My two earthly angels are spirited souls. Some of their spirit erupts spontaneously from joy spilling out of a moment where our awesome is in sync. This afternoon was a classic.

Now, I appreciate that at 2:59 pm my daughters’ energy levels are spent. Their reserve tank is down to fumes. Yet, the 3:00 pm end-of-school alarm triggers some primal force, and the tapped-out slump converts swiftly to a frenzied push and shove out of their classroom. It is like a mini Pamplona running of the bulls where the last to exit the classroom is gored by peer pressure.

By the time we are home, they are still blissed out on the post-school high and have the munchies. This moment reeks of joy. And in the joy is our connection. This time it is run-up-hugs. One at a time they start into a sprint down the hall into the kitchen where I am busily tending to homemade veggie-chicken patties (don’t bother looking them up). The racket of raw feet on floorboards and the incoming crescendo of “RUN UP HUG!” alerts me to the human missiles. At close to point blank they leap at me, I catch them mid-air and spin with their momentum into a tight embracing hug. Another I am instructed. And another. At some point, the run-up-hugs became a distraction from homework.

On top of the run-up-hugs, my youngest wants to do flips (we hold hands and she walks up my legs until she is far enough off the ground to do a flip). She does seven to match her age. Miss 7’s spirit comes alive in the joyful rough and tumble.

Then comes the clambering up to my shoulders and standing on my shoulders to touch the roof. This is repeated throughout our evening. Even at bedtime, the girls are hyped and the tuck-into-bed storytelling includes a wrestle. In fact, the wrestle helps me blow off some of my nervous energy.

In ten hours they will be niggled into action. Firstly by the intrusion of an early sunbeam and then by my urging. They will make some teenage language that I think translates into “Why do I have to go to school? I never learn anything!”

My nervousness comes from having to open a conversation about breakfast, trying to entice them toward a billion choices of healthy breakfast cereals. Even though the girls have selected each one and made “yes dad” promises to eat them, most mornings feature me plagiarising my mum’s coercive “breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

My daughters are rarely convinced. My childhood always included breakfast. It was a non-negotiable. Lately, breakfast has become problematic. Yes, I am the authoritative parent and I am one versus two. The soft part of me doesn’t want to be “versus” the girls on anything. There is no one immediately alongside to back up my breakfast argument that grains are unsurpassed for gut health. A nagging voice in my head that I recognise as my mum’s insists on fuelling up for the day. I know some kids arrive at school tapped out from skipping brekkie and I don’t want that for my two.

Thankfully, tomorrow I have an ‘out.’ I volunteered to burn the snags at an early morning Father’s Day brekkie at my girls’ school which makes for an alternate breakfast menu. Right now, the girls are sleeping soundly, probably blissed that they have dodged having to go a few rounds with their dad about eating shredded wheat bathed in organic sunlight or aloe-vera-soaked hippie bran or some such. I worded them up at bedtime that the school will be catering for breakfast and offered the choice of a snag over my range of grains. Breakfast puritans won’t like it. But, I’m going to back myself. Running the solo dad gig means being steadfast while engaging my executive powers now and then to bend the rules. I have created a moment of joy by showing I can be flexible. Is it too much to hope that the joy might create some homework?


Photo by Thirdman.

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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