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THE PARENT LOTTERY

Three young girls baffle our bemused columnist, Grant

Cast of characters

  • TLJ: The lovely Jacs, wife and mom
  • Moose: our eldest daughter, Lucy, as in Luce the Moose
  • Mackers: our second daughter Jesse, called Mackers because she has curly hair and an explosive temper like John McEnroe
  • Sizzles: our youngest daughter Emma. As every parent knows, Sizzles is the dog in Charlie and Lola who loves sausages, just like Emma

‘HOW IS IT that three children born of the same parents, living in the same house all their lives can be so very, very different? I confess I haven’t given this much thought up to now, principally because those three kids belong to me. So I barely get time to think about the immediate stuff, eg ‘Which kid is going where, when and with whom’ and ‘Where did I leave the other two, because I’d better find them before TLJ notices I’ve lost them again?’ Let alone consider mysteries of the universe. Still, after the week I’ve just had, I can’t help but ponder the issue. How is it possible that these girls are all related?

Our offspring are sent to humble us, says Grant, pictured here with his daughterly gang

The week started off grandly with two-year-old Sizzles running full tilt into our granite countertop and punching a hole in the middle of her forehead. After all the tears and hysterical screaming had finally subsided, TLJ told me to man up and take my cue from Sizzles, who’d stopped crying long before me. I messaged a photo of the crater in her head to her grandfather, the cardiologist who sews me up when I do stupid stuff. He confirmed she needed stitches and that he wasn’t doing it. Thirty minutes later, I found myself in casualty at Vincent Pallotti Hospital sitting next to Sizzles while she silently endured three stitches being put into her head. This was in stark contrast to the noise I made when my father-in-law administered three stitches to my foot on Boxing Day (don’t ask). It’s somewhat humbling to be shown up by a two-year-old.

she denounced us as parents

Diverging from such stoicism, we find The Moose. It’s already evident at the ripe old age of six that she’s inherited my penchant for the dramatic. I promise I haven’t taught her to be a drama queen, she just is. Like me. Teaching The Moose anything new is akin to putting on a Broadway production: there’s shouting, crying, dancing, singing and even the odd bad review. So the other day when we went out into the street with the girls to ride bikes (which apparently has to be taught nowadays), we ended up drained. While her two sisters whizzed around on a scooter and bike with fairy wheels, The Moose crawled around at snail’s pace denouncing us as parents and insisting her sisters were maniacs.

‘The type of child you get is a total lottery’

Such antics are standard and don’t even raise an eyebrow with the rest of us. But what was new during this latest performance was Moose’s sudden collapse to the ground, screaming that the sun was too bright and she couldn’t possibly go on. I’m a giant sissy myself, but have to say even I was taken aback by this one, though comforted she’ll have the performing arts to fall back on if her plans to graduate as a princess don’t work out.

even perfect people are humbled

So finally there’s Mackers, who’s got the middle ground covered. Sure, she has touches of Moose’s theatre and Sizzles’ insanity, but she seems to navigate past the extremes, sustaining her modus operandi with a strict diet of junk food sniffed out from 100 metres away. We send her to school with healthy stuff in her lunch box, but when she gets home it contains all manner of junk food paraphernalia. I can’t believe any self respecting four-year-old would trade their junk food for Mackers’ brown-bread-and-peanut-butter sandwich, so I’m wondering who she shakes down to get her fix. We haven’t received any complaints from school, but neither did the parents of Al Capone. If the tax people start investigating Mackers, I’ll know what’s going on.

I don’t pretend to know how this all works, but it seems the only explanation for this bizarre diversity in one’s offspring is that it’s here to humble us all, including the perfect people, because the type of child you get seems to be a total lottery. The good news, therefore, is that Jacs and I might actually raise at least one normal human being, be she a princess, a stunt woman or the head of organised crime in Cape Town.

Grant Clark

Grant Clark is an attorney specialising in maritime law in Cape Town, and a pastor at Common Ground Church, Constantiaberg

 
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