Occasionally I wonder if maybe it’s not too late to be a dad. It was always in the plan somewhere, but it got shelved repeatedly and then actively pushed to the backburner when I felt my credentials being tested by prospective partners. I have no grandparents to bring to the table, and I work and live in a functional but largely unpredictable manner. My friend Carl just fathered his second, and his first came when he was older than me. “I had tried all the other adventures,” he said to me. “This is something new.” He’s got two daughters.
I hung out with my dear besty and her family today for Easter and I got a little snapshot into how much work it all is. Maybe partly my own fault for bringing so much sugar. We reap what we sow.
Minnie is in Twickenham at her parents house, and there’s a little garden. I channeled my parents. Another thing they did well was an egg hunt. The garden at Eyreton would be sewn through with eggs. I remember finding some in June that had been too well hidden.
I arrived with eggs, but not too many. Minnie had expressed concerns about sugar quantities. But fuck it, I’m a wildcard in that family unit so I can inject a bit of chaos. Eggs ended up hidden in the better bits of the garden. “The Easter bunny doesn’t like getting mud on its feet so didn’t go in the muddy bit.” Minnie’s daughter found them all, eventually, perhaps with some help.
Then we all ate a chicken in the garden. I carved it. Nom. I avoided cooking the gravy as her parents are pretty specific. They are both in their eighties or is it nineties now? You don’t get that far without having your ways.
Then we went into the park where I started to learn my limits with play. Magic food. I was a sausage roll. I had to roll lots. Then get garnish in my face (grass). Then I had to vanish when I was eaten (run away). The thing with games like that at the age of the tyrant who I was entertaining – they can last FOREVER. Add to that the chasing and after just one day of it I feel a bit funny in my shoulder. We eventually found the magic ice cream parlour which was less physically demanding as we could sit there as we repeatedly got served with disappearing ice cream of all different flavours, played by my friend’s daughter who also played the person running the van who insisted that this one definitely wasn’t magic disappearing ice cream.
Everybody was very much still awake when I said goodbye and went across London to do a self tape. Gotta be the quickest I’ve ever done. Improvised and for an advert. I would’ve sent the first take if I hadn’t said “costume” instead of “uniform”. Second was perfectly fine and just in the clothes I was wearing.
My friends the parents… How the hell do they do it? One of them is playing in a children’s show at The Unicorn Theatre and the other is in rehearsal for a big part at The Globe. One day with their kids and I’m knackered. Happy-knackered. But… knackered.
It’s the repetition thing that gets me. In miniature it must be like a long long run of a small part. “How do I continue to make this alive for me, the one who is doing the thing on repeat, without taking away from the experience of the people I’m repeating for?” There are ways.
One thing I will say that I’ve noticed over time: Children help the less playful people remember how to play. I’ve seen actors who were very stiff starting out become transformative with the constant play of parenthood. Clever ones who had no previous means of switching the left brain off.
The tyrrany of playtime. It helps us all forget our boundaries. We are suddenly serving an irrational master who thinks and desires faster and wilder than we do. I had excellent play today. More soon I’m sure.
Not bad for a day that started with me clearing up fox poo right from plum outside my door. I didn’t realise I have a habit of stopping for a moment in the doorway and taking in the state of the day. Just as well I do. The local fox has clearly marked us. Luckily I had a bag in my car.
All this play has got me pooped. Zzz
One thought on “Playtime”
Looking back I don’t know how we did it, but somehow we did and for us it was the best of times.