I guess the one thing that I always come back to as a father is the question, “Where will we be in 12 months / 5 years / 10 years time”. The obvious offshoot to this guessing game is to envisage your children at certain milestones, Graduation… 21st birthday… first court appearance and the like. Ultimately though, I think the truth of the matter is: whatever we surmise, things will never turn out quite the way we envisage them.
This concept for me at least stretches back to when we were expecting our first child. I looked ahead and imagined how things would be. I had expectations of fatherhood mainly from the input of my parents over the years and I ‘saw’ things panning out in a certain way. Generally, they did. But the specifics of parenting were either very different, had changed with the passing of time or I had simply got it wrong in the first place.
Curled up in bed at night, you feel the restless baby stretching the Missus’ belly and kneeing you in the back, and you wander… it’s just the two of us now, but soon we will be three and our child will grow. Will they be smart, or slow to take off? Will they be difficult and challenging to raise or need little in the way of admonishment or guidance? What will they want out of life? Will they be fit and healthy, have allergies or serious health problems? Will they pass exams or be more practical? How old will they be when they start dating (and will I approve of their choices???) Can I teach them, raise them and prepare them to make the right decisions in life?
If you want the answers to these questions you only need one thing. Patience.
All these questions can only be answered over time. It is almost like an unwritten story. You no longer find yourself in the middle a time scale, but at the beginning.
So what have I learnt after 15 years and four children, in respect of what the future holds? You just gotta accept what comes along, ‘cos no matter how you bring the children up, whatever you try and instil in them, you are going to be surprised.
Merryn Smith is a proud Scillonian, father, councillor, airport worker, husband and Facebook addict