Life after children

February 2007

Dear Dave,

You’re right – I have been getting a little ahead of myself in my correspondence so far. I should probably tell you some more about myself and my family.

My name is Ed, I’m thirty-three, I live in Edinburgh and I’m a housedad. I used to be a computer programmer in a Large Banking Organisation. I met my wife, Sarah, at LBO. She works in marketing. At the point our eldest son, Fraser, was born, I gave up lounging around surfing the internet and drinking coffee all day in order to put in some hard graft looking after him. He’s now six. We also have Lewis who’s four and Marie who’s not long turned two. Most mornings these days, I’m lucky to have an opportunity to check my email, let alone stir up a flame war on a Star Trek fansite just for fun. As for coffee, the house is littered with dozens of half-full mugs of tepid Caf├ędirect I’ve hurriedly put down for a minute and never had a chance to return to. (Worryingly, last Tuesday, I found one in my sock drawer.)

We get by, though. Sarah is happy with her job most of the time and does well for us. Her boss at LBO is a bit of an idiot who tends to favour those members of the team who go golfing with him (i.e. the men) but, hopefully, he’ll do something really stupid soon and get banished to the Swedish office. Fraser’s enjoying school, Lewis starts in August and Marie might get a place at nursery in the autumn. (Six months to go!)

People have already begun asking me what I plan to do in my spare time once I’ve got all three children out of the house. The obvious answer is that I’m going to eat my breakfast in peace while catching up on the headlines on BBC Red Button and then follow that with a spot of cleaning, a chocolate biscuit and an actually hot cup of coffee. Unfortunately, most of my interrogators find it mildly disappointing that I don’t have a scheme for world domination ready to put into action during my two hours a day... on weekdays... during term-time... when all the kids are well.

Perhaps they’re right. Am I setting my aim too low? Maybe I can achieve more than sorting out the wilderness beyond the backdoor or filing the bank statements from the year before last. After all, I no longer have cleaning the windows left to look forward to. (Sarah found stuff growing on the inside of one of them the other day so I had to bring the maintenance schedule forward. They’re good until the end of the decade now.) Let’s see... What are the possibilities?

I could put more work into the script of Housedad! – The Musical. It’s a classic tale of one man’s struggle to be accepted into the local Women’s Institute, featuring nuns on roller skates, performing dolphins, a dream sequence involving Princess Leia in a gold bikini and the music of S Club 7. I see it as a semi-autobiographical work with myself played by H from Steps.

Maybe I could learn a new skill. From taxidermy to Kung Fu, there are a wealth of options out there. I’m sure every single one of them has some kind of practical application for childcare as well. If not, I suppose I could get a job. There must be something available that runs for a couple of hours on a weekday morning. It probably involves being underpaid, overworked and getting filthy, though. I’ve had enough of that already.

Crime is another alternative, complete with flexible hours, performance related bonuses and low entry requirements. My preference would be for some form of pyramid selling fraud or chain-letter scam. I could send out letters with six names on (mine and five aliases). The recipients would have to send everyone on the list three shares in Nintendo, take the top name off, add their name at the bottom and pass it on. If I ever needed to hide evidence, I’d quickly give it to one of the kids, tell them it was really important and wait approximately a minute for it to mysteriously vanish. I’d have little chance of being caught and I’d own Mario. Excellent.

Or maybe I’ll just have a rest. I’ll be owed seven and a half years of lunch hours by then – that’s an awful lot of Bargain Hunt...

Yours in a woman’s world,

Ed.

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