Part of the paradox of being a parent is that you have to near triple job in your off time. We spend so much time in the evenings making sure the kids have a proper, home-cooked, meal for ninety percent of the year that it takes up a lot of our time in the evenings. Of course I say ‘our’, I mainly mean ‘herself’, but let’s not split hairs. I do all the washing afterwards.
Between these two slices of time we attempt to sandwich in time with the nippers themselves. Building something with their lego or joining in as they play with super hero figures or teddy bears. Attempts to make memories with them before they inevitably have to go to bed.
Most houses will then attempt to do some chores so that the house doesn’t end up featuring on one of those reality shows were the garden is so overgrown there are Wombles living in it and the various smells of unclean are merely cancelling each other out to create a neutral, almost fresh, scent to the air. The problem is we both have hobbies that require time. The ladyfriend with the theater group, me with the writing. These things take time away from chores because we have so little time in the evenings.
Add to that that both of us also have a nasty habit of doing a bit ‘extra’ in terms of work-work during our evenings, we’re talking a very small amount of time to juggle everything with before we head to bed to start the whole cycle over again in the morning.
I remember the old joke about ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ when I was growing up. But Dagda damned what I wouldn’t give for a bush that grew little berries of time so you could extend your day a bit.
So, what typically ends up happening is that the weekends become more jammed packed than the working day. I swear we have less time to unwind at the weekend because we’re trying to play catch up on all the stuff that needs to be done around the house. Stuff that our past-selves really should have done.
Like sweeping the kitchen floor. Man alive with kids that eat as well as our pair do it is a wonder how so many crumbs and bits of pasta end up on the tiles, but end up they do. Along with dirt and dust, the floor gets dirty.
Making the Saturday ‘Big Sweep’ a shameful requirement.
This morning, however, it was made a bit more magical. As I began tackling the task, Nugget sat on the little two-seater sofa we have in the kitchen and just watched me. Her little eyes darted back and forth for a bit as she sat there in silence, an event as rare as a double rainbow at night. I kept glancing at her, then eventually tracked my own vision along to what she was staring at.
A shaft of light was coming through the kitchen window, illuminating a spot just beside the counter like floating golden syrup. In the air were dust motes, disturbed no doubt from my attempts at cleaning the floor. As they passed through sunlight they were clearly visible, before drifting out of sight again.
All fairly normal stuff, stuff that most adults wouldn’t even pay attention to if I’m being honest.
But this small aerial display had Nugget transfixed. Then she looked up at me briefly and said.
“Daddy, look at all the fairies.”
I smiled to myself as she hopped down off the sofa and carefully, so as to not startle the fairies, walked over to the little pool of light. As she said that line I could see exactly how she had gotten to that conclusion. With all the innocence of a child-like imagination and no real understanding of what was being seen, she had logically come up with an answer that made perfect sense. It was not just dust swirling in the air, there were hundreds of little fairies dancing around the place. Magically appearing and disappearing as they played with each other.
Nugget reached out carefully and tried to catch one, but they all swirled away much to her delight. As the boring adult I know that her hand had disturbed the air, just a fraction, and caused the dust to move about. As the dad watching his little girl enjoy a magical party I could see that the fairies were playing a game with her, one she kept laughing at as the little dance continued.
There is a line from ‘Sherlock’ about dust that always sticks in my mind: Dust is elegant! The room is covered in it, and it tells me a story.
It’s a great line, that feeds into the plot nicely. As I swept some more of the floor to stir up a bit more dust, creating some new fairies for Nugget to watch and play with, I thought that dust isn’t only elegant.
If you look at it through your children’s eyes dust can be magic as well.