Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Clock

It’s an odd thing, having kids.

Every day they have sprouts and spurts that inch them on towards adulthood, offering up with every smile and curse a sort of mirror in which hitherto buried aspects of your past have one last chance to be reflected.

Not that it was like this right at the start, of course.

My first few weeks as a newbie parent were tinged to the point of saturation with a sense of yearningly cavernous brain death, and even if I’d had the wit to foresee how the workings of my son’s emerging prodigy organ would one day spark off memories in my own, I couldn’t have made use of this bizarre intergenerational phenomenon. At FOUR WEEKS, getting dressed was hard enough. Truth be told, in those crazy days between his slither from Girly of Whirly’s distressed undercarriage and Michael Owen famously baffling the Argentine defence, Son of Whirl had more cerebral nous than did I.

It took until Christmas for the full Dad/Wibbleblob hook-up to crank into gear — and only then thanks to a set of curling tongs in which my son became entangled after we forgot about him and went down the pub. Never abandon your six month-old baby beneath a Christmas tree.

I don’t know about you, but after the age of 18, the quality of the Yuletide gifts you receive starts tailing off with a vengeance. Instead of All The Things You Want you get All The Things You Bloody Don’t, Things You Can’t Work Out Why Anyone Would Want, and Things You Can’t Believe Anyone Would Want To Manufacture or Merchandise Let Alone Purchase.

When Son of Whirl arrived, my descent into a pan-Yuletide Argyle sock swamp came to an abrupt end. Beneath the tree were presents — real presents — resplendent in their all-singing all-dancing fluorescent plastic funnee animalz in-yer-face-ness, allied to a sense of excitement about the place not witnessed since my mum’s now-deceased bugger of a beagle ran off with my grandma’s false teeth midway between the turkey, the Christmas pud and the return of our Saviour and all of his angels (and possibly Nat King Cole).

That’s when I first realised I was about to embark on a journey that would involve me replaying my entire life from the perspective of an evil fascist dictator/overlord metamorphosing, year on year, into a hapless, gibbering slave.

But it meant I got to watch Naomi Wilkinson on Channel 5's Milkshake every day, so I figured it was worth a go.

Since then, there have been numerous fits and starts in my son’s growth and development, each one challenging the cosy understanding of yes, yes, he’s growing up to which I’d become accustomed in my slackness.

The transition from Thomas The Tank Engine Boy to Evil Star Wars Light Sabre Wielding Mutant was particularly distressing. Gone was the constructive linking together of a railway line for the good of Sodor. Instead, we had to endure the wanton destruction of cherished family heirlooms for the good of sod all. Why do they all get such a kick out of batting for “the Dark Side”? And — oh — the fun of ‘learning to start a fire’.

With every change comes a hinny of sensations that won’t rest anywhere for a few days. It shuffles up and down your spine as if Patrick Moore were playing the bones like a glockenspiel (with thistles) and in dark of night, hovers between eye and lid with the flicker of a monitor streaming images of Max Schreck brushing his teeth.

You want to keep them preserved in time and space but you can’t, and the worst part of all is when the changes are so subtle, the growth so slow and sneaky, you don’t notice it until well after it’s happened.

“Oh, he’s stopped doing that.”

So, today is a That Day — a day when the clock has run on a few hours without me — and I’m sad.

Things will return to normal by the end of the week, I know, and we can all get back to the genuinely enriching business of watching him grow into a mature adult like the rest of us — obsessed by money, power and sex (and possibly some hopelessly whiny pop star).

Until then, I’m going to mope about the place like wretch.


stacy said...

Awwww ...

fairyhedgehog said...

Lovely picture and I know just what you mean.

I've often thought I ran four years behind my lads. I still think of them as "the kids" only now that includes the older son's wife and the younger son's fiancee too.

Still, my Mum always called my sister and me "the kids" even when we reached our fifties so I've plenty of time yet.

Word verification is diatbra. Just in case you're interested.

Whirlochre said...

Diatbra sounds like a bit of a squeeze.

And 'awwww' like the sound you might make if you were forced to wear one.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

That's why I propose having iguanas instead of kids. Not that there isn't heartwrench there (Oh, I remember when she used to be awake 6 hours of everyday, now it's just 4? When did that happen?), it's just not *quite* so profound as noted in that "Turn Around" song. I do, however, long for the day when she can open the fridge and chop up her fruits and veggies herself. Can Son of Whirl do that yet? I hear sometimes it can take 20 or 30 years for boys to develop that particular talent.

Whirlochre said...


I'm still waiting.

GPinLV said...

Equally lough out loud funny and touching in a way only fathers of boys can truly understand. Well done.

Whirlochre said...


Welcome aboard. You're right, of course, though I suspect the situation is far worse for fathers of girls.