Permit me a tiny ramble.
I still haven’t arranged enough time to write a proper post, but my nearly-three-month-old daughter is currently asleep on me, so I’ll take that as an excuse to sit still and type a couple of thoughts.
I’ve just read this article on resilience and self-confidence in young ones and how best to foster them. This is a tough one – especially as it’s set within the context of the apparently insurmountable social and geopolitical problems we look to be leaving them.
It makes the point that we as parents have to try and patch together now-outdated survival tips from our own childhood to then instruct our tiny charges in how best to negotiate their own lives. I feel this particularly acutely as someone who grew up in suburban, marginal north Wales in the late 70s and 80s now expected to come up with an instruction manual for a couple of kids in a 21st-century northern-city existence. My own record of engagement with the world as both child and adult is spectacularly grim: I had to try and work out sex and relationships for myself; had no idea of how to deal with bullies other than try and make myself invisible; my experience of people from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds is very limited and my expectations feel shaped by some very unhelpful stereotypes; and I feel almost completely unable to fend for myself, physically or emotionally. So, I feel uniquely placed to deliver a first-class course in humanity to my descendants.
Still, I can take photos and post blogs (occasionally), so when the zombie apocalypse drops or the economy evaporates, I’ll be able to hew a life from the land and help defend my people with no worries, eh? Perhaps using an articulate post about potty-training I knock together using some vellum and a blow torch. Or I could foster social inclusion by drawing up a sweepstake based on who will die first of radiation sickness.
I hope illogically that J-Boy will somehow develop a practical, resilient mindset by default, as long as I stay patient with him and encourage him to get back on his scooter when he comes off. I do try and congratulate him on what he has learned and taught himself, how much effort he has made, rather than tell him how clever he is. (I’ve posted on this idea before.) But then I shout when he empties a whole toilet roll into the lav and I hear my poor frustrated dyslexic dad shouting at my poor frustrated dyslexic little brother while they struggled through his homework together. Miserable.
We encourage J-Chef to cook, and will insist on it once he’s old enough: likewise with his sister when she’s older. I’d love to say we go hiking and camping and teach them how to wrestle hedgehogs and fashion a bivouac out of discarded riot shields, but that would be a lie, a really plausible lie.
Who decided humans were best qualified to rear other humans anyway? Bring on the Matrix!