Today, Xena’s dad steps in and shares a daunting encounter as a father raising daughters, one that started with a faint knock on a Saturday afternoon.
One of my deepest fears as a father to girls came to fruition recently. On a Saturday afternoon, I was slouched on the sofa flipping through the TV channels hoping to get something of interest. The kids were upstairs having a bath and the missus was holed up in our room, reading. Nothing exciting was forthcoming on TV, so I naturally nodded off. My sweet slumber was interrupted by a faint knock on the door which I initially ignored. The knock was persistent and after a few minutes of hoping that it would pass, I sprung out of the sofa unamused. A small boy, probably seven or eight years old stood there looking at me. He had a bandage on his nose, large round eyes and spoke with an interesting accent.
“Hi Sir, is Xena at home?” He inquired.
“How dare you interrupt my sleep, young man, only to ask after my daughter!” I thought to myself. Instead, I responded in the politest tone.
“She is upstairs taking a shower.”
“Ah, ok.” He sighed. “Please tell her I passed by to check if we could ride our bikes?”
“I will definitely pass your message.” I responded. “Who should I say passed by?”
“Sorry, my name is Frank.” He answered and off he dashed before I could interrogate him further.
I walked back to my sofa in complete shock. I was mad at Frank’s audacity but also impressed by his confidence. At his age I probably had little courage to chat with girls let alone knock on their parents’ door! I flung myself back on the sofa, recounting what had just happened.
Shortly after, Xena was done with her bath. As she was trotting down the staircase, she inquired about the knock.
“How come you are alone? I thought we had a guest?” She queried.
“Why do you ask?” I feigned ignorance.
“I am sure I heard a knock followed by a conversation.” She pressed on.
“Your friend came looking for you.” I said.
“Which friend?” She asked.
“Frank.” I responded. “He wanted to know if you guys could ride your bikes.” I added.
“Can I go, daddy? Please?” She asked, her voice rather urgent.
“But you just showered honey. You will be in trouble with your mum.” I warned.
“Please daddy, I’ll keep off dirt.” She pleaded.
“OK, you can go, but don’t tell mama that I agreed to this.” She was quite enthusiastic about it and zoomed off even before I could finish my statement. I had half a mind to grab my bike and join them to see what was so exciting about riding bikes with Frank. I wanted to know if there were other members in this cycling club or was it just the two of them. I also wanted to find out from Frank how the riding schedule looked like so that I could join the cool kids club and show up for all cycles without fail. Instead, I went upstairs to vent to the missus. After I narrated the encounter and how I was contemplating on joining Frank and Xena on their bike riding venture, she laughed hard, mostly at me and not at the occurrence. She laughed like I was a raging lunatic and I needed to be locked up in a mental institution. Perhaps I was overreacting, but which father would not be disturbed if a boy came knocking on his door?
Later on at night, we all sat around the dinner table. The meal consisting of Ugali, fried chicken and steamed spinach was inviting, but I had more pressing things on my mind. I was curious to get more information about Frank, but at the same time, did not want to appear too bothered.
“How was the cycling?” I inquired.
“Good.” She responded. For Xena who is a chatterbox, a one-word answer was rather disturbing. Was she withholding stuff from me?
“What happened to Frank’s nose?” I queried, totally unable to contain my curiosity. I prayed that he wasn’t involved in a fist fight at school.
“He fell down and hurt himself and has been in hospital for a while.” She said.
“Did he fall off his bike? In which case should you be riding your bike with someone who falls off their bike and breaks their nose?” I ranted.
“Dad, he fell in school while skating.” She was getting fed up, as was the missus who gave me a sharp gaze. I knew I was about to cross the line if I hadn’t already.
“Does Frank know how to ride a bicycle?” I pressed on.
“Dad, I don’t answer rhetorical questions.” She replied as she fleshed out some meat off the drumstick.
“Do you want us to call Frank over for dinner so you could ask him all your questions?” The missus retorted. I thought that would be a great idea but I knew better.
It’s scary how kids grow up fast and even more scary to imagine that one day I will need to let go. I grew up in a family of six, one sister and two brothers and never quite understood the special bond between my sister and my dad. In his eyes, she was a princess who did no wrong. She could get away with murder! It is no different with me and my daughters. I recall the very first day they were born as I was there to receive them. I even helped deliver Xia! I remember the first time I walked each of them to class. I remember teaching Xena how to ride a bicycle, and then comes little frank after all the falls it took me to get her to master the sport. Where was Frank before? In a few years’ time she will be having her prom night and soon after, I’ll inevitably be walking her down the aisle. It’s scary to think that in the blink of an eye, my little princess will not be little anymore.
I can literally hear that dreadful knock a few years from now. It will probably be a boy holding a bouquet of flowers and hopefully not spotting a bandage on his nose. Hopefully this time I will be more prepared for the encounter, our conversation very different.
“Hi Frank. Xena will be downstairs shortly, but welcome in. I have heard so much about you. Please make sure you deliver her home in one piece or else………”
Any other fathers out there dreading that knock?