September 15, 2019
‘This piggy went to the market,this little piggy looks ingrown…’
I was playing the old game with my granddaughter while checking her little toes.
‘Dad, do you ever consider you’re inclined to overuse foot expressions?’
The daughter, who is the child’smother, asks me casually. But I’m caught on the back foot.
‘I’m way out on a lower limb here’ I say, ‘Can you give me a clue to what you mean? Just a small toe-hold on your imagination?’
I’m tiptoeing around her, walking on eggshells. But she’s straight back, clearly on the front foot.
‘You know, all the metaphors,similes, images and sayings you use.’
I don’t let her see she’s knocked me back on my heels. But I work the rabbit’s foot in my pocket just in case.
‘I don’t think so,’ I say.
But now she has her foot in the door she keeps pushing.
‘Maybe take a step back and listen to yourself.’
She realises what she said.
‘Oh my God, now you have me at it.’
That’s grown up children for you.You foot the bills all through college and the rest, but suddenly the foot is in the other shoe. Doesn’t matter that you’re down at heel from all the fees. Soon as you pass fifty they think you have one foot in the grave.
They don’t seem to realise that their mother and myself re now footloose and fancy free. We don’t need a toe to the graveyard just yet, thank you. I don’t intend to stub my toe on the bucket for a while. Because you don’t put a foot wrong, all over the years, doesn’t stop them from shooting themselves in the lower limb.
I take little Daisy with her ten tiny piggy’s, and let the daughter see the spring in my step as we surefoot to the garden, to cool my heels. She looks after me convinced the Black Ox has trod on my foot. No chance. I put my best foot forward and stick my spade in the soft clay of the ridge. I start to sing.
‘Foot by foot, row by row, going to make this garden grow,
Measure each one from heel to toe; all I need is a rake and a hoe…’
Little Daisy tries to sing and dance along.
‘She’s a little unsure of her footing now, but I can tell it won’t be long until she has her feet firmly planted on terra cotta.’ I say.
‘Terra firma,’ the daughter corrects me.
Damn, put my foot in it again.