Bye darling. Have fun. Look after my babies. Back in an hour.” The front door slams and Emma, too chirpy by half, is gone. Saturday morning yoga. Or is it Pilates? Meanwhile, the Dynamic Duo of Maria and Gabriella have bounced Emma into allowing them both to take Saturdays off.
And so I am alone with my three children for the first time. Gwenllian sleeps fitfully in my arms. She has a temperature and after a restless night, with added puke, is grouchy. Emma breastfed her and dosed her up with ibuprofen before departure but frankly, seemed rather blasé about the whole thing. I, however, am petrified. This is a sick child. My daughter. And I am but a man. What do I do if she stops breathing? Is there enough petrol in the car for a mercy dash to A&E?
Harry lies on a blanket, gurgling happily. Noel lies in front of the television watching Horrible Histories. Granddad would not approve. “One does not learn about Boudica, Queen of the Iceni and her uprising against the Romans through song and dance. Tacitus would be a perfectly good place to start,” I imagine him declaiming. “Oh, sod off, Dad,” I find myself saying out loud.
“What did you say?” asks Noel. “Nothing,” I reply.
Noel leaps up and grabbing Darth Vader’s red lightsaber, improvises a Roman Legionnaire’s javelin with which to threaten Harry. Harry screams. “Stop, Noel,” I snap. Noel does not stop. Instead, Gwenllian wakes, screams and pukes all over me. Noel laughs. “Get on the naughty step,” I shout, wagging my finger in Noel’s face.
Noel retreats. I survey the carnage about me. And realise that, with the shouting and the wagging – and even in the absence of a classical education – I am become my father. Ouch.
City Dad will be continued next Tuesday. For previous episodes, see www.cityam.com