"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." ~Elizabeth Stone
I love that quotation because it best describes my experience as a parent. The other quotation that also speaks to me is,
"Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too. " ~Lionel Kauffman
My eldest daughter turns 5 next week and I am livid with all the authors of all the childcare and parenting books I have read ever since that morning my wife and I first saw those two red lines on the home pregnancy kit. While you went on and on about baby-proofing your home, how to deal with tantrums (which I prefer regarding as fiction) and learn through play techniques, you neglected to devote a chapter to (or even mention) what we should do when our little toddlers start growing up! Nobody warned me that your child's 5th birthday was to be considered a watershed event.
What follows may be considered pride and boasting by some but if they do then they clearly do not understand the relationship between fathers and daughters because fathers are incapable (until they are teenagers) of referring to their angels in any other way. My little girl has recently moved into her own room, and sometimes tells me that I can leave before she is even asleep. That she'll fall off to sleep on her own! It is with great sadness that I realise that this, in some way marks a change in our relationship, one that we are unlikely to recover as she grows in independence, learns to read etc etc. I am also particularly upset that she is now learning to tell time because I can no longer lie to her that it is bedtime, when trying to get her to bed early! I understand that this is the natural progression of things but wanted to just share this brief note to all the other dads out there, so that the transition does not take you by surprise like it did me.
But do not despair Dads, for even now I have conjured up little tricks/ techniques to at the very least extend your role for a few more years. These tips, some may say manipulations, include but are not limited to:
- Slowing the pace at which they learn to read (For anybody who has not heard of sarcasm or read any of my previous blogs, I feel compelled to state here that I am not Taliban or Taliban-lite but only mention the word Taliban in my blogs to get a few more hits from people in the CIA, MOSSAD etc.)
- Keeping her Pyjama's in a drawer that is out of reach. Success with this method may require the removal of all stools and step ladders from the house.
Luckily for me, I have a second little girl who just turned 1, so I still have at least another 3 years of usefulness but I am often reminded of what Sydney J. Harris once said,
"The beauty of "spacing" children many years apart lies in the fact that parents have time to learn the mistakes that were made with the older ones - which permits them to make exactly the opposite mistakes with the younger ones."