Thursday, 8 March 2007

Dig's away

Dig's gone to Sunshine land. I hope it's raining. We haven't told the children where he's gone because last year we went with him. He had a conference on commas, and we had the beach to ourselves. The weather was superb; the hotel was on the beach front; the restaurants were child-friendly; and the hotel did strawberries dipped in chocolate.

This year Dig's gone back. But this year he's in a hotel at the back end of town; he's working every day and the conference on commas is much earlier in the year, so he's promised me the weather will be cold and miserable. I have my doubts about that last one, but last year's visit was cripplingly expensive, so I understand we have to find some excuses.

In the past when Dig's gone away the children have been hellish. The day he went to the Chinese embassy in London and took only Tiger stands out as probably one of the worst. Shark and Squirrel screamed, fought, bit, scratched and smashed their way through the day until they drove themselves into a stupor, fell over and went to sleep.

In fact I've been so keen to avoid the impact that Dig's departures can have on the children that I've developed two tactics. The first is to leave the house, children in tow, on stimulating visits everyday, possibly returning to a caravan in a field each night, so that they never really notice he's gone and, if they do, they're having such a great time that they don't care.

The second option is to stay at home and do just about everything they want. Putting up least resistence to all requests, no matter how bizarre they come, makes for an easier time when Dig's not here. You want to try green custard on that pasta? No problem. A trip to Theme Park plus ice cream? We can do that tomorrow after you bake the chocolate biscuits you asked for. Stay up till midnight watching Matilda? OK then, but I get to carry you to bed if you fall asleep.

Now you may say this is terrible parenting, and you're probably right. But I like to think that when Dig comes home with all his photographs and presents from far away places, and with his pockets bulging from hotel bath foam, that the kids can rush up to him and shout 'Daddy! guess what we did!' and that makes his departure and my survival all just about acceptable.

But this time I'm clearly failing on the 'let's have fun' stakes. Already today there's been a steady trickle of 'Where's daddy?' and 'When's daddy coming home?' So I can regret trying to sit it out until he returns on Sunday. And I can regret not taking a long break somewhere, and I can regret doing all the things that everyone hates, like putting broccoli in the tomato sauce, and not allowing Shark to sit up all night watching Matilda.

Only three days this time. Then Dig, come home quickly. I'll probably have to listen everyday to the whining cries, in triplicate, of 'When's daddy coming home? We never have any fun when he's not here. When's daddy coming home? I want daddy!'

And my memory's not all that bad. I can remember the restaurants and the hotel and the beach and the strawberries dipped in chocolate.

I hope it rains everyday in Sunshine land.

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