Two Years …
Two years ago I had the drive of my life. My third granddaughter is responsible, she is two today. This is a revisit – from the man-side.
When your first baby drops her dummy, you sterilize it. When your second baby drops her dummy, you tell the dog: ‘Fetch!’. Bruce Lansky
Daddy phones on the edge of arrival
Two years ago, time flies and all that. Imagine an older man wallowing in agonised self-pity after doing daft and energetic stuff. (I’d probably get more sympathy with man-flu). In this case, every aching part of me justified a late breakfast. I moved, twitched … eased my backside into the chair, probably looking a bit like Welshman Dan Biggar preparing for a kick.
Sometimes we older guys do daft things. You see, I’d no sooner got my left elbow planted exactly right and almost pain-free when the phone rang … our lad … I put it on speaker.
‘It may have started’ … His mum jerked upright: tuned-in, sharp, ready for action. A dawning crept towards me … ‘it’s probably nothing.’ Truth to tell, he didn’t believe it and neither did we.
‘It’s probably a bit early.’ Granny said – she lied too. All the same, what he heard was a calm voice, I saw a ball of energetic love … In the blink of an eye, up the rollercoaster, we go!
‘It’s probably nothing to worry about.’ How calm I sounded. ‘Want us to pop over … just in case?’
‘Yes please, if you’re free.’ Free? Free! How British and polite. Imagine if I’d said I was tied up.
Far from an easy-going mother/grandmother beside me, it was like being beside an igniting rocket. ‘We’ll be over soon.’
‘Thanks.’ The quick click of disconnection told us all we needed to know. I could sense him, two-year-old in hand, rushing back to the action.
Meanwhile, a conference
Our discussion lasted 30 seconds and ended with a plan. I’d drive. Whoosh, a tornado left to pack an overnight (or three) bag. Aches? What aches? The dash began.
The house looked peaceful and the outside door unlocked … unusual. Once inside, a bouncy two-year-old charged into my arms for a hug in giddy excitement. Her dad said a quick ‘hi, help yourself to drinks’ and performed the upstairs two-step. Greased lightning? Sort of … only faster.
Electric calm, wild excitement
Granny and I made a too-normal coffee with the electric calmness of the wildly excited. With calmness in mind, I tried to read a story to a wriggle bottomed toddler. Granny went upstairs. Dad came in.
‘We think the baby might be coming, the contractions are getting closer.’
‘Right.’ (I thought: maybe it’ll settle down … three weeks out after all.)
‘Mum says you’re going back.’
‘I’ll just be a spare-part … you know.’
In this case, spare-part wasn’t about to happen. ‘I could call a taxi if you need to get back.’ Silly boy, I barely resisted giving him a pithy comment or two … and I’m a generally polite man.
‘Taxi? Don’t be daft, I’ll get you two to the hospital.’ sound calm, suck up the pressure, it’s what you’re here for. What’s all this twaddle about due-in-three-weeks?
Hamilton? Fangio? no chance
Ten minutes later we turned right across busy traffic, parents in the back. Mum-to-be moaning in an agonised, primal rhythm.
I drove as fast as safety allowed. More groans, the car seat beside me took a few kicks, the floor pan banged from stamps. I saw the pain in my mirror. Dad was ever so supportive, lovely man.
I negotiated corners with cool control. Intense traffic slowed things. We contended with road works and stupid driving. I started barking fruity advice to other drivers. Half-forgotten expletives burst from my emotional lips. Goodness, did a speed camera wink?
As part of this exquisite dance, my emotions rose. Please God make everything okay. A drawn-out wail from the back eased in an instant by a soothing baritone murmur.
I turned right onto a key main road and the f*****! Council had dug it up. Detour. Frustrated wrath. Intemperate words. Calm down — my job is the safe delivery of the parents-to-be.
Right turn. Right Place?
‘Where’s the entrance?’ I received conflicting instructions. AHHHRRRgh! My calm duck on the surface remained, not a ripple. ‘No worries.’ At last, we stopped at a big sliding door. OMG, there’s another just like it 30 yards away … another groan and reedy puffs of breath … I jumped out. ‘Stay there I’ll check.’
The door mechanism worked well. A nurse walked by. ‘I’m having a baby in the car.’ She sized me up and, assuming I wasn’t in labour, pointed.
‘Wrong door. It’s over there.’
I dashed back and seconds later we arrived.They climbed out with great care and arm-in-arm entered the reception area. I lifted the rear door. Dad reappeared for the luggage. I shooed him away: ‘Go look after your wife, I’ll fetch this.’
At the reception desk, Mum hunched over the counter doing her breathing. Nothing to do but drop the luggage and say goods bye. With little fuss, I reached across, rubbed Mum’s wrist, our eyes connected ‘love you.’ I gave Dad, holding Mum, a squeezy arm around the shoulder. ‘Love you too big man … bye.’
I walked away with distracted murmurs of thanks fading away. Imagine me, John-Wayne-like, to the end. There I went, no longer needed, strolling away in total, manly, control.
Big boys don’t cry?
Back in the car, I wept from the emotional charge, the pure joy of a family event and other stuff I’m not sure about — thoughts anyone?.
Parents and baby returned home the same day, pictures of health. Me, by then a confirmed spare-part, I drove home and toasted the new arrival. Granny stayed and fulfilled more of her life’s purpose. Me, I play my long game of love, daftness and being there.
© Mac Logan