As Father’s Day approaches, I have been reflecting on some of my funny, bizarre and scary fatherhood experiences.
The joyride began on the day that my first child, my daughter Aliyah, was born. She came nine weeks early, and weighed only 3lb 3oz. According to her, she looked like a naked mole rat, which is kind of true, but at the time, I swore that she was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. I was dying for her to walk and talk, but before I knew what had happened, I was telling her to stop running around like a wild animal and to give my ears a break.
For more than a decade, I was proud of myself for not allowing my daughter to hear me swear. I have been known to drop a few, but never within earshot of her. But one day, when she was in grade six, I let one fly. I parked my car and sent her on an errand across the street. While returning to my vehicle, she ran across the thoroughfare without looking, and was almost struck by a rapidly approaching messenger on a motorcycle.
As she entered the car, I blurted out, “Are you $&@¥£€% crazy?” As my obscene exclamation was released from my lips, I immediately apologised to my child. Totally unfazed, without batting an eye, she calmly responded, “That’s okay, Daddy. I hear worse at school.”
As my daughter grew older, her questions, and our conversations, would become more and more interesting. She told me that she would never be a gynaecologist, like me, because my job is nasty, and she actually told her grade five teacher that sometimes she doesn’t want to eat from me because she knows where my hands have been.
Then one day, she asked me a question about the buggery law. She asked, “Daddy, according to the law, if two men are caught in the act, the punishment is to lock them up … with other men. Does that make sense to you?” I could not say that it did.
My second child, and first son, Zachary, was born six years after my daughter. And the fun and games continued. One day, when he was a toddler, he decided to make himself useful, and water the plants on the veranda with a watering can. All was going well until his godmother, Gayle, who has no children and was visiting from Barbados, came up with a brilliant idea – to investigate the source of the water.
So she followed the liquid trail through the house, and discovered, to her shock and horror, that it led straight to the toilet bowl. She sounded a loud and frantic alarm, and a massive clean-up exercise was launched. The poor woman was so traumatised that she spent the next day at a spa totally zoned out.
But Zachary is a very helpful child, and loves to do nice things for his mummy. Occasionally, she will ask him to scratch her back, and he will gladly oblige. Sometimes he will use his hands, and other times a hairbrush.
But one night he was distracted while playing a game on his tablet and used a shoe brush instead. Specifically the one used to apply black shoe polish to his black school shoes. His mother’s back got a good and thorough workout, only for her to realise, the next morning, that the ‘complexion’ of her back had been altered. It was then that I understood the true meaning of the AC/DC song, ‘Back In Black’.
Just when I thought that life could not get more exciting, it did. My last child, and second son, Zane, was brought into this world, after another-six year gap. I used to wonder why people called their children terrorists until that boy was born. He is a very loving child with a disarming smile, but is also a walking hurricane, tsunami, and volcanic eruption, all wrapped up in one turbulent little package.
In his three years of existence, he has wreaked more havoc and destruction than his 15- and nine-year-old siblings combined. People often meet him and remark that he is adorable. I tell them that he is like some of those cute and colourful little creatures that you see on Animal Planet. They look really sweet, but if you get too close, they will spew some highly toxic venom, and you could die.
Case in point, there is nothing in this world that I hate more than cockroaches. Not even politicians. One morning, I was awakened by my youngest child placing a fully grown, nasty, dirty, dead cockroach gently on my pillow, directly beside my head. On another occasion, he gave his mother a whistle, containing a dead fly, to blow. And it gets worse.
One day I went to pick him up from school and placed him, along with his school bag and lunch bag, on the back seat of my car. I left him on the seat and went to empty water from his igloo on some plants along the side of the parking lot. As I emptied the water, I heard a woman scream and saw a car suddenly brake. To my shock and horror, I saw my son under the car, the front right tyre resting on his left leg. That was the most traumatic image that my brain has ever processed.
I took him to the hospital, where X-rays revealed that there was no fracture. The next day I took him to an orthopaedic surgeon, who I informed that I covered my son’s leg with a glove while I bathed him, to protect a flesh wound that he had sustained during the accident.
The doctor told me that there was something more effective than that. I asked if it was Saran Wrap. He replied, “No. A condom. Just use a condom and roll it up on his leg.” So my son is now wearing condoms, at age three. The extra large ones, too. It sounds bizarre, but it makes me look good, as I am the one who has to buy them. So cashiers at pharmacies all across the Corporate Area are giving me ratings as ‘the real big man’.
If I had no children, my house would be tidier and quieter, I would sleep more soundly at nights, I would be able to be more spontaneous and my bank account would be much more substantial. But my children have made me experience a profound and deep kind of love that I had never felt before, and have added something significant to my existence. If I had to live my life all over again, I would definitely have those three critters.