Sometimes I run into a male reader who says, “Your fatherhood pieces sometimes makes me wish I was a father. You must be good at it.” I’m not. Truth is, there are many fathers I know who I admire who are fully engaged and seem more involved. I have a short attention span. Get bored easily with playing on the carpet and making faces. A child’s cries drive me nuts. But fatherhood is great, it’s nice to see them turn into real people with personalities plus you have this opportunity to make their lives positive or completely fuck them up then they will turn into those damaged guys who are haunted the demons of their childhood.
But children grow. Quickly. Kim is walking now. He climbs. He breaks. He snatches. He runs. He bites. He pulls and tugs and toots. He’s a handful but he remains a smiling boy, always joyful – like the mom. His face is forming out. Everybody thinks he looks like me. I agree.
He’s teething which means he spends most days drooling all over the place; on your shoulder. And on your phone. And on the seats. And on the floor. And in his food. There is nothing I will touch in that house that doesn’t have his drool, like he’s marking his territory. He can “high-five.” Wave goodbye. He sits when you tell him to sit. He loves mangoes. Can eat two in one sitting. I kiss him on the lips, they are soft and babyish. Before he turns two I will have to stop and start kissing him on the cheek, then I will have to stop that as well and start kissing him on the forehead like the Godfather.
When he’s being changed (I never change diapers, never been that guy) he gets a hard-on. And I think the greatest pride of a man with a little toddler boy is when you sit there and you see your son get a hard-on. It’s inexplicable. An affirmation. It just fills you with pride. I think if a doctor pulled me aside and told me, “Biko, your son seems to be getting a problem getting erections,” I think I would be deeply distraught. I think I would walk around feeling that it could be my fault somehow. I would blame myself. I would be convinced that his inability to erect is my own personal limitation. Hell, I might even lose mine all together because what’s the point of having an erection if your own son, your blood, is born unable to have an erection. How can you sit there having a burger when your son can’t have an erection? So Kim having an erection every time he’s being changed makes me feel very proud if you want to know the truth. So proud that you want to tell the guy at the bar counter – the one waiting for his late date – that your boy gets a hard-on while being changed.
“This boy of yours, is he joining you for a drink?” the guy will ask sarcastically.
Tamms on the other hand isn’t the girl she was last year. Scary how fast girls grow. At seven her limbs are longer now, she stands taller than girls and boys her age. Her skin is golden brown and so smooth -like it’s been roasted over a kiln. You can also tell she will be that girl with an ass; the hallmarks are there when she is in those small shorts that she likes.
She is fast becoming a woman and it’s terrifying. One day she will spend loads of time locked in her bedroom, which you have to knock and wait to be told to enter. She will keep secrets under her chest and breasts on her chest. I’m not looking forward to that, when I become an outsider and I suddenly don’t “understand”. But mostly I dread the boys. When boys shows up at home and act like they were well raised and respectfully and we all know they are horny goats. I will douse their skinny asses with petrol and they will run out burning and screaming and Tamms screaming at me, “YOU ARE NUTS, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M RELATED TO YOU!” and I will laugh maniacally at the little eejit burning like a dry wood. Die byaaaaach!
For now she is my baby. And nobody is burning anyone. What has happened to her since I wrote about her here is that she has become smarter and more curious.
I moved her to a different school for her class 2, because the former school wasn’t working on her confidence fast enough. So this new development means that when I drop her off in the morning we have a longer drive together, maybe about 40mins, depending on traffic. And Tamm’s temperament is like mine; mostly I’m a quiet person. The conversations I have are mostly in my head in a language that isn’t known to man. Maybe a few animals.
So sometimes Tamms will jump into the car and say nothing the whole ride out. Sometimes she will talk. It’s the whole moods thing. Sometimes she wants to talk and I don’t want to talk but I have to talk. Sometimes I want to talk and she doesn’t want to talk, so I don’t talk. And when she doesn’t want to talk, she just sits there ignoring me completely even if I attempt to rub her knees playfully and ask, “A penny for your thoughts?” and she doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t need a penny. A penny for what?
Some mornings she just messes around the house while she is supposed to be dressing up and it irritates the hell out of me because I’m a stickler for time and sometimes I will say angrily, “Tamms, just waste time but you know that at 7:00 sharp if you aren’t ready I’m out and today will be the day you take a matatu to school!” And sure enough at 7-sharp I’m grabbing my car keys and I’m out the house and I can hear her telling the mom panicky, “Mom please tell papa not to leave me?” and she is telling her, “Of course he won’t!” and I want to shout back, “You want to bet?” and I can hear her asking the help where her school diary is and then from the car that is now idling, I can hear her dragging her school bag down the staircase (nowadays they carry these bags with wheels, you’d imagine they are catching a flight to Amsterdam at 0800hrs) and jumping into the car as the gear is in reverse.
