Tadpole is nestling in my arms, limp, warm, soft and still half slumbering. I want to bury my nose in her neck and just breathe in her scent for a few minutes. But she has other ideas. She spies daddy through the slits of her bleary eyes. They snap open as if a switch has been flipped, her face becomes instantly animated, chubby little arms reach longingly in his direction.
I surrender the Tadpole, reluctantly.
On the way home from the childminders’, singing songs. Tadpole chants: “va voir daddy, va voir dadDY, va voir DADDY, VA VOIR DADDY!”
“Daddy’s not home yet, he’s at the office,” I explain.
“NON! Pas office! Va voir DADDY!”
There’s no reasoning with some people. “Okay, whatever, let’s go home and see whether daddy is there, shall we?”
Daddy is special.
Who gets up bright and early every morning and proceeds to zip around the apartment hurriedly cramming flailing limbs into sleeves and trouser legs, braving dangerous windmill legs to change soiled nappies, brushing unruly locks, cleaning teeth and supervising the slurping of leftover milk from the cereal bowl (a hazardous manoeuvre which, if badly executed, can necessitate the cramming of small flailing limbs into fresh clothing)?
Where is Mr Frog while this is all going on?
Cocooned away in a steaming bath listening to his floating radio (with hindsight, probably the most ill thought out gift I ever gave him) with eyes closed.
Who races home from work every evening, cursing metro delays and pelting up and down escalators at full speed, checking the time every other minute hoping that the nanny will not be kept waiting or need overtime pay? Who then prepares a healthy, nutritious (but ready in two minutes in the microwave) meal for the ravenous Tadpole, bathes her, reads several stories and finally sits down to put feet up and savour a much needed cup of tea at approximately 8pm?
When does Mr Frog show up? At best, in time for one last story. At worst, much later than that. Possibly after even my bedtime.
What do I get in return for my daily labours of love? I’m taken for granted.
Daddy, on the other hand, who has wisely marketed himself as a scarce and therefore greatly prized commodity, is deluged with affection.
It’s a man’s world and no mistake.