Last night Kit muttered “soap” in her sleep.

I know why that four letter word accompanies others in the middle of the night. Others like “Mama”, after which I whisper, “Mama loves you”. Words like “Momo”, after which I tell her, “I’m here”.


I hear “soap”and smile in the dark. It’s from a game we play, inspired by a slug sighting… In the bath we pretend the soap is so slippery that we cannot grasp it in our hands. It evades us. It slips out of our fingers into the milky water and disappears. “Where’s that slippery soap gone?

She laughs.

We find it by feel alone, searching the bottom of the tub, and then we lose it again. It’s so slippery, that soap!

When I take her out the bath, I pretend Kit is the slippery soap; pretend to drop her and the towel she’s wrapped in like she’s too slippery to grab hold of.

A month or two ago, a slug made its way across a lounge tile, headed for the crack at the bottom of the backdoor, hoping to be reunited with the damp soil outside. I called Kit to look at it. A slug. Kit perched between the armrests of two coaches, a meter short of it, and decided, “no”.

She would not go closer.

For days and days after the sighting though, when I asked her about the slippery slimy slug – of its whereabouts – she’d run to that nook and point to the terracotta floor and say, “there”. “There”. “There”.

On the soft carpet of the spare bedroom we would pretend to be slippery slimy slugs ourselves, worming our way along. Kit would often run to the scene of the slug sighting, pointing, asking, “where”?

One day a shongololo came. Not to that same corner but near another door, curled into itself. “Shongi,” I said. “Shongololo”. I picked it up gently, holding it in the palm of my hand to show Kit. “Shongi”. Shongi. I said it enough that she began to say it too.



After a while we started looking for them.

The rain would start and stop and then, in her rainbow wellies that light up when she walks, we’d venture in the wet garden. Squashing mud under our shoes, lifting tiles and rocks. Searching for Shongies. Sometimes we’d find four, or five little ones, huddled together. Under other rocks – none.

Kit took to looking for shongis everywhere: Knees bent, eyes to the ground, hands wide with palms to the floor as if using them as a viewfinder –  stalking for shongis. She has been looking for them for weeks now. In the garden, of course; in the house; and – my favourite – in the waterfront in the passage between Willoughbys, stopping foot traffic suddenly to search intently near the patron’s shashimi … for shongis.

It’s not only slugs and shongis, she’s watching out for.

Just the other day, from the vantage of her car seat at a robbot, Kit double-waved out the window, saying, “hi”, “hi”. I looked to see who she was waving at but it was a “what” not a “who” – two big fig trees. Big, impressive. Worthy of greeting.

On another day, this time in Plett, we walked along my favourite path on Robberg and Kit stopped often to pick up rocks. She wanted to hold them in her hands while navigating the trail but then she fell, hands full of rocks, so my mom persuaded her to rather give the them to her. We went slowly – Kit picking up rocks and pebbles along the way. Us, convincing her to hand them over. Us convincing her that we’d keep them for her. On about the tenth rock she gave me, which I was meant to hand to her, “Gaga”, I opened my hand, letting the rock fall back to the ground when Kit wasn’t looking. My mom picked it up saying that Kit would notice. I’m not so sure that Kit would have noticed but there’s a beauty there – that her Gaga will carry, and keep, the rocks – all of them – whether she would notice one was missing or not. Reaching the Gap (a viewpoint), we sat on two benches across from each other – my wife, my mom, Kit and Magret, Kit’s nanny, and we sipped juice. “Juice,” Kit said. “Juice.”

After our juice I walked with Kit, her holding my hand on the walkway, and we found a spot of sand to return her rocks to the ground. Our family has a strong feelings about shells’ and rocks’ autonomy. They belong with each other – where wind and rain and spray – and if they’re really lucky, the sea itself – changes them but only “slowly, slowly” as Kit often says when climbing down stairs. Very very slowly. When I told Kit it was time to say goodbye to her collection of rocks, she took it well, as she usually does, waving to them before returning to the benches and the juice.

I’m not sure what things will stick with Kit. I know that soon enough the search for shongis will give way to other hunts. I hope that her love of rocks will stay though. Rocks have held her attention for a good portion of her short life. If she asks me when she’s older what she loved as a very little girl, rocks will be high on the list. I am sure juice will having lasting power, too. It’s delicious stuff. Juice.

