They always talk about that, ay? That pitter-patter of little feet and what it means for the happiness of families. Each of them a little bundle of joy. A trouble that’s a little one. Every goddamn cliché you can imagine all packed into a 3 by 2 crib and stuck mewling and crying in a room to look at a over-priced mobile and a ceiling of ‘ivory’.
It’s at that age that you can’t imagine them doing all those things they’ll end up doing to embarrass you, to bankrupt you, to keep you up till 3am wondering. Well… what am I saying… of course you can imagine it, I’m imagining it right now, aren’t I? But it’s all the bullshit I got up to that I’m repeating. So at worse the best I can think is, don’t be the same kind of little bastard I was…
And it’s when you flip that one on it’s head that it starts to get more relevance. We’re each of us nothing but trouble to our parents, and they were nothing but trouble to theirs in return. It’s an endless cycle of pissed-off old people and semi- or irresponsible youth. But like I say, flip it on its head and take a look at it. What happens when we’re the ones who suffer at the hands of our parents? What happens when we’re the ones loaded down with responsibility, the ones who are worried to death about what they’re up to? What it is to be a 5-year-old kid standing in the doorway while some fucker slaps a patch of blood the size of your helpless fists out of your mother into a stain on the fridge you just came to get juice from? What then?
What am I asking?! I hear you ask. What am I trying to coax out of you while you sit slightly stunned thinking you were going to be reading a missive on parenthood? Hmmm? I’m asking what you do to cope with a history unfolding in front of you, falling in front of you, a history ordained by fate and written on the leaves of a book made of pointless, meaningless dollar bills.
And I ask this because I can still see it like it was yesterday.
I’m standing in a paddock, with the blue skies reaching from horizon to horizon. The grass underneath my feet and stretching out towards the rugby club in the distance is winters green, and the air crisp, prickly. My breath is coming in ragged, rough gasps because I’ve been running, and my best mate is yelling, screaming, “Tell him!! Just fuckin’ tell him!!”
The fences around us are there to keep in stock we’ve never seen, and they’re falling slowly into disrepair. They’re 50 feet from us and they’re a weathered grey of the kind you only seen in old farmland. The wire is slack on most.
There’s a seagull squawking, and flapping about above us somewhere.
And I’m 7 years old.
And I’m holding a knife to the throat of another child.