Life is different when you have a child. It means finally growing up and taking responsibility for someone else. Someone who needs love, affection and to be shown the right developmental path. You want a well rounded, caring, thoughtful, enquiring, active and loving child? Well, you have to get off your well rounded derriere and make it so. Boldly going where no Dad has gone before.
No one warns you that boys and girls are capable of filling nappies at warp speed, that they ask questions just as fast. That they are capable of rational and irrational thought at the same time. That for them no means yes. Their emotional filters are tainted by the way you see the world so you have to get it right first time (or second), or at least admit you’re mistakes and show that it is noble to try and fail than never try at all.
Parents create wee human sponges. Sponges that drip and dribble on a new carpet, and squeeze out fat tears when they don’t get their own way.
We don’t get a manual – and if I did I’d throw it out the window (like that damned Gina Ford book about baby routines that turns Mums into insecure wrecks and Dads into peripheral figures).
So after saying all that, why is it great to have a kid? Some reasons spring to mind.
>They say funny observational things – such as, ‘Dad, why do your ears look upside-down?’
>They get you to look at ordinary things in an extraordinary way. We have great conversations about the things we see in clouds or the grain markings on floor boards. Our maple floor in the hall features the face of a sealion, and the blokes’ loos in Glasgow’s Ikea has the face of Jesus on the door.
>They ask questions that get you thinking such as – how do the pictures on the DVD get into the TV? Why does the Earth spin? Why is your belly so fat?
>They say ‘I love you’ at unexpected times.
>They hug you tight and you are aware of your responsibility to keep them safe. This happened today during a swim session where my daughter was trusting enough to remove her armbands and have a go at swimming unaided on the shallow steps, with me in very close proximity.
>They show great compassion towards small creatures, warning of ants and beetles that you might have accidentally stepped on.
>They invent words. I was tired and she came up with the word ‘Shackered.’ I said,’ What like Shattered?’ ‘No, like knackered…’ came the cheeky reply.
>They are strongly opinionated. Recently my Scots born daughter was adamant that she is English. She said, ‘Do I talk like Robbie Burns on Burns day? I do not!’ Truth be told she talks with a definite Kent accent like me…
>They live life with a passion – loving, crying, hurting, investigating, laughing, shouting, stomping, romping at full throttle.
What do kids give you? Everything. If you let them. And they let you!