(Author's note: It's pretty dubious to call me an 'author' but "Writer's note" doesn't have the same ring to it.)
(Author's second and more pertinent and less pert note: This post is a reprint of an old one i wrote some years ago, back before i had a blog. Just reread it for other reasons but felt i'd like to share it with this new audience cause it still rings true. And cuz, i'm just not this random and funny anymore.)
It is without a doubt a mark of genius to be mistaken for a madman by the magazine-perusing populace. Stay your hands, dear friends! Afore you snap off that snappy snippet of snide rebuke for my assumed arrogance; allow me to elaborate. i, of the lowercase first person, am in no ways referring to my own insignificant mortal wisdom.
i refer, instead, to God. If you disagree, take it up with Him, i'm sure He'd love to hear from you.
But perhaps Messieurs, Mesdames and Mesdemoiselles you are wondering, what does this mean? What is he talking about? Why in the wild, wild world of sports is he referring to us in French titles? i assure you I have no idea. Unlike a genius, my madness is genuine. i shall endeavor to persevere however and leave you with more than a cryptic voorlooper. Life, i think some of you may agree, is tough. It is not a sport for
pansies. As a matter of fact, it's the most extreme sport there is boasting a near one hundred percent fatality rate among the participants. It's a cat in a bathtub and with each birth another mouse is pushed from the ledge and slides bum first into the fray. Yes,
i am focusing on one aspect of it, to be sure now. There are lighter moments to it. Lego’s come to mind...MnM's are good, as are in-ground pools that are someone else’s responsibility to maintain. This is by no means a complete list but more just to show you, gut Herren, Frauen und Fraulein, that i am not one sided on this issue. i am merely trying to convey, in hyperbolic metaphor that Life, as an entity, is capable of a certain peevishness that would relegate Cinderella’s stepmother, Lady Tremaine to the same category as Mrs. June Cleaver.
Granted you say, get on with it. So i shall. Into this atrium of attrition, this cauldron of corruption, this Tupperware of testiness I brought a son. Well, two actually: Churchmouse, my eldest and Rascal his carbon copy. For now, let us concern ourselves with the first.
As i gazed upon our proud little jumble of boy, a red faced, screaming, little lizard of
love, “How could i?” i asked of myself. How could i have pushed another mouse from the ledge? How could i in good conscience be responsible for another panic-stricken innocent clawing and scratching at the cold, enamel encrusted cast iron of the physical realm!? Well, in my defense it wasn't intentional, it just sort of happened. But here he
was! Kicking and screaming and clearly none too pleased with life as he found it so far! What could i do now? How could i undo the damage I had done?
By the way, for those of you still wondering what a voorlooper is, it's a Dutch term meaning a precursor or something that goes before. Are you with us now? Can the class move on? Good, now pay attention.
i have, in my infernal wisdom, tried to raise Churchmouse to be tough. The cat's got claws so the mice gotta have teeth and the wherewithal to use them. i have not tried to shelter him. i punch holes in his umbrella. i hid one card of his solitaire deck. i made him walk the two miles from our way station to his Grandparent's house, through the
woods and over a stream and across busy highways, when he was three, bearing his own diapers and spare clothes in a backpack. Life is tough, i had to make him tougher. If he hurts himself, i check for blood, no wound, no sympathy. Get back in there and bite that Cat in the rump! Yeah, so your arm’s broken? Does that mean you can't do your chores?
We'll get it set tomorrow, right now keep digging that foundation! Are you crying? There's no crying in Baseball?! i've pulled no punches. If he asks a question, i don't sugarcoat the answer. There's nothing at the end of the rainbow, the closer you get the further back it retreats. You want to go to college? Keep crushing those recyclables. No, there is no Sea monkey heaven, their out in the septic field. Sorry, women are a
mystery to me too, son.
Here's where God's wisdom departs from men's. Or more specifically this
Churchmouse, my son, is perhaps the most empathic, caring, gentle soul it has ever been my fortune to meet.
Imagine if you will, a bramble patch. Raspberries abundant. Thorns prevalent. A picture of life, offering a sweet, succulent, ripe, red reward and placing it firmly within the sharp tendrils of prickly punctures a'plenty. Imagine Rascal, an almost three-year-old who has a phobia of plants. “Floraphobia? Never heard of it. Just push your way through, Rascal, fercryinoutloud! And for the love of Mike! Will you quit that
"Would like me to hold your hand, Rascal?" my eldest says. And there in a shaded forest floor were two struggling, almost helpless mice, fighting feisty flora and fickle father alike, hand in hand. Proving to all who would bear witness that weakness born by two in love can go where ever strength may struggle to. And it doesn't go there alone.
Churchmouse noted to me the other day that he has never seen me cry. Someday i'll tell him it's because i'm not as strong as he is.