I put down my book by Ruth Rendell to think. [“Adam and Eve” and Pinch Me] I contemplate the many ways I have unwittingly tortured my children since babyhood.
All those supposedly innocent little ditties, nursery rhymes and games. We all know them, “round and round the garden,” “pinch punch, 1st of the month,” “the incy winsy” spider,'…….an endless list. Each and every one of them, has it's own unique twist of a flick knife, but I didn't know that at the time. Anyone with more than one brain cell would have cottoned on [translation = realized] that although I tried to engage my children, what I was really doing was beating them with a very large, noisy, prickly stick.
I decided that the 'oldies' might not be 'goldies.' I even went as far as to purchase a new book on 101 ways to entertain your baby, in the hope that I could improve my skill set and become a little more up to date. As with most things I tried in those days, it was another unmitigated failure. It seemed that there was nothing I could do to induce a smile. Their happiness quotient was independent of my input. Indeed it would be more accurate to say that most of their misery was caused directly by me, no matter how innocently. [translation = ignorantly] It seemed impossible to teach a “primigravidae” [translation = old first time mum] new tricks. [note 1 below]
But of course, that was a long time ago now. I re-evaluate the ditty – Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, went down to the river to bathe. Adam and Eve were drowned. Who do you think was saved? And the response is……altogether now….. 'pinch me!' Then you pinch them and everybody laughs, or most people do, especially little people.
As with most things, what was true a week or two ago, [translation = or month, or year] is not necessarily true now. I wonder if it's worth having another go? What is the likelihood of meltdowns? How many people will have meltdowns? Will they be really, really bad meltdowns, simultaneous ones? Maybe I'll be really lucky and they'll just ignore me, or not get it, or be indifferent? I strategize timing factors, variables such as their current mood, their absorption in their activities, as I don't want my 'intervention' to become an interruption or present itself as a transition. [translation = stop one thing and start another]
I dither a wee while until the moment presents itself. They are at the table for dinner. I have read several picture books to entertain them and distract them from the hideousness that is dinner. They are mellow. [ish] I tentatively suggest a change of tactic, a minor diversion from story telling, a little joke, a tiny one, just for their delectation. There is a fluttering of apprehension, dissent, minor protestations followed by resignations. I capture three pairs of eyes and sputter my way through the lines. I smile. I wait a response. I count. I include ‘ands.’ Brains in small craniums process words, retrieve others, connect the dots. I can hear them whir, the brains that is to say ….…….
“PERwinch me!” spews junior spraying us all with half masticated wieners as he guffaws.
“Ah!” bellows senior, throwing himself back on his chair to collide with the dresser, hurling sweetcorn kernels in a shower of amusement.
“Huh?!” frowns my daughter……
I pinch her, gently, just because I can.
[note 1] Although I already had a daughter, as far as the medical profession was concerned it was so long ago that my body believed it was the first time I was pregnant. Like a virgin all over again!]