Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Zenella and I shared a pain au raisin. On the container in Woolworths it said "Product of Belgium" but you know, it can't have been baked there. I wondered whether they supplied a dough, or a recipe, or what the sign could mean.

But it was an acceptable pain au raisin, although the custardy goo in the middle didn't seem like anything I'd expect to find in a French raisin bread. But it does go to show, you can find good things in small amounts in strange places.

Zenella told Mrs Zen, which was odd. I realised it had been important to her, but I struggled to see why. Maybe because we had shared a moment that was untouched by the twins. Maybe because she was simply moved by her father's sharing something so delicious that he could be expected to keep it for himself.

I have an unimaginably fierce love for Zenella. And I thought you could not do that three times. But how you can! I have embraces that are nirvana right now, small spaces in which I can stop everything. I have a transit so exquisite that I can only dream of finding the poetry that can describe it.

Did I not then already succeed?

Because I worry about success. Not in a particularly worldly way, but because I feel that I should have succeeded. Somewhere, at something.

I can't help feeling that I have downshifted in goals. Now I want to achieve something banal (yet weirdly, given that poker players can escape the world of work, the outcomes are not so banal). Worse, because I have a love of kneecapping myself, I could be there, but I won't give myself credit for it. I become a cringing Uriah Heep if anyone says I have a clue at poker, yet I worry about ways in which I am not so good. Sigh. Anyway, I won't ever regret the time I've spent on it, because it has been a fine challenge, and I have proven able to do it decently well.

If I were 20 years younger, I would be overjoyed at where I am. I talk to people all the time whose goals I could achieve right now.

But I am 20 years older. It is one of the worst things in our lives that our youths pass and we cannot call them back. We lie to ourselves that wisdom compensates for youth, but it does not. We would love to be 20 again. (Although, I suppose, we would wish to be the us of now in our 20-year-old bodies. We know we could do it better if we ran it twice).


Naughtyman's favourite toy is his vacuum cleaner. I cannot even begin to fathom what is in his mind. Why would he love to vacuum? I can understand wanting to please your mother, but how would it have impressed on him that she would appreciate his vacuuming the place?

But here is a lesson, I suppose. You cannot figure out what is alien to you. You can laugh at it, love it or hate it, accept it or fight it, but you can't understand it.

He is a funny little boy. He is cheeky and fun. He was quiet as a toddler but he is not at all broody or dark. He has quite stunning looks and an engaging lisp.

The best advice I had about blogging was not to journalise my kids. But I enjoy putting into words that they are beautiful. Not least because they so clearly illustrate to me the limitations of words. I cannot describe Naughtyman's funny dance, a blur of legs and hipsway; I cannot describe the feeling of his head, which he lays on your shoulder whenever you pick him up; I cannot describe the throaty laugh he reserves for the deeply funny.


Here is someone with balls. Doing the right thing when you know it's going to hurt takes balls. But you know, not doing it hurts more. It eats at you, gnaws away at your sense of self, makes you rethink who and what you are.

I know I've done the right thing when I don't get gnawed. I say this not because I'm incapable of moral judgements before I act, but because I so often don't make them. I'm more often guided by impulse than reason. You'd think, given how prone I am to agonising over the simplest decisions, that I would not consider myself to be impulsive. But life brings a whole spectrum of decisions.

And I think that the least you can do is get right which ones you can make in a snap and which you need to think a lot about. It's a greater flaw, imo, to get that wrong than to make decisions that, looking back, were wrong.

Being wrong is, after all, not a sin, so long as it is the outcome of the due deliberation, rather than of pure ignorance, or choosing wrongly when you know better. (Like most things, I can relate this to poker: it's not bad to shove all your chips in wide when you think a guy will call tightly and he surprises you with a loose call; but it's wrong to shove all your chips in wide when you know he mostly calls loose enough to make it bad. And, to my mind, it's unforgivable simply to be clueless about how you should play a game if you want to win.)


"How come when it's us it's an abortion, but when it's chickens, it's an omelette?":

"Chickens are decent people."

Carlin on rights is spot on too. He talks about the Japanese-American internees in the second world war. They had no rights at all. Their "rights" were snatched away. Carlin says, if what you have can be snatched away, you do not have rights, you have privileges.

And they are becoming fewer every day.

We must watch the small things, because they snowball. Their world is not much to do with ours, but they can make the two collide. We have to watch the small things, and do the small things we can to avoid it, so that we can live on, loving our kids, finding brief, tiny moments of joy and epiphany to make it worth our while.


At 6:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

I agree we cannot do it over (though if we could we'd know better how it should've been done) but really if you think about it a bit maybe you'll recognize that the enormous blunders Then are a significant part of what made us who we are Now, and without them we would be someone else, someone with whom we might be even more dissatisfied. Looking back from Now and saying "I should have" is like any other form of armchair coaching, basically a fwot.

You know, success cannot really be tallied until the game is over, but then you're dead and you can't do the "I Won!" dance. Worrying about success seems like another fwot.

Maybe I think everything is a fwot, that's how it sounds isn't it.

But I don't. You talked a bit about doing the right thing. That's your entry ticket into The Zone you know. The place where nothing matters except Doing The Right Thing Next and where everything slows to a crawl as you carefully make your way through the moments.

Carlin on rights and privileges, I say the man had it straight. "Rights"? You have the rights you are given by whoever is in control, the right to fight for what you believe, and ultimately the right to die.

Even if you're a chicken's egg, eh?

At 4:40 am, Blogger Miz UV said...

Z, most bloggers shouldn't write about their kids because (1) they're boring, and (2) they reveal too much potentially embarrassing info. But you don't fall into those groups, and I really enjoy reading your thoughts about parenting.

At 9:17 am, Blogger P. said...

"How come when it's us it's an abortion, but when it's chickens, it's an omelette?"


Speaking of which...

most bloggers shouldn't write about their kids

Most bloggers should write whatever they want to write. The only time the word "shouldn't" comes into it is in your continuing to read if you don't like it.

At 12:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with both Miz UV and P.

1) I enjoy reading your thoughts about parenting. You usually manage to use what you say about your kids to say something that's beyond just being about your kids. You're not the average "my kids are so wonderful" blogger.

2) People can write what they want on their own blogs. Don't you always say you write for yourself?


At 12:57 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

well, yes, but I'm the sort of person who finds kidblogging boring. I agree with Paula though. Some people shouldn't blog their kids if they have any hope of being read.

At 4:34 pm, Blogger Looney said...

"She knew she had defied her supervisors' direction in her work and that her defiance was 'insubordination' and 'neglect of duty'."

If there was any "neglect of duty," it was on the part of those priggish board members. I could probably be incited to violence, when over such a small thing, and against the run of play, really, a few tight-arsed people fuck with somebody's livelihood.

OTOH, I too enjoy your, erm, kidblogging. There's a natural honesty in which you share your parental feelings that I can really relate too... in sharp contrast to the sort of fawning "Oh, my little prodigy did a big poopy today that looked just like Michaelangelo's 'David!'" kidblogging...


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