My family gathered on the master bedroom bed the other night to continue reading Roald Dahl’s Boy, the first in a two-book autobiography of the author’s life when two words sprang into the forefront of my mind. No, it wasn’t anything important like “oven off!” or “lock doors!” but rather, the two words that so forcefully stopped me in my tracks were “Hideous Warthog!”
“I forgot to mention Hideous Warthogs in my column about our backwards hike,” I told my husband with a mixture of disappointment and relief.
You see, there was an entire part of the story that I’d overlooked last week when I told you all about our West Coast adventures.
I believe I did mention that my children were overtired and cranky but I somehow forgot (or perhaps pushed it to the back of my mind to save my own sanity) to mention how much it coloured our trek.
Well, you know by the stress we felt going the wrong direction that it wasn’t exactly pleasant, but what you don’t know is that the children made it even more unbearable at the start.
First, one of them refused to even get out of the car. Just wouldn’t do it, wasn’t having it.
Mom and Dad, still having a tiny bit of control left, weren’t having it either. We were going and that was final.
You may know about our jellybean hikes in Chemainus wherein every time we see a bench we give the kids a couple jelly beans. It keeps them moving and it’s kind of fun to see how excited they get for something so inconsequential.
Anyway, there were no jellybeans this time around but there were Bigfoot candies. You know, the harder-but-squishy red candies shaped like footprints? They’re my son’s favourite.
Frustrated, I told my son if he got outa the car we’d bring the foot candies.
Bingo! We were out of the car and on our way.
I grabbed a handful for my daughter and stuffed them in her pocket to keep her happy and tossed the remainder of the bag at my son.
It was my own fault I didn’t foresee the consequences of my hasty decision-making but I was also tired and just wanted to explore the vast wilderness that is Beautiful British Columbia, darnnit.
Anyway, still cranky about life as a six-year-old in one of the most beautiful places on earth, we set out (backwards) on the trail. We soon passed a tree with a significant hidyhole underneath it. I asked if anyone would choose that spot to sleep in if they were stuck out overnight. A little distraction, a little wilderness safety… not too bad Momma!
My son began to mutter under his breath. He kept at it for 50 metres or so until somebody asked what on God’s green earth he was yammering about.
“Hideous Warthog,” he said. “You’re a Hideous Warthog.”
My husband and I didn’t know whether to laugh or dump him off the boardwalk for the wolves and drive home as a new family of three.
“You’re Hideous Warthog #1, Mom, and Dad, you’re Hideous Warthog #2. My sister is Hideous Warthog #3 because I like her best, but you’re all Hideous Warthogs.”
How on earth could you let your child speak to you that way, you must be wondering?
Believe me, if he’d been calling us “blithering idiots” a la Matilda, we would have shut him down.
The thing is with “Hideous Warthogs”, we were kind of proud of his vocabulary his retention after being read aloud to, and his ability to combine information from multiple books into one outstanding insult.
Plus, it sounded pretty funny coming out of his little mouth.
If you’re not familiar with Roald Dahl books, there are two things I’ll tell you: first, in a great many of his most popular books, the parents die terrible deaths. But second, the insults the characters toss around are incredibly imaginative. For example: “Troggy little twit” (The BFG); “Empty-headed hamster”, “festering gumboil”, and “fleabitten fungus” (Matilda) and more.
In The Twits, it was “you rotten old turnip” and “you old warthog”.
Hideous Warthog, though, I believe is my son’s own creation, though I could be wrong. Regardless, that’s what he glommed onto and so, for the remainder of our hike, that’s what we called each other, along with the number he’d assigned to us in order or how much he disliked us at the time. While I was annoyed he’d ranked me the worst, as I was the one who’d handed him a bag of his favourite candy, it sure disarmed my kids when they figured out their parents were ready to play along.
The passersby going the right direction on the trail must really have thought we were quite the sight, going the wrong direction with our children addressing us as Hideous Warthogs all the while.
In the end, it ended up being just the distraction we needed to turn the trek around. We finished up our hike, and tired but happy, we washed our hands and we headed for home.
And the red foot candies, you ask? My son ate them all.
He also threw them all up into an empty Happy Meal box somewhere between Parksville and Nanaimo.