Those mornings the car is a bit tense and not many words are exchanged but she will try to talk to me and I will turn and ask her, “Tamms did you brush your teeth?” and she will say sheepishly, “No, does it smell?” and to answer her I will slowly roll down my window.
The whole of this term she has asked about the universe almost every other day. We could be driving down in blissful silence then straight out of the blues she says.
Papa, why do the clouds make shapes like that?
What shapes, darling?
Like those shapes.
Uhm, well…because clouds keep moving and sometime…uhm, when they move, er, they make shapes. (Genius).
When they move, where do they go?
Is Australia far?
You go with an aeroplane?
And how come aeroplanes don’t touch the clouds?
Because clouds are not like touchable. You can’t touch them.
She will then ask me a lot of questions about clouds and I will be clueless, then when I finally drop her off with relief, I will spend time in traffic Googling about clouds, ready for the next day’s interrogation. Only the next day she won’t ask about clouds. She will ask about the bloody sun!
And I take responsibility here because in order to show off I told her that old folklore about the sun, the wind and that guy in a coat. Please don’t tell your kids this story, it’s a trap.
Papa, between the sun and moon, which one is stronger?
Who is stronger.
Yes, who is stronger?
Are they friends?
They used to be, but then one day the sun stole the moon’s thunder.
Here I will smile hard, very proud of that wasted wordplay.
When the sun goes down where does it go? [OK, moving on swiftly huh?]
It goes to rest.
How does the sun know where it’s going to set?
It has GPS.
What is a GPS?
It’s like its heart that tells and shows it the way to where it sets.
It has a home?
You could call it that, yes.
So how come then that it goes to that side in the evening but in the morning it comes up that side?
Now do you know that expression “deer caught in headlights?” That’s me at that moment. So I fumble and mumble about the earth being round and the sun going around and it comes out from the East.
So it doesn’t have a home?!
It…uhm, yeah, sort of….yeah… It hates to be in a home.
Does the sun have eyes and a mouth?
No! Of course not!
But how come when teacher draws the sun it has eyes and mouth and it’s smiling?
OK, this is a plea to all teachers out there reading this. How do I put this delicately? Will you please stop drawing the bloody sun with mouth and eyes? Do you mind? You are discrediting me here.
Then the other day she asks about the stars. And if the stars move; if the stars and the sun are friends and who is stronger and if they are all brothers and sisters. Once she asked me if the sun is a boy or a girl? I swear, I can’t make this stuff up. And I wondered; should I say it’s a boy and risk making her feel like being a girl is weak or should I tell her the sun is a girl because that might empower her? So I said it’s a girl. So she said then the moon must be a boy and I didn’t like where that line of questioning was headed so I changed the topic.
Girls mature so fast its scary. Her favourite program is called the Thundermans on Nickelodeon – 305. It’s this family with super powers where one has laser eyes that can lift stuff and another sijui can freeze things with her breath – which is a power Tamms also possesses when she forgets to brush her teeth.
Anyway, without sounding like a Lou (ahem!) we have this Explora decoder, which for the longest time I just thought its only function was to pause news and rewind stuff and Catch Up function which saves all these new programs and movies that you might have missed. But then after months I realized that she — at 7 — had figured this gadget out and made a trillion recordings of this Thundermans thing. (Wahome of Multichoice, if you are reading this, surely you guys should write me a cheque boss for these mentions. No? I pass by your office later this week we talk?)
Oh and since we are on this topic, Wahome, very quickly here is feedback about the Explora if you need it. It’s brilliant. I mostly love Catch Up and the Box-Office but can someone at Multichoice please give us like new kick-ass movies to rent on the Explora more frequently? I watched the Equalizer off it — that egoistic movie where Denzel kills everybody in the movie in 19 seconds? — but my movie guy is faster on the punch. Gives me latest movies before the credits end. He’s eating your lunch. So either you send some muscle from SA to visit his shop for a “chat” or you start uploading fresh movies frequently. (So, how does your Friday morning in your office look Wahome?).
To fathers in waiting, it’s not rocket science. And don’t wait until you are “financially stable” (whatever bull that is) because kids will make you financially stable. Somehow.
For the third year running I have been nominated for the Bloggers Association Of Kenya Awards in the Creative Writing Category. Humbling. But listen, surely what is this, KANU in 1985? This year I would love nothing better than if you – the Gang – voted for one of the guys in this category instead who are all my pals. There is www.crazynairobian.com, who during my first nomination, a newbie, was gracious enough to call me and say “Boss, this year I won’t campaign, so take it!” then www.magunga.com who blogs more than all of us put together, www.mydeardoris.com who I hope gets left altogether by Doris if he insists on rocking his kitenge bowties and www.thewordedveil.wordpress.com who writes well but should get off wordpress. All are excellent in their own way. Throw your weight behind one of them this year. I will.
Oh and don’t forget my good friend www.chanyado.wordpress.com in the Best New Blog category.