Sometimes my weekends are a maddening tussle to make the one-after-the-other events that seem to start flooding our Friday and spill into our Saturday and Sunday. Sport, birthday parties, youth group, housework, homework, school socials all back up, one against the other, to make our dad and daughters time fairly frenetic.

Leading into my last weekend with Miss 7 and Miss 12, I knew that my Friday to Monday was going to be a bursting-at-the-seams weekend. A Friday night social for my eldest that included two friends staying over and an early Saturday game of soccer was a solid start.

A pancake breakfast engineered by overhyped girls still bubbling with post-disco fervour turned my kitchen into a messy spread of spilt spices, ponds of milk and random dollops of mixture. I scoffed down brekkie while calling out my soccer-kit checklist: boots… mouthguard… water bottle… before urgently ushering the soccer menagerie toward the car, mentally setting myself for the return home to the kitchen shambles.

With soccer done, our next expedition was to the supermarket. Supermarkets should have an adults-only section that requires photo ID to shop the chocolate, chips and soft drinks. As it is, I get stuck on an auto-pilot of “no”, “no” and “no” to the “I am so hungry” requests for sustenance that only the party-food aisle can provide.

At the same time, I was hearing regular “you promised to take me to…” By the time I had signed off on Saturday, I was dizzy from the one-after-another pace of ticking off activities and meeting promises.

On the Verge of Hangry

Saturday passed the hectic baton cleanly to Sunday, which continued the sprint. Breakfast, showers, renewed search for children’s socks, homework, skipping lunch to drop a friend to the airport. My meticulously coiffured calendar told me that each event neatly interlocked, yet playing it out for real set a speed that left me dazed. I knew I needed quiet space before I inadvertently ignited the tired-and-hungry fuse.

Miss 7 and Miss 12 voiced that their tummies were niggling to be soothed. A tummy with a grumble can quickly convert to a gripe. I had pushed the full parenting morning way past the point that we would normally stop to top up with lunch. The hunger pangs of two youngsters held explosive potential. We were comfortably into early afternoon and the oasis of my fridge was a way off. My children know that asking for takeaway is futile. They quietly held fast, resigned to holding out for salad wraps at home.

On a whim, I broke schedule to give over to some dad instinct which had me pull up outside a local burger restaurant that had established a decent reputation.

Artistic Collaboration

A bowl of onion rings and chips would dull the hunger pains for a while. Miss 7 was last to take up her seat, delayed by making a beeline to the complimentary colouring-in books and crayons. It was quickly apparent that our food stop was not going to be long enough for her to complete her dragonfly masterpiece, so she called in help. Normally, she is quite firm about taking full responsibility for her colouring-in, so this moment was an artistic privilege. She doled out the crayons with instructions for wings to be a specific shade of blue, body to be green and legs to be brown.

Three people colouring in from different angles at a table is a hoot. Our arms tangled and interlocked. We nudged and bumped at one another to get the best angle to spill a crayon tint inside the black-lined boundaries of dragonfly body parts. We delicately coloured back and forth, mindful that we didn’t want to launch salt and pepper shakers into the air. We laughed when we resolved the “yes it is — no it isn’t” argy-bargy of whether two blue crayons were exactly the same colour. We debated the shade of a dragonfly’s face and eyes. We snickered at Miss 7’s ‘oops’ moment when she accidentally broke a crayon.

We followed her carefully delivered instructions about applying a specific hue. We chuckled at the puce colour made of blending an ugly shade of brown and green. And somehow, the whole restaurant just disappeared. For 30 minutes, the whole world was solely two chirpy girls and their delighted dad.

The three of us had settled into each other. Our day had slowed to normal speed, enough for us to rediscover each other, and the opportunity to laugh in grateful appreciation of one another. The spontaneous respite from a typically hectic weekend was therapeutic in so many ways. Simple fun will do that.


Photo by Kampus Production.

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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