Opening Coconuts and Other Things I Didn’t Imagine Myself Doing as a Parent


You do things when you become a parent that you could never have imagined yourself doing. You sit in work meetings with spit-up on your black suit, you use something referred to as “potty candy” to bride your kid to go to the bathroom, you call your vacuum cleaner a “noo noo.” You can’t imagine yourself doing them, but they’re not a total surprise, either. They’re in movies. We know the desperate measures parents go to in order to get to work on time, to make a kid eat, or poop, to entertain a kid, to make a child smile, or just to get through a tough day.

There’s another category of things I find myself doing that I couldn’t have imagined, and that I wasn’t prepared for. For instance. . .I talk about Sasquatch. A lot. I mean, I’ve probably logged close to ten hours talking about Sasquatch. I’ve talked about why Sasquatch has two names—Sasquatch and Bigfoot. I’ve answered questions about where Sasquatch lives, whether I’ve seen him, what he eats, what noises he makes, whether “he” is a boy or a girl, and whether he drives (that one sort of embarrasses me: I too, thought the children should know better than to ask that). Somewhere in there, among all those questions, I’ve been asked if Sasquatch is real.

When I’m not talking about Sasquatch, I’m talking about the afterlife. I’m equally qualified (and by that, I really mean to say equally “unqualified”) to talk about the afterlife as I am to talk about Sasquatch. What is heaven, do I know anybody in heaven, how high is heaven, what happens to bodies after death, are cats in heaven, are ladybugs in heaven, why are you trying to kill the slugs in the backyard and if you are successful will they go to heaven, is heaven mostly old people, when you’re in an airplane are you in heaven, and on and on.

Then came the coconut questions. I was asked where coconuts come from (I’m still not sure—Mexico? Brazil? Both?) How do you eat a coconut? What does it taste like? Do only monkeys eat coconuts or can people? Then they started spotting coconuts at the grocery store. When can we try a coconut? What if I use my money and pay for the coconut? Why is everyone else eating coconuts but not us?

It was three dollars. I only had one kid with me (it’s counter-intuitive, but I’m always weaker that way). She asked again about the coconut. I’d made a vague promise months ago that yes, someday we could get a coconut. I’d put it off so many times. Something made me quietly slip it into the cart. She saw it, and kept with the mood, smiling softly and not making too big of a deal.

Tonight, we answered many of the questions together. We figured out how to get the water out of the coconut (by driving a screwdriver through the three holes and draining it out), how to open the coconut (by breaking it apart with a screwdriver and a hammer), and how to eat it (by shaving off pieces with a dull knife).

It was a lot of work, and nobody liked the coconut’s water. We all tried it, and we all winced. Nobody liked the actual coconut all that much. I think we expected it to be sweet, like the coconut that comes out of bags and gets used for cookies. Now, the coconut questions have come to a close.

I haven’t made any progress in figuring out about cats in heaven or why Sasquatch is also known as Bigfoot. Every once in a while, I need to be reminded, it’s good to take the time to figure out the answers to things I can, like what a coconut costs, how it is opened, and what it tastes like. No, I didn’t expect myself, at this point in my life, to be pounding a screwdriver into a coconut with a hammer, but now I can say that I have done so.

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