April 06, 2011
Batten down the hatches, don the titanium helmet, tighten the belt, and grit your teeth – it’s war!
And don’t expect anything funny in this letter – not even mildly satirical. What has transpired goes beyond comprehension and I can’t be bothered to see the lighter side of it – even if it exists.
Because you have the privilege of having absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, and I do like you for some or other reason, I will take the time to fill in the gaps.
Strangely, this letter is not the direct consequence of something the two little terrorists did. However, kids feature – as they do in every single moment of my life. It has however to do with an emotional, psychological, and financial burden likened to one’s house burning to the ground. Now if your house has burnt down to the ground, you know what I’m talking about. If your house is still where you left it, you have absolutely no idea. Just like with kids.
When, on that very special day you do your first pregnancy test (together) and you see those two blue lines on the little white stick, your emotions do cartwheels – which is strange, because up to this point they were only capable of handstands and belly-flops. Everybody and their dog is notified, personally, and the story evolves while the phone bill skyrockets (which is OK, because you’ve never bought a nappy before in your life and you can therefore afford a phone bill). Every day is a new and exciting day as preparations are made, classes are attended, cute little outfits are bought, rooms are prepared, and dreams are dreamt. If the baby-to-be is a boy, chances are you’re also staying home a lot... Whenever mommy’s friends visit, they stroke her belly saying things like “well done”, “congratulations” and “isn’t it sweet”. Nobody however takes the time to walk over to me and give Jetson a stroke with a “good job little man!”... strange that.
Upon baby’s arrival the procedure repeats: personal phone calls from A-Z.... or that’s the plan. However, your doctor slips you his account before he leaves the delivery room (because he knows you can’t really, at this point, give the baby back) and select family and friends receive a courteous sms of less than 160 characters and are left to spread the word. Joy is had and your chest circumference increases by about 6 inches.
When again the two blue lines appear and the second little bundle is on the cards, you notify the inner circle, so to speak, because everyone else wasn’t all that interested when you phoned them about the first one anyway. You dispatch not-so-regular updates and debate the merit of baby boy’s clothes being unisex. The rest of the time is spent trying to explain to baby boy why mommy’s belly is growing and how wonderful it’s going to be having two pooping, drooling little bundles of financial drain in the house – which is already looking less a welcoming home and more like a toy pit at McDonalds. Your previously swollen chest has managed to slip and now wobbles gently over what used to resemble an abdominal area.
Upon baby girl’s arrival you manage to eventually get back to half of everyone that phoned while you were being strangled in the operating theatre by the woman that loved you sometime in the distant past (when there was still time for that kind of nonsense).
At home life becomes a juggle: work, nappies, shopping, nappies, breastmilk, burps, crying (mostly me), bottles, dog, sibling rivalry, nappies, and formula. And it gets worse.
Look, I love my kids and I love my wife. I love everything about what we have. It’s tough but it’s a great life and I wouldn’t want to change anything about it.
Which is why I was a tad... unsettled, when Judogirl showed me a little white stick with two blue lines on it the other morning.
Consider yourself notified.
No, you didn’t get a phone call or an sms – not because you’re not in the inner circle any longer, but because it’s practical (our motto nowadays) and everyone gets the same story at the same time – no favouritism, no tales. It also saves you from having to say “congratulations” when you really want to say “Dude, what the...? Don’t you have TV?!” to my face – so we both benefit.
No, it wasn’t planned. No, we really didn’t want this to happen. Yes, we realise this will change everything – again. Yes I know we’ll have to buy a bus. Don’t think you can ask a question I haven’t already thought of. I’m back at the burning house watching it go up in flames and knowing there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. There is nothing anybody can do to turn back the clock and make things the way they were before. And there’s nothing you can do to understand my emotions, fears, and pains as I watch the flames consume our past and the little blue lines corrupt our future.
But Judogirl shows me the stick and she has tears in her eyes. She’s trembling and her complexion is a pale shade of lime green. She shivers as she asks: “what are we going to do?” I have not seen my wife in such a state ever, and although I can’t let her know, I feel the same. So I wrap my arms around her and I say “it’s going to be grand!” (the giggle is supposed to reassure her but it’s a slightly nervous one). My mind has already started the math, and it’s simple: we’re going to wait for the flames to die down and the dust to settle. We’re going to sit and look at what needs to be done. We’re going to work at preparing our world and our kids for what will become our new life. We’re going to check Autotrader for that bus. And we’ll get through this because we can... and we really don’t have a choice.
