MY mother once chased a pair of bullies down the street in her carpet slippers.
Sliding along the damp street, she waddled after the culprits in a scene that was rather reminiscent of March of the Penguins. The female emperor penguin will waddle hundreds of kilometres through Antarctic blizzards to find food that will protect her offspring. My mother waddled through several puddles to find the bullies who called me a “lanky beanpole” and protect her offspring.
She cornered them at the top of the street (how two teenagers failed to outrun a waddling woman in carpet slippers remains a mystery), frogmarched them back to our house and forced them to apologise. Those naughty big boys never bullied me again, they always said hello to my mother in the street and I swore I would never follow in her footsteps.
I would never be an overbearing, oversensitive, overprotective parent. I would encourage my children to fight their own battles. I would never wear carpet slippers. Well, as I sit and type this in a comfy pair of navy blue carpet slippers, I must concede defeat.
My baby is just a month old and I have already failed on every conceivable level.
When my beautiful, perfect little girl came into this world, I had to stop myself from punching the midwife when she remarked that her feet were turned inwards (my babys; not the midwifes).
The medical term is positional talipes, where the feet turn in at the ankle, and is the result of them being squashed in the womb near the end of the pregnancy. The condition is common and, with gentle massaging, the feet will eventually return to their correct position by the time my baby starts walking. I know this. I also know that from a certain angle her turned feet make her look like an extra from the Planet of the Apes.
I can say this, but no one else can. Its a parents prerogative; a father-daughter thing. Only Im allowed to say she looks like a chimp.
She weighed in at a petite 3.1kg so it is unlikely that she will one day represent her country in the shot put. My baby takes after her diminutive mother. Basic genetics are easy to rationalise … until someone else comments on her slight frame and any notion of rationality is superseded by irrational oversensitive parenting.
As I pushed my babys pram and chased a middle-aged woman around a department store, it suddenly occurred to me that I might be an oversensitive parent.
The portly woman had just backed into me and said: “Whoops, sorry about that … Wow, thats a really small baby youve got there. Wow, thats a really large waistline youve get there, I thought. And then a red light went off and I found myself chasing after her and demanding both a retraction and a public apology. My baby is small. Although the woman was a trifle brusque, she was right.
Only she was wrong. Nobody puts my baby in the small corner. Primeval instincts kicked in and I felt an overwhelming compulsion to protect my little girl from that naughty, big woman. I had turned into my mother. All that was missing was the carpet slippers.