7 Reasons That I Was Wrong About Children
Hello! Marc here. I have a confession to make. I’ve been really wrong for a long time about something really fundamental. When I was growing up, my stepfather would tell me that it “takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong”. Usually before admitting he was wrong. Well I’ve been very, very wrong. Wrong enough to make me a giant. Because I used to think that having a child would be among the worst things that could happen to anyone. But now that I’ve been the owner of a child for the past six months (he turned half last Saturday) I realise that it isn’t. In fact, having a child is bloody amazing. Here are seven reasons that I was wrong about children.
1. It’s Not Difficult. I used to imagine that being a parent was hard, but it isn’t. When you have a child, you’ll soon discover that you’re playing all the time. It’s amazing fun and it’s not at all difficult to do (in fact, it’s child’s play). Everything you do in your life with your child is a fun game. Teaching them to eat; teaching them to walk; introducing them to new colours and textures; changing a nappy, everything – however mundane – is a wondrous and fascinating experience for them, which makes it an intensely rewarding experience for you. Earlier today, my son and I spent half an hour banging on a window from opposite sides at each other. Half an hour! It was great.
2. It Doesn’t Age You. I previously thought that having a child was an experience that must surely prematurely age people as a result of the lack of sleep and the heavy burden of responsibility. But it turns out that the opposite is true. Spending most of your life with a creature to whom everything is new and exciting is a liberation. It’s an opportunity to view anything and everything without the burden of your own experiences and prejudices. It’s like seeing everything through a new pair of eyes. If anything, I would have to say that fatherhood has made me feel and act younger. Impossible as it may seem to anyone that knows me, I believe that having a child has made me more childlike than I was before.
3. Having Children Isn’t A Serious Business. I used to think that having a baby around wouldn’t be much fun, but it is. And even when babies aren’t being very entertaining, you can still have fun with them. Earlier today, my wife left our (not yet mobile) son unattended in the living room for thirty seconds, so I snuck in and moved him to the other side of his play-mat. “He’s moved!” She shrieked as she returned to the room while I dissolved into a fit of the giggles. Once she realised that this was not the case, she laughed too. Having a child around just makes our lives more fun. It’s made us more fun people.
4. Having Children Is A Very Social Business. I used to believe that having a child would hamper my social life: That a child would have a similar effect on my social life to the one that the iceberg had on the progress of the Titanic. But I was wrong. Because we didn’t know many of our neighbours before, but now we know almost all of them. And their many children. We share toys, baby accessories and childhood diseases with them and our children go to play-group together. If anything, our social life has been improved by having a child. It turns out that he’s not an iceberg, he’s an ice-breaker.
5. Having Children Makes You Less Selfish. I used to believe that having children would make me more selfish. That I would resent the intrusion that a child would make on my time and would guard it jealously. But it turns out that the opposite is true. When I went to bed at 2am last Saturday morning and my son saw me and decided that he wanted to play, I didn’t mind a bit. We played for two hours and it was great fun. Then I put him into his cot and he rolled around and barked like a dog for a bit. My wife and I just lay there listening to him and laughing. I had to be up at 7am to climb a mountain. Did I mind the unexpected impingement on my time and the weariness the next day? Not a bit.
6. Having A Child Does Not Make You Housebound. I used to think that having a child would mean that I’d get to go out less. But the opposite has happened. I’m out all the time! Weather permitting, we take our son to the park every day. I’ve spent more time in parks in the last six months than I had in my entire life before we had a child. I pretty much live in the park; I’m almost a part-time tramp. As my son and I were playing on our mat the other day, a woman came up to us and said “It’s so nice to see a father spending time playing with his son.” I smiled and told her that it was no chore. And it wasn’t. I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather have been or anything I’d rather have been doing than playing with my son in the park at that moment. I’m always out these days.
7. Children Do Not Make Everything Messy. I used to dread the effect that a child would have on the interior of my house. I thought that all of the gaudily-coloured accessories and accoutrements that are needed for children would clutter up my house and make it a (more) horrid place to be. But they’ve improved it. We’ve got owls on the walls and windmills in the garden. In fact, we’ve got owls everywhere. But I like owls. Now I get to buy really fun and interesting things to decorate the house with instead of sobre and tasteful grown-up stuff. Our house is much nicer now and we’ve got a crocodile on the upstairs landing! Who wouldn’t want one of those?!