Cape Town dad Grant Clark asks you not to judge him
‘I don’t care what you say, but until you have kids you lack appreciation for many things. You may enjoy these things and claim to appreciate them, but you don’t. I have to agree with Phil Collins on this one: you only really appreciate things when you can’t have them anymore.
Sleep, that’s a good one. I remember that fondly. I think I used to enjoy that. The ability to watch Stormers v Bulls without being interrupted by Rapunzel dangling (in frankly a dangerous and irresponsible fashion) from her tower. A bath – with fewer than four people in it, three of whom appear to be training for the idiot Olympics, and only one you can guarantee didn’t pee in the bath. A meal – without at least one food group shaped like a dinosaur. And of course, the point of this column, with the onset of winter: good health.
What people don’t tell you is that having a child is like having in your house a personal mini Typhoid Mary (who was she? A family cook and the first-identified asymptomatic carrier of typhoid in the USA). In my case, I have three of them.
With kids, disease becomes your constant companion and your medical-aid plan your constant enemy. On the upside, you do learn a host of new skills, eg being able to tell what season it is by simply observing what is dripping out of your child’s nose. I cannot fully express to you the sense of panic you feel as you hold a four year-old Sizzles under the shower, clothes and all, trying to wash a well-digested-and-now-reappeared lunch off her, knowing that it’s just a question of hours before it’s you with your head in a bucket and Sizzles sitting on her stool next to you, laughing because ‘Daddy sounds funny!’ Nothing says ‘I love you, Dad’ quite like the gift of nausea and extreme gastric distress.
I’d like to say I’m a competent parent in the face of illness, but that would be a bald-faced lie. In our house, The Lovely Jacs is the stoic and dependable parent in the face of disease. I’m whatever the opposite of that is. I’m the one who has an overdeveloped sympathetic gag reflex, which despite having the word ‘sympathetic’ in it is not very sympathetic, especially for the person who has to do the cleaning up, ie not the person with the sympathetic gag reflex. I’m also the one who’s been known, to my shame, to scream like a little girl, drop the child I’m holding and run out the room at the first sign of a lunch re-run. But let’s not judge people.
I’d like to say that I remember what it was like to be healthy, but the honest truth is I simply don’t. I may not have a Typhoid Mary in my house, but I do have a Typhoid Moose, Mackers and Sizzles. So what chance do I have?
By the way, we’re looking for babysitters. Anyone interested?’
Grant Clark is an attorney specialising in maritime law.
He’s also a pastor at Common Ground Church, Constantiaberg, Cape Town.