My children have become my lifeblood. Small and new humans that intrigue, amaze and frustrate me.
Yet I still struggle to stay present with them. This is not surprising really, when a 36 year old man is trying to converse with a four year old who is still making sense of the world. But I crave those moments of presence. When I see their sunny faces, and feel their warm, vibrant bodies against mine, I understand that it doesn’t get much better than this.
My mind tries to take me away from that presence. It wants to delve into the Meta, what’s happening behind the walls of my mind. I want to think, to analyse, to do anything but simply be in this moment. But that is an escape from life. There is nothing I could think that is more important than sharing these seconds of connection and bliss right now.
For they will be gone all too soon.
To have my boys still sharing with me, showing me, proud to tell their dad what they’ve seen, things they’ve done, how they felt… it’s thoroughly unremarkable and yet irreplaceable. These moments are only for me. Only I can understand and appreciate these sublime interactions with these new humans, created of my blood, sweat and tears.
I am so proud of my boys. And part of that pride is for myself and my wife. We have helped create them, and not just their little perfect bodies. We are helping to craft their minds, their motivations, their reactions to the world. Their emotions. When I see my seven year old reacting calmly to a stressful situation, and know that part of that reaction is because of our teaching, that is a moment worth savouring.
And it’s all the more satisfying when others looked down on us for our methods. Others thought that we were too lenient, that we should discipline more. That we should bring them into line.
But we saw the future. We saw that training at two years old informs the three year old, and then the four year old, and so on. We saw that creating thunderstorms in a toddler does not beget sunshine in an adult. We had only to look around at the men and women around us to see that the world did not need more robots at the mercy of their childhood training.
So we started at the end. What did we want our children to become? Thinking, analysing, emotionally fulfilled and alive adults? Or automatons, robotically re-enacting the traumas of early life with no self-awareness, androids programmed by the fears of their parents?
We have never allowed our kids to do whatever the hell they wanted. We have worked together with them from their earliest moments to help their understanding of what is appropriate behaviour. What is tolerable, and what is intolerable.
It’s a work in progress. And it’s progressing well.