Its 21:27 on the 23rd of December 2008 and I have just cleaned and prepared the Czech Christmas Carp. Man what a tough bugger he or she is. The tradition is that you go out and buy a live carp, which is freely available at any supermarket, usually swimming around outside in small plastic pools. You then take the fish home, still alive, and put it into your bath. Then the alpha male in the family has to kill the slimy thing and it is then prepared in a delectable batter and eaten for dinner on Christmas Eve.
Well the Czech Christmas Carp is no sucker, let me tell you. After my dealings with various snoek over the years, I thought, this fattened pretender would be a piece of cake. Well… oh, what the hell does the Czech Christmas Carp have to do with parenting I hear you ask?
Well, I am at this moment in the Czech Republic, spending Christmas with Sofia, my almost two year old daughter who was conceived in Johannesburg, but born over here in the land of the Premyslids, the Luxenburgs and the Habsburgs (don’t ask, look it up when you have time).
Last time I saw Sofia, she was a month or so old and, well I guess it wasn’t much of a bonding session. Now, man, is it ever cool. We’ve been cruising around Prague on the metro, the tram and public busses and, what an experience.
These people don’t smile easily, let alone do anything untoward. I mean, it’s really weird, no one smiles, everyone looks straight ahead and pretends no one else is in the filled-to-capacity train, tram or bus. Enter Sofia Abrahams, African lion with two tails. (The Czech National symbol (like our soon to be extinct springbok) is a rampant lion with two tales - again look it up).
Sofia has no qualms about smiling at our fellow travellers, or engaging them in conversation, or even touching a tattoo on the fingers of a lady sitting opposite us in knee-touching distance. And I have to think that her exuberance must have something to do with her conception in Africa.
It’s been a magical time with Sofia. We’ve been in direct contact for the last few months via sms. Yup, she somehow figured out how to send a sms, obviously she cannot write or type anything yet, but she knows how to use the send button. So we’d sms each other, with me preparing her for my visit and just having a normal father daughter chat.
I found it intriguing that whenever I had her on my mind, like when I’d be clothing shopping for her, I’d suddenly receive a sms from her… I sensed that our bond was already forming. On my arrival at the airport in the Czech Republic, she looked at me tentatively. I swept her up into my arms and we both looked at each other. Then I kissed her and she said, in Czech, “Daddy kissed me” and smiled a radiant beam of contentment and happiness.
Clearly there are obvious challenges to this relationship and I guess it is a variation on the single dad theme. However, familial bonds and love does conquer all I believe and a plan is already in the works for Sofia and I to spend more regular time together.
We spent Christmas Day in Prague and attended mass at the Church of the Infant Baby Jesus, a spectacular, historic structure honed out of a bygone era. I thought it most appropriate to be there with my Sofia. How was Christmas with your kids?