Some days are more difficult than others. The walk home from the train station feels like it will take forever. My legs get heavier and heavier with each step. It’s just one of those days. When it all gets a little bit too much. Some days I just feel older than the mountains. My soul feels drained. I am tired to my bones. I am going home. But all I want to do is get into bed and sleep. Curl up and switch off the lights. The light inside my head. But not everyone notice or care.
I haven’t even hit the first step to the porch yet when I hear it. “Daddy’s home!” It’s the little one. And she has been waiting for me to come home. But not tonight. Tonight daddy is tired. He needs time to switch off. Daddy doesn’t feel like much tonight.
I open the door and my oldest runs up and jumps into my arms. “Hello Dad!” Big kiss and a hug. The little one is patiently waiting for her turn. She is still to small to jump. But she tries. A little hobble and a bump and she almost hits my knees. I pick her up and give her a hug and a kiss. She gives me a big squeeze. “Hello daddy. I missed you.” I put her down and put my bag down. Go into the kitchen and kiss my wife. I am in robot mode. Doing what I do because I love them. They don’t have to suffer my tiredness.
The little one shouts, “Hey dad! We’re having goggas tonight. Ooh, I looove goggas”. Goggas is spaghetti bolognese. A family favorite. We call it goggas because of the spaghetti strings. Goggas is spider or bugs in my language. A bowl of spaghetti looks like spider legs. And she loves goggas. No, she loooves goggas.
I stand in the kitchen with my wife. Just listening to how her day was. Packing away the dishes and packing the dishwasher. Taking out the bowls and forks. My wife can see I am not myself. She knows this mood. When I feel as if I am away from my body. Staring at myself through a cloud. She’ll ask me what’s wrong. And I’ll just say, “Nothing”. Really nothing. I am just tired.
I hear her voice shouting from the lounge. The little one. “Dad! Come look here. I made you something!” I drag myself to the lounge. She jumps up with her big smile and bigger eyes. Sparkling. “Look dad. I made you a picture. See? It’s you and Mommy. And there’s a tree. And a princess. It’s me. And there’s another princess. My sister. And a cat. And some broccoli. I looove broccoli. I made it for you daddy.” She smiles and her eyes shines with happiness because she gave me a present. I put up my best smile. I say thank you for the pretty picture. I ask her to put it at my bag. I’ll take it later. I hardly looked at the picture. I smile at her and go back to the kitchen. No focus. No attention span.
We sit down and eat together. The four of us. I am quiet. My oldest one tells me of the book she is reading. I nod my head and flash a smile. The little one pipes up. “Hey dad! Knock, knock.” “Who’s there”. “Banana.” “Banana who?” “Banana is naked and crossing the road. Haaaaahaha.” I smile at her. She doesn’t get all the jokes yet. But she tries. And she finds them extremely funny. I am still in a daze. Everything clicks over so much slower in my mind when I am like this.
Dinner is done. The little one eats her desert while I clean up the kitchen. She is done. And she runs up and shouts, “Dad. Pick me up! Pick me up!” “Please girl. I am tired. I just want to do the kitchen. Just eat your ice-cream please.” “I’m done daddy. Pick me up. Pick me up! Let me touch the roof!” I sigh. “Oh girl, daddy is really tired. Just once okay.” I pick her up and lift her high up so she can touch the roof. She giggles. “Again! Again!” “No girl. Really. Dad’s tired.” “Just one more time please daddy. Let me touch the roof!” I sigh. “Oh girl.” I pick her up and lift her up sideways. She really has to stretch for this one. And she giggles and laughs. “I touched it daddy! I touched it. Thank you dad!” I give a half-hearted smile. “Well done girl.”
Time to get her in bed. “Come let’s go bath. Quickly girl. Daddy’s still got lots to do. Let’s move it.” “Carry me up dad! Carry me up.” I really don’t have the energy. “Please girl. Daddy’s tired. Can’t you just walk up the stairs?” “Please daddy. Carry me up?” I pick her up. She puts her arms around my neck and puts her head on my shoulder. I can see her smile from the corner of my eye. She whispers, “I love you daddy”. “I love you to girl. Daddy’s just tired okay? Let’s just get into the bath and get it done okay?” “Okay daddy.” She is still smiling.
But it isn’t okay. We get upstairs and I put her down. She runs around like a crazy thing. This little girl with the build-in nuclear energy reactor and the smile. She runs into her bigger sister’s room just to irritate her. She runs in and makes a silly face, wiggles her bums and runs out laughing. She runs into our bedroom and jumps on the bed. Off on the other side. Chase the cats. Runs into her room and runs out. “Come on girl. Please. Move it. Let’s get into the bath. I am tired. I still have lots to do. Please.” I am begging now. She gets on the toilet and makes a wee. I get her bath ready. I walk past her to go get her toothbrush. She grabs my legs with her short little legs. Trying to trip me. “Oh please girl.” She giggles and laughs. “I got you daddy.” This is turning into a long night.
She is done on the loo. She flushes and closes the lid. And then jumps on top of the lid. It’s next to the mirror. “Come daddy. Time for a photo.” “Oh please girl. Not tonight.” “Come daddy. Just one photo.” I lean forward and she leans over to me and grabs my shoulders – and on her tippy toes leans over to the mirror for the “photo”. She looks at me and says, “smile for the photo daddy”. I give a fake smile and she smiles with her teeth showing all over the place. “Cheese daddy.” It’s done. “Wait daddy. A funny one.” “You said only one girl.” “But we always do a funny one.” I am getting impatient. “Come on now.” She leans in again and pulls what she thinks is a funny face. I pull a funny face. She laughs as if it is the funniest thing she has ever seen. “Come girl. Let’s just brush your teeth.”
