Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Look at my belly, Look at my belly, Look at my belly,

As I approach her, I can see that Elly has a huge grin on her face. She is the last to be picked up, but she's really, really pleased to see me. This is a relief because the playground has been the scene of many intense and embarrasing battles between the two of us.

I've got a peeled mandarin orange in my hand and a fantasy of the two of us sharing an orange and shooting the breeze on the way back to the car. In my head Elly is saying to me "Gosh Daddy, these mandarins are remarkably sweet aren't they?" and other parents are looking at me slightly jealously.

I walk towards her, proudly segmenting my orange.

"Daddy, I'm so glad you're here," says Elly.

"Great," I say and bend down to give her a kiss.

She sticks her fist in my face "I can't open this myself" she says.

She is holding a Twix.

"You eat a bit of this and I'll open that for you," I say, a desperate thumb in the dyke of my dream.

"No Daddy, I just want the chocolate," says Elly.

"You eat a bit of this and I'll open that for you," I say, waiting for the outburst.

"But DAAADDDY, we had ORRRRAAAANGE this afternoon," says Elly.

"You eat a bit of this and I'll open that for you," I say, my lips drawing thin.

"OK Daddy," says Elly, watching me like a hawk. She pops the segment of mandarin into her mouth, does an exaggerated retch then swallows it as if she is completing a bushtucker challenge.

"Daddy, the school orange was much nicer than this one," she says.

"Here's your Twix. Whose birthday was it?" I ask.

I can't remember whose birthday it was. I am tempted to go and wake her up to find out.

As we climb into the car I tell her to save a small piece of her Twix for Mick.

"No," says Elly.

"OK then, I'll throw the Twix away," I say.

"No Daddy, I'll save a bit for Mick."

There is a thoughtful silence as I pull out of my parking space, turn the car around in the pub car park (there is a sign at the entrance of the car park saying "PRIVATE CAR PARK, NO TURNING" but I don't care. To be honest, I don't notice the sign until I've pulled into the car park and then I only notice it out of the corner of my eye and it nags at me so that as I pull out I strain my neck back just to make sure that it says "PRIVATE CAR PARK, NO TURNING" which it does and then I vow never to use the car park for turning again) and turn left onto the main road to Mick's childminder.

"Daddy, next time I get chocolate at school, I don't want to save a bit for Mick," says Elly.

"That's fine. You don't have to. I'll just give it back to your teacher as we leave." I say.

"NO DADDY," she whines in a mancunian accent which she has developed for the sole purpose of expressing extreme dissapointment. It is a pitch perfect recreation of her cousins accent.

"Well then you need to always share your chocolate with Mick," I say.

"OK Daddy," she says, sounding disconsolate.

I am hit by a massive pang of guilt. What a burden for her never to be able to sink her teeth into a bar of chocolate and enjoy every last crumb. What a horrible Dad. I need to throw her a life line.

"Well, Elly, you can have a complete bar of chocolate if you are both given a bar of chocolate, you don't have to share your chocolate with Mick if you both have chocolate, but if just you have a bar of chocolate then you need to share it with Mick,"

I am suddenly worried that she'll go to her teacher and say "My Dad says that I need a bar of chocolate for my brother Mick too or else I can't have the chocolate," so I add "If you are ever given chocolate outside of school or until Mick starts coming to school because when he comes to school he will get chocolate too..." I've stopped making sense now so I stop talking.

There is a long silence.

"But Daddy, I don't want to give Mick some chocolate," Elly says.

"Listen Elly, If you just save Mick a tiny tiny bit of chocolate and give it to him, how do you think he will feel?" I say.


"Right. And if you make Mick feel happy, I like to see that and how do you think that makes me feel when I see you give Mick some chocolate and make him happy?" I say.


"Right. And when Lisa sees you give Mick chocolate she'll be very pleased too and how will that make Lisa feel?"


"Right. And when Mummy comes home tonight and I tell her that you made Mick happy and Lisa happy and Daddy happy, how do you think Mummy will feel?"

"Happy!" Elly says. She's now giggling with the anticipation of such a spiral of happines.

"RIGHT!" I shout jubilantly. "And, Elly, when you have given Mick a piece of chocolate and made Mick happy and Lisa happy and Mummy happy and Daddy happy and everyone is feeling happy, how will you feel about having given Mick just a tiny little piece of chocolate?"

"Sad," Elly says.

I give up and think about writing this tonight. Then I remember something that happened last night and start laughing to myself.

