I’m lying on the bedroom floor. I’ve been here a while. Fifteen minutes? At least.
My face is about three inches from my wife’s white sandals. The stitching is starting to fray on one of them. Behind them is a picture of Tom and Ben: the one from Christmas. It’s lovely. Why haven’t we hung it yet?
Anyway, I’d better try and get up again. There’s a chair about two yards away. That’s what I’m aiming for. Just need to roll over onto my side first…
The pain is quite remarkable.
Regular readers will be familiar with my back…
It’s gone again. And as you’ll guess from the title, I was emptying the dishwasher. As far as I can remember – and there’s not much else to do down here on the floor – that makes the dishwasher the most dangerous object in our house. This is the fourth time it’s flattened me.
Yes, I realise I shouldn’t have got down on the floor. I was doing some exercises. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Anyway, the pain has died down again. Maybe if I roll the other way…
I know what you’re thinking. Why has no-one come to help? I’ll tell you why. Jane is out. Tom is away. Ben is destroying aliens, headphones on. That leaves The Beloved Daughter.
She’s in her bedroom. I know she can hear my anguished cries because she’s just told me to be quiet. She’s watching a film. I’m disturbing her.
Jessica is not ‘molto simpatico.’ Besides, she’s just found out that she’s been wandering round with a cracked rib for the last month. That’s made her even less inclined to simpatico.
So the choice is simple. Lie here or get up. But to get up I need help.
And that’s my problem…
Help means one of my children. They’re now long past the stage when they saw their Dad as a hero. They’re so long past it they won’t even remember it.
But let’s not go completely in the opposite direction. Not just yet. I may not be in my thirties but I’m too young for my children to help me off the floor.
No, I won’t yell for help. Just let me make it to the chair…
Help, I text. I need help.
Ben arrives two minutes later.
“You’re on the floor, Dad.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed. Go and get me, will you…” Damn it, I have to say the words. “…In the hall. My Dad’s walking stick.”
I hate that. I want to believe that women still find me attractive. Not if I need a walking stick they won’t.
“Now you hold the stick and I’ll hold the other end and pull…”
I’m back where I started. Face pressed against my wife’s sandals. From this undignified position I offer my son some fatherly advice. “Listen,” I grunt. “Whatever you do in life, take care of your back. Bend your knees. All that stuff.”
“I think I’ve worked that out, Dad.”
Inspiration strikes me. Undignified inspiration admittedly. I can crawl backwards on my hands and knees. I reach the chair.
“Now what, Dad?”
He does. I lever myself up with the stick. And somehow I make it. I’m out of breath, I’m hurting. But I’m sitting on the chair.
“Can I go now, Dad?”
“Yes. Of course. Thank you.”
My son goes back to slaughtering aliens. I sit on the chair and think about the good old days – when parents washed plates by hand and happy, smiling children stood next to them with tea towels. And no-one had a bad back…
Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read on holiday – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here.