I am on leave, at home with the kids. My wife has gone away for four days. For the short stabs of time where I sleep, I dream of tropical island hideaways and silence. And drugs. I made it through my first 30 years of life without resorting to hard drugs, but this is different. Ok, there were one or two incidents, but the charges never stuck. I just need something to calm my nerves. A shot of Pethidine through the eyeball into the brain would do. We get through the first day okay, so I let my guard down, and
they sense my weakness. The first night is a sleepless circus of bottle feeding and screaming, nappy changing and crying. I do most of the crying.
By the end of the second day, the house looks like the aftermath of a student party that was gate-crashed by bikies and monkeys on acid, with wall to wall vomiting & a plate smashing ceremony. I am drinking more. Hold on now, I hear you – but yes, it is possible. The rain won't let up, we are trapped. Was going to brush my teeth today, but found Boy 3 fishing my toothbrush out of the toilet with the braai tongs. The night is upon us.
The third day: My eyeballs feel like they have been rolled in sand. I am on no sleep; coffee just gives me the shakes. I spend most of the day on the couch, watching the boys run wild, head in hands; with spaghetti hoops on my dressing gown and wine stains on my slippers. Judge Judy, Dr Phil and Oprah are no help. Dinner time: We are all hungry, and the Twisties are finished. I find some M&Ms, and keep the boys at bay by throwing the M&Ms on the rug. It is like feeding pigeons, but pigeons in nappies, with Nutella and drool on their chins. Wine supply is running low. Boy 2 knocks a precious glass out of my hand.
I soak it up with a paper towel and squeeze it into a plastic mug. Think I swallow some glass. I manage to contact wife on fourth attempt. She seems strangely unconcerned by the dire situation here at home. There is laughter in the background. She is disappointed that I haven't mowed the lawn. Then she has to go because the third round of the degustation arrives. Boy 1 cracked the flat screen with the broom handle, so we are down to one TV. I find I don't care who wins the Tri Nations anymore – I would trade the title for the next five years for one night of sleep. I hear more glass breaking in the kitchen, and fight back the tears.
The last day: I feel like I am being paroled. I am going to shower and shave. I will get the paper and sit in a café and drink coffee.
I will relish the quiet. Oh, and the paternity test, better book that. Alright, that was a joke. Still, there are moments…