A friend entrusted me with her two daughters yesterday, thereby making me custodian of three little girls under the age of six. For an hour. Until their daddy came to pick them up.
Looking after other people’s children always makes me skittish as I am convinced that I am cursed and that they will fall foul of a falling Acme piano or a poisoned fish finger whilst in my care. These two, however, miraculously survived, and their daddy duly came to pick them up.
Hearing kids and their daddies interact always sends my heart into fluster, and I have to concentrate on not a) bursting into tears or b) shouting ‘Oh for fuck’s sake!’ in a really childish manner. Last night was no different.
“Have you got a cuddle for daddy?” he asked them.
“Yeah!” Within seconds they were trampolining on him, using him as a set of monkey-bars, swinging from his ears etc.
The moment reminded me of when Mark used to come in from work: the tail lights of the car edging into the garage, the shriek of ‘Daddy’s here!’ (me), the sound of the heavy car door slamming and then the sight of his face at the kitchen window, invariably contorted into some ludicrous expression.
When my friend’s husband arrived, I wanted to cuddle him too. I wanted to nuzzle my nose into his starched work-shirt collar and loosen his tie, and ask him how his day had been. I wanted to watch him flick through the post, then go to the fridge and help himself to a beer. Then I wanted my daughter to hug him and feel the sense of warmth and security that a returning parent brings.
Instead I kissed him sagely on the cheek and watched his reunion with his girls.
Turns out my daughter felt it too. As they were leaving, I heard great wails coming from outside. I ran out, gathered her up and asked;
“Whatever is it? Acme piano? Poisoned fish finger?”
She buried her head in my shoulder and cried: “I just want my Daddy.”