10.45: Once the full list of this week’s attendees has arrived – Jack, Dan, Joe, Ben, Simon, Kelvin and their children – I make coffees and put forward a theory. Following your partner around the house when they get home and talking relentlessly is not exclusive to women but is a behaviour that a person of either gender will engage in if they have suffered hours of isolation from like-minded adults who are willing to engage in relevant conversation.
10.46: I am still talking about my theory.
10.47: When I stop talking it reveals an underlying awkward silence.
10.48: Joe points at a child who is arbitrarily placing small toys and jigsaw pieces into the pants of another child, thereby breaking the awkward silence.
11.20: The group moves outside. Children jump on the trampolines, kick balls and pressure Dads into pushing them on the swing. Dads begin to move towards and away from each other, forming small groups and then dispersing, and then forming new groups while having semi-serious conversations.
I make and transport fresh coffee to every Dad and listen in. The topics being covered by each group are as follows:
• Jack and Ben: global warming, backyard maintenance and sex
• Dan and Joe: hangovers, kids, cricket, immunisations and sex
• Kelvin and Simon: children’s pop-up books, how great kids are and sex
11.26: It occurs to me that I instigate two out of every three conversations about sex.
11.40: All the Dads unite as Joe guides us through the complicated process of brewing one’s own beer. It’s agreed that next week we will have Dads’ Group at his house and that everyone will take public transport.
11.50: Cheesecake, strawberries and cream are served. Six out of the seven children present request a very big piece of cheesecake. Three of those six eat only one third of their serving. One just nibbles at an edge. One licks the entire length of the cheesecake and walks away. One puts his finger in the cheesecake and requests an icy pole and then dips the icy pole in the cheesecake.
11.52: Seven children are screaming and running in circles for icy poles.
11.54: Seven children are dipping icy poles into their cheesecake.
12.00: A child poos. All Dads present sniff their child’s bum. Eventually the culprit is located and excluded from the group until the proper corrections have been made.
12.08: Dad health issues are raised. Topics covered: diabetes, stroke, asthma and heart attack. Diet is discussed, with the general consensus being that it doesn’t really matter what you eat anyway because this one guy who smoked twenty packets of cigarettes a day and drank whisky his whole life lived to 110 and this other guy who ate lots of veggies and ran marathons died when he was 35.
12.10: Official apologies about the growing mess begin. I make a sexist comment in regards to women and housework. Everyone laughs at the irony and then a consensus is reached that we can laugh at the expense of women in traditional roles because we are men committed to those same traditional roles. It’s like a European moving to Australia and calling himself a wog and starting a comedy show.
12.15: Another child poos. All Dads present re-sniff their child’s bum, except for the Dad who belongs to the child of the previous poo. After prolonged sniffing and confusion it’s suggested to this Dad that it was his child who had pooed, again. This is confirmed and the culprit is excluded from the group until the appropriate adjustments have been made.
12.20: Dads separate fights, supervise trampoline activities, rescue children from cubby ladder mishaps, push children on swings, make funny faces, jump and skip and laugh like children. No hamstring or lower back injuries are reported and only three Dads are wheezing. Excuses given to hide fitness issues include hay fever and other allergies.
12.30: The children and Dads all gather around Ekko the dog to pat him and learn proper pet-handling behaviour. In his excitement the dog rolls over and, along with its belly, exposes a long lipstick-shaped penis. Ben’s son reaches for it immediately. All the Dads freeze on the spot and scream in horror which, thankfully, shocks the dog back into an upright position.
12.40: Official closing ceremony involving bag gathering, shoe searching, musical hats and drink bottle returning. False promises and bribery are used to get children to the porch.
12.41: Further bribes, threats and prayer-like falling to the knees are used to coerce children another several metres towards their cars.
12.45: Jack and Dan stay back to form a team with me. A hotly fought competition ensues between the three Dads and their children to see who can leap from the porch and land the furthest from the rose bushes.
12.46: One hamstring says ping.
12.47: A suspected lower back injury brings a premature end to proceedings. The children celebrate as if victorious until it is explained to them that the game has merely been postponed until next time.
12.50–2.50: I put Tyson down for a sleep and then drink more coffee and clean up the Northern Dads’ Group aftermath, which leads to me finding the remote control half submerged in the toilet, which is weird because I lost it about a month ago and we’ve used the toilet a lot since then.
2.50–4.00: I join Archie and Lewis outside to catch butterflies, which is surprisingly difficult without a net, but after mashing several between our fingers we manage to catch one alive. Lewis keeps it cupped in his hands while
Archie and I run around in a flurry of excitement, putting grass and twigs into a plastic container. After putting tiny breathing holes in the lid, Lewis places the butterfly gently inside, where it flaps one wing for about thirty seconds and then dies. We’re disappointed but not disheartened and spend twenty minutes making a better enclosure before heading to do some more hunting.
5.00: Tania returns home and I drop Tyson’s yogurt mid-feed to fetch her bags, saying, ‘How are you? Hey! Come in. How was your day today? We had Dads’ Group here and caught butterflies and made an enclosure with an old fish tank your dad gave us, and I wasn’t sure what butterflies ate but to impress Archie and Lewis I secretly Googled it and most of the sites said that they don’t eat anything, which I didn’t think the boys would be excited about, so I told them they ate tuna and so there are some tins of tuna in the fish tank with the flutterbyes, but don’t worry because I didn’t open them, so we can eat them later but, hey, isn’t it kind of ironic that we have tuna in a fish tank. . . . pffft . . . and it was really interesting because today I was telling everyone that when you get home I just don’t stop talking, I just follow you around going yap yap yap because I’m so excited to see someone older than five and to be talking to a real human adult and – oh shit – that’s what I’m doing now . . .’
5.20: I run wildly into the study to update my Facebook status to I’m so against gender stereotypes that I’ve started taking women’s multivitamin tablets, and order Friday night takeaway.
*This is an excerpt from the book Reservoir Dad.
To purchase the kindle version go here.
To purchase the hard copy go here.
‘If David Sedaris had got married and had kids, he would have been Reservoir Dad. Fall-on-the-floor funny, sharp, witty and just a little bit sexy.’ Kerri Sackville, Best Australian Blog 2013 judge A sharply funny, fresh and irreverent chronicler of real life in today’s parenting trenches, Reservoir Dad is a stay-at-home dad whose award-winning blog has already won hearts and minds all over Australia and beyond for telling it like it is and making us laugh out loud – and sometimes cry, but in a good way.