My daughter and I are on our way home from the park on a steamy Saturday morning. The sun is shining high, desperately trying to mop up the night-rain puddles that lay spilled across the roads and pavements. Cars hiss past us on the wet tarmac and everything glistens shamelessly.
Second only to bubblewrap, puddles have a strange hold over children, my two-year-old daughter is no exception: she is literally incapable of walking past one without jumping into it's centre and going all Flashdance. Her dress is soaked and the dry white socks that I pulled over her chubby little feet this morning are now sodden and grey; she is, to my mind, inappropriately happy about this. Only a child can be happy wearing wet socks.
During her 'splashdance' she has also managed to fall backwards a few times, so her nappy, with it's patented 'piss absorbing technology', has now swollen to such a size that you'd be forgiven for thinking she has somehow hired some massive buttocks.
Massive novelty buttocks.
Given the sheer number of puddles and my daughter's fastidious nature, the short walk home has taken nearly an hour. Progress is slow.
Ahead, a woman is crouching down, attempting to communicate with her son. "Timmy" looks about seven years old and is doing that crying / hyperventilating / baby Dalek voice that children do when their parents seek answers as to why they're crying whilst they're still crying.
(Feel free to do your own baby Dalek voice for this next bit)
"What's wrong? Why are you crying Timmy?"
"On what darling?"
The mother looks up as we approach and we exchange parent-looks.
Parent-looks: a secret glance language, capable of instantly conveying anything from sympathy to disapproval.
I give her the classic "sympathetic close-mouthed-smile with head tilt"
She gives me the "sometimes I intensely dislike my own offspring" fluttering eye-roll.
Timmy wails again, it sounds a bit like a gay chainsaw.
It might be the worst thing I've ever heard.
I try not to give her the "currently I'm not keen on your offspring either" look.
My daughter, happy and oblivious to the evident pain of another human, jumps into the next puddle and starts splashing around. Gangnam style. Unfortunately this next puddle is right next to Timmy and his mother. Well within splash range. Suddenly they're both soaked. It doesn't help that my daughter is pointing at them and laughing. At least Timmy has stopped crying for a moment. Although it looks like the mother might start quite soon. She is doing that open mouthed shocked face, it makes her look a bit like a top of the range inflatable sex-doll.
"Jen, come out of the puddle, you are getting the nice people wet darling," I say reasonably.
She ignores me.
"Jen, for some reason they are not moving away which means you are still getting them wet," I say through gritted teeth.
She ignores me Gangnam style.
I pick her up and out of the puddle and walk quickly away. Keen to put some distance between us and the now screaming Timmy, I hoist her on to my shoulders and feel the wet splat of an exploding nappy, followed by the cold trickle of something down my spine. Well, I say something but we all know that, best case scenario, it's a cocktail of rainwater and toddler piss.
I don't even want to think about the worst case scenario.
As we pass the next bin, I take her down from my shoulders, whip off her exploded nappy and throw it away. Looking down I notice that my daughter's shoes and socks have left big wet splotches on my t-shirt which roughly coincide with my nipples. It's not a good look.
I look like I'm lactating.
I put her back on my shoulders to disguise my soggy nipples and we jog home. Soon she is laughing again, her fat little hands twist my hair into handles and she rides me like a space hopper. About 50 yards from our destination I stop running and freeze, my daughter, straddling my neck and without a nappy, starts passing wind. I feel each little pop on my nape, dreading what might follow.
Oh Please God let it just be wind!
And so it is that with wet nipples and, in all probability, a fresh skidmark on my neck I knock on my front door.
As the door opens I take my daughter from my shoulders and she runs into the house. My wife looks me up and down, takes in my soaking wet trousers, lactating man breasts, hair horns and poo neck. Panting I put my hand on the door frame to steady myself. She raises an eyebrow half a millimeter and says
"I'll make you a cup of tea."