Dear daughters, please excuse my blow-ups

Every time I get angry at my girls' spills and messes, I know I hurt them, but I just can't help myself

Dear F & S, My heart broke when I heard you recently say to me: "I'm scared of Daddy" and, far more devastatingly: "I hate Daddy".

I know you don't mean it, but it still hurt me in the deepest possible way. So that means I also know how deeply I hurt and scare you when I inadvertently blow my top at your spills and messes, even when I don't mean to hurt you.

Intentions, of course, are less significant than impact, and clearly, my sociopathic insistence on order, routines and systems has been at war with - and defeating - the utmost love I have for you, my daughters.

I think I suck at being a father, which pains me more than anything else in the world because being a father to you girls is the single most important thing in my life.

You must know this fact. Well, more than just know it, I implore you to absorb it into your bone marrow, into the deepest recesses of your being, into your soul, for I fear that's how deeply I've hurt you.

Before the social services arrest me after reading the above, let me clarify: You know and I know that the times I hug and kiss you greatly outnumber the occasions I go nuts. And neither do I get violent - I often get only scarily and loudly flustered, exasperated and, yes, angry.

Intentions, of course, are less significant than impact, and clearly, my sociopathic insistence on order, routines and systems has been at war with - and defeating - the utmost love I have for you, my daughters.

Also, in my defence, the interval between my blowing up and my feeling great remorse has been getting shorter and shorter. These days, I immediately feel like an utter failure after the ill-tempered words escape my lips, but alas, it's already too late - your faces have already registered hurt.

I'm thankful that the two of you are handling me well. Instead of allowing yourselves to be hurt too deeply, you play a kind of game where after one of these "incidents" of mine, you would ask each other, "Did he blow up?", and when both of you agree that I had, you mark it down on a chart documenting my shame.

May I suggest you make one of those workplace safety billboards found on construction sites indicating how many days it has been since an accident had taken place? The one in our home could read "XX days since Daddy's last blow-up". I shall strive to increase the number of days on that board.

While there's absolutely no excuse for my blow-ups, let me try to open up a portal into my mind for you, so you can help me rehabilitate my awful behaviour.

My mind, truly, is a morass, filled with the kinds of rubbish I try to eradicate in my physical environment.

But here it is anyway: When you walk into my room and exclaim oh-so-adorably: "Oh, I still have cookie crumbs on my mouth", I instantly forget how adorable you are and focus on the specks of pastry that would probably come loose from around your mouth, drop to the hopefully pristine floor and, within seconds, attract a colony of ants to devour their confectionery feast.

This would drive me to action: Make sure you leave the bedroom first, but without allowing the crumbs to fall as you are walking out, which would expand the area that I need to clean up. So you would have to stand absolutely still as I go get a wet wipe (a sheet of regular dry tissue wouldn't do, because dry tissues can't hold crumbs as well) to clean your mouth.

After your mouth is crumb-free and you are safely out of the room, I would need to go CSI on the crumb scene: Comb the spot where you stood when you discovered the crumbs and also scour the vicinity, just in case your movements flung the crumbs within a 1m radius (How vigorously did you move, I would also wonder. Maybe I need to cover 1.5m? How about 2m, to be absolutely sure?).

Like a world champion chess player who thinks many steps ahead, within seconds, in order to flummox his opponent, I ponder a string of consequences faster than you can say "cookie crumbs" and translate all of it into indecipherable exasperation about 2.3 seconds later.

And that's just one incident involving crumbs, which, after I have regained my sanity, I admit is a relatively harmless situation.

Can you imagine how much more my horrible mind suffers when I see you cross a road without looking both ways, like I have told you to do 1.256 million times, and a car comes along on your blind side?

Inside my brain, the car was not travelling at 10kmh and coming to a stop because the driver saw you; my imagination tells me it was barrelling towards you at breakneck speed and its driver was blindfolded and using his mobile phone at the same time.

And the rest of the consequences I conjure up in my head are too nasty to even spell out here.

All of my explanation cannot replace my repentance, which cannot replace my urgently needed change of behaviour, which would be the only course of action that means anything if I am to justify my words.

And my words, simply, are: I love you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'Dear daughters, please excuse my blow-ups'. Print Edition | Subscribe