Thursday, January 15, 2009

Going a little crazy is good for you

The other day, we were flailing from shop to shop in Singapore's Chinatown district, hunting with growing desperation for ancient attire.

Chinese New Year is almost upon us, and Mum had decided it would be wildly amusing to dress up both Sonny and his cousin (older by roughly 13 months) in flowing robes from China's imperial era. Never mind that the clothes would be utterly impractical for ordinary use and would likely be worn only a couple of times. The hilarity would be worth the expense - plus, it would be a fitting way to welcome in the Year of the Ox.

All of which goes to show that, sometimes, we all go a little barmy and do ridiculous things. We never did find garb that would both fit the little ones and "look right", but that's neither here nor there. A certain aptitude for the absurd, one would argue, would seem to be an absolute prerequisite to parenting: It comes, really, as a needed release from the futility of trying to impose one's will on a wailing almost-nine-month-old, or to keep insanity at bay as the orderliness of the household is fatally compromised by his rampaging curiosity.

Yet there's a broader aspect to this. Life in general can throw up nasty surprises and unexpected reverses. And these can best be borne with an eye to the absurd. In this time of economic hardship, as jobs vanish like the twinkling of exploding stars and investment portfolios melt like candles in the sun, taking things too seriously is liable to lead to a breakdown and a visit to a shrink. Bashing yourself against the walls thrown up by fate might, in other words, result in the forced application of many rolls of bandages and multiple ice packs. Yet the parent who has tried for two months straight to convince his infant not to gobble up those smelly slippers will have learnt a thing or two about how some things are just beyond us. And he would also probably have come to laugh at that fact - or else to generate good humour by his own doings. In any case, amusement - bitter, perhaps - can usually be found in the core of any scenario: Sonny biting blissfully into Pa's footwear - having eluded parental patrols and umpteenth warnings - presents a madly comic aspect to any observer not blind to it.

Should anyone be in need of advice, then, for what should be a challenging year, "Go ahead and be silly once in a while" would pass for a decent serving. One doesn't need to have a child by way of a prop - though it sure makes things a heck of a lot easier: Anyone can hurtle down a busy street trying to imitate a plane trying to take off, for instance. Not that one should take complete leave of one's senses or abdicate our responsibilities entirely.

We're talking controlled doses of nuttiness, by way of a corrective to excessive sombreness.


Mumsgather said...

You didn't get sonnny one of those hats with a hair braid at the back? They look absolutely adorable in those. ;)

Anonymous said...

Impractical - that what i thought when a few years ago my father inlaw bought my duaghter this beautiful chinese dress [ I don't know what it is officially called ] but my thought was - she'll wear it once to make him happy and never again. nope - i was wrong - she wore that dress several times even to church. She was just so darn cute in it. i actually wish she would get over this jeans only phase shes in so i could buy her another one.

plus - I signed you up for the Friends award - check it out.

Cloudsters said...

Hey Mumsgather: Hmm, now that you've given us the idea... Pity we're in Abu Dhabi at the moment. Hair braids probably in short supply around here...

Hullo, Insane Parent: Cheers for the Award. We'll try to keep the chain unbroken and all that.