Friend at door 3yo:“Daddy, do my button?” Me:”OK, come here” *3 arrives naked with dirty bottom & paper* “Oh, wipe your bottom!” #Awkward
If you have read much of this blog you will, by now, have realised that a repudiation of any hint of deafness is something that runs in my family.
My father, who we call Grumpy Deaf Grandad, refuses point blank to admit that he's deaf, despite the fact that we have to shout, very loudly, to get him to hear the question.
I fear I might be going the same way.
This story starts on Saturday morning.
J was at work, something that is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence on weekends as the demand for 24:7 cover from doctors increases.
Saturdays without J about mean that we can take our time getting up. The children and I slob about in our pyjamas, leisurely eating breakfast, getting around to showering and dressing after watching some tv and playing. (OK, so my 'playing' usually involves a fair bit of tweeting too)
For me, a remarkable factor in our journey as we created our family has been the degree of acceptance and support we have encountered from our local community.
Clearly we're unconventional and that unconventionality would be, for some I imagine, challenging. And yet, there has been so little sign of this as we have settled into the life of our village. First as a gay couple. Then as a gay couple with a son. Finally as a gay couple with a son and daughter.
A perfect example of this is our local gamekeeper. A lovely chap who passes our house daily as he drives down our remote lane to tend to his land along the nearby river. In his 60s he has from day one been friendly and helpful. A true countryman, steeped in the history of our area and with a deep, impressive and loving knowledge of the flora and fauna round about.
I would have assumed that our unusual family would have challenged him. However, he has taken our growing brood in his stride. Always friendly. Universally supportive. Politely inquisitive but never intrusive.
We often stop and chat. He carries dog treats and delights in giving them to our dog, before, in a good humoured way, berating us for letting him get too fat.
Our gamekeeper friend has a particular soft spot for our three year old daughter. She has already learnt how to wind people around her little finger. No one more so than the gamekeeper, whose gnarled exterior visibly melts as she turns on the charm and gently teases him.
So, it wasn't an unusual for me to find the gamekeeper at the door this particular Saturday morning. The children greeted him with affection and we passed a polite few minutes exchanging views about the weather and news of the doings of neighbours.
Inevitably, as we chatted, the children drifted away, bored with the mundanity of adult conversation.
After a couple more minutes our daughter shouted from somewhere with the house:
"Daddy, can you do my button?"
I have a deflault settling now, which automatically, unthinkingly answers any question without a 'please' at the end thus: "What's the magic word?"
Three year old wasn't playing the game. "What?"
"What else do you need to say?" Smiling at our gamekeeper friend and receiving a knowing, approving look in response.
"Daddy, can you do my button please?"
Worked second time, which was quite a good result I thought.
"OK, come here then," I shouted.
"What, now?" Our daughter asked.
"Yes, if you want me to do your button then you'll need to bring it here!" Sometimes I despair at the laziness of our children.
Our daughter emerged from the bathroom, shuffling along, dress hooked up under her chin, pants around her ankles. Reaching me she handed me a piece of toilet paper and bent forward, presenting me with the job at hand.
"Oh, you wanted me to wipe your bottom!" I said. Horrified.
Our gamekeeper friend smiled, "you need your hearing tested," he said, laughing. Hastily, sensibly, he made his exit.
I am clearly becoming Grumpy Deaf Grandad's heir.