Saturday, June 13, 2009

Things I Must Never Forget #!1

The shiny apple.

I take it out of the shopping basket. It’s not something important. We don’t need it right now.

The evening has been difficult. Due to a badly-scheduled (by me) Parent’s Evening myself, Tired Mam, Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter are in a supermarket way past bedtime purchasing ingredients for a very quick very late meal.

The soles of my feet are riddled with pins-and-needles. They are wonderful children and this has just been impartially verified. My daughter has demonstrated amazing story-telling abilities and has shamed me. I resolve to start my silly blog again. My son is not the push-over I was beginning to fear he was, but is merely a little man who knows how to keep his own counsel.

My nerves are jangling. The little chairs don’t help, the physical closeness to Tired Mam is not ideal. The brief sensation of shared unconditional love is a bit intoxicating. The whole talk of ‘we’ and ‘us’ when we speak of our parenting. It feels like a charade. As if we would leave the premises and cackle to ourselves. ‘We FOOLED them! For another year! They think we’re happy with this!’

Me: We don’t need that tonight sweetheart. Let’s just put it back.

I’ve just pulled-off a first-class impression of a caring, involved father. I almost convinced myself. I am both but not actively; circumstances are against me. Tired Mam and I have spoken to teachers as if we both daily make a huge effort with their education. When only she does. But it was kind of her to pretend.

Favourite Daughter: But Daddy…

I’m not having this. She’s six now. She knows that you can’t have things purely because you feel like it that moment. Life isn’t that simple.

Tired Mam glances at the contents of the basket.

Tired Mam: It’s two-for-one on ALL the Covent Garden Soups.

A wave of irritation washes over me, familiar and care-worn like an old friend. I wordlessly double-up the soup quota.

There is some debate about bread that is resolved with minimal difficulty.

Their teachers had been talking about the next academic year with total confidence. As if they were sure. That our children would even reside in the same part of the world as they do now in a few months time.

Favourite Daughter: It’s REALLY shiny.

We’re all together but the air is crackling with unsaid things between Tired Mam and I. And I’m doing my best ‘everything is ok’ impression. I couldn't care less how shiny it is. I have other things on my mind. I want to get through this in one piece.

At the check-out I pay for the supplies and also call a taxi for Tired Mam and our offspring. It’s dark and cold now.

As they leave, I think about this:

I have taken the apple out of Favourite Daughter’s hand. It’s not a ‘right now’ thing and this is a ‘right now’ moment. Something hot, quick and nutritious is required.

As I place it back in the weird molded-cardboard that it came from I actually look at it.

I know that Snow White herself would have been taken by this fucker. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It appears to be made of lovingly-polished glass of the deepest deepest loveliest red ever. It is perfectly shaped; think of the word ‘apple’ and this thing will pop into your head. In short. It is gorgeous.

It’s too late though. It fits snuggly back in its cardboard womb and I inform Tired Mam that the two-for-one only applies to the Wild Mushroom variety that isn’t actually very nice.

I should have bought her the shiny apple.


Anonymous janeway said...

There is a series of children's books here that feature a little girl named Ramona. In one of the earliest, in which she is about FD's age, there is a chapter devoted to the time she takes one bite out of each apple in an entire bushel, because, as she explains, "The first bite is the best."

Don't beat yourself up too much about the moments. There are others when you're not paying attention.

10:32 pm  
Anonymous Benj said...

TD, she won't remember the apple, so why beat yourself up over it. Be a bit kinder to yourself. Glad you are back.

11:27 pm  
Blogger Ellie said...

Beautiful shiny apple. Blah. Last time I bought one that looked like a priori apple itself actually tasted crap.

5:51 pm  
Anonymous jonathan said...

'Don't beat yourself up' is of course right. But I do also occasionally succumb to the worry that Frankie (now 5) will by some cruel quirk of early memory fail to remember all the lovely times-and all that will be left will be the occasional 'no apple' moments (I'm sure we all have them). I don't know, its not as if parenthood doesn't bring plenty of perfectly realistic worries, I should perhaps concentrate on those instead of inventing new and paranoid ones...

1:36 pm  
Blogger Debster said...

It probably had a worm in the middle.

8:07 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

J: Where is 'here'?

And I'm sure you're right.

B: Thanks. I'm sure you're right.

E: Again. I'm sure right.

J: I'm sure you're right. But does it not sometimes keep you awake?

D: Welcome back. No doubt. But that really wasn't the point.

As a father, I deny my children superficial things as a knee-jerk. In favour of love and experiences. Perhaps I should bend a little?

8:34 pm  
Anonymous janeway said...

TD - 'here' is the U.S.

Experience tells me that (1) there is absolutely no way of predicting what they will remember and what not - and that's good or bad. (2) Happy memories seem to be more atmospheric than specific - they know they were happy growing up, but there aren't necessarily a lot of specifics; when there are, they are usually memories of things you'd never have guessed (see 1). This is the 'love and experience' you mention. (3) Again referring to 1, they will hold stuff against you that you had no earthly idea was creating a bad memory, but stuff you worry about never even makes a blip on the radar. (4) They won't realize until they are in a position of being responsible for the care of another human being, that you did the best you could with the tools you have available to you.

What's done is done, so it's counter-productive (sorry for the buzz word) to fret about it. All you can do - if it's truly a serious concern - is to try not to jerk that knee next time.

4:26 am  
Blogger cpt_spalding said...

Yep, I've a 9yo daughter too. I think we all have those shiny apple moments (my latest one was about feeding the guinea pigs, don't ask).

Don't sweat the small stuff is the normal mantra. Remember the good times, the days out, picnics, silly stuff you do with/for them. That's what they'll remember too :)

10:52 am  
Blogger The Preacherman said...

If she throws apples at you when you're old and incomtinent and unable to move out of the way it will be all your fault.

6:18 pm  
Blogger The Preacherman said...

no it won't. It'll mean she's nuts. Chill out mate. Apples don't matter. You're there. That matters.

6:19 pm  
Blogger Tired Dad said...

Belated, apologies:

J: I'm sure you're right. I just try and hold onto the small moments in the hope that it will lead me to get the big ones right. And to remind myself that I care about all of them.

CP: Hello. Hope you're right.

Preach/Dinners: Ok. But there's more to this I've recently discovered. But I'll be 'there' as much as I can.

10:46 pm  

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