You and Me versus Zombies 012

(Or, A Reluctant Father’s Guide to Child-Raising in a Post-Apocalyptic World. Explanation.)

     I wrap the lollypop in a clean hanky, my sticky trophy for standing my ground and weathering the tantrum. Sam has already scuttled to the metal pipe ladder, and I stand to one side with a guiding hand at the ready. It’s been a few months since he got the hang of climbing this thing by himself, but my guardian angel routine still kicks in ready for the odd misplace foot.
     He scrambles through the second tier of the play equipment to the top of the slide. He went through a phase of throwing himself down the chute with complete abandon and little injury until one day he caught the landing mat awkwardly and hollered for a full twenty minutes. Since then a self-preserving caution has begun to show in his behaviour.
     He sits at the top of the slide, tiny legs and shoes out like rams. He wriggles to escape the friction between his bum and the plastic, and I see his fine blonde hair start to stand as static builds.
     Then Sam sees the Monster.
     Distracted as I am, it’s only through the change in Sam’s demeanour that I follow his line of sight. A hundred metres away, confused by the sun, stands what was once a postman.

You and Me versus Zombies 011

(Or, A Reluctant Father’s Guide to Child-Raising in a Post-Apocalyptic World. Explanation.)
     The park was the easiest to clean. After Zero Hour, all it took was a little rain and several towels (which I then burned in a corner of the park), and the German-designed, plastic moulded play equipment was toddler-safe again.
     Sam rocks hard in the pram for my attention.
     “Oh kay!” he points at the play equipment. “Oh kay!”
     “Lolliepop first,” I say, putting out my hand. It is bad enough I am feeding him such a hard lolly. There is no way I am going to have him run at his usual ballistic speed, only to have him trip and ram it stick and all into his larynx.
     “No!” He turns his face from me in a vain attempt to get the sweet out of my reach.
     “No playing then,” I say happily, and sit on the ground in front of the pram. I lean back on my elbows, making a show of how much I am enjoying the sun.
     “Play play play!” He demands.
     “You know the rules, mate.”
     Tears flood into his eyes. He goes red. His mouth gapes open, the lollypop dangling precariously from the corner.
     I wait.
     The wail starts deep inside him. It gathers emotion and pitch, powered by his sugar-tainted muscles of his diaphragm. As it emerges, the wail rockets up the decibel scale, making most human ears flinch. It is suddenly punctuated by huthuthut from Sam’s throat, some sort of emotional hand-reach that may have worked one other time. Then the lungs are expelled, no more air left to fuel the noise. The diaphragm kicks into reverse, creating a massive vacuum, and air rushes audibly into Sam’s mouth. The wail (part two) begins with increased gain, the muscles now warmed up impose clarity, definition, and volume.
     I wait. The sun is just gorgeous.