If the story I am about the tell you was made into a Quentin Tarantino type film, it would no doubt begin in reverse; with a coffin being lowered into the ground, a framed photo of me on top while my entire family stand around and ponder what could have taken such a perfect physical and mental human specimen so early…also John Travolta and Uma Thurman are there. Overdramatic? Sure. But how the large thumping vein on my forehead didn’t explode and send me to an early grave from the following story, I will never know. Let’s start at the beginning…
So it’s the weekend prior to Iggy’s 4th Birthday, as most parents would agree an exciting time in the house. In order to make up for the other 364 days of the year where we make them watch TV while we vacuum for the 700th time, the desire is to do everything we can to make sure they have the best day they possibly can…and that usually means getting creative or spending house deposits on cheaply made toys that wont see out the month. This year Iggy isn’t so worried about what presents she receives, it’s about how the presents are wrapped. She is CRAZY about surprise eggs, which for those that don’t know is pretty much just a giant Kinder Surprise (YouTube it). I asked for a surprise egg for my birthday too but Kristina said that getting herself into a paper mache egg naked was too messy and time consuming…so we drank a bottle of wine and she watched me fall asleep on the couch again which was ok I guess.
So having recently decided I don’t quite hate myself enough, I volunteer with excitement to make said surprise egg. I read 3 sentences of an online paper mache tutorial and get cocky pretty fast. I start getting around the house saying shit like “I practically invented surprise eggs you know” and “Stop talking Tina you’re embarrassing yourself”. When Juliet our eldest volunteered her paper mache knowledge I was far too busy scoffing and rolling my eyes at the fact she was suggesting I might require help to listen to a word she said.
Iggy’s Birthday is on the Monday, so the Friday prior there I am out the back of our house with a gigantic balloon, 47 packets of purple tissue paper and a tub of glue. I’m not an idiot, I read those 3 sentences remember? So laden with that knowledge alone I set out to make what will likely be the best surprise egg the world has ever known.
If you’re wondering when I realised that tissue paper was a poor choice, my guess would be somewhere around the application of the 3rd strip, having just used the C word for the 4th time (if my mum is reading this I’m totally talking about the word christ-almighty)…we’re looking at roughly 13 seconds into the project. 2 hours later I have covered maybe 3/4 of the balloon with one thin layer and am slowly but surely coming to the realisation that I have underestimated my inflatable opponent. I finish the first layer just in time to run Kristina to the airport as she is going away for work until Sunday. Probably for the best as she likely wont appreciate listening to me swearing and crying at a metre wide balloon in the backyard for the next 2 days.
After the airport run though I do manage to get a bunch of extra layers on the balloon surprisingly faster and easier than the first. After grabbing the kids from school my parents pick them up as I have work that night. Getting home from work at 9pm does offer me one of the more enjoyable layers the balloon received as I drink beer and paper mache (i.e. craft heaven) what I believe will be the last layer.
I wake up the next morning and before I go to get the kids head out to check on my project. If I had read maybe 4 sentences of the paper mache tutorial online I would have read that you should not let your balloon experience huge temperature changes as it will inflate/deflate the balloon. There at 8am I find my beautiful purple ball sitting in the sun and split to shit all over as the balloon inside has swollen. There is a short period of time where I consider putting it on the ground, setting it on fire and running the lawn mower over it…but to be honest it’s not the end of the world, there are people out there with life threatening illnesses and I am upset about a paper mache project. I pull myself together, quickly fix it up and put it in the shade before going to get the kids.
Now I’ll come back to the egg in a minute, but my weekend wasn’t all bad just because of a giant surprise egg now was it? Of course not. Because we have people coming over for Iggy’s Birthday on Monday I have no choice but to spend the rest of Saturday cleaning the backyard and bbq area. Luckily I’ve only been neglecting it for 11 months so there isn’t much work to do. I pull on my Super Parent lycra outfit and chuck something on the television that will entertain both children for a few hours while I clean. Skipping ahead and once clean I’m preparing to get the kids to come down and paint a big paper tablecloth for Iggy’s party.
