There I am in the paper #59

Yes, I’m alive and well and still writing. Here’s another of my articles from the Irish Examiner’s Feelgood. Hopefully it’s a mildly amusing observation of our marriage.

If you’ve ever watched David Attenborough, you’ll have witnessed Nature’s amazing ability to adapt to the world around it. Recently, watching one such a programme, I was interrupted by yer man bringing me in a cup of tea. Tea made exactly the way I like it, accompanied by the very biscuit I would have chosen myself.

It was then I realised that closer to home I had witnessed nature adapting.

Before we ever had children, we knew we’d be perfect parents. As others spoke of the challenges of sleepless nights and babies crying, we laughed, in no doubt we’d adapt to our children’s needs as required.

Looking back on twenty-five years of parenting I don’t believe we had any idea of the challenges that lay ahead for us. Yet, it’s interesting to note, that although we both faced the same challenges, we seem to have adapted rather differently.

In the early days I tuned in to each new baby as they arrived, logging their every twist and turn. I watched the way they ran and played, attuned to what made them laugh or cry. Even the smallest deviation from the norm caused a bell to ring within me, insisting I investigate further in case there was something wrong.

Yer man on the other hand found no need to develop such a baby alarm. Why have two of us on high alert?  Instead, he developed an alarm triggered by not so subtle changes in my behaviour.

This alarm system of his was not so finely tuned as my own, but over time it has learned to sense danger, often triggered by seemingly unexplained moods on my part. During such moments he’s learned to stand well back, say little and never suggest a solution, no matter how right he is.

While on sleep mode his alarm was oblivious to a baby crying on and off for hours, but could be activated by my foot making sharp contact with his body as I reached breaking point. He would then leap into action soothing the baby and ensuring survival of the species.

By the time we had our fourth child both our alarm systems were well established. If, on returning from work he were to find me catatonic in the kitchen, he’d know the day had been a little challenging and not to ask, even in jest, “What’s for dinner?” Equally, I would know that when he asked how my day was he was seeking a one word answer and vice verse.

We continued to adapt throughout the teenage years until I became a finely tuned machine, able to hear all that my children might wish me not to.

From several rooms away, despite a television or radio blasting, I could hear the beginnings of an argument between siblings and knew when to intervene before there was a murder. The slightest footstep on the stairs at night was no match for me despite efforts made to avoid a squeaky stair. I could spot a secret at one glance and smell a lie before it was even uttered.

Yer man on the other hand adapted different powers. He learned to sleep soundly, deaf to all night time activity. His default setting was to always believe each of his children were ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ This allowed him to remain calm in a crisis and be more measured when faced with my prosecution which often involved irrefutable proof such as, ‘I’ve a hunch, just trust me.’ It has also ensured he will be forever loved by his ‘always perfect in his eyes,’ children.

Yes, nature is indeed amazing. There’s just one problem. Our children too have adapted over time and now that they are older, regularly out manoeuvre our alarms.

But we are working on that.




9 thoughts on “There I am in the paper #59

  1. I found this entertaining Tric. You are right as men and women we do develop our own methods of survival. Though as a parent of small children I was the one attuned to their nighttime behaviours. Many a night pacing the floor so as to allow the WW to sleep.
    As I grew with my kids I, on reflection, grew more like ‘yer man’ in that I saw my kids as finding their way in the world and I believed they knew right from wrong.
    Now as adults we have strong relationships. This week I discovered the reason why we never stop being adults when my two older boys called me and were in tears over things happening in their lives. One is worn out, as an artist he has been meeting deadlines which necessitate his working long hours and not receiving payment for past works such that he has to ask me to help him out. My eldest son, a strong and beautiful man, called me to say that after six years working for a company he put so much into they have made him redundant. He works in New Guinea as a nurse, I had to listen to him crying over the phone, which is an awful thing as I’ve had to do it a few times to other of my kids when you know you cant reach out and hold them in their moments of distress.
    Their dad is their go-to person when things get tough, it’s a privilege and a trial for me. I know they will both be ok, my sone in NG comes home today, he will be with his wife and family and I know he will be ok. My artist son will send his work to the exhibition in Singapore next week, he may come and spend some time with me here and then when rested he will off to work on his next show in Los Angeles.

    1. Indeed, as I see the way I’ve been with my own mum we are forever the child and as my own grow up also the parent.
      It’s so hard to be a bystander in their lives as they hurt but it’s good they have someone to come to. It sounds like they value your compassion and advice Michael. Well worth the long nights I’m sure.
      I hope things work out well for both of your boys.

  2. yes, each of us adapts in our own special way. sometimes it has to do with the survival of others, and oftentimes, the survival of ourselves. as for the kids, they are a moving target, and at best, we can try to stay one tiny step ahead of them, but that is clearly only for a very limited time.

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