I am about 12 weeks away from
becoming a dad. Though I suppose I really already am one. The strange alien
presence inside my wife is moving around, so it has to count as a person. I am
trying to familiarise my baby with the sound of my voice and I chat to it
through the bump-ophone (as I have never called it until now and never will
again). Yesterday the whelp responded to my meandering stories and fatherly
advice by kicking me in the face. Some deep symbolism about our relationship
I am starting to consider the changes that this bizarre miracle is going to bring to my life and I don’t mean the obvious ones like having to deal with nappies and sleeplessness and terrifying responsibility (there must be are some good things as well…. erm). I am going to have to start behaving like I am someone’s father and become a role model. Which means changing pretty much every single thing that I do. I will have to cut out the swearing that peppers my weeing language pretty much without me even cocking realising I am bumming doing it. I won’t be able to spend all day playing on my phone or watching TV during mealtimes. I will have to openly state that carrots are better than chocolate. I can’t carry on being so messy and disorganised and I’ll have to snap out of awful habits like nose-picking, nail biting and farting. I certainly won’t be able to punch the air after a trumpeting guff and proudly shout, “Aaah, sniff on eeee!”
I must pretend that I don’t find all bodily functions and childish nonsense amusing. Because if you laugh at your baby when it deliberately tips a plate of food over its head then it will never stop doing that. But how can you not laugh at that?
I basically have to spend the next 18 years pretending to be someone I am not and lie to my first-born about everything that I really think and do.
All for no discernably good reason.
Because as soon as my child grows up and leaves home it will slump into the
same awful patterns of behaviour that I had lived my life by, until this
interloper turned up demanding milk and to have its arse wiped. Surely my
relationship with my child should be based on love and honesty, not with me
pretending to be something I am not for two decades. Not that they will be
fooled after the first five years. Do parents get so deep into this deceit that
they start to believe it themselves?
Will I forget who I once was?
Like Schwarzenegger in Total Recall I am leaving myself this message to remind me of who I really was before my own brain was washed and I took on the identity of be someone worth looking up to. One day my child will find this article or the books I’ve written about my hopeless life and realise how hypocritical I have been.
The truth is that we’re not teaching our kids to be good citizens, it’s they who are teaching us. Let’s face it, our parents never had a chance of instilling selflessness or decency into us. But our children manage it without even really trying.
It’s pretty clear that having children is the punishment for having been a child. I managed to evade justice for a long time for crimes against maturity, but it’s all about to smack me in the face, much more forcefully than these preparatory little baby-kicks.