This is one of a sequence of short pieces about life on the small-holding. The copy I have is in a notebook, with the nearest dated work being 1985. I suspect that these were writing exercises rather than final pieces.
Before becoming a parent I imagined how wonderful it would be. I knew that I would not quash the children’s enthusiasm and curiosity; I would nurture these traits as delicate flowers. Now I know better.
I know now that my children will wait until I’m backing the car into a tiny parking space in a crowded street to ask me “Mum, where do babies come from?” All mums know that beetroot feeling when in a hushed and crowded room a child’s piercing voice is heard to ask “Mum, why is that man so fat?” Or in the middle of a nice romantic film, as the hero and heroine are getting close “Mum, how do the colours change on the telly?” And yet, if you rush to the library to get the books and delicately bring up the subject later, you are treated to blank stares and polite disinterest. All this used to surprise me until I kept goats, and now I can explain it all to you too.
I was watching some kids (the goat sort). They looked very sweet dancing around their tethered mum as she chomped grass. Then one of them had a brainwave. He jumped onto the chicken hut and tap-danced on the laying boxes. His sister thought that was amazing and joined in. Regular hoofers, you might say! But my husband, whose chickens they are, was not at all pleased. He rushed towards them shouting and waving his arms. The kids jumped down and raced away in panic until they got far enough away, then they turned and watched with interest. As soon as he turned around they jumped up again but this time, I swear, they were watching him. I think they found his reaction very funny, and after that they kept trying new things to see what would make us shout and wave our arms. It all became a very diverting game to these mischievous kids.
You can see what I mean now can’t you? This lead me to suspect my own sweet children. Did they enjoy the tequila sunrise which spread up my neck, ears and face as I battled with the desire to giggle hysterically? Could it be that they enjoyed my discomfort when they asked a question I couldn’t answer? Did the sight of my nervously twitching eyes, and perplexed, wrinkled brow cause them amusement? And of course finding the right questions to trigger these reactions is a very absorbing game – it can lighten many a boring moment, and of course, I fall for it everytime. Oh well, kids will be kids.