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Children, Parents and Tradition vs Change – Part 2

May 17, 2013

Part Two: History

Ok firstly I need to go to my room, because I told you a lie. It started as three parts, I’ve had to make it four, I’ve added history – a reflection on some of my history, the things I learnt that pertain to being a parent and why I had children.

I feel many things played a part in why I have children – here are a few from the top of my mind:

  • I was brought up in a modest backdrop of light and hope and at times despair and confusion. Demanding but without serious ambition or direction. We had what we needed not a lot more. I always appreciate the frequent holidays in caravan and awning, which modest though it was brought adventure to my life and gave me a lifelong appreciation of getting around and living for the outdoors.

(Quite how and why I emerged from my upbringing believing the world was a place you had a part to play and in which you could be happy without complaining about everyone except yourself, remains a mystery to me.  My recollection of my upbringing was that it was imbued with a mindset: of having less than, of others being luckier, a world filled with bureaucrats of no practical use, and that working harder was more noble than working smarter. I’m probably wrong, but that’s how I interpreted it.)

  • My schooling – and having the good fortune to love almost all my teachers from the first day that I realised sitting on the floor in room 1 at West End School that you could actually read books and the most amazing fact to that day in my life – “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” – used all the letters in the alphabet!
  • Ian Colquhoun my social studies and Physical education teacher taught me to believe in myself, to toughen up and reflect on the things I could do not the ones I couldn’t. Willie Artner, the ex Nasa scientist (complete with Porsche and Honda Gold Wing) who must have gone spare trying to bring out the logician in me, whenever I have flashes of ‘brilliance’ I think fondly of him. I loved school, growing up it was my very favourite place (next to a sports field).
  • My oldest brother who taught me about selfless love.
  • My only sister, who despite my failings, unfailingly loves me.
  • My older brother who taught me what happiness looked like, and warned that it could be a veil for deep deep sorrow.
  • My younger brother who has endured as much hardship as I have endured good fortune, and every time I think of him I try to solve the riddle as to why.
  • Alf Wakely, who taught me that a marine, turned butcher, turned builder, with tattooed forearms and roll-your-owns could still be erudite and give their time and patience to people, and that growing your mind was the most valuable thing one could do.
  • The great families I have observed.
  • The terrible ones too; Life just doesn’t need to be that way. They made me determined not to create nor live in that sort of hell.
  • Jacinta, my niece. She knows why.
  • Those who have stood by me, challenged me, ‘bested me’, cheered for me, looked out for me or left me in the dust (whilst I procrastinated).

And many many more.

It's how we look at life that makes the difference

It’s how we look at life that makes the difference

What we reject in life I think is more important than what we accept. Ironically there are only a few things that can screw your life up while there are many choices which can make for a good life. Why the dice roll as they do is another mystery for me.

And this all brings me to the first real answer…

I had children because of instinct.

However perhaps my good fortune is that it was instinct based on observation and experience; based on what had failed as much as what had worked.

So that’s the history and the first conclusion, next will be part three – what it means for me as a parent.

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