When Daddy gets all the credit (for none of the work)

“You!” Tracey said to me when I arrived home today. Shoulders slumped: bags under her eyes: (thankfully) not holding a weapon. It wasn’t her best look.

“What have I done?” I asked her, my voice echoing the whiny tones of the eight-year-old kid I once was.

She shook her head at me in that way which says, "like you don’t know" with a little bit of "you bastard" thrown in for good measure.

I didn’t know, or I’d have sent an apology email home ahead of me so as to avoid the glare, but I had a hunch it had something to do with last night.

Last night little Miss3 had a cough. A little cough. Sure, occasionally she gagged and we thought she was about to redecorate her room, but mostly just a c-c-cough.

The main problem was she did it every 10 to 15 seconds for six hours.

We nebulized, we gave her the puffer, we gave her medicine. I say we, but it was Tracey. I did look on encouragingly from my pillow. I say look, but it was more a thought process. Ultimately, though, all my encouragement was for naught because nothing made a difference.

“You just try sleep,” Tracey told me when I got up and carried little Miss3 into our room around 1am. Tracey would have done it herself but her back was shagged from the first half of the night. “You’ve got work tomorrow. Do you want to lie on the lounge?”

This from a woman who last week ended up in hospital on a drip with a migraine from, we suspect, being exhausted.

I declined leaving the room and cuddled our daughter and talked to her while Mummy grabbed a drink of water and a bucket and another dose of medicine. But I confess, while I tossed and half heard coughing and movement, I did sleep.

The next day, Miss3 bounced out of bed with energy belying the night we’d had. While Tracey began the daily tasks I took the bigger kids to school and ran off to the sanctuary of work. No demanding kids at work, with their snotty noses, full nappies and empty bellies. Tracey, I knew, was in for a tough day. Her only hope was to get the two girls to sleep at the same time and catch a few z’s herself.


But I could tell by the look on my wife’s face, this didn’t happen.

“Last night,” Tracey told me, “I got about two hours broken sleep. She coughed, she kicked me, she complained. I held her and patted her back and talked to her.”

“You were awesome,” I told my wife.

But she knows I think that. She knows I know how much she did last night. This isn’t the problem.

The problem is Miss3 doesn’t remember any of it. Well, except this one thing.

“All she’s talked about all day,” said Tracey, “was how Daddy came in and picked me up. Daddy cuddled me. Daddy looked after me and talked to me and how Daddy is bla bla awesome.”

I suspect if Miss3 starts c-c-coughing tonight, I might be called upon to earn my stripes.

Bruce Devereaux is a self-admitted 45-year-old child. He has little to no idea of how things work and attempts to fix anything which breaks with pegs, Bluetac and tape. He would love to fix things by banging them with a hammer, but Tracey took it off him several years ago and hid it.  Bruce enjoys cooking and reading and not cleaning toilets. His favourite game with the kids is hide and seek (mainly hide). Has a real knack for being where the big jobs aren’t.

You can read more of Bruce's work at Big Family Little Income.