To paraphrase the late John Lennon, some of you reckon I’m a fucken dreamer. It’s true. I am. Personally, I blame it on growing up on a farm, with hippy parents, and having to make toys out of nuts and twigs and shit like that. Not that I’m not grateful. When we moved to the city I was the only guy in the whole school who’d ever ridden a motorcycle. Not that I ever got to show off the skills acquired on the old Yamaha Peewee 50 to my newfound city-slicker mates. But the lack of He-Man and Transformers and whatnot in those early years certainly left me with a vivid imagination.
I have, mostly, lived in other worlds. At the end of the Year 7 rowing season, I was given a Mighty Mouse badge, because despite being the smallest guy in the squad, I refused to cox, as though I was ever going to be a competitive oarsman. At the end of the Year 10 rowing season, I was given a Ninja Turtle toy, because while everyone else was busy working on their pecs and their wife-beater tans, I was reading comic books, believing that somehow stories of heroism and triumph in the face of adversity mattered as much as being able to boast of getting a hand-job from Emily Lighting in the Bear Pit.
I was rather stung at the time, by the implication that I didn’t quite meet the requirements of pubescent development, but looking back I can’t really fault those guys, whose social compass was pointed firmly in a southerly direction. But what they saw as childishness, I recognised simply to be an imagination that would refuse to let me be content with the accepted norms of social and, later on, career advancement. Of course, most of those guys who had a hand in the Ninja Turtle doll (and Emily Lighting), now own houses and make between three and five times the salary I do. Ain’t dreams great?
But still, I do not begrudge my (low-paying) choices. And I still (mostly) happily live in a world that ain’t quite real.
Case in point: I have this persistent, and rather envious, vision of the contented stay-at-home parent, the one who’s accepting of the (temporary, God I hope it’s temporary) abandonment of one’s goals, hobbies, extra-curricular activities, and normal life in general. I am, in fact, pretty sure that every stay-at-home parent who is not me exists in this state.
Don’t get me wrong, There’s part of me that realises that, like the existence of God, a happily chaste1 priesthood, and other such fairytales in general, the contented full-time parent is a fucking figment of our collective imagination – it’s an ideal, a construct, an impossibility to aspire to; it’s a story we tell ourselves to make sense of the inexplicable, unpredictable, and existentially terrifying reality of no longer being your own first priority.
I am, generally speaking, rather loathe to make use of cliches, necessary as it is to possess a certain level of literary genius to avoid their use giving one a distinct air of intellectual dullardry. So at the risk of sounding like the Michael Bay of the blogosphere, I pronounce my continued amazement at the capacity of one’s children to teach one about oneself.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily extend to everyone. There’s always the parent who blissfully continues to keep their kids on a fucking leash because they’re incapable of being self-reflective enough to realise that using a bit of string to stop your offspring killing themselves while you’re busy tweeting pictures of your almond-milk three-quarter decaf long-macchiato does not qualify as being a good parent.
But the voluntary c-section, raw-food-cafe-dwellers aside, some of us very quickly begin to pay attention to our own bullshit the moment a little sponge comes along.
You probably think you know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Expletives. It’s a fair assumption, what with my stubborn refusal to cease calling people a retard, because apparently the former PM doesn’t qualify as argument enough for it’s continued use; and, naturally, there’s my fondness for using terminology once reserved for the female genitalia as as much of an insult as those colloquialisms for the penis commonly are.
You’d be wrong though. As much as I (unsurprisingly) want my child to have a healthy knowledge of those words that will have me on his teacher’s speed-dial, so they can talk to me about his use of “naughty” words2, I’m actually referring to the likelihood that he’ll end up being as much of an emotional retard as his old man if I don’t make a few subtle changes.
I’m not really sure how I envisaged the hackneyed manifestation of one’s children being one’s greatest teachers, but I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with this newfound desire I find I have to be a good example to my kid/s.
I’m not talking about presenting the little fuckers with a role model who is a well-spoken (see 2), “successful” member of society, I’m referring to the realisation that my frequent inability to not be ruled by my emotions is going to very quickly rub off on my progeny, particularly as he currently teeters on the edge of speech, and is already testing boundaries and learning to effectively manipulate his parents.
I’ve yet to come up with a solution. So far therapy, medication, and marriage have not solved the problem. But I am yet determined not to ruin the child anymore than I have to. I imagine it’ll remain a rather tortuous, not to mention torturous, route for the next… well… ever? I can also imagine, however, that like climbing K2, it’s worth it in the end. I’ll probably lose a few digits, maybe an arm, to frostbite, but I’m sure the view’s fucking spectacular from up there.
1 – Yes, mostly the priesthood is referred to as celibate. Yes, also, language evolves, and I am all for an emoji winning the OED Word of the Year Award (not really, but you know…), but this one of the few evolutions that gives me the shits. Celibacy has to do with MARRIAGE, and nothing else. If you want to refer to a man of the cloth who does not stick his dick in someone else (or variations thereof), then he is CHASTE, not celibate. A celibate priest is free to do what he fucking likes with his willy, he just can’t get married. And if that was recognised and accepted, there’d be less need for Royal Commisions into Child Abuse in the Catholic Church, and George Pell could uncomfortably die wherever he fucking liked, and none of us would give two shits about it.
2 – One of my biggest problems with “naughty” words, is that they’re really not. They’re words, and that’s it. It’s the use of them as weapons that’s naughty. Not to say they shouldn’t be used as weapons, but like any weapon, when they’re used as tools of segregation, oppression, violence, etc, that’s a problem. Instead of demanding that everyone stop using retard, cunt, or moist, those words that make some sections of the population’s skin crawl, we ought to be demanding that everyone learn to use them appropriately, and stop being such dicks.