Sunday, April 10, 2011
It's been a long... fortnight? Longer? I dunno.
The situation this year should be simple. Five days a week, no kids due to school. That should allow me more time for myself, and for work.
But factor things in. The usual: cooking, cleaning, shopping, errands. Add the rest of the usual. Then account for the stuff added this year: gymnastics for the kids, orchestra for the boys and Natalie. And now swimming lessons of a Saturday, at the big pool in Launceston. That's my job too, because the boys (who need to swim better, definitely!) will listen better to me, and because I spent a lot of my young life around two professional swim teachers - my parents.
Then add in a tummy upset last week, and a bunch of visitors, and multiply by the fact that I am trying very hard to give more weekend time to being with kids, etc, and you'll realise that I was really, really looking forward to tomorrow. Monday. Nobody home but me.
Tuesday Natalie's home. I can work, but it isn't the same. Wednesday likewise, and of course, I'm planning for the afternoon and evening of ju-jitsu. Thursday is a nightmare of back-and-forth to Scottsdale with instruments, lessons, Swedish studies, etc. Friday isn't so bad, but by that end of the week there are usually pressing errands. Monday is the day I like to pile in and really get my own work done.
The weekend was pretty full-on. Natalie was on call, so I couldn't be out of communication with kids/house, etc. Therefore I took Genghis to his bass lesson Saturday, with a quick stop at an interesting nursery that has some fantastic apple trees that I want. Definitely want. And they were supposed to email me, and they haven't, and obviously I'm going to have to go back and shake them up a little. For they are gorgeous trees: maybe two and a half metres tall, and every branch utterly groaning under tonnes of beautiful, pink-red apples the size of plums - but tart, and sweet, and delicious, not like crab-apples at all. They lean over the road from the nursery, and shamelessly I stole a couple of kilogrammes last week and made a spicy apple jam... it is utterly delicious, and I want those apple trees.
Anyhow. While Genghis was doing the bass stuff, Jake and the Mau-Mau and I padded about inner-city Launceston. We found some Asterix and Obelix DVDs - cartoons from the 1970s. I didn't even know they existed. They were six or seven dollars each. We bought three.
After the lesson, Genghis put his new transport wheel into the bottom of his bass, which delighted him. The luthier who teaches him bass had only managed to procure this wheel that morning, you see, but Genghis had been anticipating it for weeks. It's about fifteen centimetres high, and it works like a castor, on a support rod that fits into the socket at the bottom of the base where the spike usually goes. With his new wheel in place, Genghis is at last able to move the instrument comfortably. We've been carting it around for him up until now, have Natalie and I, since the instrument itself is considerably broader and taller than he is. But with the wheel -- well, he slung the neck of the bass over his shoulder, and zoomed off down the sidewalk, making loud motorcycle noises.
We spent a couple hours at the big pool complex after that. One at a time, I took the boys into the larger pool and put them to some serious swim learning. They're both water-safe enough for Tasmania, naturally, but I'm determined that they're going to actually swim, not just float, thrash, dog-paddle, or whatever.
Jake is built for it - lean and gangly. He takes after me, and I've always been a very good swimmer. (My mother held several Australian records in her age group when she swam in the Masters. And she quite liked the odd 10km race. Father... well, with his shoulder, he doesn't swim hard any more. But when he did, he was very, very fast indeed.) Unfortunately, Jake is nervy, and not relaxed, and it's hard going to get him to progress.
Genghis, on the other hand, is stocky and densely muscled. Not good for floating at all. But once he got the idea, he was right into it. In the space of half an hour, he went from kickboarding to practice his breathing and flutter kick, through to working a basic freestyle stroke, and by the time we quit for the day, he could manage six or seven metres of very fast, very strong freestyle... but he couldn't yet integrate the breathing, so he did it all in one breath.
I figure another two, three weeks for Genghis and he'll be ready to handle a full fifty metre lap of freestyle - if he keeps learning at this rate. It'll take Jake longer. On the other hand, when they can both manage it, the situation will reverse, because Jake has the advantage of his reach, and build. Never mind.
We made it home, and I rounded up a bunch of laundry, etc. Then I handled dinner, and we watched one of those Asterix flicks. Which was... very odd. But you get the idea: busy day, not a lot of my own work.
So, today. Sunday. Determined to do well for the kids, I got up with everyone and we had our pancakes and backon. Then I played a couple games of "Kung Fu Samurai On Giant Robot Island" with the boys, and sorted a bunch of laundry. After that, a short lunch, and then an hour or so of combined frisbee/vortex toy throwing with all three kids, because the sun was out and the day was beautiful. And then we went shopping, and I set up for a charcoal barbecued chicken dinner.
I was the Good Dad, yes. And it was nice. We had a very pleasant day. And all the time, I could feel the emails piling up, and I figured: yeah, I'd get them tomorrow.
Dinner finished. I threw all three kids in the bath, and climbed in to do a mass hairwashing. All good.
And it should have stayed that way. Except that the Mau-Mau continued to complain of an itchy scalp. Natalie had already checked her for bugs, and found naught, but I figured - with her hair damp, and using a powerful LED torch, I could really do the job right.
I found one.
One rotten, stinking louse. One.
Tomorrow, all three children stay home from school. The boys seem to be completely clear, as usual, but the rules say they stay home too. And I shall go to the chemist, and I will purchase a crapload of ti-tree and eucalpyt based products. And I will individually treat all three kids, and then myself - for of course, my scalp now itches like hell, though Natalie says there's nothing to be seen - and all of this will take most of the morning, and the afternoon will have kids running back and forth, and arguing, and I will not be able to string together the quiet I really desperately wanted, and that's that, isn't it?
One filthy little bug.