So many questions, so little time!

It’s a higher-grade question, Mum.

Now that my daughter is old enough to ask some hard questions I’m going to have to practise my quick-draw response technique.

Not only that, but I’m also having to develop a very thick-skinned reaction to embarrassing queries in public, issuing strict instructions that she keep her thoughts to herself when we are surrounded by non-immediate family members. Why? Read on…

Loudly at the checkout counter: “Mommy, why is that lady fat?” (I swear that we do NOT emphasise plus-size issues in our household!); and yesterday, “Mum, that man is very naked!” (we were at a supermarket near the beach and he was in fact wearing a Speedo whilst shopping for groceries… it is summer in SA after all!)

To her credit, she is now at least managing to whisper some of her conundrums breathily into my ear.

Indeed, it looks like I’m going to have to also brush up my general knowledge, what with questions like: “Why is it called the Red Sea?” Thank God for Google!

And of course, there are the more awkward moments of intimate information needing to be transmitted: “Mum, what’s that big pink thing between Fudgie’s legs?” (NOTE: Fudge is our male boxer).

At least we were within the safe confines of our own garden at the time. Although, my neighbours do look at me funny sometimes – admittedly, very possibly not because of this particular exchange, since there are potentially a dozen other reasons for them to wonder about our family!

My response to her innocent quest for insight: “A penis, sweetie.” Not for me sugar-coated euphemisms: I’m taking the straightforward, educational biology approach in order to avoid more trouble later – at least that’s what I’m telling myself now!

But I am also learning to craft my answers with some forethought given to what the follow-up question may be: “What’s a penis?”

I’ll spare you the gory details…

With her having now learned to recognise that symbols and signs mean something, I am at the constant mercy of her insatiable appetite for knowledge about the world. At any given intersection: “Mum, what does that sign say?” “It says ‘Stop’, sweetie.”

“And that one” “And that one? “And that one?”…

In the clothing store, and the bank, and the supermarket: “Mum, why is that man running in that sign?”, “It’s an emergency exit, my darling”, “What’s an emergency mum?”, “It’s when something dangerous happens and everyone has to run away quickly.”, “What is dangerous, mum?”

Certainly those within earshot – usually our fellow queuers – are kept entertained, mostly I think by my having to admit ultimate defeat and fall back on the magic words: “Just because!!!”

But it’s the more profound questions that really have me stumped.

After purchasing some treats as a gift for a family friend and handing another one to my daughter, she asks: “But mummy, where is your present?”

“It’s okay my love, I don’t need one, I have you – you are my present.”

“Who gave me to you, mum?”

“God gave you to me, my precious.” (NOTE: we are not religious, per se, rather spiritually curious)

After a momentary pause: “Mummy, who is God?”

Bring out the white flag. I give up. Any advice for me?

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Did I toss the baby out with the bathwater?

Water Torture!

My brilliantly creative friend Danny suggested this blog’s headline. I reckon it’s a great idea.

So here’s my first quick foray into sharing the hilarities of child-rearing.

After Safiya was born I wanted to try remember some of the ironically, scarily hilarious stuff I was experiencing as a mum.

One Calvin & Hobbes-type comic strip came to mind of pregnant mother preparing for baby’s arrival excitedly for months: antenatal classes, nursery, clothes etc etc, then the baby comes out and the mom and kid sit there looking at each other thinking… “OK, so now what?”

I guess having a baby is a bit like planning an enormous wedding but being completely unprepared for what M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E actually entails… lots of people seem to forget that the wedding is not the marriage, and once you’re in it, you’re not sure what you’re actually supposed to do for the rest of your lives together!

Babies. Until I had one of my own, they were to me mostly charming, sometimes irritating little beings that I never really paid close attention to or deeply considered the significance of.

I admit that I often felt quite awkward with some of those that I had the opportunity of handling. It felt like I might break them if I wasn’t careful.

At arms length – i.e. something you can give back if you’ve had enough – they were amusing enough, cute and entertaining: a momentary talking point.

And they can be good for the ego if they respond well to you, a non-primary caregiver.

That is, if you can stop someone else’s squawking infant from throwing a tantrum they can make you feel quite special, as in: “I’m good with babies, you know.

Of course, the opposite is also true: should a baby react badly to what you think is your most animated baby-entertaining face, it can quite severely put your nose out of joint.

The moral of that story? Try not to invest too much ego into other people’s babies… or for that matter, your own either. Invariably your ego is going to suffer some kind of humiliation, so you may as well just leave it out of the adventure that is parenthood!