You know what I really miss? I miss sleeping in on a Saturday morning. Paul would be in the kitchen cooking pancakes for the girls and making his sixth cup of espresso. By the time I rolled out of bed, well and truly after 9am, I had a cup of coffee and a plate of pancakes waiting for me on the bench. I know what you must be thinking, “What a wonderful husband!” and “You’re so lucky!” Yes, I was. I was so lucky to have a mountain of dishes to wash because Paul had used every plate, bowl and piece of cutlery we own for these pancakes. There would be maple syrup dripping down the kitchen cupboard and sticky, jam- smudged kiddy fingerprints all over the glass sliding door. Yeah, totes lucky. But as I sat at the kitchen bench, sipping my latte and deliberating where to start with the mess, I watched Paul wrestle with the girls in the backyard. They were rolling around on the grass. He had Sofia pinned to the ground while Layla was on his back, blocking his eyes with her hands. If Paul kept this up, we were going to have the two most roughest, foul- mouthed, poorly- behaved bogan children in town. Next minute, Paul has Layla on his shoulders ready to execute the electric chair driver manoeuvre. This was going to end in tears if I didn’t step in. Sigh. A mother’s job never ceases.
Fast forward a few years and although there are no more wrestling takedowns in the backyard anymore, it doesn’t stop Sofia getting daddy into a headlock and kissing his face all over with brutal force. Brain injury or no brain injury, this kid is deadly. Layla is more reserved and prefers to play a game with daddy or read her latest library book to him. Whatever new adventure Captain Underpants is having that week, Paul will surely find out about it. I love when the girls get involved with Paul’s therapy where they can but having them treat him like a normal dad is more valuable for him and for them.
I always felt that telling the kids the truth about Paul’s accident was important. Walking into ICU, washing our hands and donning the disposable protective gown was a novelty for a 5 and nearly 4 year old. By the time we reached Paul’s bed, I was grateful his body was covered up to his chest. Daddy was sound asleep.
Layla was quite sheepish, not wanting to come too close whilst Sofia was ready to leap onto the bed and wake him up with a cuddle. Paul’s trademark goatee now shaved off so I had to bring the girls in for a closer look to prove that it was indeed their dad. Their curious little minds wanted to know what every tube was for, every monitor, every machine. So I explained it all to them. Sofia noted that “Daddy must be cold that’s why he is covered with a sheet and blanket.” They didn’t need to know that his abdomen was open, unable to be closed post surgery for there was so much fluid and swelling preventing the closure. A blue dressing covered his belly. It took nearly two weeks until he would be completely stitched up.
I applauded my girls. They didn’t freak out like I was expecting them to. By their second visit to hospital, they could remember what every tube was for and didn’t hesitate to announce it to every nurse and patient in the Intensive Care Unit. “This is where Daddy’s wee goes,” Sofia says, pointing to Paul’s catheter tube. Well, I guess that was one way to get them involved.
To be continued….
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