Warning – Introspection ahead.
As a father of two young children, girls in fact, I find it difficult to separate the real world from the one they live in. There is a psychological “shelter” factor that comes into play, more instinctive than I would have thought previous to parenthood, that wants to keep these packages safe from harm. I do realize that this is a temporary state as one day they will fly from the nest and it’s my responsibility (well my wife and I) to ensure they are properly equipped to survive. This isn’t a new thought as I had pondered this exact statement for nearly the entire term for my first child and holding her within seconds of her birth. What has set the idea home however is my second child.
There is a piece of a child that lives in a world of wonder. That piece is akin to a flower and it requires all the love and attention you can provide it. I will not lie and say this is easy, it isn’t. As the child grows, it becomes more self-aware and by its very nature, more likely to self-harm with experimentation. My eldest daughter knows of no fear and while I cringe at the things she does, I also have to sit back and be amazed at her freedom. She has had scraped and bruises since before she could walk and each tumble was followed with a smile – as if you say “Did you see that?! That was awesome”. I have difficulty understanding how I can keep that sense of eternal awe within her – but I can relate to her.
My second child is still quite young but has since birth smiled for what seems every minute of every day. She is much more emotional than her sister and leaves it out to bear. If her sister is upset or loud, she starts to cry. She needs a shoulder to snuggle upon. It’s like watching a piece of tissue paper float in the wind and always, always with a smile. I could have the worst day and to come home to that just makes me forget everything. Now, my wife and I smile a fair amount. It’s infectious really. But I don’t think I can properly related to the concept of always smiling. It almost makes you feel petty in that you can’t always find something to smile about.
To sum, as a Dad, I find it the most difficult to be at the right distance from my children. I want them to grow up to be productive members of society, with a core set of values, as do most parents. I also want them to learn about independence and self-worth and I that is not something you can teach, it must be experienced. Finding that balance of hand holding and letting go is by far the most difficult journeys I have ever undertaken. But I’m ready for the trip.