Monday, April 06, 2009

Lesson #32: Never think for a minute the monkeys are not running the ship.

We watched Any Which Way But Loose the other night -- a cool classic that showcases not only how foxy Clint Eastwood was in his prime, but also how light and irreverent our society used to be before Reganomics and Clinton-era political correctness and George Bush's brow beating of American pride.

All that is beside the point. The point is, that orangutan was damn funny. And his name was Clyde.

We have a Clyde in our family, too. He's a little smaller than the red-haired beast in the movie, but he moves the same way, in that bowl-legged cowboy monkey swagger, throwing his hands up in the air and pumping them this way and that. He grins the same too, wide lipped and cheesy, eyes squinty and nose crinkled, a face throwing joy into the world.

And it occurred to me, as it has before when my own children were toddlers, how much children resemble monkeys.

I've been told that having a pet monkey is much like having a toddler. They must wear a diaper if you care at all for the cleanliness of your carpet, they get into everything, they throw food, they scream and chatter, they play practical jokes, they give you great big sloppy kisses and they communicate through gestures and exaggerated movements of their eyeballs. The only difference is monkeys never grow up.

I miss my little monkeys. They're big as apes now, strong, broad-backed and intimidating. But they'll still throw their arms around me and lift me off the ground in their great big bonobo hugs. It's one of the great joys of motherhood, watching the evolution of life as it occurs before you.

Disclaimer: Now I understand such a base comparison might offend some mothers who prefer to think their little ones are much too classy, refined and evolved to be compared to monkeys (I can hear the clamor now). Bottom line is, I come from a long line of bonobos, and I'm damn proud of it. It's too bad more of us weren't proud of our humble beginnings -- we'd all be much more forgiving of others.