Monday 4 November 2013

Desperate Measures

So I joined twitter. I was going to write a blog post about joining twitter, but then I remembered that I still have some pride. Not much, admittedly, but I’m better than that. So this isn’t about twitter; it’s about choices.
You may have noticed a certain brevity to my posts of late. Sorry about that. I’ll spare you the standard parent’s whine about having no time because while it’s true, it’s also very boring.

Parenthood as a whole tends towards the tedious. Or at least that’s how I’m finding it thus far. I love my kids, and as they grow up and develop their own personalities and abilities to express them I become more in love with them every day, but while the emotional highs are massively high (and the lows commensurably low), intellectually it’s all a little… Arid.

I can now recite The Gruffalo and Where the Wild Things Are, and a goodly portion of The Cat in the Hat, entirely from memory. I’d like to throw in a flippant, “at least that’s a good party trick” line here, but even that’s not really true because by the time people have heard the first few lines and established that yes, you probably do know the whole thing, they lose interest. Because these stories, wonderful though they undoubtedly are for their target audience, are just dull for anyone old enough to worry about their cholesterol.

I should also point out that the suggestion I actually attend parties at which to perform these pieces is entirely a narrative fiction.

My life these days thus tends to revolve around intensely feverish busts of intellectual activity in the few hours I can cram in for my course spattered across long, barren epochs of repeating, ‘Yes, it is a red fire engine, very good,’ over and over again and trying to make sure the boys don’t eat any more sand, all the while knowing full well I could be doing something much more fun.

But fun isn’t the same as important. Short term pain can be worth it for a long term goal, and I realize this because I’m a fucking adult now. I’m capable of doing something I know will be pretty unfulfilling in the short term because I know the rewards will be greater further down the road and that, to my mind at least, is pretty much how you define adulthood. Delayed gratification, looking at the bigger picture, call it what you will.

So this isn’t a complaint except that it clearly is kindasorta. But it’s like pulling teeth; I knew full well that getting my wisdom teeth pulled would be the right thing but, like parenthood, just because it was right didn’t mean that it was an entirely pleasant and joyful experience. And, like parenthood, I expected the actual process to be a touch more sophisticated and was slightly shocked to find that it revolved principally around a middle-aged man grunting with effort and swearing quietly under his breath.

The worst part of it is that the kids want in on everything you do. Now, I’m all for encouraging them to be curious and inquisitive about the wider world but we paid a small fortune for all that Lego so why don’t you just go over there and play with that instead of demanding to see daddy’s book which you can’t even read you dumbass. Look! Lego! Look! Plastic elephant! Damnit.

So that bit’s quite irritating, sometimes. Other times it’s a joy. I’m playing up the curmudgeon here (only slightly, admittedly) and it’s truly wonderful to see them developing and playing, but your boundaries shrink down to almost nothing. Your focus descends down to your front room and the few square metres of space your kids are occupying and anything beyond that gets disregarded entirely. I never watched all that much TV to begin with but now the only TV I watch is half-an-hour of Curious George on Saturday mornings, maybe followed by a bit of Shaun the Sheep. I’m really not exaggerating this. The internet’s pretty much out of the question as well. The eldest now likes to pretend the little Google Chrome ball thing is a sweet and climb on my lap to feed it to me, which is incredibly endearing but doesn’t lend itself so well to considered perusal of the latest New York Times op-ed (or replying swiftly and intelligently to blog comments, sorry).

Hence the twitter. In a last desperate throw of the dice to connect with the ‘real’ world. (please note the ironic scare quotes), because 140 characters worth is about all the attention I can spare right now.

I’m fully aware this may turn out to be a terrible idea.


  1. Twitter does allow you to reach a wider audience in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, you start living your online life in short 140-character bursts. Yeah, it makes you better at getting to the point, but when half or more of the tweets on your timeline come from nothing-better-to-do types who can't help but express themselves in stream-of-conscious-brain-turd style...

    1. You're not wrong on either count. I'm definitely hoping you're right on the first; the rambling, discursive style I've been indulging here for the last couple of years here doesn't lend itself so well to academic writing. Some tightening up is definitely in order.

      As for the other, well. I've already stopped following most of the 'Quality' press for just that reason...

  2. Raising children is a soul crushing endeavor. I have just about given up everything I once though essential to life. It gets better though. Less poop and more fun. Of course "intellectually stimulating" now means "I can't believe they make 3rd graders do this and I always hated math anyway so go ask your mother."

    1. Not looking forward to the Japanese maths homework, I can tell you that for nothing.

  3. "While the emotional highs are massively high (and the lows commensurably low), intellectually it’s all a little… Arid." That's about right.

    As I put it to a younger man commenting on how he could well see we fathers love our kids, he had to admit he couldn't understand it, given the trouble they are: "That's right, you shouldn't understand it, because it doesn't make any kind of damn sense. But your own kids are like heroin: an addiction that sense has no meaning for. Look, this father's kids are probably as cute as mine, looked at by a third party, except bullshit, mine are cuter. (Other father laughs). That's as it should be. Parents shouldn't be objective, because the average is mediocre and no kid should be recognized by their own parents as that." Well, they should in specific skills, but not mediocre as a package.

    'Love is sacrifice'. I prefer my free translation: "愛は辛い.'

    1. No, but seriously now. Mine are the cutest. This is an obvious, incontestable fact.


      Like the translation though ;)