The Father is muchos fond of The Daughter. So much so, in fact, that the day she went amiss in Woolworths (see The Rudest Slap), I was too afraid to share the ordeal with him in case he took me to court to sue me for custody. I've come to realise that The Father loves me because of The Daughter. Our telephone calls go something a little like this:
The Father: Hi, Pant. Is the Baby Girl there?
The Pant: Well thanks and you, Dad?
TF: Pardon? The Baby Girl? Is she there?
A week ago when I advised that we'd be going away the following weekend with friends, his displeasure was tangible. His bladed stare pierced right through my eyeballs and caused an instant headache.
The Father: Cool, we'll babysit The Daughter. You young folk go and have a good time.
The Pant: No, Dad, she's coming with me. You know how much she loves the beach, besides which, there'll be tons of other children and you know how she loves to play.
TF: The beach?!? You never said anything about the beach! Do you have any idea how big the ocean is? And she can't swim that well. I think it's too dangerous.
TP: You are aware, Dad, that we live in a little sea-side hamlet called Durban and that we actually spend quite a lot of time on the beach and, consequently, in the sea too?
TF: WHAT?!?!? You take her to the beach?
TP: Yes, Father, I do.
TF: It's irresponsible, Pant. Taking a child to the beach. All that fun! The sun! The ice-creams! How could you? When I'm not even there to protect you?
TP: You do also realise, Dad, that I've managed to parent this child, whom you believe is well-raised with a delightful personality and impeccable manners, on my own for the past four, almost five years?
TF: Well, what about the... um... unspeakable incident at Woolies the other day?
TP: You lost me in a shop once.
TF: Well, that was different.
The Incubator: She is a fairly capable mother, love. She's done a good job so far.
And so, I imagine, it was a heavy heart that he ceded the argument, and The Daughter and I set off on a weekend away. And he checked up on my parenting skills approximately four times a day. (Is she okay? Can I speak to her? If the weather's shit, I think you should just come up to ours; we've got a fire going.)
Anyway, I stood my ground. I had The Daughter all to myself the whole weekend and it was lovely. But as much as The Father adores The Daughter, she adores him straight back. He is, honestly, her whole world. And so, when I got the following call from The Incubator, yesterday, I was quite excited.
The Incubator: Hi!!! Are you at work?
The Pant: Yes, Mom. I am on a quest to keep soul and body together and so I work everyday. What are you doing?
TI: Just had my nails done, darl. Which is why I'm not bbming you (she's just learnt how to use her 1 year old BlackBerry and gets very excited about it). I don't want to ruin them.
TP: Why aren't you at work?
TI: It's past 9, darl. Who works past 9?
TP: I do. It's what I get paid to do.
TI: Anyway, I'm just shopping and realised you haven't given me your birthday list.
(My spirits perked up tremendously at this point.)
TP: Well, do you have a sheet of A0 paper lying around so I can list a few things to you over the phone?
TI: Ah, you know what, Pant. I've just had lunch with Dad and we're thinking of coming down for dinner tonight. You know, to see The Daughter.
TI: No, that's it.
TP: What about me?
TI: What about you?
TP: Well, don't you want to see me too?
TI: You do share the same house as The Daughter, silly. So I suppose we will end up seeing you too.
TP: Great, Mom. Can't wait. It's thai red curry tonight. Let me know by three (which is the time I leave work and head to the effing shops) for sure so I can buy extra.
At three, I still had not heard back from her. And so I rang her.
The Pant: Hi, Mom. What are you doing?
The Incubator: Just lying down reading my book. Isn't that what all women do at three o'clock.
TP: No. It's not what all women do. Some of us work a fullish day. So are you coming for dinner?
TI: I don't think so, darl. Dad's just a little busy at work and I'm really snug in front of the fire.
TP: Okay. No worries. I'm getting my hair done on Wednesday with Sexy Sexy Hairdresser, so do you mind if I stay for dinner and perhaps rest my weary head on one of your pillows.
TI: Perfect, darl. Got to dash.
And so, I did a mini-shop, went home and climbed into bed with my very own book. It is after all, what women are supposed to do in the afternoon. The Daughter was snuggled in next to me, reading Dr Seuss, and my eyelids were fairly heavy, when MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch Dis' awoke me.
TP: (croaky) Hello?
TI: Hi Darl. I'm just phoning to let you know that we will be coming for dinner.
TP: What changed?
TI: Dad's mind.
TP: Oh great, Mom. Are you staying the night?
TI: Definitely. Get the wine glasses washed!
Ah parents. When did they become so indecisive?