Surviving a Rainy Day with Kids: A Dad's Guide
It can’t be raining again, said no one who has lived in Ireland for more than a year.
Our resident Dad, Pat Fitzpatrick, takes all you fathers out there through a classic rainy Saturday with kids, with plenty of tips on how to keep the tears at bay. (Yours and theirs.)
You are woken by the sound of an angry mob flinging stones at your window. Hang on, it’s just rain. Again. You check the hour-by-hour weather on your phone. There is only a 70% chance of rain between 10 am and noon. You like those odds. Because you’ll do anything to avoid another day watching the Twirlywoos on a loop.
You’re watching the Twirlywoos on a loop. It was either that or Finding Nemo and your one-year-old woke up with a fear of fish. You check the weather app on your phone. That 70% chance of rain icon has been replaced by a graphic showing a large monster shaking Ireland by the throat. That doesn’t look good.
Your wife comes back from the gym, 7 minutes late. You have an argument over who is taking more time away from the kids for their new exercise regimes. That’s what couples do at the beginning of the year. You’ll be back watching boxsets on the couch together next week. So try not to make a big deal out of it.
You ask your three-year-old if she would like to go and see The Good Dinosaur at the local cinema in an hour’s time. She says yes. Excellent. You will get three hours out of the house that involves a giant tub of rum and raisin ice cream. Your wife gets stuck at home with a one-year-old who is afraid of fish. Now that’s what I call parenting.
You are kicked out of the cinema because your little toddler girl can’t stop crying. Apparently you should have explained beforehand that instead of going to see an actual dinosaur, you were going to a ‘stinky cold room with a big telly.’ She cries all the way home. So do you, having calculated that the cost of a cinema trip for two means there is no summer holiday abroad this year. That means a fortnight in Ireland. Hence the tears.
You arrive home to find your wife working her way through a packet of Pringles and watching Casablanca on TV. The one-year-old, who never sleeps, has picked today for a two hour nap. You make a mental note to get him back for this when he is old enough to understand the concept of revenge. The wife is 2-Nil up on you at this stage, given she already had a trip to the gym. You’ll be doing well to salvage a draw.
You switch on the weather forecast on RTE. The forecaster, Jean Byrne, is wearing a long black dress and black veil over her face. That’s not a good sign.
Guilt. Lots of it. Your kids have been looking at one form of screen or another for six days in a row. You take out a jigsaw. Aw. What could be better than a family playing together on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Pretty much anything. The one-year-old actually manages to eat a piece of the jigsaw when no one is looking. We won’t repeat what your three-year-old says when she discovers that the jigsaw can’t be finished. Let’s just say she was listening to every word you shouted when Liverpool conceded a late equaliser last weekend. And you’d had two cans of strong lager.
You take another look at the weather app on your phone because by now it is giving you a weird, cheap thrill. There is a yellow disc where the dark angry cloud should be. You look out the window and discover that the sun is shining. The internet. It knows everything. You and your wife shift into ‘Get the kids out of the house for ten minutes of fresh air mode.’
Nothing to report. You are still trying to get the kids out of the house for ten minutes of fresh air.
Still nothing. The three-year-old is missing a glove.
You arrive at the local playground. It’s dark and full of other families who haven’t been out in a week. There is a clear divide in the playground. On one side you have parents who bought water-proof dungarees when they came into Lidl a few months ago. On the other are couples who are this close to getting a divorce. (You try and tell a toddler he can’t go on a slide because it’s wet.) Parents who bought the dungarees are registering 9 on the ‘I’m So Smug Scale.’ (That’s where 0 is ‘not smug’ and 10 is Simon Cowell.) The good news is that you are one of those smug parents. All because your wife went down and queued up for a couple of pairs when they hit the shelves. That’s almost enough for you to forgive her for being 7 minutes late back from the gym.