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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fatherhood... again...

My daughter turns 3 on the day we celebrate the Queen's Birthday this year. Ok, so I know that it's not the Queen's actual birthday but it does seem somewhat significant that on the day my country celebrates 60 years of ignoring that we actually do have a Queen, I will be celebrating 3 incredible years of adoring this little girl who has been worth more than a thousand monarchs to me.

She is definitely of unattainable value. I can't imagine what life was life without her, or her sister come to think of it. Only last week I put on my Wedding DVD and the predominate feeling wasn't nostalgia but the weirdness that non of my kids were there! I asked myself the question even, "Where's my children" before realising I was an idiot.

I am greatful to God for entrusting me with these Human lives that have taught me so much about life, about me, about God.

There is something complete about being a parent. Something that makes life make more sense.

Maybe it's my Christian Faith that points my mind in that direction but certainly every Biblical reference to God being our Father in Heaven took a paradigm shift in meaning when I became a Dad, almost immediately. After a whole life of thinking of God as the Divine Authoritarian Patriarch in Heaven, in a heart beat, from the moment her hours-old eyes looked up into mine on that winter's morning in June 2009, I immediately understood God being a Father as a Father. With the fierce intensity of Love that only a Father can have for this daughter, with the vow to protect her from all the world's monsters and demons, and the desire to shelter her from falling mountains would it come to that, and finally the knowledge that should I have to choose between her life and my own, I would indeed shed my own blood to preserve hers.

I shake my head in utter bewilderment and shame that I live in a world where Dads walk out on their kids, where parents abuse their children in ways I don't care to write about. I cry about it sometimes. I cry and pray and take comfort that even Jesus says of such people, "... it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea..."

I complain often about some of the things that go hand in hand with parenthood - the rarity of date night with the wife, the common occurrence of broken sleep, the frequent diaper from hell. But to be honest, I tell people those stories because that's all they are, neat stories. When someone asks me how's my week is going and the first thing I say is "These kids are driving me crazy!" I'm not having a whinge. In the nano second that it took for my mouth to come up with a response, my brain simply decided that my personal horror stories about parenthood would be far more interesting than how many bills my fridge magnets are holding up or how cold the airconditioning is at work. My kids make for far more entertainment. But the truth is, I know this to be a fact, that were anything ever to rob me of my progeny, the burning brilliance of the sun itself couldn't evaporate my tears and all those sleepless nights, the fights over bed time, the playing Mummy and Daddy against each other to get their own way and the constant array of toys never put away; I would swim in a sea of these sorts of domestic troubles just to have my girls in my arms, safe and alive.

Getting too deep.

Today my 18 month old came up to me, arms loaded with a glow worm, a cabbage patch kid and a white furred bear with an Anne of Green Gables style hat on its head. I was lying on the couch and she carefully set her "children" on my tummy before beginning the treacherous climb up onto the couch and eventually onto Mount Daddy. Like a giant on Olympus I scooped her up and set her by my side and just watched her in affectionate wonder as she played with her toys one moment and rested her head on my chest sleepily the next. What heart wouldn't melt under the glow of such adoration?

Of course I have to bring this blog back to where I began, to the almost 3 year old who is counting down the hours to her "Barbie Cake" which she keeps reminding me that none of the other kids are allowed to touch on her birthday. When I sat down to type this it was with the eagerness to tell the tale of what happened at bath time tonight but got so carried away with the introduction and the deep ocean of my affection that now I don't know how to successfully tell it!

Thankfully potty training for kid number one took place over a year ago. Of course once you've trained them you've got to stay on top of the endeavor, otherwise accidents ensue. But then suddenly, and I didn't even notice when, you realise that hey, I can't remember the last time this kid haunted me with a number two outside of the toilet! Then again you suddenly realise that you're not the one asking them if they "need to go" and they stop telling you too, but just take themselves. Once again though, don't take your attention completely away, otherwise accidents ensue. Like tonight when after yelling out, "Daddy Daddy, come look at my poo, it looks like a leaf!" (for some reason she has a simile for most of her potty adventures, I have no idea where she gets it from, but it started one night when she said, "Daddy, Mummy! It looks like a stingray! I'm going to tell my Nanna!") I put her into the bath after painfully supervising the cleanup process and taking mental note that the smell in here might need a few matches, I finally sit down to read my book while she splashes about in the water next to me.

Then I loook up and see something in the water, something floating and sort of swirling around with the current, no bigger than a 20 cent piece but clearly visible with its brown tones against the white porcalin...

"Sweetheart," I say. "What is that?"
"What?" She returns.
"THAT!!" I point.
In a beat she declares, "Its a leaf"
"Is it really?" I question.
"Yeah." She says confidently as she tries to catch it.

At this point I've already decided there's no way I'm putting my hand in there to fish it out and before I know it she has it on the end of her little finger. Then comes the gross part when she brings the thing right up to her nostrils and scientifically analysis her sample with a few deep sniffs.

"Is it poo?" I ask.
"Yep." She says, and hands it to me, poised with an emergency tissue in my hands! And she happily goes back to playing with her rubber duckies and plastic toys, while I wash my shuddering hands and haste away to tell my wife about what just went down.

Its the kind of story you tell a single childless person and they vow never to have kids, and yet its the very type of experience you cherish and share in a blog or save as retribution to embarrass them as teenagers. But deep down you simply admire their matter of fact approach to the world, their honesty and hilarious innocence.

In 4 days she will be 3, and I will be thinking to myself, "Please, don't grow up, please always be my little girl." That's the wish I will try not to make when she blows out those candles.

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