They say change is like a holiday. But “they” are fools without children who have nothing better to do than think up bumper sticker crap. When you are a new parent, you need a holiday from the change. A holiday so profoundly boring, it would make the annual State of the Nation Address seem like riveting stuff.
Cruising along the highway of life, everyone needs to pull over sometimes to enjoy a cold frikkadel with a hardboiled egg (padkos vir die siel en so aan). Having a baby however, is the equivalent of peeing in a bottle, whilst racing along a road that’s more pothole than gravel, hard house grating at 170 bpm over the speakers.
One day, you will get married. Soon after, primal programming will take over and smother any rational reasoning about not contributing to the world’s overpopulation. You’ll start thinking of children as “just one more little human being” to look after. How hard can it be? What’s an extra plate of food and one more load of washing? Then said little human being will come along and shit will get real and things will change. Change. CHANGE:
First, you’ll buy a pram. How much can a piece of plastic with wheels cost? You’ll go to some large baby expo in a cavernous convention centre and there will be thousands of angry mothers with screaming babies and despondent fathers with fresh credit card debt weighing heavy on their shoulders. You know that exquisite and expensive tattoo you wanted? If you haven’t got it already, best build that idea a tombstone that says: “Here lie dreams about frivolous spending and instant gratification. R.I.P.”
You’ll look at the first pram you find and disbelief will raise your eyebrows whilst you whisper: “Holy shit, that’s expensive.” You’ll look for a cheap one, but you’re a guy so you’ll choose the pram with the biggest wheels. And even larger price tag. Only the best for your child and also, the pram has really big wheels, because, like, you go off road with the pram everyday.
Of course, when you get to the car you’ll realise that big wheels come with a big pram which hardly fits in the boot. Which will only really become a concern once the dogs also need to go in the boot and the pram inevitably moves to the front seat because your wife and child are sitting in the back. And just like that, a monstrosity with big wheels will ride shotgun with you. For a long time. But at least it has big wheels.
The pram, everyone tells you, is a necessity, so you pack it in to go do grocery shopping, but halfway down the first aisle you’ll realise that your baby likes it anywhere except the pram. So you ditch the trolley, put your groceries in the pram and carry your baby around in one arm thinking: This is the most expensive trolley ever.
Sharing the front of a car with the 4X4 equivalent of prams will be the least of your worries though. There was a time when everything I owned fit into my car. It wasn’t a very big car, so that says a lot. You are six months old and everything you own barely fits. The car is considerably bigger than the one I used to own, so that says even more.
This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that we have to pack most of your stuff whenever we leave the house. There’s toys, there’s clothes, there’s the diaper bag, the pram and the cot. Getting ready to go anywhere is basically a continuos re-enactment of the Groot Trek. This is followed by the Groot Offload, the Groot Dispersal of Everything and when you’re done, the Groot Gathering of Things beneath couches and beds, before once again engaging in the Groot Trek.
Things change when you have a kid. The whole household transforms and revolves around a tiny human being who thinks grass is the craziest thing ever. The list goes on, but you’re screaming in the back and your mother is about to have multiple nervous breakdowns so I’ll get to that in my next letter.
Last night I was wondering how to end this one. I was dancing you to sleep and The Beatles’ Across the Universe came on. (I swear I’m not using dramatic license here.) The chorus promises that “Nothings gonna change my world.” There was a time when that line was an anthem to me. But that motto belonged to a naive boy who thought being responsible meant washing your bedlinen at least every three months. Things do change your world, none of them more drastically than having a tiny person being completely
dependent on you.
But I still love you.