Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Adult Content

This week, Number One Son turned twenty-one.  Although I was in the first generation to benefit from the lowering of the age of majority in the UK to eighteen in 1970, attaining the age of twenty-one still seems somehow more "right" to me as the marker of passage into adulthood.  Although, let's be honest, few of us can claim to be even borderline adults until we've passed forty.

I'm pleased to say he's rather taller than me, now...

We've had what, in my observation, is an unusual experience with our kids:  we actually like them.  This has been a truly life-enhancing bonus.  Most parents love their children, of course, but "love" is an oddly ill-defined set of emotions that, it seems, need not include "like". Those parents always worry me who claim, for example, to "love their kids to bits".  An oddly revealing metaphor, especially when uttered between clenched teeth and with hands round the throat of some obnoxious brat.

Ah well, time to start moving on the next phase for both of us, I suppose:

And then the blogger justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances.

Of course, both he and his sister have yet finally to pass through the white water rapids of that modern rite of passage, the exam system.  This has played havoc with my dreams of late.  Long-forgotten anxieties about essays unwritten and subjects unstudied have been waking me at 4 a.m., and the flood of relief on realising that I have actually already sat all the exams I will ever sit is indescribable.  Phew.

So, if it's wise saws you're after, this reminds me of a little piece of hard-won wisdom I like to pass on to new fathers. I tell them that the worst bit will be school.  You will revisit all the bad experiences you had at school -- The horror!  The horror! -- but this time you won't be able to do anything about it, except worry on behalf of someone you care about more than you ever realised it was possible to care.  Compared to that, I have to say, dreaming about exams is child's play.


Martin said...

Sound advice for new fathers, Mike. I remember our son-in-law remarking to us, shortly before the big day, "I always think of you two as Heather's best friends, rather than being her parents." Job done, then. And, we've been friends ever since.

Belated birthday wishes to number one son.

Mike C. said...


I know your own relationships are admirably fine, but I must say I have seen some very weird instances where the idea of "parents as friends" has gone a little too far...

I think children saddled with "kidult" parents, whose priority seems to be to extend their own childhood into middle age and beyond, can suffer from a severe lack of boundaries. It is our duty to be unreasonable old farts who just don't get it!


Martin said...

Yes, there's plenty of evidence of the 'kidult' phenomenon. Very 'cringe city'.

In a conversation with my step-brother, a while back, we agreed that we are now those old farts we found so bemusing when were youngsters.