‘Ok here we go,’ I thought, as Learner Dad’s name flashed on to my phone.
I’d been waiting for this call.
“How did he go?” I asked nervously.
There was only silence.
And then a sniffle.
“Are you there? What happened?” I asked in a panic.
Then… “I can’t do it.”
It was Lil Fatty’s first day at childcare and it seemed it wasn’t Lil Fatty who was struggling with it.
“What do you mean?” I whispered, glancing around the office and covering the phone slightly.
“He just doesn’t suspect a thing,” Learner Dad said between sniffles. “I feel so mean leaving him here.”
After weeks of debate, Lil Fatty was enrolled for one day a week of childcare.
Learner Dad didn’t like the idea one bit.
I liked it a lot.
For a start, I’d been ready to take on another day of work a week.
And secondly, Master Nine had loved childcare.
He’d learned more about sharing and hygiene than I’d ever taught him.
And it filled the arts and crafts component of parenting I had always lacked.
“Do you want me to come and walk him in with you?” I asked my husband. “I’m sure Nathan would understand.”
Nathan was my boss.
And Learner Dad’s.
There was no way he was going to let me tell Nathan he was crying in the car outside Lil Fatty’s childcare centre.
“No, no, I’ll do it,” he said.
And, to his credit, he did.
Two hours later we were called to collect an inconsolable Lil Fatty.
Both flat out at work, we picked him up and took turns looking after him at the office.
Over the following weeks, things barely improved.
Learner Dad had the ugly job of dropping Lil Fatty off.
I was the hero who picked him up.
Learner Dad would leave him waving tearfully at the window.
And I’d find him in the same place seven hours later.
Of course he didn’t spend the whole day at the window.
A large portion of it was spent on the toddler room couch, clutching a rainbow abacus and screaming at any kid who came near him.
And so, by the time I was heading off on maternity leave for Fairy Floss, I was under the assumption Lil Fatty would be taking a crèche sabbatical too.
But the tables had turned.
Learner Dad was starting to see social improvements in Lil Fatty.
He no longer cried when his daddy dropped him off.
He’d begun venturing outside to play.
And he was, of course, a big fan of the hot lunch.
“If we take him out, we’ll have to go through this all over again,” Learner Dad said, referring to my inevitable return to work.
“You shouldn’t put him through all this again,” Lil Fatty’s carers reiterated.
And so he stayed.
I doubt I’ll ever feel comfortable watching Lil Fatty and his dad roll out of the driveway on a Friday morning.
But he waves cheerfully to me now as he leaves and he no longer cries when he gets there.
And nor does Lil Fatty.
Care Factor part 1 was written prior to my return to work in 2013
He stood there nervously, moving from one foot to the next as he waited.
He smiled and joked with the people around him until, suddenly, everything went quiet.
She was here.
As she walked down the long aisle towards him, his eyes filled with tears.
People began nudging each other, whispering, crying themselves.
They were crying inside the cathedral and outside the cathedral.
And in loungerooms around the world.
I am of course talking about the wedding of Prince Frederik to our formerly-known-as-and-now-princess Mary Donaldson.
It was the day tears became mandatory for grooms – across Australia and Denmark at least.
There was never a more romantic moment, one brides across the globe wanted their spouses to emulate the moment they appeared, in their own mists of lace and flowers.
A long-time reporter of the royal affair, I went into my own friend’s lounge to watch the wedding a bit of a cynic.
‘Once a playboy, always a playboy,’ I’d thought of the dashing prince.
But the moment his eyes welled up for Our Mary, well I fell a bit in love with him too.
I mean, this was better than Cinderella.
Never mind that Prince Frederik may have actually been sadly weeping his playboy ways goodbye, his tears became the benchmark.
Learner Dad realised this himself at a wedding we attended recently.
“Look, he’s crying,” guests started whispering as the bride began her journey towards the groom.
The whispers made their way to Learner Dad, who turned to look at the groom himself.
Along with just about everyone else.
Emotional groom was stealing bride’s thunder.
It didn’t seem to matter though, as they were both in a world that included only each other.
“Wow, what if I don’t feel the need to cry? Is that bad?” Learner Dad asked me afterward. “Did you hear everyone whispering about it?”
“Oh I reckon you will,” I answered, thinking of his full emotional breakdown on our loungeroom floor the night he proposed.
I prayed it didn’t go that far this time.
“Would you care if I didn’t?” he said.
I thought about it and you know what?
Despite my gushing about Prince Frederik’s royal salty tears, that was all before I’d met my own prince.
If Learner Dad simply beamed happily at me during my long walk to becoming his wife, I’d be just as touched.
Besides, with Li’l Fatty in his size two tux, four insanely spunky bridesmaids, and my dad, who’ll no doubt be tearing up himself having waited 36 years to walk me down the aisle… I’m not sure either of us will be the centre of attention for too long.