What happens when you track your lies for a month

I was, in theory, reading my two daughters The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name while they sat on my lap on the couch, but in practice I was watching the fourth one dayer between New Zealand and Pakistan on my phone, which was tucked discreetly in next to my leg, out of their line of sight.

I quickly dropped the phone into my lap and said, “I’m just reading the back of the book.” For added plausibility, I then read it aloud. She looked into my eyes with a strange intensity. Had she detected dishonesty in my voice? Had she known what I’d been doing all along?

That would, however, have been no good. The box had all manner of folds, lines, numbers and letters that needed to be aligned, slotted into each other and so forth.


The instructions were already there on the box. Nothing Zanna could have told me would have been of use. I was alone.

I found a YouTube tutorial in which a guy did it in 10 to 15 seconds, which didn’t help. By that stage, I had already spent about 15 minutes on it. It was only pride that forced me onwards, and I was eventually left with something that looked very much like a box, although I had somehow blocked off the holes that were intended as handles.

The instructor at Pump class asked me whether the volume was okay. This was a tough question because, of course it was way too loud, was always way too loud, but was it my place to say? There were more than 100 people in that class. Who was I to decide the correct volume?

I’m not really a fan of the loud dance music that adorns the hardcore fitness strivings of Pump anyway. I would prefer almost anything from the daytime playlist on Mix (”Music from the 70s, 80s, 90s”) over, for example, the super-hype boom boom of current Pump playlist favourite We All Stars by Martin Solveig feat. Alma.

The instructor was on the stage with a microphone and I was at the back of the class with a cold and because of all that and the too-loud music, even if I had wanted to give a response to her question that conveyed the nuance of the above explanation — and I really didn’t — I couldn’t. So I just gave her the thumbs up.

Every morning, when I’m about to get in the car to go to work, my 2-year-old daughter Clara says, “Can I put the keys in the didnition?” and every morning, even when I don’t have time for the astonishing amount of time this seemingly simple act always entails, I say yes because it melts my soft daddy heart.

But this morning, after I had already handed Clara the keys, I heard Zanna call out, “It’s too wet.” She was right — it was pouring outside and therefore a terrible idea to let Clara out in it, but she’s so cute and loves me so much, and just the way she says “Didnition!”.

I thought I had said it quietly enough but Zanna overheard and said, “You can’t throw me under the bus like that!” She was right. Making her out to be the bad cop — the prissy, fussy mummy to my cool fun dad — was a bad thing to do, especially since she is already Clara’s second favourite parent by a long way.

It was about 9pm when Zanna and I finished tidying up the house after getting all the kids into bed. The TV wasn’t working properly and she was up and down from the couch, working with both the remote and the screen itself, getting increasingly agitated while I sat motionless on the couch. I was making occasional noises of support for her work, but predominantly I was watching the second T20 between New Zealand and Pakistan on my phone, which I’d tucked slightly under my right thigh, so it wouldn’t be noticed.

In reality, Casper had nothing to do with it. There’s no way on earth I could physically or emotionally survive a fourth child. I would have had my vasectomy a year ago, even before Casper was born, if I wasn’t such a terrible procrastinator. That is just a fact.

I went in and settled him back to sleep. While I cuddled him, I used my phone to attempt to book tickets to smash hit film The Post. It proved impossible to do one handed, so I switched over to the iBooks app, and spent a few minutes reading Great Expectations.

Tallulah asked if she could take her Elsa doll in the paddling pool at her grandparents’ house. I wasn’t sure, so I asked Zanna, who screwed up her face before grudgingly saying, “Okay”. Because I am empathetic enough to have understood the disconnect between Zanna’s words and feelings, I went back to Tallulah and said, “Mummy said ‘No.’”

That was it: a month keeping track of my lies. We were past deadline for the February 17 issue, but by that point the editor had presumably realised I didn’t have enough time and moved the story back in the schedule. Maybe she had never wanted it for February 17 in the first place. Maybe it was all a lie to get me working faster.

Anyway, I was nearly finished writing to the new deadline, having put other work to one side, having pushed myself to my very limits mentally and emotionally, nearly there, when she said to me: “Not sure if this will please you or annoy you. I’m now going to hold your lies piece until March 17. That okay?”