At this point it appears the egg is dry and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I decide I can’t wait any longer and just have to pop the balloon inside to reveal the finished product. Now again, if I HAD read the online tutorial in full it would have suggested lubricating the balloon prior to starting…but REMEMBER, I didn’t read the tutorial. So I jam some scissors into the bottom and stand there with a stupid smile of disbelief, as my almost metre wide surprise eggs collapses and crumples itself into something no bigger than a basketball. You might be thinking, “oh…THIS must be where the vein on his forehead pops and he dies”…but you would be wrong. I can only laugh at myself at this point…laugh and invent roughly 417 new ways emphasise the word fuck. LUCKILY, with some frustrated gentle bashing, poking and prodding, although not perfect the egg does come back to what is an acceptable shape. I hide it in the office downstairs and grab the children for their activity.
It’s roughly 3pm by this point and believing that my almost 13 year old daughter is capable of watching an almost 4 year old I head to the front yard to start mowing. My last words, although feeling acceptable at the time, now in hindsight appear to have been too vague were, “When you’re both finished can you just wash that paint off your sister in the bath”.
45 minutes later I’m beyond tired and drenched in sweat from not only the cleaning, but now the yard work (For a visual reference you’re welcome to picture a younger Brad Pitt sweating and pushing a mower around your yard). As I’m walking the mower down the side of the house I see some water leaking from upstairs onto the ground. At first I’m slightly puzzled and just stare at it with a confused look, similar to what I assume Donald Trump’s orgasm face would be (go on, picture it). As the seconds roll on though the quantity of water increases at a rapid rate and I start to realise that I can also hear the shower running upstairs…isn’t that strange. It’s at this point I walk into the downstairs part of our house to find water cascading down the walls of the toilet. At the same time I hear the desperate calls of a 12 year old who sounds like she is midway through putting on flippers and a snorkel.
I run upstairs and find 2 people in 2 very different emotional states. The first is that of a frantic Juliet who has located every towel in the known universe and is desperately trying to soak up what I can only describe as a fast flowing hallway river. Assuming that the Brisbane River has once again burst its banks I am not sure whether to help in the clean up or grab the kids and head to higher ground. It is then, as I stand in an inch of water and turn the corner into the bathroom that I discover the second person in the equation going through a very different range of emotions. There in an overflowing bath stands an almost 4 year old with a huge smile that can only be associated with a person that doesn’t remotely understand the consequences of turning a house into a swimming pool. She genuinely looks like she might have just stopped working on her freestyle technique. “The bath is full Daddy” she articulates through her gritted teeth grin. Thanks for the heads up kid.
It’s at this time that I remember directly below us is the office, full of photography gear and my music gear. I bolt down and open the office to find that although water was indeed pouring into the room, luckily none was going near any photography gear or music gear. Instead, the water was funneling directly onto a large…purple…egg. See…I told you we would get back to the egg. Again, you would be sane for thinking this is when my vein would explode and I die…but you would be wrong.
Despite the fact that my egg was significantly damaged, it was salvageable. Sure, the house had flooded, but Juliet’s quick thinking with the towels actually saved us from a total catastrophe…even if I would suggest though that it was mainly her fault for leaving her sister in a running bath and going on her iPad. I would however have thought maybe an almost 4 year old would be capable of yelling for help if a bath overflowed? Maybe I shouldn’t have left them unattended? Nobody is innocent here.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was boiling. BOILING. Because it didn’t feel right to take it out on the kids, I mowed the remainder of the backyard calling every single blade of a grass I came across something that would offend even hardened criminals. By the time I finished the neighbour’s kids were crying and 90% of dogs in the neighbourhood were howling…but I finished. As I packed the gear away I was dreaming of a warm shower and the cold beer I had earlier placed in the fridge.
It was now 5.30pm and starting to get darker. I kick off my boots and head inside, flicking the light switch as I enter the bathroom I get no light. I try another light…nothing. You see, flooding the house would be the start of 4 days without lights in our house. <———-Now THAT ladies and gents, is where I would die.