The Wild Life: Flat out

Attila the Horizontal gets up from a chair on the patio on Saturday night.

“Sitting is not good for me. I’m going to lie down.”

“So standing is not an option for you then?” I ask, sarcasm dripping from the question.

He grumbles and hobbles off to the couch.

Six weeks on, Attila is still suffering from the after-effects of Romantix (5) throwing his two-ton self into his father’s arms when he collected him from school one afternoon. His back hasn’t been the same since. His physiotherapist has given up on him and now he has to go and visit an orthopedic surgeon. There goes the medical aid.

If he has to have an operation of some sort, I don’t know who’s going to nurse him. It won’t be me. I already have two children. There’s simply no time in my very thinly stretched work-life balance for three.

Needless to say, I don’t do the “for worse” thing very well.

I accuse Attila of secretly enjoying his newfound paralysis, which has allowed him to be more horizontal than usual.

“Wallahi Nicki, you are going hell,” he mutters.

Wives, I’m told, are better in Turkey. Yes probably, I say, they don’t hold down jobs as well.

Romantix meanwhile is bellowing from the bathroom: “Mommmmmmmmy! Come and wipe my buuuuuuuuum!”

And Dramatix (8) is sitting at the dining room table reading the local knock and drop, asking questions like “Why did they write it like that?” and “What does this mean?”

Dramatix wants to be a journalist, despite the fact that the occupation is on the household List of Banned Jobs. Up there with musician and teacher. (All, incidentally, jobs which I have held.)

The Highly Encouraged Jobs list features occupations like doctor, accountant, and engineer. Occupations that promise a healthy bank balance – none of which Dramatix appears to be remotely interested in.

So determined is she to become a journalist that she asked my friend, news editor Natasha, for a job.

“I write the best sentences in my class!” she insisted at the office one evening.

“No,” Natasha told her. “You have to wait until you’re at least 10. That’s how old I was when I started.”

Determined not to take no for an answer, Dramatix went over the news editor’s head, straight to the boss.

“Yes that’s fine my darling,” Ferial humoured her. “You can come and work for us.”

My friend, a government spin doctor, has demanded that I put her off a career in news at once.

The hideous part is that I can see her being good at it: her hustling, curiosity, language skills and deeply suspicious nature are sure to come in handy. (Doctors, do you need these traits? Engineers? Accountants? Anyone?)

She will also need a strong stomach. Stories of hideous child abuse, as well as the rape and murder of little girls dominated last week’s news. After reading them, I went home and hugged my children for therapy, resisting the urge to weep and tell them all about it.

Their entire world revolves around school, home and play dates with friends and their innocence is fiercely guarded. Having a journalist for a mother, they already know enough about the evils that lurk.

“What is rape, mommy?” asked Dramatix after listening to the radio news.

“It’s when women are attacked very badly by men,” I replied. That will be all for now.

Regarding his future career, Romantix for his part appears to have zero ambition. This is also coupled with a pronounced fondness for the couch. (Although he sometimes feels like becoming an “acheoptogist” and digging up dinosaur bones)

He reckons he doesn’t need school. Conversations often go like this:

“You need to go to school, boy.”


“If you don’t, you won’t be able to get a job.”

“I don’t need a job”

“Then you won’t earn any money and won’t be able to buy any food.”

“I’ll just live here with you. You can feed me.”

“And what will you do all day?”

“I’ll lie on the couch and watch TV. Ben 10.”

In your dreams, boy.

Stay away from the couch. Your father’s already on it.

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