I like my own company. I can spend a long time on my own quite happily. This has always been the case. Happily introverted. Before I met my partner I’d spend nearly all of my time alone. Happily. I don’t have close friends. I don’t want any. I’ve had them before. Didn’t work out too well for me.
These hermit based tendencies are not the behavioural patterns required to engage, amuse, raise and teach a three year old. It’s not fair on her. I don’t want my daughter to assume my sensibilities about people are normal. They’re not. These are the lessons that I have learnt.
Indirectly my three year old is teaching me how to become more sociable. I’ll give you an example. We love going swimming. It’s a special time for both of us. But I shrink at the thought of bumping into someone we know. Someone ruining our special time. Some awkward conversation with someone I barely know who clearly doesn’t want anything to do with me. But Eve can’t wait to bump into someone. Which is great. It demonstrates that she hasn’t been that afflicted with my horrendous shyness. And I’m still not over mine. I’m nearly 40 years old. Last week Eve swam over to a little girl and her mum, looked back at me and said “Daddy are you coming over to meet this little girl with me or not?” The water nearly started boiling I was that embarrassed. Ashamed of myself. Some hairy, grown ass adult who should know better.
Last year our circumstances changed considerably. I lost my job, was out of work for nearly a year, credit cards, baliffs, crippling debt and all the shit that comes with that. We had to take her out of school. We nearly broke. And each and every day we’d be woken by a smiling little girl, hair exploding in the light of the morning. None of this is her fault. She didn’t mash credit cards, lose her job, spend all evening drinking, forget to pay that bill. None of this is her fault. She didn’t choose to be here. Essentially my moral code can’t help but stop any of my trials and tribulations becoming hers. So far it’s working, but I’m not sure how long I can keep up the pretence.
The mornings are the worst. She wakes at 05:30 or thereabouts every day. She’s three. She is surrounded by stimuli, waited on hand and foot, wants for nothing and everything. As soon as she awakes until midday chaotic combinations of the following take place: painting; puppet shows; bug collecting; Lego; drawing; visiting friends; calling my parents; tea parties; doctors and nurses; baking; gardening; reading; music making; writing; basketball; trips to the park; more trips to the park etc.
Somewhere in-between these odd fragments of time I clean. Tidy up her toys. Tidy up my toys. Wash clothes. Open red topped letters. Make desperate, pleading phonecalls. Try and make some friends. Worry. Scream into a pillow.
I don’t want my failures in life to bleed into hers somehow. To make everything rotten. But it is hard work to stem what you would usually let flow. Especially when it’s only you holding everyone together.
But I’ll say this. In these shattered, frenzied hours my daughter will be far more concerned about when she’s getting another toy pony. She will be hard at work ensuring that she gets what she wants, that she goes home when she wants, she eats what she wants and that she does whatever she wants. When you work as hard as you can, with the focus of ensuring she has the best day she possibly can, it cuts to the gut when it clearly isn’t good enough for her. Even though I know it is.
Give me a day or two of solitude. Long enough to sort our lives out. Just to stay on the line long enough to the bank without her demanding I do my Fireman Sam impression. Just one more time.