My eldest daughter turns three tomorrow, the ides of March. Fortunately boys called Brutus are few and far between these days, a name relegated to the junk heap of epithets along with Adolf and Kermit. Albeit for different reasons. I have casually mentioned to my daughter that given her auspicious birth date she should avoid politics, crossing Rubicons, suspicious Italians called Cassius* and (for good measure) two Gauls, one of whom may or may not be carrying a menhir.
*amusingly I played (a gay) Cassius in our school play version of Julius Caesar. Quite progressive for a Catholic school. (Maybe he/I was just effeminate… I think outright gay would have been a bridge too far)
Anyways as life advice goes I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. (Joey pats himself on the back). Great parenting Joey. Well done!
‘We have modest goals now. Like trying to get out of the house at 7am. Why are we so bad at this?’ – My wife, seventy-twenty-three.
…while I drag the almost three year old towards the car by her ankles. The old gods, Wotan and Freya raise their clipboards in unison, I’m in serious jeopardy of loosing my status as a bona fide German, punctuality is not an optional extra in this geographically bound subcategory of Homo Sapiens. I may have to haul out some cultural stereotypes to rack up some quick credit. Socks and sandals (apparently) is a surefire ten points to ease me back into the Teutonic bracket.
Most days it feels like this though… maybe its the threat of violence and ironclad discipline that is lacking? Maybe we should enroll my daughter in assassin school instead of a more traditional kindergarten. (A lot of my favorite fantasy books start like this) But then we’d have to fear for our lives as well deal with the constant frustration of a toddler exerting her will. I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of constant vigilance. I already got eye-gouged once this morning (she gets her dirty fighting prowess from her dad, I’ve genuinely never been this proud)
On the plus side, I feel confident about being able to transition from early-stage parenting to hogtying livestock in Montana (should I ever need a change in vocation) … I look forward to being able to assert with confidence that this, ‘is not my first rodeo’, and for once, actually mean it.
Suddenly my own (parental) issues don’t seem so bad anymore….
I was, until recently, shuffling dejectedly around the house with a hangdog expression that can only be replicated through pure and abject failure of the highest order. I tried to bake chocolate chip cookies this morning. Spoiler alert, it didn’t end well.
Nearly at the zenith of my life (people keep arguing that midpoint is fifty and not forty as I’ve been sullenly alluding to) I’ve never baked anything (except myself in a car). After constructing pretend mud pies with my daughter I… in a moment of parental enthusiasm suggested we should go inside and bake (actual) cookies.
My wife arched her eyebrow at finding us in the kitchen, knee deep in flour and baking apparatuses, shooting me a look that suggested both concern… and condescension… as she watched me judge a teaspoon of vanilla essence straight from the bottle. ‘You’re following the recipe right?’ she ventured.
‘Yeah, more or less’
On the plus side, as a learning experience, I now know why, ‘more or less’, is not really a baking ideology that has gained much traction over the years. I’ve also crossed off going all Walter White as a potential alternative career venture… seeing as I will either kill my customer base relatively quickly or spread myself thin (on the inside of a Winnebago) with an incendiary-type event. In fact anything involving exact measurements should be probably just be avoided. I am definitely more blunt force trauma than precision wet-work.
How does that saying go? Big, dumb and full of… rum? Hmm. That might actually cheer me up right now.
I was listening to AC/DC this morning in the kitchen (making breakfast) and my two year old daughter came in and started dancing…
Me – Do you like AC/DC?
Daughter – Yes I do…
Me- That makes daddy very happy
Daughter (starts singing) A, B, C, D, E, F, G…
I fumbled and dropped my Tupperware on the way to the kitchen this morning, which resulted in my chicken being distributed in a large circumference around my personage. I briefly considering eating it anyway. But the questionable hygiene of the office firma and the judgmental stares of my co-workers swayed me away from this endeavour.
This, as it turns out, has been indicative for my day so far – basically rubbish. I’m trying to take it my stride with stoic resolve and fortitude but I’m hungry and entering the realm of ravenous hostility that comes from not eating for three hours.
I’m wallowing, (mostly) in self pity but also achieving some more general type wallowing that comes from feeling disconnected from my privilege. I’ve tried to infuse a modicum of imperturbability into my psyche by looking at pictures of suffering. I have a folder for just such occasions, aptly named, ‘Pictures to make you sad’.
Its not doing anything for me today. As an aside, Kevin Carter (who took this picture, that won the 1994 Pulitzer prizes for photography) killed himself in a park near my house. As a child I used to catch tadpoles and crabs in the river there. Unfortunately these days as an unsupervised minor undertaking such a venture you are more likely to catch Diphtheria, experience unbidden sodomy and then have your organs harvested in room lit by single flickering light bulb. Which as I understand it, is less amusing than keeping river creatures in a glass jar until they belly up and die after a few days. I’m glad I got to kill larval stage animals without compromising my sphincter integrity or losing a kidney. It doesn’t seem like a good trade off. (ah, the good ol’ days)
Speaking of creepy crawlies (after reading Caroline Paul – Fighting Fire) my wife and I have become very cognisant of not letting my two year old daughter develop irrational fears. Ie. We have been super careful not to unfairly demonize snakes, spiders and hexapodal invertebrates… its cute when she says ‘hello’ to the Daddy-long-legs or the Christmas beetle. But obviously less endearing when she tries to offer salutations to a Black Widow or tries to high five hornets. My mother muses out loud that her grandchild is a Hindu. I think she means a Jain… but I don’t really want to get into it with her. To my mother all Indians are Hindu. In any event I have become this weird black-helicopter parent*. Which in invalidates 90% of the concepts I imagined about being a parent. It certainly wasn’t how I was raised…
* which is basically like a regular helicopter parent, but supposedly working in the background in stealth mode (with varying degrees of success) and only intervening under dire circumstances. Sometimes I wonder if I’m coddling her.
In other news I’ve taken four Tramadol (not all at once) in an effort to rid myself of this throbbing headache. So I’ve been pumping myself full stimulants and opioids since I woke up. I marking today down as a failure for cleaning living. Just thought I would mention it.
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