Being a parent means learning more than you teach, says Sam Wilson.
I recently realised that I have been a parent for over a decade. Hurrah! And while I wait in vain for someone, anyone (is that woman from the Health Department that popped in on Day 4 NEVER coming back?) to appear with some sort of trophy... I find myself musing over the things my sons have taught me over the last 10 years, and how appallingly these outnumber the things they have learnt from me.
I know it’s true for you too... go on, think about what you thought life was going to be like before you had kids, and what you know it’s like now. Chalk and cheese, isn’t it? And don’t you just love that?
Here’s a quick list of the top 10 things my sons have taught me.
Before my sons, I had no idea...1.
That comic books could be so profoundly educational, until Josef asked me if I thought it was a good idea that the government moved from the RDP to GEAR. Viva Zapiro and Madam & Eve, viva! And thank you to my brother Quent, who sneakily left his stash of compilations in the boys’ bookshelf before heading North.2.
That a primary schoolboy’s shoes
– regardless of his extramural obligations - last a maximum of 9.2 weeks, and that no amount of cajoling, shining, buffing and repair will make it otherwise. Ditto long pants and socks.3.
That people could sleep with their limbs so impossibly entangled. Andreas and I do not sleep snuggled together, so it was a big surprise to find out that, despite each having their own room equipped with a bunk bed... they insist on sleeping
like a many-limbed creature in half a bed. Actually, I love that... and sneak in often to check on their latest configuration.4.
That a child can literally survive on butter toast alone for weeks. And then nonchalantly announce that he loves salmon maki, despite never, in any one’s recollection, ever being offered any before.5.
That cats, even those with really deep, soulful green eyes, really don’t like green jelly. Even if you put it out in the good china.6.
That anyone could actually understands Yu-Gi-Oh well enough to play a complete game of it. (Hell, I am impressed enough that I can SPELL it, and I am not even 100% sure I got that right.) I thought Yu-Gi-Oh was to children what the series Lost is to grown-ups... fun for a year or so, but at its heart, bewilderingly confusing. Apparently not. 7.
That it is possible to play Mary Had a Little Lamb on two recorders at the same time, without any significant drop in proficiency. While impressed, I am holding back my unreserved admiration for when someone manages it on the clarinet
That while you and I walk into a lounge and see a couch, a coffee table and two throw rugs... primary school boys see a trampoline, a secret fort and an assortment of top places to hide all the Marie Biscuits, individually. And that despite what one would consider a limited number of variations on this theme, one will never unearth ALL the Maries. Ever.9.
That a mother’s kiss really does heal a bumped knee. I thought it was just something mothers said. I didn’t know that they really meant it and that it really WORKS.10.
And finally, I didn’t know that a son’s quick, caring smile can cut through a bad day... just like that. Actually, let’s push out the schmaltz-boat... I didn’t know that each and every smile and eye-lock from your child is the single most wonderful thing that ever happened to you.
Now. Over to you.
What have you learnt from your children?
Read more by Sam Wilson