Elly was having a bath and she splashed water all over Mick. We are supposed to be keeping the bandage that wraps up his IV line clean so Polly suggested, by telling me that I had to go and do it, to go and change Mick's clothes so as to keep the bandage from getting soaked.

Mick trotted happily into Elly's room, but when I tried to pull his jumper off he put his head on her pillow like a wounded sparrow, windmilled his arm at me and screamed "GOWAY GOWAY" at me. This means "go away"

I had to use all my powers of thinking.

I took my shirt own off, played tummy bongos and said "Mickey, Mickey, look at Daddy's tummy,"

Instantly Mick started cooing and nodding and screaming incoherent affirmation sounds, lifting his hands over and over his head as if taking off the t-shirt and using his magic "moor" sound to mean "take this shirt off Daddy, I want to get my tummy out too,"

I took his t-shirt off and we bumped bellies delightedly for a bit, then I ran around the top of the house like a fat Liam Gallagher shouting "look at my belly, look at my belly, look at my belly," with Mick in tow shouting "loooooka beyyye, loooooka beyyye, loooooka beyyye,"

Together we ran into the bathroom and entertained the ladies of the house with our funny routine - they both laughed and clapped and cheered.

I was very excited and ran back into the kids room with Mick to prepare for part two of the performance.

Apparently though, running around shouting "look at my penis, look at my penis, look at my penis," is not funny.

Nor is it funny shouting "loooooka peeeeeis, loooooka peeeeeis, loooooka peeeeeis,"

The memory of this in the car makes me start laughing out loud.

"What are you laughing at Daddy?" says Elly.

"Do you remember last night when Mick and I ran around shouting 'look at my belly, look at my belly, look at my belly,' ?" I say.

"Yes," she says, smiling through the thumb in her mouth. This is obviously still funny.

"And do you remember last night when Mick and I ran around shouting 'look at my penis, look at my penis, look at my penis' ?" I say.

Elly takes her thumb out of her mouth. "Yes," she says, "I didn't like that. That was not funny," This is obviously still not funny.

"Why wasn't it funny?" I say.

"Because I don't like looking at penises or vaginas..." Elly says, then after a pause, "or bums,"

We arrive at Lisa's house. I love picking Mick up from Lisa's for two reasons. Firstly it is great to see Mick's great big grin - tonight he is sitting playing with a steering wheel and all the other children are sitting around him staring at him in awe as if he is Nigel Mansell - and secondly it is always great to see Lisa's hilarious son Ollie.

Ollie is now a year 7 at secondary school and he is absoutely brilliant. He is just at the stage where he says something really cool and then undermines it with a really childish motivation. This evening I look up the stairs to see him standing there in just his pants.

"Whoo Whoo," I shout,

Ollie ducks down the hall.

"Hunky," I shout,

Ollie apears back at the top of the stairs and starts pulling muscle man poses. Lisa tells me he has been a very naughty boy because he rode back through Cherry Hinton park and got his bike all muddy.

"Why did you go through the park Ollie? Did you want to see the little Duckies?" I ask him.

"NO," Ollie says with a massive sneer on his face as if I've asked him if he loves Danny from McFly.

"Abi, wheel my bike round for me, I'll pay ya," he shouts from the top of the stairs where he is now sitting, clad only in his pants opening and closing his legs like an absentminded, male, pre-adolescent Madonna.

"What with?" says Lisa.

"With the money Dad gives me," says Ollie. He is now showing off and shouting a bit too loudly and coming across as a bit too big for his boots.

"Hey you cheeky... don't speak to your mummy like that, as soon as I leave here she's going to kill you," I say to him.

"That's right David," Lisa says.

"Come on Mum, move my bike," Ollie says.

"Ollie, you could kill two birds with one stone here," I say. "Why don't you just go outside and move the bike yourself, but do it dressed just in your pants - that way you'll get the bike sorted and you'll really annoy your mum at the same time,"

Ollie instantly sees the horror in Lisa's face and the delight in mine.


Ollie is standing in the middle of the street shouting "Look at me everyone, I'm just wearing my pants look at me,"

Abi is wheeling his bike around the back.

Lisa is wrestling him back into the house. As he goes back inside I say to him "Ollie, that was very stupid, I am in no way proud of you, I don't find it funny and I certainly won't be writing about it and posting it on the internet tonight."

Pulling away I glance back to see the door handle jolting up and down as as Lisa battles to keep her semi naked son inside the house.

We go home for pancakes.

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