I love my kids. And I’ll love this one too even though he’s given me heartburn and a sore throat while he’s only a few cells floating in plasma. And I say “he” because, now that I think about it, there have been little signs that have made me wonder... Judogirl’s craving for salt, her skin itches for no obvious reason, the dog sleeps next to her bed every night – again. The other night she wanted a pizza with anchovies and sweet peppers... nobody wants anchovies on their pizza – Judogirl doesn’t even like pizza. And on that fateful morning she stood hunched in the shower complaining of nausea (my response of “did those little swimmers get to you?” now seems oddly prophetic and totally out of place, although I was really referring to the anchovies). Oh, and of course the vomiting last night.
So all in all I guess you can say I’m screwed. Pardon my crass take on it, but a spade is still a bloody shovel. I shall take your pity now and gratefully accept any donations of a fiscal nature. Life, quite literally, is sitting on my chest like a sack of wet potatoes.
But I’m ready, I’m prepared, I have made my peace – bring it on!
Which all seems a tad wasted when you learn that Judogirl phoned (much) later to giggle something stupid and childish about an April dude’s day, or something to that effect. Yeah, apparently it’s quite funny when you put someone through the emotional and physiological strain associated with having your house burn down. It is however exceptional when you hear the amount of planning that went into this project – up to and including the tell-tale little white stick with its stupid blue lines, very courteously supplied by Judogirl’s pregnant assistant (beyond the call of duty). The acting however was ama-Oscar (it’s an African thing) – the tears, the trembles, the greenish hue.... glorious. I salute you Judogirl, well played.
What of the anchovies? Staged (oh)
What of the nausea? Staged (oh)
What of the itching? Umm, yeah... dunno (oh?)
What of the salt and the dog? Umm, dunno (o-oh!!)
What of the vomiting? Umm, the anchovies? (......)
What of you take a real test because I’m prepared, OK? OK (phew...?)
She agrees and I don’t know whether that makes me feel better or even worse: I had the shock, I went through the mill, I made my peace and accepted my fate, just to have it turned upside down (with a giggle), and then have it raise its head again – only this time with the universe behind it. “The universe?” you may ask. Yes darn it! When it comes to stuff like this you don’t mess with the balance of the universe, karma (so to speak), and I am hoping to hope that her little stunt doesn’t bite her in the bum (which has of late shown very slight signs of expansion, if I may be so bold... from the safety of my chair... far away... while she sleeps).
So this morning before birds could cough we’re anxiously waiting for 5 minutes to pass.
5 minutes go bye very slowly when you’re waiting for it to...
But eventually it does (after about 5 minutes).
Judogirl was too nervous to look, which really did nothing to bolster my mood as I sprinted, nonchalantly, to the bathroom. There it was – the little white stick. Please let there be only one line.... please, please, please.... one little blue line....
Consider yourself notified.
You may think it funny, but it isn’t really – you’re actually just laughing because you can almost imagine the reality of the situation and you’re just so relieved it’s not happening to you. I understand that and won’t hold it against you – I would do the same if I were in your shoes. However, seeing as I’m not and there’s nothing I can do about it (and I had the opportunity of inadvertently preparing myself in advance) I almost casually drop the little stick in front of Judogirl with a slightly warped and very sarcastic “watch out your joke doesn’t bite you in the bum.”
Her reaction, although surprised, wasn’t quite as impressively shocked as I would’ve wanted.... she’s always wanted four children.
She smiled... she actually smiled.
“Got you again,” she said “Same stick!”
If I wasn’t so sure that she could drop me with a flick of her wrist I probably would’ve slapped that girl.
Not to tempt fate too much, and from a distance, she quickly pulled another white stick thingy from behind a flower pot and danced it over to me... it had a single blue line on it. One gloriously single little blue line – only one – the good one. You’d think I’d be happy. I’d think I’d be happy! But I’m so confused that I actually have no idea what to be.
Where does she get the time for all this %*&^?