Saturday, April 4, 2009

So cruel is Pa's lot

If you'd like an object lesson in how whimsical Fate can be, in how suddenly life can turn, we suggest you be Pa for a day. There's nothing like seeing how our little fella treats his father to ram home the point.

Basically, Pa is the Eternal Second-best Man. Sometimes, Sonny will be keen to spend some time with him, crawling all around and whimpering to try and draw attention. Sometimes - especially when peckish - the little fella will come galumphing up demanding a few juicy raisins or a ready-cut square of cheese. Sometimes. Let's spell out the 'sometimes' here: It means, 'when Mum's not around'.

When Mum is around, on the other hand, a sorcerous and instantaneous change is effected. Pa is turned into a teacup, or perhaps a flowerpot (Harry Potter, eat your heart out) and ceases entirely to be an object of interest to Sonny. Instead, the heartless creature will bash his way past Pa like a stampeding elephant (well, a very small stampeding elephant) in order to get to Mum.

In fact, while we're on the subject of magic, we should note that Mum can electrify Sonny in this way without necessarily even being within the little fella's line-of-sight. All she has to do is, say, whistle two notes (presumably Mum's whistling pitch is unique) from, oh, a mile away or simply bustle around the kitchen in her normal manner. Maybe the sound she makes when she slots a fork into a tray is distinctive. At all events, Sonny will perk up prairie dog-like - you'd swear he sniffs the air as though to catch a scent - and then hurtle past the forgotten Pa.

The peculiar tie linking child and mother (especially one who is breastfeeding, or so we're told) is obviously not a discovery worthy of a paper in a scientific journal. But watching Pa go from hero-to-zero can be a sobering thing. Life's like that, too - or can be.

Call it a useful warning.