On my hike down memory lane, I stumbled across this gem……….


Sean, my eldest son, was born with an adventurous and enquiring mind. He had to investigate every new experience to the fullest.

At the full and glorious age of two, he would allow no book to remain on the lower shelf of the bookcase, but every one of them must be pulled out and then discarded in a pile on the floor. Having performed his daily chore of giving mom extra work, he would make his way to the kitchen and open all the cupboard doors. Pull out every piece of metal utensil I had and give me an ear-shattering rendition of “let’s drive mom crazy”, with a great banging and crashing of the pots and pans, and their lids.

The unholy timpani would drive me to put down whatever I was doing and take him out for a walk.

I eventually bought a playpen. It was great, and I would use it often, climbing into it to escape curious little fingers. For instance, if I had to cut out a dress pattern, or wanted to paint, I would climb into it and be safe from my little infant destroyer.

Inside the playpen, I could set up my easel and create my masterpieces, without help from a very eager young apprentice.

If you’re wondering why it wasn’t Sean in the playpen instead of me, it was because he always managed to escape from it, clambering over the rails with ease, and laughing in the face of capture.

One day in the kitchen, I had a pot of water boiling on the stove. Somehow, I don’t remember the details; I think my mind has blocked the horror of the possible outcome, but the pot was knocked off the stove and landed on the floor, just inches from where Sean was doing the hug-a- bug thing around my ankles.

The hug-a-bug kind of thing most mothers must know, when toddlers clamp themselves around one leg, forcing the mom to drag their extra weight with them, wherever they walked, like some cute, but heavy ball and chain.

Thank God, not a drop of the boiling water touched him, but I decided then and there that I was far too doolally to care for a child on my own. I needed a nanny to watch him.

As I was also on the point of delivering my daughter, Laura, I wasn’t precisely agile and swift of movement. My belly was so enormous it seemed as if I were expecting twins.

At this time, we had a strange infestation on a tree in our backyard. A cluster of orange caterpillars in a patch about a meter high and half a meter wide had appeared on the tree.

Sean spotted it and curious as ever, found a long stick, then, under the eye of his incurious nanny, poked at it. In doing so, he managed to flick one into his eyes and screamed with pain.

The caterpillar hairs caused instant irritation, and his eyelids swelled up like two little balloons on his face.

We rushed him to the doctor, who was beginning to know Sean rather well. He treated him and then prescribed eyewash, eye drops and a special soothing ointment. He said the swelling was caused by fluid build-up in the lids and that if Sean only knew it, he could open his eyes.

The shock of seeing Sean blinded brought on immediate labour pains. My sister, Bobby, snapped to and drove from Nyanga, where they were stationed at the time, to pick up my little boy.

I did worry about the psychological effect on Sean of being blinded, then taken away from his mommy and daddy, only to find another baby in his place when he returned.

One thing I learned though, is time and tide waited for no man, for sure, pain and labour waited for no woman. Laura had decided enough of this lying around in amniotic fluid all day, get me out of here NOW!’

So off I went to the hospital, leaving Sean in his aunt’s care. I remember Bobby telling me how easily Sean adapted to his new circumstance and his blindness. Not missing a step in his joyous romp through life, he accepted his lack of vision and made it part and parcel of an exciting new chapter, feeling and fumbling his way around his suddenly dark world.

The day came when, inevitably, he managed to open his eyes. He called out excitedly!

“Sean, make light!”

“Sean got eyes!”.

His joy, at getting his vision back was mirrored in the eyes of the grownups standing around him, as they clapped and cheered his recovery.     

His happiness did not diminish in the slightest when he came home and met his baby sister for the first time either. Instead of being jealous of the little stranger who was getting so much attention, he welcomed his sister with kisses and cuddles. Got to say, in the later years, his love for Laura resulted in him becoming very protective, and as most guys feared him. Just knowing that she was Sean Clark’s sister, drove away any suitors who may have also given her kisses and cuddles, which she certainly would have enjoyed even more.

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