The hazards of summer are threefold. First, there is the very real concern that your body will simply melt. That your brain synapses will fuse, your skin will bubble and seethe, your muscles become glaucous, your viscera liquify and you will simply end up as a sodden puddle, quickly evaporating back into the burning ether. Second, and less pressingly, there is the fact that before it melts, your body will be wracked by fever, as you, your friends, family, acquaintances, and sundry lesser life forms succumb to the annual ritual of “Chenj of Sizzon” swiftly followed by “Viral.”
The third hazard of summer is that as the mercury rises so the inventiveness of newspaper editorial staff plummets. “I know,” they chirp, “how about a article on how to ‘beat the heat’?” “Yay!” their staff enthusiastically respond, “and it rhymes!”
There are only two things to look forward to: mangos and siestas. Of the first, I need not elaborate: please refer to pages 3, 6, 12 and 17 of any of your newspapers to find column-inch padders extolling the virtues of what is only ever referred to as ‘the king of fruits’. However, the second is in dire need of championing. It has always seemed utterly crazy that in a climate like ours, the work day, for most, seems to coincide precisely with the hottest temperatures. It’s as though, in some utterly perverse way, we are determined to make it as difficult as possible for ourselves. Instead of starting early, taking advantage of the relatively cooler mornings, snoozing through the heavy heat of the afternoons, and then waking again as the sun sets, we soldier on pretending that we’re working in Berne or Calgary.
I have discovered that the only way to legitimate an afternoon nap in this day and age of 24×7 hyperproductivity is to become a mum. I know it’s an extreme measure – but, believe me, it’s worth it. You get to put your baby to sleep in the afternoon. While the world is out there sweating it out, you can retreat to the bedroom, cradling your precious bundle, and apologising profusely to the Powers that Be. “I’ve got to put the baby to sleep,” is a real clincher. Who’s going to argue with that?
Unenlightened new parents stagger around blurry-eyed and thick-tongued, labouring under the misapprehension that they can look after a baby and have a life. They, silly things, have yet to realise that looking after a helpless creature who spends over half its time unconscious is the perfect excuse to do so too!
The problem is that sleeping babes grow up alarmingly fast into turbo-charged toddlers, and trying to get an unsleepy kid into a horizontal position is well-nigh impossible if you draw the line – as I do – at physical violence and prescription drugs. As I wrestled my four-year-old to the ground, and held him down in a head-lock whilst intoning “sleeeep, sleeeeeep,” I was led to wonder if, perhaps, children being that much younger are somehow closer to reptiles than mammals… becoming even more active as the outside temperature increases. If this continues, I may well have to reassess my position re. drugs, violence and responsible parenting.