I hope Kara doesn’t grow up to be like me. At least, not too much – and certainly not too soon.
I took this photo of her last week and it reminded me how happy our kids are. (Well, most of the time.) And then I compared it to my own mood at the time which was, let’s say, about as sunny as a total eclipse.
I wasn’t grumpy for any particular reason. Although it didn’t help that the kids were outside the house having a water fight in 25 degree heat while I was upstairs dialling in to a 4pm teleconference.
I mean, okay, the last couple of weeks at work have been long and arduous. That’s normal.
I’m also tired and suffering from a couple of minor aches and pains. That’s normal too.
I grumbled a couple of weeks ago about it being too cold and wet. Then I grumbled last week about it being too hot. Hey, I’m British. That’s not only normal but expected.
It was a normal week. I’m a normal person. I’m not exactly Mr Cheerful generally but I’m not a perpetual mood hoover either. My glass is generally half-full rather than half-empty. Not overflowing with prosecco. Not empty and cracked. Just half-full, most likely of a rather pleasant IPA.
The reality is I’m just a middle-aged parent with all the responsibilities and burdens that come with that role. So while life is mostly good, sometimes it gets me down a bit too.
It’s one of those things that happens to pretty much all of us eventually. Nobody tells you when you’re a kid that most adults become increasingly suspicious, cynical and resistant to change over time.
The wide-eyed enthusiasm of a child is gradually worn down, leaving behind grown-up grumpiness. The optimism of youth becomes the bitter voice of experience. We race impatiently to grow up only to realise when we reach adulthood that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Now our kids are desperate to grow up. Isaac wants to drive a car. Toby dreams of being an architect. Kara wants … actually, I’m not sure exactly what she wants but I suspect it includes ‘world domination’ somewhere.
I get that. I was like them once.
But I don’t want them to grow up with any regrets about not fully enjoying their childhood. For all that we want them to succeed academically and do lots of activities and generally become well-rounded individuals, we have to let kids be kids too. Once they’ve grown up, there’s no going back. They will spend the vast majority of their life as an adult. What’s the rush?
Yes, in some ways, I do want Kara to be more like me, but in her own time. But in other ways, I wish I was more like her too. You’re only young once.