Tuesday, 1 October 2013


The first thing I'm aware of
is her voice,
saying Go in the front room please
Daddy. Please?
My eyes creak open.  I say,
Ok babes,
roll on my back,
examine the ceiling.
A florid nonsense sentence
comes from him;
I turn my head.
He's standing in his cot
grinning at me.
He looks like Kilroy.
You remember him?
The graffiti,
not the guy with orange skin.
I sit up, rub my eyes
and check the time.
Half eight.  Not bad.
A lie-in's like a gift..

She's been talking to me
this whole time,
asking for toast, to
get out of her cot.
She settles on a name for me
for now;
I'm Daddy Pig.
A Peppa freak,
she calls me that a lot.
I get called Daddy Iron Man as well,
and sometimes Daddy Dragon
and/or Robot.
I love the way
these words sound in her voice,
which reminds me of
white chocolate.
Who knows why.

He's excited now,
holds up his arms
for me to pick him up.
I do. He grins.
He's got a brilliant grin.
It's weapons grade,
just like his frowns,
which come like summer storms
and dissipate as fast.
He pokes my nose,
I make a noise, a horn.
He laughs, pokes his.
I soak all this stuff up
like rays of sun.

And then I make us breakfast,
and I drink
some coffee.  First of many.
Did I change their nappies yet?
Yes, I did.
I'm barely conscious.
It's alright.
The coffee's working.

He will concentrate
on eating toast,
and she'll talk to me
about everything.
What's that, Daddy?
What's this?
Look Dad, a cat!

Meow, I go.
She mee-yows back. This day
is gonna be ok.
We'll be alright.

And there are the mornings
they're not here.
I rarely use my bed
when it's just me.
I stay awake, and play guitar,
and read.
The moment I'm in bed
with the light off,
all sorts of ugly
memories recur,
and I can't sleep.
But when the kids are here,
these memories
are held at bay
by snores from sleeping kids.
(I can't afford to live
in any flat
that has more than one bedroom.
So we share.)
The sofa, then,
when they are not around.
A lumpy two-seater affair,
as comfy as a brick.
I'll sit up til dawn,
til my eyes droop,
then curl up and black out.
It's not ideal.

But this how it is,
and it's ok.
At least I've got my kids
and they've got me.
They saved me from myself
when nothing else
seemed able to perform
that humble trick.

Don't get me wrong.
They can be assholes too.
But that's ok.  They're tiny.
It's allowed.

So anyway,
breakfast has come and gone.
She wants to hear Nirvana;
they are now
her favourite band of all.
She's nearly three.
I put Teen Spirit on,
her favourite tune,
and as I watch them
bop their little heads,
and she sings just the last
word of each line,
I sip my drink,
remember being young.

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