Monday, February 19, 2007
I’m in the Office here in London, and I think I’ve got a meeting that will get me out early. Which is good, because I only ever come into London when I absolutely, positively have no choice, whatsoever. And most of the time, I have choice.
I turned up at my desk at 9.43. A mere 103 minutes from door to door. And people wonder why I don’t come in the office that often. If I went in now, for example, I still wouldn’t get home until 4.00pm at the earliest. I haven’t seen or heard Xander since about 7.00pm last night. Last I heard of him, Ellen was in his room, stroking his hair as he snored last night.
Yesterday was a joy with him. I’m firmly coming to the conclusion that he’s my most fun friend, and probably my best one. There’s no other friends I have that collapse in fits of infectious giggles when I tickler their ears.
The love a parent has for a child is different in every way from that you have for anyone else. There’s a telling line in Lost in Translation about children : that, as they grow up, they become these fascinating, beautiful people. I never gave that line that much thought until I became a parent.
It’s odd when we row, me and Ellen, and sometimes we do, because I can see the love she has for me, she transfers and externalises to Xander. In some ways, it’s her way of showing she still loves, just not me, for small periods of time. Being a parent is hard work. There is no map or guide as to what the right thing is, for every child is an individual and every child acts and behaves uniquely. You try what you can and hopefully, most of the time, you get it right, or near to right.
But it’s very hard work. And sometimes we are lucky Xander likes being left alone, to do his own thing, play with toys, throw himself into beanbags, and try and build massive objects out of sticklebricks. Because I couldn’t do it all the time. I like – no, I love – being around him, and seeing him grow up, and talking with him, and seeing him becomes who he is. But I couldn’t look after him 24 hours a day. I’m just not that kind of person. Some people are born to be parents, and define themselves by that. Being a parent isn’t all I am. It is not Me, just part of me. But it is hard work.
“Hard work that you should not take on lightly. Hard work that you need to want to do with all your heart. Hard work that involves another human being who has no choice about being your child. A human being that doesn't need a parent who wasn't sure about having them in the first place.”
I knew, we knew, how big this would and could be. Even us, in a stable, loving relationship, with financial security and of mature years, knew it would be hard, and – in no way should this be thought of as negative – we were unsure if we could give him the life we wanted to give him and be the best parents we could be. We wanted our child to be happy and cared for, not to feel ignored, not to go without in terms of food, love heat and shelter, not be Fifth out of Five children and to feel in anyway unimportant, in any way unloved.
Every day with him has some joy in. Yesterday morning, he stood on the chest of drawers, looking out at the world, pointing at objects he recognised. “Car.” He says. “Doggie.” He says. He then says something else, which presumably is his word for person, “Awka”.
The other week, I tried in my foolishness to correct him about the train he saw on the opposite platform. “Car”, he says. “No, Train.” I said. “Car!” he insisted. “Train”, I gently said. “CAR!” he ordered. Trains then are cars. Children order things by category. Small, furry? You’re an “Abbu”. Big, furry? You’re an “Oggie”. Mechanical, big? You’re a “Car”. Even if you’re a plane. That's right, Xander. They're skycars.
We took him out to Camber Sands. He stood at the edge of the beach shelf.
“Do you want to go to the sea?” Mummy asked.
“No, No” he says, shaking his head.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the sea?” I test him. I want to be sure he understands what we are saying.
“No! No!” he says, shaking his head.
I want to smother him in a million kisses.
He understands an awful lot more than he can verbalise at the moment. He tidies up the house : picking up things he finds on the floor, and putting them in the bin, or giving them to me to put in the bin. He tries to flatten the book shelves so the line of fiction is flat. He gets frustrated with the larger hardbacks, and pushes them harder in. He wants them to be ordered. As Ellie slept yesterday afternoon, following our return from Dungeness, I played with him for a couple of hours. It’s a happiness that nothing can buy. Xander spoke to Graham on the phone. “Are you ok?” I asked Xander. “Awab Ka” he said, nodding his head. “You sure?” I asked him. “Awab ka Puh”, he says. I think that means yes.
Last night, as we got ready to put him to bed. He climbed under the covers of the bed in our bedroom, and laughed his head off when mummy and daddy joined him in bed. He wasn’t going to sleep. He just wanted to know we were with him, which, of course, we are. He placed the covers over his head and giggled.
There’s about sixteen years of this left, before he leaves for University. By then, I will be fifty. I will be old. I will be square, unhip, and uncool, and listening to bands who are almost all dead, if not retired. New music won’t be any good, but I’ll gamely listen to the bands he likes with weird names, and pretend I like them, whilst remembering that New Order were much better, even if they will be sixty eight by then. I’m interested in the future. I will be spending the rest of my life there. Won’t you?
Don't forget that those bands will be doing ccrap cover versions o songs you really like....nd Xander will be thoroughly amazed that yu knowthe lyrics.. that there was ever such a thing as music before he came along to discovr it.
the strange reassurance that someone else is thinking exactly the same type of things as I am as a dad is amazingly comforting.Post a Comment
they're incredible little things.
they're incredible little things.