Well, that's that then. Another summer nearly over and done with. Another summer that has sped by and simultaneously dragged it's feet. Another summer full of fun, laughter, tears and snot. As much as I love summer; especially the freedom of holidays abroad, with all that heat and sun, I am always glad to see the end of it. My inherent gingerness is more geared up for cooler skies of autumn. When the food gets better, the ground becomes crunchy and days eke out just a little bit more quietly.
And plus the kids go back to school. Thank gawd for that.
Actually, it has been great this year. Having made the leap into freelancing, as a Dad, I am now forever present, bar the odd day or two. Impromptu trips to the seaside and days out at the park have been frequent and plentiful. In addition to the odd play date with school friends, I have been able to assume the role of the bigger kid and have become a veritable Lost Boy. You don't know how much fun there is to be had with a video camera and having your chin dimpled with glued wobbly eyes and being filmed upside-down, with a blanket covering your head, nose upwards. Yes, we've all seen it done on the telly but you should watch it homemade. You will never feel such a delicious pain in your sides.
There is one problem though. This writing of words for others, easy and fluid for most people, a touch too painful and floral for some, also takes time. As a result, there is a disconnect between Dad being around all the time and Dad also having to do some work in that time.
The phrase - 'Dad, can you play with me?' - can sometimes feel wretched, especially when you've already spent 5 hours staring at the screen and seem to have got very little done. It can make you feel very snappy, irritable and gruff. Still, it's all learning curve and we are all still very much at the beginning. Slowly, they are getting that, sometimes, I just need to disappear. Even if it means going out to the kitchen table. Mrs FU is soaking up a lot of the pressure and I am working out methods of getting stuff done. Like resorting to 5AM starts. Something that I thought I had left behind.
What I really need, is a shed to escape to. But that has had an adverse affect on my work too. As I now spend an inordinate amount of time looking at sheds. All of the sheds. In the whole wide world.
I love sheds.
Bringing the children and food back into proceedings for a second or two, I have also been working on the tactic of literally throwing it at them, to keep them occupied.
'Here, take this bag of bananas, these Pringles, this box of squeezy yoghurts, some of this leftover spag bol and just go out in the garden for a few hours and fend for yourselves!'
On some days though, I have taken special requests, to help over-ride the guilt.
'Egg mayonnaise sandwiches? Sure, you can have egg mayonnaise sandwiches. For they are the easiest of all the sandwiches to make. Dad is on the case right now.'
And they are the easiest sandwiches to make. Except, when you don't have ready-made mayo in the fridge, that presents a problem.
Cue a furious whipping of egg yolks with mustard, rapeseed and olive oil mixed, drip, drip, dribble, dripple, drip drip, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. All whilst bemoaning aching forearms and cursing - 'Why, WHY the f*ck did they have to ask for egg mayonnaise sandwiches?!'
But it brought silence. It gave me a gap, to tap out just a few more words. Those egg mayonnaise sandwiches meant that a deadline was met, for once.
Then came the real reward. Two pairs of dirty feet, standing beside the table and with grubby mouths, a whisper in unison - 'Dad, that was the best egg mayonnaise sandwich ever.'
Cue a smile and a sigh.
'Go get the wobbly eyes and the camera. Dad has finished for the day.'