Conversations with My Son

Conversations with my son
  • The son: I thought I was having a stroke last night.
  • Me: Oh no, why?
  • Him: Firstly, I was so full, I had heart palpitations.
  • Me: Okay. Maybe that pizza was a bad idea.
  • Him: It was. You know I made myself that big fried breakfast, then I ate some sushi with you guys, then I started eating the pizza and I was about four slices in and I’d had enough.
  • Me: That’s okay. Cold pizza is always good.
  • Him: No, I finished it all, then I had a tub of Paul’s ice-cream.
I am thinking how f*cking stupid this is, but I am far too old and wily to say that. This is not my first rodeo.
  • Me:  Oh dear…and that gave you heart palpitations?
  • Him: (some medical word about his blood) that my heart was battling to pump it around my body. Also, I had insomnia the whole night.
  • Me: Do you think perhaps it was a side-effect of your Covid Vaccine?
  • Him: No. It was definitely over-eating.
  • Me: I’m sorry to hear it. When we know better, we do better.
Yes, I said that with a straight face. My career as an actor was NOT WASTED.
  • Him: And when I woke up, the internet was STILL out so I couldn’t even watch YouTube or listen to a podcast. *Tragic expression* I had to read.
  • Me *without a trace of sarcasm*: how horrible for you. But I thought you were enjoying Six Days With Al Quaeda.
The son saw the cover of the book and went “Isn’t that an SJC old boy? We used to pray for him every day in Chapel. He better not have died, we did A LOT of praying.”
  • Him: I am. Having no internet for two days is pretty much like Stephen McGown spending six years with Al Quaeda.
  • Me *without a trace of sarcasm*: Exactly the same. Like Jacob Zuma’s fingers. So, heart failure, insomnia, internet withdrawal…you still haven’t explained about the stroke.
  • Son: Well, I woke up and smelt burnt popcorn.
  • Me: And that means you’re having a stroke?
  • Son: No, that’s burnt toast. But same WhatsApp group. I smelt burnt popcorn and the sourness of the salt and vinegar stuff Ruby was putting on it and then I smelt dad’s cologne – I have a very strong sense of smell – and I was convinced I was (some other long medical word) and that I was either having a psychotic break or a stroke. But of course, I couldn’t get up to research it because we had no internet.
  • Me: Imagine if you’d just had a text-book you could’ve picked up and read?
The son had no internet

No, dear Reader, I did not say that but I did think it. I also did wonder why this boy was doing a medical research degree and not a drama degree.

Our internet was down from midday Friday to Sunday morning and I have to admit that we were a bit lost without it. There was no TikTok, no YouTube, no Netflix, no Apple TV, because evil parents that we are, we were not going to cough up to buy data for any of those. Not when we have a house FILLED with books that could be read.

A few of the books in our house
A few of the books in our house

I was gazing at our one bookshelf on Sunday morning, thinking how thrilled I would’ve been if we’d had this many books in our house growing up. There were books we just couldn’t buy in Zimbabwe when I was young, I can remember walking into a shop when we were on holiday in South Africa and nearly fainting with joy because I could buy the latest Enid Blyton. I assumed my kids would share my obsession with reading, I was wrong.

A few more books
A few more books

The son won a prize at prep school for reading the most books for the term. He did, however, approach it like the scientist that he is. He worked out how many pages he could read in a week, chose the shortest possible books and hey presto he won the big fat chocolate for Most Books Read and possibly some kind of badge. He was a complete badge whore and would join every possible band in the music department so he could get a new, shiny badge.

After the reading prize, I of course, thought he would be an avid reader for life. Spoiler alert: he is not. This used to upset me, in the sense of I read to you while you were in the womb, I read you stories every night, we still love the story of Walter The Farting Dog and yet you do not like reading. Where did I go wrong??

I did not go wrong. Well, not about that. I went wrong in many other respects, but the thing is, our children are not us, they are themselves, with their own likes and dislikes and their own journey to take. The son has now decided due to his love of podcasts (which author Boykey Sidley introduced him to, thanks Boyks!) that non-fiction audio books are for him because he reckons he loves finding out about other people’s lives.

And still more
And more

TV recommendations:

Squid game

Squid Game. I want to go and live in Korea and work in TV there. These guys are AMAZING. A sort of grittier version of The Hunger Games and I see there’s now a furious debate about kids that are too young to be watching it playing the games at school which will only boost the popularity of the series.

Book recommendations:

Never Tell A Lie

I wanted to recommend the psych thriller I read this week but alas, I cannot. It promised so much and delivered so little. No, I won’t mention the name, but let me just say it was all foreplay and no climax. Luckily, I did read a verrrrrrrry satisfying domestic noir. Never Tell a Lie by Gail Schimmel. The son pointed out how exciting it was to read about the houses at his school in Six Years with Al Quaeda, the familiarity of it all was a revelation to him. The same thing applies to Schim’s books. We have all the familiarity of the Joburg middle-classes but with a very satisfying thriller structure. I blame her for my poor sleep over the weekend as I had to keep on reading this, she had me guessing right until the end. These books also make brilliant gifts, buy one for yourself and one for a friend.

And more.
And still more...

Happy reading! xxx

Ps…On Sunday morning the son came through from his computer, smiling beatifically because the internet was back up. (The husband had a WhatsApp slanging match with the CEO of our ISP that sounded like they were both back in Standard 5 but that is a convo for another day.) It’s funny how it takes a few days without something for us to truly appreciate it.

* This was written with the son’s permission.