You will have noticed by now that I don’t put up photos of our children’s faces. It was a decision we made before Hurricane was born – we would let our kids make their own decisions on how identifiable they want to be online. Funnily enough since BB has been studying cyber security and data privacy at Columbia she has probably overtaken me when it comes to cynicism about the internet.
Many of you will know I don’t have Facebook. I can’t fathom the admin of having to maintain a much better version of my life for public consumption. Too much effort. I did try Twitter for a week about 5 years ago and concluded there were only three types of users: corporates, journalists and self-righteous mugs. I have to deal with all of those groups in my day job as it is. A kidney stone would be preferable to taking them home with me.
Anyway, that whole preamble is just to explain that since most of you don’t know exactly what Hurricane and Chaos look like, you have to take my word that they are very cute kids. I reckon peak adorable hits between 18 months and 3 years for most little people, so don’t panic if you’ve popped out a mole rat. Best they be ugly early when everyone will say they’re beautiful regardless. Even I know to say nothing in the face of the obvious when it comes to newborns.
There is something about that 18 month period where everything aligns – cute little voices and mannerisms to go with a sweet elfish appearance. Hurricane is now beyond this point. His transition to little man is well advanced. His sister however, is at the peak of her powers.
There are two reasons why I try to avoid taking the pair of them to the supermarket. The first is that Hurricane will start doing laps of the aisles, normally in bare feet. For some reason that freaks people out here. The laps are just annoying, though when shoppers realise it’s Dad in charge they resign themselves to the fact that I don’t care enough to stop him. It’s the bare feet New Yorkers can’t handle. Maybe it’s a hangover from the 80s when heroin needles were as prolific as pennies.
The second, and primary, reason for avoiding the supermarket is that I can’t get down an aisle without a middle aged woman wanting to stop me to talk about how adorable Chaos is. With Hurricane they see his bare feet and write him off as a Gypsy child, but I could dress Chaos in a potato sack and she would still reel them in.
Thank you yes she is a gorgeous little lady. She’s nearly two. Oh wow you have grandkids do you. That’s lovely. Michael and Maria. Those are nice names. They’re at school, oh which one? Where is that? That’s nice. Smart kids then. No close though, New Zealand. Where did they travel to? Oh no Tasmania is in Australia. It looks a bit like New Zealand though. You should definitely travel there. Go to the South Island. Yes well the grandkids will still be here. Tell them to get a nanny. Hahaha.
And on it goes.
Same conversation, over and over. You see I’ve come to realise that Chaos’ adorability provides women with an opening to come and talk to me about themselves. And yes I mean women exclusively. Men don’t approach strangers to talk about their kids.
And herein lies the problem. Every parent of small children knows that taking them with you to the supermarket requires courage and quick feet. They are little sticks of dynamite with lit wicks. You would think anyone with parental experience would know this and assist your need for the mission to run smoothly. But there is this thing called post-parental amnesia. Having survived raising children, people forget what it is like.
By stopping me in conversation these well-meaning women have just cut my wick in half. So while on the surface I’ve engaged auto-pilot to politely navigate some benign chit-chat, what I’m thinking is:
Hurricane, be cool man. Stay in sight. No don’t touch that. Crap he’s off. Don’t fight the straps Chaos. Just chill. You can hold on. Oh no she’s losing it. I’m going to have to let her out. But if I let her out it’s over. I can’t let her out. Dammit she ate the raisins already. I should have packed an apple. Would they think I stole the apple? Maybe. Probably. It was smart of Countdown to give away free fruit to kids, but man I hate Countdown. Horrible place to shop. Though people leave you alone in there. Probably because they all hate it and just want to get out. I still need to get toilet paper. He’s in the ice cream section. This just went pear. Ok I’m going to start walking now. That’s your signal this conversation is over. You can stop talking now. I’m going to walk faster.
Yes I’m partially responsible for the fact Chaos is adorable. If you like, you can say so as you walk past and I will smile and genuinely say thank you. If you want to talk sport, or politics, or beer, or food, or anything other than your kids or grandkids or how New Zealand is a state of Australia, I would probably ignore Hurricane terrorising the apple stacks for a few more minutes purely out of shock that such topics are being aired.
But we both know that’s not what you want to talk about, and that you will be oblivious to your role in the war that’s about to kick off. So forgive me for ignoring you, but it’s better I get in and out of dodge before someone calls child welfare to deal with the barefooted Gypsy boy.