Daily routine with the kids is great in its own chaotic way. They have learned much of the basics of civilized human behaviour, and all that Mrs Acular and I need do is simply supervise.
The other evening, I sat on the loo-lid, bemoaning in my heart what a lot of work I didn't manage to accomplish that day, while one of the Twins Aculae undertake her evening lavabo. My presence in the room was as much for the preservation of the condition of the bathroom floor and the avoidance of flooding as it was to do with the suitable removal of soap curds from the nether-places. Lost in my reverie of self-flagellation, it took me a moment to see that the little mite was struggling herself.
She had daubed much detergent around her face and had rinsed her flannel. Because I grumble when she drips all over the floor, she laboured hard to squeeze the flannel free of excess water. Two hands, one spectacular grimace, the merest suggestion of a new vernacular and it was clear that she had squeezed the thing free of life so far as she could. But drip it did, and frown I did. I stated the profoundly obvious (a man thing, I believe) and suggested that she squeeze it again. She 'cleaned my windscreen' with a recounting of her previous fruitless labours, and started to become upset because she was not capable of removing a single molecule more. She even demonstrated it - knuckles white with exertion, skin waxen with the removal of blood.
Then I did that other thing that all men do. I offered to solve the little-lady's problem. Here, let me have a go. And yes, I squeezed four and a half litres out of the jolly thing. With a single (and I venture to say vice-like) grip of my hand. Floods of water, a child looking askance at her smug father, and a moment of absolute revelation.
I don't want to be needlessly schmaltzy, but after my effervescent internal self-apology for all that I couldn't and didn't do that day and in the presence of a little child who did all that she could with what she had, I saw it clearly. It is another statement of the obvious that I don't do what I do in my own strength anymore than the freshly fragranced spawn of my loins could wring that flannel dry alone. God is in there somewhere. In that simple transaction, undertaken so many times before and since, I learned to stop trying to do it all, alone. In that, I am most heartily guilty and also perhaps guilty of not receiving help well when it is offered. The second lesson for me was in her simple, but sufficient "thank you daddy".