When I was first contacted by Lindy, from Adelaide Today Tonight, about doing a story on Stay At Home Dads I had just been practicing my hip swivelling and finger pointing with the boys while listening to the awesome dance hit Flawless by The Ones and I was a tad buzzed out, consumed with a heightened sense of my own abilities.
‘Sure. Yeah man. No worries,’ I said, performing a perfect step to the side with a 180-twist that Lindy will never see.
Today Tonight Comes For Lunch
‘Okay, so we’ll get a TV crew out to your house on Tuesday.’
On the outside I said ‘Ok that sounds great’ but on the inside I was saying ‘Rock on, pretty lady’ and imagining myself being pushed into a running Limosine while screaming out at the Paparazzi like a much balder, much larger, much less famous Justin Beiber.
After saying goodbye I looked up at the birds circling in the blue sky inside my mind and said, ‘Send your crew around to film me and my family, Lindy, and I’ll put on a show that’ll make Cirque du Soleil look like a party hat placed over a dead rat.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning – two hours from go-time – and I’m on the verge of vomit-crying because the house is a fricken disgrace and Maki’s got a cold and Tyson’s helping me clean by putting clothes in the dishwasher and I’m so scared that I don’t have any clean pants to wear that I can’t bring myself to go look.
I get that common nightmare-like vision again. I’m running down the road with my children under my arms and Maki – who can’t talk yet – looks up at me and says, The TV people are heeeeere…
And they are, chasing me down the road; the camera man and the high-heels wearing reporter running just behind the sound-guy’s big furry boom-mic like a couple of salivating greyhounds.
‘You’re no good at this SAHD stuff are you?’ the reporter’s screaming. ‘Admit it. You’re shit!’
‘I’m not shit! That’s a misinterpretation of the facts!’ I scream back at them. ‘I’m not shit!’
When I look down I see the boys heads are all spinning in unison, exorcist-style, and then the vision vanishes and I’m shivering in my undies as the kitchen comes back into focus.
After dosing Maki with some Nurofen and placing him gently in the cot I make my way to the bathroom. I need to shower, refresh and reset myself or Adelaide will think I’m some kind of crazy bogan.
Within seconds Tyson wanders in and says, ‘Watchya doing with that big willy!’
It’s after looking behind myself to discover that I’m alone in the shower, as I thought, that I realise he’s talking about my willy. ‘Gee, I wish your Mum would say that occasionally, Tys,’ I say.
The spontaneity of a toddler is one of life’s great rewards and the humour of the situation calms me and an order of chores suggests itself to me.
By the time Reservoir Mum arrives home with the boys in the Toyota, at the same time that the TV crew arrives in their secret-FBI-looking black car, the house shines; reeking of pine-scented Domestos, with crammed-up cupboards indicative of a fair dinkum panic-clean.
It’s when I first shake hands with Ian The Camera Man and Peter The Sound Guy that I wonder why I’m wearing a lime-green shirt for TV but after saying hello to Lynda, The Reporter, I forget all about the fact that I look like a peeled kiwi-fruit in blue jeans and we’re straight into a goodbye Reservoir Mum have a fun day at work scene.
Almost immediately I notice a difference in the children. They’re quiet, uttering only a few complaints, and doing as they’re told and even when I enact a lunch scene for the camera and serve up the blandest platters known to humankind – chucks of cheese, sliced carrots, semi-fresh bread – they eat it obediently, as if I’m holding a cane.
Ian The Camera Man has told me never to look at the lens when he’s filming but I find it hard not to glance in his direction, suspecting that the TV crew have slipped my kids a mickey, or replaced them with robot-boys while I was distracted by the spotlight.
Reservoir Mum and I sit stiffly on chairs placed strategically in front of the camera and the interview begins. Our answers seem a little to the serious side and a tad stilted and I am just about to suggest that they should ask the questions while we’re moving about and doing the normal day to day stuff, or take some footage of me dancing to attract more female viewers, when suddenly the interview’s over and Ian The Camera Man says, ‘Would you mind if I got some footage of you cleaning the toilet?’ and I say, ‘Not at all. But just so you know; I filmed myself cleaning the toilet just yesterday, so a large part of your audience has already seen that.’
He shrugs and instead films me vacuuming and picking up toys and reading books to the boys.
In between filming and organising scenes I make some tea for Lynda and she seems great and I chat back and forth with Ian about what makes a good story, and Peter suggests a new avatar for my website, and then we all joke together about my fear of being chased down the road and when I suggest to Lynda that she’d have to take off her high-heels both Ian and Peter jump in to say she’s more than capable of running in them and Lynda nods and says, ‘I put it on my resume’ and suddenly I realise, after all the panic – and as the session comes to an end – that I’m having a good time.
As we wave them goodbye, RM says, ‘How do you think that went?’
‘Not too bad,’ I say, and as the kids start fighting and lift their noise to its normal level I relax a little – relieved that they haven’t been drugged or replaced with robots – and then I remember another positive from this strange day.
‘Hey,’ I say to RM, ‘Tyson saw me in the shower and said I had a big willy today.’
Reservoir Mum says, ‘Well at least his vocabulary is improving’ before stumbling down the hall laughing, as Archie runs by with Maki to protect him from a Tyson/Lewis fight and then I get a bit of a buzz and head to the Plasma to play Flawless and add some more noise and my own frenetic movement – hip swivelling, finger pointing and possibly even The Worm – to this more common family scene.