For twenty of the last twenty one years, there’s been a pretty strong male dominance at emu towers. When Mrs E first popped out her first son, all thoughts of bringing up a little curly haired angel girl got pushed to one side, and I imagined fatherly conversations, perhaps involving a pipe and a fireplace, as I helped the little tyke on his way to being a regular bloke, and potential drinking partner.
Over the following years, with Mrs E almost constantly ‘in foal’, a series of other small boys arrived into the family, culminating in in a 5:1 advantage for the XY chromosomes. Another time, I’ll tell you about the patience that Mrs E has displayed over the years when responding to people who tell her that she must have been so disappointed not to have had a girl. But while she was busy maintaining her self control with the assorted nomarks that were helpfully talking at her, I was (and continue to be) whooping for joy. Because when I imagine having a daughter, a worrisome chill comes over me. I know full well that I’d be one of those awful fathers who’d be appalling news for any spotty youth that appeared on my door wanting to take her out. And I’m no less certain of that having spent the last few years with a few spotty youths of my own, who have been appearing at similar doorsteps across this postcode region for some years now.
And I’m pretty sure that bringing up boys is easier anyway. A friend of mine has a similar ratio of 5:1 but in favour of girls, and half jokes about having had all his interior doors strengthened for slamming purposes. I’m pretty sure that the idea that menstrual cycles synchronise when women are in close proximity to one another is an urban myth, but my friend does seem to spend an awfully long time working away from home.
But, just as soon as I start thinking about getting settled into manly family things, waxing moustaches, playing billiards and having fatherly conservations while leaning on a convenient mantelpiece, along comes disruption into Emu Towers. First, the arrival of Mrs Gibbs the hamster, taking the ratio to 2:5. Then, the disappearance of #1 to seek his fortune in the grim North, taking us to 2:4. Then, the arrival of the dog, bringing us to 3:4. And with #3’s continued obsession with musical theatre dominating every one of his mincing ways, we’re now generally about evens.
And it’s the dog that has given me most insight into the horrors of having to bring up a girl. I was alerted to this a few months ago, while half listening to my wife. The half-listen bit was a bit unfortunate, as I can normally get away with not really listening, making the right noises at the right time and asking for a summary at the end. I know some people at work who have managed entire careers like this, and I’m sure plenty of marriages thrive on it, but every now and again you get caught out:
Mrs E : ramble ramble ramble, challenging kids, need to get some food in, worried about my mother, need to walk the dog etc etc…
Me : hmm, yes, hmm, probably, yes
Mrs E : …and I think she might be going through some sort of change, because she’s really excitable and her genitals are really engorged…
And unfortunately, that’s the bit I heard. And in a ‘please don’t let me screw about with my own marriage’ style, I had to rapidly track back to what on earth she might be talking about.
Me: sorry, are you talking about your mother?
Unfortunately (or, fortunately) not. Had to recover from that one fairly rapidly, and established that we were actually talking about the dog. And apparently, the dog, being almost a year old, is moving rapidly out of childhood and coming into her fully fledged adolescent years. Which is, apparently called a ‘season’. And, apparently, with the season comes all sorts of teenage behaviour, including spontaneous bleeding, moodiness and disobedience, and a general enthusiasm for ‘it’. Some or all of which may be recognisable to those of you who are dog owners. Or possibly parents to the XX set.
But it’s not familiar territory to me, by any stretch. I’m not used to the idea of waiting up for Luna to come back from a walk. I’m extremely worried that Mrs E might well be looking to invest in some dog nappies. And, most of all, I fear for her going after just any old dog in the park. I keep telling her that I want her first time to be special, but all I get for my troubles is an enthusiastic lick of the face, and I’m not sure that’s the answer I want. Mrs E is putting a bit more faith in the process of keeping Luna on the lead for four weeks, and giving any inquisitive suitor the cold shoulder, but I’m not so sure. After all, attractive young female teenagers who really want to have sex normally manage to get their way, don’t they? As for Mrs E’s fallback plan, words almost fail me. Apparently, for a mere £75, you can buy a canine ‘morning after pill’ which is almost 100% guaranteed successful. I mentioned this to #1 last night, and he said we might have to use it after a one-walk stand. Indeed.
So I’m sorry to all my friends who’ve had to go through this in the past, if I’ve not been entirely sympathetic. If this is the sort of worry we have with Luna, it must be almost as bad with a human daughter.
Having said which, I need to walk the dog. And I need to have a word with her first. She’s asking for trouble, going out looking like that.