As she grows, and learns, there are things I’m prepared to (and must) correct Kit on – even when I love those parts of her so much that I am tempted not to. I am prepared to say “I do” – when she answers my questions of “Do you want to go to the park?” or “Are you hungry?” – with “I did”. I am prepared to say, gently, “I do” even though I love the error of tense.

There are  some things I’m not prepared to correct, perhaps because I’m not sure they are incorrect. I am not going to tell her that the trees are whats not whos or that Tashas is not a target rich environment for shongis or that rocks – even ones you have held for a short time – don’t hear her when she says, “bye”.

Two weeks ago, Jess and I were walking in the burbs of Plett, Kit with us in the pram and an old woman – and a rather hip looking one I might add – called out to us from across the street. “Who’s the mother?”

Jess and I glanced at each other, deciding who would broach the subject.

“We both are,” I said.

The woman looked at us, perplexed, and we stood there for a few awkward long seconds waiting for understanding to land. It didn’t so I said, “This is my wife”.

Still no understanding crossed her face.

“We’re gay,” I added, spelling it carefully out. “This is our daughter. We’re a family”.

I expected her, in all honesty, to be embarrassed for not arriving at the conclusion herself. She wasn’t. She came back with: “Bulldust”.


I looked again at Jess, asking in silence, what else does this woman need me to explain. How do I make it clearer?

And then the woman asked, “Who gave birth to the baby?”

Another pause.

“I did,” Jess said, and then she added, “but we’re both her mother”.

The woman looked at us a little longer and then said she would remember that when she saw us next time.

Jess and I managed to hold off from laughing for a few meters down the road. We laughed and laughed.

Bulldust?! Who says bulldust anymore?

And when we finished laughing, we spoke about what the woman meant in asking who gave birth to the baby and we agreed that, in the way she asked, she was trying to determine who the actual mother was – who Kit belonged to. And then we spoke about how we could handle such conversations next time. Because there will be many next times. For us, and for Kit.


Our Kit.

Kit belongs to me as much as anyone can belong to anyone else. And that is, probably, not at all.

Kit is little for a little while (this is from a song I used to play to her when she was really really little), and while she is so little, Kit belongs with me (and to me) as much as anyone can belong to another. When I typed these words, in the early hours of the morning, still dark, I felt her deep breathing against my back. The inhales and exhales of her life force. She woke so many times last night. Sometimes for a sip of bottle. Sometimes to kaula me. Sometimes for reasons I couldn’t work out. So, perhaps, it is truer to say that I belong to her as much as anyone can belong to anyone. Which is to say not at all but, also, wholly. And also, holy.

So there I was, 5 in the morning, writing, after one month of not writing even though I said I’d write every day for a year. I skipped a month. I skipped a month when, before, I wouldn’t have even skipped a day. To be honest, I’m not sure if I should start from day one of 365 or pick up from my five month stint and keep going, pretending that this hiatus never happened. I’m also not sure (due to lack of sleep whether my tenses are right throughout this piece – though I have experienced that the misuse can be cute). I don’t think it actually matters whether I start over or continue. But, somehow, despite the lag, the writing still seems to. Matter, that is. I just needed a bit of time.

In May there were lots of days during which I didn’t write (all of them?) but I did sometimes notice happenings worthy of writing about). Here is one: I handed Kit a dandelion for her to blow and send her wishes to the wind. She ate it instead – seeds all over her tongue.

Among the many things Kit has given me to cherish, here is only one: A reminder that I belong, like the rocks and shells and the sand, to the earth. That I should not, for too long, be away from it; that there are rocks worth collecting but also too precious to keep; that tiny moths can find their way into bedrooms get all aflutter about lights that are not the moon; that if you look carefully you may just find something truly alive, even if you’re searching on the restaurant floor in the middle of a shopping centre. And here is another one: That our belonging is not bulldust but stardust. That it is not from birthing but does involve birth. That is did not arrive suddenly on seeing her arrive in the world. It grew. Slowly. Slowly.

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