My girls, the Moose and the Bear
Parenting little lives is so hard it can make you cry. Unless it’s someone else we’re talking about – then we can laugh.
Here’s a second guest blog by my friend, whiskey expert, poker player, marine lawyer, wanna-be-surfer, stand-up comic, co-pastor of a faith community and progenitor of 3 girls – the one and only Grant Clark. I have previously written my own piece on how hard parenting is. In true form, Grant gives his version, written a few years ago, in comedic form – a genre appropriate to the subject matter…
“It’s now 2:00 a.m. in the morning and I am trying to calm a screaming teething little Bear and my sleep deprived brain has led me to the realization that almost everyone I know thinks me an incompetent already so what difference will another few 1000 people make?
I consider myself qualified to embark on a discussion of this nature largely because I have two daughters, The Moose (two and a half) and The Bear (ten months), who live under my regime. Thinking of real names for the girls was just too tough and TLJ (The Lovely Jax) and I wanted to be different so we narrowed it down to names based either on inanimate objects from Kazakhstan or Large Mammals from Canada. Canada produces good Whiskey, which I love, and so in a trade off where I agreed not to insist on naming any of our children after my favourite distilleries, we went with Canada.
I often think back to the halcyon days before I actually was a parent, to all the lofty ideals and righteous plans I held onto. And the sleep I used to get. A central theme to almost all of these idiotic ideals was a recurring vision of me sitting in a comfy arm chair with my offspring at my feet listening attentively while I taught them. Taught them about life, relationships, love and consequences and generally topped up their intellectual tanks with lessons so profound that when I paused at the end of a lesson to chew contemplatively on my pipe, one or possibly even more of my offspring would actually allow the odd tear to escape their eyes at the beauty and wisdom of the lesson learned. Yup, I was in fact that startlingly stupid.
I am now at that place where I realize that parenthood is not so much about teaching, it’s actually all about learning. I can honestly say that over the past two and a half years I have learned more than I thought possible for someone of my diminished mental capacity. I have of course learned basic lessons such as how to change nappies, make baby food, diagnose thrush, dress wriggling children and administer medicine to clam like mouths. I have also learned genuine skills such as evading projectile vomit, making myself scarce in an apparently empty room when The Bear smells like a septic tank and how to sneak out of the house at 6:00 a.m. on my way to work without waking TLJ, The Moose, The Bear, and two stupid dogs. I have also learned critical life lessons such as my sock drawer is not a brilliant hiding place after all for my biltong stash, especially when The Moose has a nose like a blood hound; a R100 note is just another piece of paper to The Bear which means it can be graunched, ripped, masticated and swallowed and finally discovered the next day in the most unpleasant way possible. I am one of those people who will sticky tape a torn note up even if it’s in ten pieces, but even I have my limits.
Then there is the wisdom we acquire through direct impartation from our children. An example: this last week I arrived home to find The Moose waiting for me at the front door. I was summoned to follow her through to the loo where she took me to the toilet and pointing at some of her latest handy work solemnly advised me “We don’t touch the poo and we never ever eat it”. Words to live by. We are thinking of making it the family motto and having it embroidered on all our linen but are having some difficulty with the translation into Latin.
Of course, not all of the things you learn being a parent are lessons or skills. Some of the things we learn are just hardwired into you. One day they are not there and the next they are. I suspect that this is the handiwork of mother nature and clear evidence of her altruistic nature. What am I talking about? Well for example, embarrassment. One day you are highly embarrassed by minor events and then, hey presto, you have two kids and suddenly embarrassment is a way of life and eventually you grow numb to it. Things that would have mortified me three years ago now hardly even raise a hint of a pink hue in my cheeks. The Moose singing “I’m the king of the castle and you’re a dirty @#*hole” at The Bear’s dedication service – nothing. The Bear cracking out a monster fart that was heard several churches away while being held by the Pastor and then following this up with some vomit on his frock for good measure – a yawn. The Moose winding up the ceremony during the time of quite self reflective prayer with a loud screech that she needs to do “a major, major poo” – please, give me a challenge.
I guess the teaching that I always imagined would happen is in fact happening, it’s just that my mental image has undergone a bit of a change. The Moose and the Bear appear to have wrestled the comfy chair from me, which now has tomato sauce and fish fingers smeared over much of it, I, in turn, sit on the floor with the two stupid dogs, and as they finish teaching me, a single tear runs down my face as I realize that its only another 15 minutes until their bed time.
Also published on Medium.