“Knee butter!” screamed Miss 2 for the umpteenth time. She was so frustrated she slapped the side of her head with her hand and then started bashing on the fridge door. Prior to this she’d merely been pointing at it. Usually this would constitute unacceptable behaviour for a child of mine but I couldn’t blame her. It was 5.00am and we’d been at this for nearly half an hour. I was seriously regretting not pretending to be asleep when Miss 2 stumbled into our room so Tracey could have got up and sorted this out.
“What do you want?” I asked my daughter again. I must have looked a bit odd – I still had one eye firmly shut in the hope I could sort her out and get back to sleep before the 10 month old alarm next to our bed went off.
I have this ‘thing’ (Tracey calls it a ‘stupid thing’) where if I wake up in the middle of the night and open both eyes my body and brain thinks we’re done sleeping. Alternatively, if I keep one eye shut I can do whatever I like around the house, flop back into bed and fall instantly back to sleep.
I can even swap eyes if I accidentally open the one which doesn’t work so well – I’m basically blind in my left eye although I prefer to think of this eye as having my ‘soft filter lens’ for looking at Tracey when she’s a bit haggard after an all-nighter.
“Knee butter! Knee butter! Knee butter!” continued Miss 2. For the fifth time I opened the fridge and pulled out the butter.
“NO!!!” she cooed so sweetly I thought my eardrum was going to burst.
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand,” I explained to her. “Do you want a sandwich? How about a glass of milk? What about a lolly?”
I’d have given her anything. I’d even have offered to whip her up a pavlova if I thought it would shut her up. I can do that with one eye tied behind my back.
“Knee butter!” she yelled, slapping her head again. We were going round in circles. It must have seemed like she was on a Merry-go-round, seemingly moving forward but having to wave at the same dense group of family members every half minute who couldn’t understand she wanted to get off.
Only this time, when I watched my frustrated little girl do her frustrated little jig, it occurred to me Miss2 doesn’t usually slap the side of her head when she’s frustrated: she usually slaps mine.
“Is your ear sore?” I asked. I began ferreting around in the baskets above the fridge, looking for the thermometer.
“Yes! Knee butter!” she yelled, but this time it was a much happier yell, like we’d finally asked if she’d like to get off the ride.
Eventually I found the thermometer and took her temperature, which was, given the circumstances, disappointingly fine. But the change in my little daughter was instantaneous.
“Night, Daddy,” she said, and went back to her bed, leaving me free to stumble back to my own, close my eye and go to sleep.
When I started explaining the scenario to Tracey the next morning, with much emphasis on my lack of sleep and the chivalrous nature of my having jumped out of bed, I expected sympathy, praise and the promise of sex, but instead she served me up a big, fat slice of ‘I’m so much better at this than you’.
“I just couldn’t work out what she wanted,” I told her. “I still don’t know what the hell ‘knee butter’ is.”
“Knee butter? Oh, she wanted you to ‘make me better’,” said Tracey. “You just needed to take her temperature.”
At least I’ll know for next time the circus is in town. By which I mean I’ll be keeping both eyes firmly shut and letting Tracey get up.
Bruce started his blog because friends and family kept wanting to know how he managed to feed and clothe such a large family while still having fun and being able to afford holidays and beer. He had no idea, but thought if he started writing things down some sort of pattern might emerge. When not at work Bruce enjoys reading, writing, hiding from his children and not changing nappies. He’s recently taken up the cycling challenge with a view to surviving long enough to see all his kids out the door so he can finally sleep in.