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7 Reasons That I Was Wrong About Children

Posted on September 30, 2011 in Top Posts | 12 comments

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?!

 

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12 Comments

  1. TO say “warms cockles of my heart” seems cliched, but you’ve got the bug and bad.

  2. Utter utter rubbish. I’m a mum. It’s none of the above and I’m afraid you sound like the worst kind of smug new parent. Also, almost without exception, people think becoming a parent hasn’t made them dull but they’re blinkerd. I know of almost no one who is a parent who isn’t excrutiatingly boring (myself included). You’re laughing at the fact you think a child has moved a few inches? Think about the sort of things you used to laugh at….

    I really do hate to sound harsh and we all love our kids and being a parent has many good things but it is also our responsibility to make sure that those without children know the harsh realities of it. If I knew then what I know now I very much doubt I’d have decided to have a child.

    Now possibly because I’m a single mum with a very serious career my experiences are different to yours but you make it sound like a disney film and it very much isn’t

  3. ‘It’s made us more fun people.’ I bet that’s not what your friends say.

  4. Doesn’t age you? Really? I know no-one who’s had children it hasn’t aged. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s a cliche for a reason. There’s something to be said for aging gracefully but apart from some of the the activities (playing with poo) and thought processes (the charms of thinking like a child) having the responsibility and worry of another human being’s life in your hands is sobering. And aging. Also, crocodiles and owls are very messy.

  5. @Caroline. Thanks. I’ve become slowly aware of that. It’s like they hypnotize you or something.

    @Lizzy. Thanks. Obviously everyone’s experiences are different dependent on circumstances and, were I a single parent, I’d probably find myself fundamentally unable to cope with parenthood and would find the whole thing a terrific ordeal. But the fact is that I’m not and I’m rather enjoying having a child and have been pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s not the living hell I had supposed it would be. I don’t know if that makes me “smug” or not, I’m in no position to judge. I merely wished to write a piece that reflected my unexpected enjoyment of fatherhood. I can confirm for you that before we had our son, my wife and I used to spend our evenings laughing at the cat, so I don’t imagine we’ve become any duller than we were previously.

    It’s also not my responsibilty to point out to people the harsh realities of having a child. That bringing up children is hard is not a revalation. The title of this piece is 7 Reasons That I Was Wrong About Children and in it I’m exploring my changed attitude toward parenthood based on having experienced it. As I didn’t imagine for a moment that experiencing a child crying uncontrollably at me for hours on end for seemingly no reason or seeing my son on a drip in an intensive care unit would be anything other than harrowing experiences I couldn’t very well be wrong about them. Of course having a child is an awful lot of hard work and sacrifice and is time-consuming and occasionally very traumatic, but aren’t I allowed to enjoy it too? Why can’t I celebrate it? There must be some reason that many people have more than one child, perhaps those people have found the experience an enjoyable one too.

    You are probably correct that our experiences are different, but I can’t write a personal piece based on your experience, I can only write it based on mine. And obviously I’m feverishly speculating about which Disney film now!

    @Montague Thanks. I wasn’t known as Fun-Marc before, so I doubt anything much has changed there.

    @Monster Cable Thanks. Actually my shifting hairline and slightly red eyes agree with you, but they’re more than compensated for by the enjoyment I’ve found in looking at everything anew and viewing the world with an altered perspective. And thanks, I’d wondered where all the mess had come from.

  6. Ohhhhh how lovely.Do the words smug sanctimonious toss bag mean anything? I’m pleased its such fun but moving a child on the carpet to spook your mrs really doesn’t sound highlight of a day to me. I cant wait for the blog about how your perfect child pisses down your neck while on your shoulders or how they rip up a prized posession. Do you have a job,beyond climbing mountains,or are you just a full time berkeley?

  7. Well I loved it Marc – small small children are an absolute joy – when they grow bigger they are even more fun. Plus regardless of what a state you’re in, they are always so delighted to see you. How right you are to revel in the joys of parenthood!

  8. So…Lizzy, because Marc’s experience, or the aspects he chooses to relate of it, aren’t exactly the same as yours, it’s rubbish? I don’t see him at any point saying that this is how all new parents should feel. If he said that, or denigrated people who write about the harsher realities of having children, then yes, I would agree that it would come across as smug, or sanctimonious. He isn’t doing that. He’s writing about his own experiences and his changed viewpoints. His personal outlook. Why is he obligated to write about anything else?

  9. I’m expecting my first child and I loved the post – it’s really refreshing to hear a perspective from a parent that isn’t along the lines of “ooh you have no idea what you’re letting yourself in for; it’s so much harder than you can possibly imagine”.
    I know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s great to hear someone talking about how much they enjoy parenthood. I know it

  10. I think it’s a nice thing to write about being a parent despite others opinion. If I’m honest it is a bit too lovely and sickly but, it is someone’s opinion and who are we to discredit it. I think Lizzy is struggling with massive hang ups of her own I would be more concerned about her coping with her ‘ very serious career’ than taking any note of what she writes.

    Parenting can be tough and a huge learning curve but it does go right and when it does it’s awesome .

    Life isn’t always peachy so enjoy the good bits x

    Mum of 4 , one with complex social needs, single parent for several years of parenting.

  11. Oh, you soppy old git!

  12. @Ceci. Thanks. I’m glad to hear it and looking forward to it.

    @Lar. Thanks. I rather agree with you.

    @Bun in the Oven. Thanks. I found that going in knowing that it was going to be the hardest, most challenging and responsible thing I’m ever likely to do was a help and to discover that there were aspects of parenthood that I actually enjoy came as a nice surprise, though apparently this isn’t a universal experience. I hope you do too. Good luck with it.

    @Franny. Thanks. I totally agree with you about enjoying the good bits. And four? Blimey!

    @Richard Thanks. Doesn’t happen often. I dare say I’ll be back to normal next week, being baffled by geese or ranting about science or something. Or perhaps the other way round.

    Oh, and strangely, the only person that doesn’t get a polite and considered reply is the charming man that called me a cunt. Funny that.

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