We brush her teeth. She sucks the toothpaste and plays with the water in her mouth when she gargles. She spits all over the basin. “Look at my clean teeth daddy.” She flashes me her teeth – pushing her whole face forward. “See how shiny they are daddy.” “Very pretty. Now come now girl. Let’s just bath.” Please.
She runs out the bath into our room and turns around. She faces the bathroom like an athlete ready to start the marathon. She runs screaming to the bathroom and when she gets to the edge of the bath she shouts “cannonball!”. And then stops and slowly gets in the bath on little foot after the other.
“More water dad. Make it deeper. More bubbles.” “Come girl. Please! Stop splashing. Just a quick bath tonight. Daddy really needs to get his work done and get into bed. Let’s just finish.” She ggiles and laughs when I wash her feet. “It’ so ticklish dad”, she says while laughing. She splashes around and throws all her toys in the bath. “Where’s my little duckie?” Crisis. “Find it daddy. His mommy and daddy is waiting for him and he is all alone.” I find the duckie and pull the plug at the same time. The water drains out like my energy.
Drying her and dressing her. Never easy. She smears water on my clothes with her wet hands to see what patterns she can make. “Pull my finger daddy.” Oh. I pull her finger and she makes a farting sound with her mouth. Haha. “Wasn’t that funny daddy?” “Put some cream on me daddy. My skin is itchy.” At last time to get her dressed. I slip on her pajamas and she starts giggling. “Don’t tickle me dad.” I know what she wants. She wants me to tickle her under her arms (kieliebakke) when she lifts her arms. She crashes to the floor when I just put one finger under her arm. “Oh dad. I told you not to tickle me.” She says this while lying on the floor laughing and saying “Oh, ooooooh” the whole time. Time for bed. She goes to sleep first and then I must hit the sack. I am knackered. My brain is starting to shut down.
“Wait daddy. I forgot my dodo bear”. “Oh, come on girl. Just get another toy to sleep with you okay?” “But it’s dodo bear daddy. He always sleeps with me.” She runs down stairs to get the bloody bear. I lie down on her bed and close my eyes. Oh please I hope she gets the bear and move it. I shout from the top, “Move it girl!” She runs up the stairs and into her room holding up dodo bear and shouting, “Got him dad!”
She struggles to get up her bed. It’s too high. And the she jumps off. “Oh, I almost forgot to put my baby Jack-jack in his bed.” I sigh. Just hang in there. It’s almost done. I am just going through the motions now. Trying to survive this whirlwind. Almost done.
She grabs a book. It’s Wally (Waldo in the US). She knows where Wally is hiding. She finds them all faster than me. It takes just a few minutes to read. Thank God. “Again dad. One more time!” She wants to do it again… And again… “One more time daddy.” Always a spark and a sparkle in her voice.
My tiredness has caught up and getting way ahead of me now. I am on edge of the abyss staring down. The floor is sucking me down.
“Okay girl. That’s enough. I’ll put on your Nemo CD and you go to sleep now. Okay? I don’t want to hear you again when I go downstairs. It’s time for bed now.”
I get up and press play on her CD player. I wait a split second to check if the volume is okay. It’s done. I get up and start walking out the door. At last. I can finish everything else and get into bed. I am not even going to blog tonight. There is just nothing left in the tank. I am on the edge. I have to go to sleep before I get too grumpy. Or rather grumpier. And then I hear my little ones voice. No sparkle this time. No happiness. Just a sad little voice coming softly from her bed.
“But daddy. What about my huggle* and kissy?”
I froze. It’s like Mike Tyson in his prime just hit me in my stomach. Like a sledgehammer. I winch. It sucks the wind out of my system. The blood drains from my whole boddy. The huggle. How can I forget the huggle?
All she wanted was a huggle and a kissy. All she is is happy about is seeing her dad. From when she gets up in the morning and misses me to when I get home. She phones in the morning to say hello and to tell me she loves me and misses me. She just doesn’t care about how tired I am. She doesn’t care that I had a tough day. Or that I feel drained. Or that I feel the weight on my shoulders today. She doesn’t care because she loves me. She doesn’t care because she has been waiting all day to see her daddy. And all she wanted was a huggle and a kissy.
I stood there for a minute. I could feel the tears coming. How could I do this to my little girl. She just wants her daddy. I turn around and pull my funniest face – mouth skew, tongue out, eyes wide – everything. And say in my stupidest and deepest monster voice, “A tuggle? What’s a tuggle? Is it like a tickle?”
Her eyes lights up immediately. And a huge smile spreads across her face. “No daddy! I said a huggle! Not a tickle!” I run over to her and gave her a tickle that goes on forever. She laughed from her stomach. Big breaths as she laughs her heart out. And then we quiet down and I look at her and say, “I love you so much my girlie”. “I love you too daddy.”
I give her a big huggle and a big kissy. No. A BIIIIIG huggle and a HUUUGE kissy. “One more daddy.” “And another one daddy.” And then she smiles at me and turns around to grab dodo bear. I leave the room with another “I love you girlie” and a “I love you daddy”. And another quick huggle and a kissy.
That’s my little girl. She doesn’t care because she loves me. All she wanted was her dad. And a huggle and kissy.
And as I walked down the stairs I made a little promise to myself. Never again will I chase her on to finish up. Never again will I give her a half-hearted smile. Never again will I tell her to hurry up. Never again will I tell her daddy just wants to go to sleep. Never again will I not smile for the photo. Never again will I feel too tired. Never again will I forget about the huggle and the kissy. Because she doesn’t care. And rightly so. She’s my little girlie.
* Note: A huggle is a word she created. It’s a combination of a hug and a cuddle. A big hug. No, a huge hug. But with lots of love. A huggle.