|The way we were|
One of the more disconcerting aspects of parenthood is a sudden sense of mortality. Being 48 when my first child was born hasn’t helped this feeling but I think I’d have suffered from it regardless because the main causes seem to be a sudden interest in the future and the general paranoia of being a parent.
I have lived the vast majority of my life from day to day; I have rarely planned for the weekend, barely ever planned for a holiday and always assumed that those people who said the best bit about a holiday was the planning and the getting there were spending a fortnight in Skegness.
All of a sudden this changes. Two years ago we had this largely immobile little bundle of joy and before you know it he’s racing around the house and has become a slightly larger bundle of joy and snot – he has a cold at the moment. Every day he changes and every day his future looms into my head; what will it be like taking him to school? When can we go on our first fossil collecting hunt? What will they be calling ‘O’ levels by the time he gets around to them? When will he enter his first Olympics and what will he win? What position will he play for Liverpool FC?
And at the end of all these future plans is the sudden internal exclamation “I’ll be how old??? Bloody Hell!”
On the bright side, at least I don’t have to fear for my son. I do of course but that’s just normal parental paranoia. No, the reality is that in this day and age - and living here in the West - the chances of my son not making it to his 21st birthday is reassuringly remote.
Of course this is a recent event. You often hear people say “No one should have to suffer the death of a child” completely forgetting that that used to be the norm, and still is in many areas of the world. Victorians didn’t have huge families for the hell of it, they had huge families because only a few of those children would make it into adult hood. In the Middle Ages the average life expectancy was 35, this wasn’t because adults died early. No, the average adult lived till about 70, not much different from today, but the chances of a child making it to 10 was remote and the chances of them then getting through to 20 wasn’t a whole lot better.
Bizarrely enough, the fact that our children are now astonishingly safe from death and disease doesn’t seem to have filtered through to most parents, who still seem to regard their children as fatal accidents just waiting to happen. Sadly, I am a member of this paranoid fraternity. Given a chance I would happily wrap the house in bubble wrap - although, on further reflection, it might be easier to leave the house and apply the bubble wrap to Marty. I still can’t watch him walk down the stairs, although this has much to do with Marty playing to the audience and stopping half way down for an impromptu bounce if he thinks anyone is watching him.
I just hope I don’t turn into one of those parents who can’t let their children out of their sight for a moment. The sort who believes the world is full of child molesting perverts who can only be thwarted by denying their child the right to play.
I guess it’s a tough call though, not made any easier by a self righteous media who take great delight in scaring the pants out of the general population, and parents in particular.