Kanye West) Harder, Faster, Better, and Stronger. Perhaps this says something about my ability as a dad when I’m not being a robot, but let’s not get sidetracked here. Secondly, no matter how filthy a mood I’m in, the Daddy-bot can fix it, for the rest of the evening. In a very small way, I feel as though I’ve stumbled upon the meaning of life, as a dad and as a husband. All the idiotic things I can say and do when I switch roles is a breath of fresh air, when compared with the normal boring “dad stuff”.

Dad’s are often criticised for acting the fool. For me at least, this is one of the great things about being a father, especially when I am my android alter ego, and I for one am only too happy to receive this criticism!

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