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by Karen Legge

Woman Down, I Repeat, Woman Down

As much as I’d like to think I’m Wonder Woman, I am sadly lacking the lasso of truth, a waspish waist or the capacity to keep on going when bugs strike.

I’m sure if Diana (Wonder Woman) was hit with a sore throat, aches, pains and a cough, she’d back flip down to the pharmacy, neck some ibuprofen – without water – and go and kick some bad-guy butt. I, however do not have her power of resilience. In our current times, with fears of Coronavirus rippling like a current through everyday life, I took to my room to hack pitifully in to my pillow. For three days.

I am seriously lucky to have in Christopher, a hands on dad who is willing to muck in and take charge. It is not often he is called upon to be a stand-in. Normally, even at death’s door, I will muddle on through as mum-in-charge. This weekend though I called time out – and to my bed I retired, with the ‘just in case’ mantra as my rationale. Without a temperature, I wasn’t seriously worried about the potential of harbouring the virus that has sent the world in to a spin but the tiny nagging doubt left me convinced it was for the best.

I don’t want to focus on the genuine sense of doom and fear that is weighing heavy on society right now though. There’s enough of that smothering us all and giving me sleepless nights. I want to talk about what happens when Daddy is in charge as truly it brings me a smile. It also brings me out in hives with the level of mess but I can’t not share the fun and chaos that has ensued over the past few days.

When Harry plays with Daddy…

… he stays in his pyjamas. For breakfast time (as he does with mummy). For playing outside – with the addition of wellies, coat and hat. For pretty much most of the morning. The bonus of this is less washing I suppose but really! Like he’s not got a better wardrobe than the pair of us put together.

… he gets all the toys. I have this crazy mum thing I do – when we’ve finished playing with a toy, I put it away. Call me anally retentive but it’s a strategy I find saves our home from looking like Smyths Toy-store after a natural disaster. Follow the trail of destruction and you will find father and son, engaged in some vehicle-related whizzing, having become bored of tower-building, track-designing, dragon-swooping, book-reading or snack-munching. All the resources necessary for the listed activities become reminiscent of Pompeii – frozen in time where they were dropped, as a vignette of the morning’s fun.

… he doesn’t have tantrums. What is this wizardry? Does he up his behavioural game to impress his father? Do they mentally exist on a higher plane together? Or does he not hear the word no whilst Daddy is in charge? I’ll let you figure that one out.

… he gets to create. Everywhere. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook (@theunyoungmum) you’ll know this mamma is partial to a bit of messy play. You can’t beat a creative explosion. But I have limits. Boundaries. The walls of the house, the shed, the fence would probably be them. I’m all for chalk – it washed off nice and easily, but imagine my shock, when exiting my sick bed for some fresh air, I discovered everything, and I mean everything, at Wrigglet height had been tagged to within an inch of its life. The dragon/dinosaur on the patio – clearly too basic for Harry’s efforts – makes me question who had more fun in the graffiti-cation of our garden. I’m sorry Banksy mate, but there’s a new half-Bristolian kid on the block about to give you a run for your contemporary cash.

… he gets to diversify his diet. As you may be aware from a recent post, my little lamb has become somewhat fussy in his diet. Yet with Daddy in charge, he seems to be well-fed all day. The days meals go something like this: 7am Porridge, 9am Toast, 10:30am Chocolate Easter Egg, 11am Gingerbread men, 12pm Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana, 3pm Gingerbread Men, 4pm Toast, 4:45pm Ella’s Kitchen Lentil crisps, 5:30pm Pesto Pasta, 6:30pm Cornetto (nuts eaten by Daddy). I’m glad in my quarantined state you’re putting him to bed Petal! Something tells me we may have some habits to break. Do they supply a sugar methadone to toddlers?

… he gets to watch all the T.V. I think Daddy Unyoung can actually quote the entire back catalogue of Thomas movies now. It concerns me when I hear “shh, this is my favourite bit.” Even when little man has toddled out to the kitchen, it seems Daddy is quite happy to sit there and chortle at Gordon’s indignity at having to pull fish-trucks. Oh Gordon…. fish trucks!

… he gets to go swimming. Oh no, you were thinking swimming in a public pool, where they have drainage, and anti-slip flooring? No, no. Harry gets to go swimming… In. Our. Bathroom. Water is not confined to the bath. That’s for losers. No, it’s far more fun to pour it over the side, to lob any available bath-toy across the bathroom and to generally cause flooding that may necessitate a price-hike in our insurance premiums when the floor caves in. The only rule of bath time is… there are no rules (when Daddy is in charge).

… he gets to stay up late. Bath. Milk. Stories x 2. Cuddle. Cot. That’s the routine. There’s no fluffing about. There’s no debate. When it’s Mummy doing bedtime. Yes, there’s a settling period but that entails standing at the end of the cot, a quick “I love you, lie back down” and we are done here; sweet dreams my beautiful boy. With Daddy, there appears to be intense, in-depth philosophical debate. For a good half an hour, they engage in discussion about who knows what… who would win in a battle between Biteysaurus and the Gruffalo? Is Iggle Piggle seven or eight times bigger than the Tombliboos? Or the question we all want answered – who is the most useful engine? Either way – by the time he goes down, I’ve read three chapters of my book and caught up on all my insta-stories (that’s going some). Something tells me Daddy hasn’t cottoned on to delay tactics.

… he falls a little bit more in love. Yes, he may be on a chocolate high, but three days of unadulterated Daddy time has been a beautiful thing to hear and see. The insane giggles, the screams of delight, the chases, the tickles, the absolute focus of attention – their bond is undeniably strong. It has made me just a little jealous. I seem to be always distracted with the myriad other things there are to do. “I’ll be with you in a minute, Mummy is just sorting the washing.” “Mummy will whizz the train once she’s done the online food order.” ” I promise I’ll play cars with you once I’ve wiped down and rinsed the lunch things.” And then there’s my damn phone. If I’m not taking photos of him having fun, I’m posting and captioning the darned things. Note to self: blogging is secondary to the act of being present. Daddy’s taught me a lot about focus this week. And I’ve seen the benefit of it through the love in my little man’s eyes as he squeezes the life out of his Daddy in a hug that would rival the Gruffalo and Biteysaurus.

As I start to feel better, it’s with gratitude that I have such an amazing partner that is there in sickness and in health. And one who also feeds me easter eggs – I think we may both need that detox Harry.

How do you cope when you have a wo/man down? Do normal rules apply? What is the biggest scene of carnage and mayhem you have stumbled across when you’ve not been on duty!? Stay well and take care – sorry for the radio silence of late but hopefully this enlightens you as to why!

Written by Karen Legge for her blog, The Unyoung Mum. Follow her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
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