We all have our roles in our little family. My wife is the one that holds it all together. The glue that we stick to. The level headed one. The one that looks after us. And the one we all run to when we bump our toe or just feel like a hug. She is the centre. The foundation. The pillar. The sun we spin around.

And I mean spin. The rest of us are slightly out of control. Spinning in all directions. Not adhering to rules like gravity or being a grown up parent. My poor wife. All she can do is look at us and shake her head. And shake her finger at us if it looks like the house might just cave in. Bring balance back to our world.

My role is clear. I am the crazy one. The one that gets them all worked up. Throwing them in the air. Racing them up the stairs. Carry them like a bag of potatoes. Jump on their beds. Dance crazy dances with them. Chase them around in the garden. Swing them too high. Play Wii with them and lose. Tickle them until they say “Pretty please with a cherry on top” – although I learnt that one from my wife. You know. The one that is more playmate than parent. The one that gets the “I can’t teach the girls to behave if you carry on like this” speech almost weekly. But I know she likes it. She laughs too often not to! And behind the pointy finger is a smile saying “You are impossible. And I love you for that”.

Talking about fingers. One of the skills I truly believe my girls should have is an ability to… hum… fart… I mean… pass wind on demand. It is a rare skill. You never know when it might come in handy. That’s why I taught them the “Pull my finger” trick.

It can be in the middle of a conversation. We can be talking about anything. “So, how was school my girl?”, I’ll ask. She’ll say, “Just fine, thanks dad.” I’ll follow up with a, “What did you do?” Back to her, “Well, we all…” An abrupt interruption, “Wait! Quick! Pull my finger!” General response, “Oh dad. You are disgusting!” But she’ll pull it in any case and then laugh at the result. I make them so proud.

And they’ll do it back. I might be busy drying the little princess right after her bath and she’ll say, “Hey, dad. Pull my finger!” And even if she can’t create the exact desired result… She’ll make the noise with her mouth and throw her head back and laugh. She makes me so proud. A real princess would be proud at her gracious manners and sophisticated etiquette.

The big angel is starting to get more control. We’ll be lying in on our Sunday morning music hour and she’ll go, “Dad! Quick! Pull my finger”. And she’ll do the deed under the duvet. Little angel feathers dropping off due to the lingering effect. Thank God she hasn’t learned the “Duvet over the head” trick yet. I am keeping that one for a special occasion.

My girls. They have beautiful refined fingers with magic in them.

But I have taught them another trick as well. The “Good one!” trick.

I can burp at will. Sometimes even do a little tune. Maybe for a special occasion I’ll sing them a “song”. Like “Happy birthday”. Good times. But I taught them to respect the burp.

A burp should not be wasted. It should be remembered. Honored in a way. It is a reminder of the good food that gave us this little gift. So I taught them to say “Good one!” if they burp and then we high five each other. For some or other reason my wife doesn’t join in the fun. She does roll her eyes and give us a wry smile though. But sometimes the girls get their timing slightly wrong…

We were eating our dinner. Another one of our many favorites made by the hands of their suffering mom. I think it was maple syrup chicken or goggas. We have so many favorites I can’t remember which one it was. We have favorites every day! Anyway, little princess wasn’t really behaving. Getting up and adjusting her chair the whole time. Messing all over the place. Eating slower than a sloth sleeping. We were trying to hurry her up. And she knows that at the table we need to have manners. It’s mom’s territory. It teaches them how to behave at school. And then she let out a huge burp…

My wife gave her “the look”. A serious look of disapproval. You don’t burp at the table. And if you do? Well, you know what you should say. So my wife looked at her with “the look” and said, “What do you say?” And little princess immediately shot back without blinking, “Good one!” She looked at me with a big smile and gave me a high five.

Boy. Did I get “the look” and the finger saying “You! See what I have to put up with? How can I teach the girl anything when you teach them this? What am I going to do with you three?” And then she just burst out laughing. And gave little princess a high five and more wise words, “Rather out than in I guess”.

My girls. They make me so proud. Now, pull my finger! Quick!


Note for South Africans: I also taught my girls this little rhyme…

Ouma en oupa sit op die stoep

Oupa gee ‘n harde poep

Ouma sê wat makeer?

Oupa sê my maag is seer

Ouma sê dan eet ‘n peer

Oupa sê dan poep ek weer

Remember that one? Hehe!