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Stories I

The hoopy housesitter

by Alan Sharp

Alan Sharp wants to be a mate-dad to his three kids. So when his little girl is left alone to house sit for her less stable mother, he can’t help but worry about her. What is it they say about teenagers home alone? Hmmmmmmm.

28 March 2005

I’m posting this from work. There really isn’t a lot else to do. It’s Easter Monday, but Scotland doesn’t do Easter. I’m not unhappy about this. Being a self-employed contractor, a day I don’t work is a day I don’t get paid. But many of those I work with are from south of the border and have families, so they have taken the long weekend off anyway, and the office is looking a little like the deck of the Marie Celeste.

I would probably have taken the long weekend to spend with the kids as well, but there was no point. BQ has taken the boys away for a holiday, and as H didn’t want to go with them she has been left home to housesit and to feed the vast menagerie of animals they keep there.

Now I try to be a cool dad, and I think I mostly succeed. I mean there are certain parenting duties you have to stick with, but in general I know how difficult life can be living with the BQ, having done it for 9 years, and I don’t want to add to those difficulties. I think one emotionally manipulative psycho-bitch parent from hell is probably about all a child can cope with, so I try to be stable-dad, mate-dad, dad you can tell anything to and he isn’t going to turn into a spontaneous combustion victim.

But of course I worry. My little girl is all on her own in the house. It’s scary being on your own for the first time. She needs her dad to reassure her. So yesterday afternoon I phone her up to lend my support. A tiny nervous voice answers the phone.

‘Hullo?’ Oh my God, she sounds scared out of her tiny mind. I was absolutely right to call. She must be bricking herself. I mustn’t project my own fears on to her to add to the situation. I must be an oasis of calm, bright and cheery, I must respond in a ‘nothing could possibly be wrong’ voice.

‘Hey-ya Hoopy, how’s things going there?’ My voice contains all the forced jollity I can muster. It works, the sense of relief in her voice as she replies is palpable.

‘Oh Dad! It’s you!’ And then she speaks again, but this time off-phone. ‘It’s okay, you don’t have to be quiet any more.’ From behind her emerges the unmistakable sound of five million teenagers all talking at once.

I have nothing to worry about, she’s gonna be fine!

‘So what are you up to?’ I ask.

‘We’re dying Jenny’s hair black.’

‘You’re not planning to dye your hair black are you?’

‘Not yet.’

Okay, maybe not nothing to worry about.

Alan Sharp

About the author: Alan Sharp

Alan Sharp is a nomad. In the last decade he has lived in London, Brussels, Dublin and, since last August, Edinburgh. The one thing he knows is that he's not finished yet. He’d like to try living in the States at some point, but until his kids are old enough to live independent lives he won’t move anywhere more than an hours flight away from them.