I’m back at my weekly writing. My ill-deserved break began with the birth of a human grub, who has done his very best to demolish what traces of a writing routine I’ve managed to build. We’ve taken to calling Montreal Lemmy on account of his lower lip, and habit of speaking in monosyllabic grunts (a habit he shares with the real Montreal Lemmy, a man I met at a racetrack outside of Toronto). Lemmy is glaring at me right now, as I bounce him like an angry metronome. Maybe not a metronome: an little bomb about to explode, ending tonight’s writing. I write under threat of his upcoming explosion. His feelings are narrow, but deep: what they lack in variety they make up for in intensity. An upcoming poo bothers him more than a century of genocides and political atrocities affects me.
There is a genre of snarky parental writing I will do my best to avoid. I can see the reason for it—tiredness, boredom, and emotional fatigue, confronted with legions of petty and authoritarian advice givers, is fertile ground for an exhausted satire, wit that can barely lift itself out of bed, but can still crack a joke. I will likely give in to it now and then, but I aim for something worse: instead of reaction, I’m going for straight-up totalitarianism–I plan to use this little bastard as permission to make claims I have no right to make. Consider the next few weeks a series of ‘hot takes,’ unjustified extrapolations and groundless claims, with all my cheques backed by this howling little creature.
I suspect that, other than keeping him alive, there is very little I can do for him. Despite the fact that the daycare I visited discussed their ‘education plan’ with me—for a fucking one year old—and despite the fact that I have dedicated a large chunk of my life to education, I am not a ‘believer’ in education. In America, Education and Religion are both asked to restore and redeem lost souls—the right day camp in conjunction with Mozart in the womb, and your crooked DNA is aligned with the angels. Sounds like nonsense to me.
I suspect that, more than anything else, kids just copy the people around them. This was illustrated last week in Jerusalem, where a man approached me at the bar and insisted that I was Jesus. I claimed otherwise, and, adding insult to injury, would not let him sit with us (experience has taught me not to drink with messiahs or disciples). I smelled that the line separating me from the anti-Christ was thin, and didn’t want to see the transition. He resentfully walked past us into the bar, and as one would expect of a man looking for worship in a place of drink, was quickly escorted out. Things grew aggressive, but the bartenders and a patron restrained him without much violence. They were remarkable, speaking gently to him as he howled in broken Hebrew and Russian, calling alternately for God, Jesus, and his Mother. It was an odd display of Jewish-Muslim solidarity (the patron was Muslim, the bartenders Jews) as they tried, insistently, to treat him like a human in pain.
The police showed up and all this changed: guns were drawn and the air went cold and hostile. A gaggle of 3 and 4 year-old children formed around us, and so I stepped into my role as ‘New Father’. I tried my best to distract them, thinking ‘it’s not good for kids to see too much violence’ or some other sanctimonious beer-fueled nonsense. The problem being that I only know about four things you can do with kids that age, because a 3 year old is a storm, and there is not a lot you can do with a storm, other than tie things down and make the occasional sacrifice.
In any case I was clowning with a few little kids–trying to keep their eyes on me and off the violence–when the sad apostle spat right in a cop’s face. Clearly not one to miss a moment, one adorable and tiny girl followed suit: she spat right in my face,and broke into sweet laughter. She and the others knew that this was the Best Thing, and there was nothing I could do to convince them otherwise. It was not done in the same spirit, but it was the same spit. Perhaps with less chance of Hepatitis.
I suspect that I will be similarly inept at parenting, and that there’s not a lot I can do to help this little monster. If he sees anger, he’ll be angry. If he sees spit, he’ll spit. But I can use him to legitimate an entirely undeserved authority for myself. And, with any luck, he’ll learn to do that too.