Having a chat with my daughter on the phone last night.
I love talking to T&K on the phone as the conversation is always fun, incredibly random and shows some great differences, yet beautiful similarities between the two. Obvious really but can’t explain it any other way.
Tiernan gets the phone, you hear him sit down and he says, firmly and in the manner of someone about to have a summit meeting, ‘Hello Daddy.’ Quite a deep voice. As if he’s about to settle into some deep and meaningful conversation about the meaning of all things. But he usually ends up talking about Cookie Monster, playgroup, and what he’s been up to. He’s a glorious little boy and a lot of fun. And it’s good to talk. I love our chats.
When K gets on the phone it’s always an enthusiastic ‘Hello Daddy’ and so very different from her brother’s purposeful tone. Yet she also talks to me about things, anything and everything, and I hear the same inflections and way of saying certain words as her brother. She’s only 2 for fuck’s sake, 2 in October in fact but Keela is a very bright girl, but I’m obviously biased with her being such a massive part of this big stupid heart which keeps me going. She’s beautiful and lively and always funny. But. Something she said last night made me sad and laugh like an eejit at the same time.
Remember that post what I wrote about my children’s fixation with David Bowie? No? Well it’s here if you want a refresher. Well… on the phone last night my daughter said something to me which made me a bit sad.
‘Daddy. You don’t live in your house any more.’
The children must’ve passed my old place in Hertfordshire, in the town I used to live in, ten minutes down the road from them. They must’ve said ‘That’s Daddy’s house’ and perhaps their mummy said ‘No. Daddy doesn’t live there any more.’
Fuck. Fuck. I wonder how that felt for them? Did they just accept it or wish I still did?
I moved because I hated the place. I didn’t see my children any more by living there and opportunities for another life were limited. It was a mistake to stay there for so long and I now live in London and see the children whenever possible. Same as before. The town was small and oppressive and was strangling me slowly. We made the decision to move there when my ex-wife’s job relocated and so it didn’t really have much pull for me. It was a practical decision we made together and I lived with it. When the children were born and I was looking after them full-time there were few playgroups and limited opportunities for adventures. We still had some though, and they’re without a doubt the best moments of my life. But it was very hard to make friends. Lots of people were born there, had family there, had never moved from there. I was an outsider. And… well. Hard work.
And when we separated and divorced, well. The point of me being there was for the children, but I didn’t see them as much as I wished. Preschool every day meant I didn’t do the ‘daddy day care’ role any more and I was just marking time until I saw them again.
But I was down the road from my children and the best thing about living in that house was the feeling of getting up in the morning one day at the weekend and getting all excited because I was going to walk to their house and make breakfast. We’d play, go out for coffee and cake and then go back to mine for lunch. We’d have a lunch which the children would help me prepare, or we’d have a lovely indoor picnic. We’d play games, play trains, read stories all cuddled up on the sofa, I’d give them horsey rides on my back around the house and for a few hours it felt like a home. When it was time to take them back and, I know, this is bad of me but I’d ask them NOT to tidy up as I’d do it later. A teary goodbye at theirs and I’d return to this place where I slept, which wasn’t a home any more. I’d look at all the toys and games and books lying around and feel a real sense of loss. I didn’t want to tidy them away because they put them there, these incredible small people who are my world. They put them there. Then. When we were together. But I did so, reluctantly, otherwise I’d get up for a wee in the middle of the night and break my ankle falling over a Brio train.
‘Daddy. You don’t live in your house any more’ she said last night.
I heard those words and felt a bit sad. The bad memories of that place disappeared, because Keela remembered it, and perhaps remembered the fun we had there. All those images of the fun times flicked through my head like a movie on fast forward.
‘No darling girl. I don’t. I live in London now.’
‘It’s okay daddy. Someone else lives there now.’
‘Yes daddy. David Bowie lives in your old house now’
Well. You learn something new every day. Hope you like the old place David. Hope it’s a home for you.
Thanks for reading.