‘Dad,’ Archie says, as we’re driving towards Primary School. ‘Has this ever happened to you?’
‘When we were at the Kite Festival the ice cream lady asked me if I wanted my ice cream in a cup or in a cone and I said, um, in a cup please but she just kept looking at me and smiling and so I waited and then said in a cup please.’
‘Twice? She mustn’t have heard you,’ I say, laughing. ‘Maybe you need to talk a little louder?’
While Archie’s mulling over that piece of wisdom I glance at Lewis in the rear vision mirror and remember that he left the passenger side door open at school drop-off yesterday and then it occurs to me that I do have to repeat myself – all the time, every single day.
‘Hey, actually, I have to tell you guys to get dressed about a thousand times every morning… and to brush your teeth and to get your readers and find your shoes and to watch me dance the The Macarena or The Nutbush … and I have to repeat myself to Tyson and Maki whenever there’s the chance of a tantrum or a meltdown…’
‘Like when?’ Archie says, as the Primary School comes into sight.
‘Like this morning when he said, “I want gogurt” and I was like “Okay Maki, hang on a tick” – because I was helping Tyson with his jumper – and within seconds his eyes were filling with tears and he was screaming so I ran to the fridge saying “I’m getting yogurt, Maki, I’m getting yogurt!” and he fell to his knees and scratched at his neck like he was in anaphylactic shock wailing “GO-GURT! GO-GURT!” and so I flung the fridge open searching for the yogurt scream-singing “Here it is Maki, here it is Maki” like… I don’t know… a man trying to dance as casually as possible while a dirty mean cowboy whistles My Little Buttercup and shoots bullets at his feet…’
I emerge from the effort of my explanation as we pull up outside the school and as they scramble over the seats I say, ‘Don’t forget to close the door.’
Archie’s almost inside the gates while Lewis is still struggling with his bag. ‘You’ve gone coconuts,’ he says, patting me on the head and smiling at me in typical Lewis fashion.
‘Yeah,’ I say, grinning back. ‘Sometimes being a parent makes you feel like Rain Man… without being exceptionally great at anything… like math.’
‘Who’s Rain Man?’ Lewis shouts as he spots a friend at the gate and leaps to the grassy curb, taking off with a quick wave in my direction.
I draw a deep breath to call him back but it’s too late. The door and my mouth are identical twins – wide open, mute.
‘He’s a character in a famous movie,’ I say to myself, as I get out of the car and walk around to the passenger side. ‘He’s a character in a famous movie.’