For a long time Jasper has had trouble with reading the analog clock. Everyone reads the time off the microwave. 6.50. Little fluorescent squared numbers. Marching on without tick. Without tock. 7.30. Help! 8.15. Shoes on. Didn’t I tell you already. Have you done your teeth? Shoes! It doesn’t help that for most of his life our antique kitchen wall clock has been stuck on ten to eleven – a beautifully in between time.
Recently Graham got the old clock going again. It has a loud tick tock. An incessant heartbeat – a clicking tongue, a real reminder of lateness. It is invasive, but a chance to learn to read the time. An essential skill that seems to have slipped through unlearnt. 20 cents for each correct telling of the time.
We haven’t had dinner. Graham isn’t home. What’s the time Jasper? Ten to eight. No. What time does dad get home? I dunno. How could it be ten to eight. Look at it again. Is the hour hand before the eight or the seven?
Before school the same routine. What’s the time? 8.30? No. How can it be 8.30? What time do we leave home in the morning to get to school? I dunno.
For I am the keeping of time in our house.
Always the one to harp – are you ready? We should go! We should go now. In every house there is a clock watcher. I get it from my mother who kept time for my father. Call Dad. Tell him we are leaving in five minutes. Still she is a keeper of time. She has an egg timer that she sets constantly and while you visit it goes off. But there is no cake to get out of any oven. No sprinkler to move to another patch of grass. Perhaps it is telling her you have been in attendance ten minutes. Or perhaps it is telling her it is fifteen minutes before her lunch. To take the role of clock watcher one vows; Never late. Always early. Always waiting for other people. This is what my mother passed on to me.