I can’t wait to be a dad. On a practical level, yes of course I can wait to be a dad. What I mean though is the thought of one day having someone in my life, who’s existence is of far greater importance then my own, is hugely exciting. Creating a new life I imagine to be the less complex part; a vast number of chemical reactions would take place over the space of around 9 months and all things going well, the combination of 2 peoples’ genetic material comes screaming into being. It’s what takes place after this however that truly fascinates me. As a parent you are now charged with molding a brand new personality, a personality that as of yet the world has never known. Try not to fuck it up now.
Faced with this responsibility, I like to think I’d do much the same as my parents did. As little as necessary as often as possible.
Now don’t get the wrong idea, my parents were by no means lazy or uncaring or disinterested in my sister and I. I’m aware that my previous statement no doubt conjures up that image but it couldn’t be further from the truth. What I’m ever so clumsily trying to explain is that they only did what they needed to when raising myself and Naomi. There was no pushing or cajoling toward a certain direction, no insistence on one path over another. Instead we were simply given the tools and knowledge to make our own decisions, hopefully working out what was best for ourselves along the way. Obviously the parents and the progeny didn’t always see eye to eye, as if some freakish Hollywood facsimile of a family. One particular reluctance of mine to take the 11+ entrance exam to access a Grammar school education was met with, on reflection, a necessary resistance. To back track ever so slightly, great kids will have the ability to make their own choices, but often they really won’t know what’s best for them. Heaven knows I didn’t.
I have no idea how Michael and Nicola walked that fine line between influence and instruction, but walk it well they did. Through their particular brand of parenting they have ended up with 2 children who have traveled much of the world, attended excellent universities and fingers crossed will lead long and fulfilled lives. If I can be anywhere near as successful a parent as my folks have been in raising me, I will be a happy dad. I want any child of mine to be awesome, there’s no other word I can think of. I would hope they will be imbued with the same qualities of kindness, intelligence, wit and compassion that were presented to me in my upbringing. Nothing would satisfy me more then having children who are happy within themselves, who view each day as a new collection of possibilities waiting to be explored.
Although none of this will matter for another 10, 15 years perhaps, I can’t help but already think about the challenges to be overcome once the transformation from person to parent occurs. Luckily my own parents have given me a head start in that aspect, and for that I will be eternally grateful.