First marriage – then kids.
This seems to be another rule that is self-imposed upon the human race.
“So when are you gonna have kids then?” is a question that is asked to the bride and groom literally five seconds after the phrase “You may now kiss the bride.”
I never considered the possibility of fatherhood. I had no urge to procreate and, like marriage, it crept up on me and before I knew it I was a dad.
I still remember the day I was told.
“What?” I said, “Are you sure?”
I was the stereotypical father, the man who does not believe his wife when she tells him that a tiny explosion of life has begun within her. It was only when she started to throw up every morning for three weeks solid and then grow over the next nine months that I realised my life was about to change.
And it did.
I have two kids – or should I say "adults" now.
And their resemblance to me is uncanny, which of course you would expect.
Through all the mayhem that descended when Stephen, my eldest was born, followed by even more pandemonium when my youngest was born, I discovered two things:
(a) I love kids
(b) I am a giant kid myself
I don’t want to dwell on the bad points of having kids (changing nappies at 3am, foul substances exploding out of every orifice – usually on me) - simply because the good points far outweigh them.
I discovered fairly quickly that the best way to deal with children is to become one yourself. And that is the easiest thing in the world for me.
Some people hate kids because they demand so much of your time. For me, however, although tiring, kids are terrific fun and are easily pleased.
I found myself rediscovering childhood toys and TV programmes that were quite entertaining. I knew everything about Thomas the Tank Engine, for example, and Stephen couldn’t understand why I laughed so much at a particular episode called Thomas Comes To Breakfast where a runaway Thomas crashes into the station master’s house. With the whole house wrecked, the station master’s wife says:
“You miserable engine! Just look what you’ve done to our breakfast! Now I shall have to cook some more!”
Not one word about the semi demolished house – only the breakfast.
And when it came to birthday parties, I joined in. One time, in our house, I was surrounded by around ten four year olds all screaming their heads off. The answer was simple. I did what I do best – devolved into a four year old child myself.
I got up out of my chair and knelt in the centre of the lounge.
“I bet that nobody can push me over!” I declared in a loud voice.
Before I could say anything else, all of them, as one, grabbed my arms, pushed me, pulled me and tried to knock me over. They giggled as they struggled, one lot of kids pulling one arm, the others pulling the other arm – competing against each other rather than me.
We all had a lot of fun.
All you need to do to have fun with kids is play silly games with them, draw silly pictures, build things, watch kiddy films - anything that kids love.
I love films like Toy Story and Shrek and I would never have seen them had it not been for the kids. In fact, I reckon I enjoyed them even more!
They are all good fun.
There is a part of me that is sad that my two lads are now grown up (Mike is 17 and Stephen is 20). Our relationship has changed and I still try to stay at their level even though they are now adults themselves.
Mrs PM calls them the clones and I can see why when I look at photos of us together. In fact, I am a clone of my dad too. When I look at photographs of him in the years just before he died, the similarity between us is almost spooky.
Ultimately that is the true appeal of children for me. They are an extension of yourself and when I see them growing up from babies, to toddlers, to boys, to teenagers and now to adults, I can see myself in them.
I know that when I am a cranky grumpy old cantankerous old git, I will still have a child within me somewhere. Hopefully I will also be able to see their kids start out in life too and I imagine that I might have to allow a bunch of four year old kids to try to drag me round the lounge again.
One thing is for sure, though; I will dig out that old episode of Thomas the Tank Engine and giggle with them again – even though my sons will almost certainly say:
“Dad, when are finally going to grow up?”
I can answer that now:
And for any "kids" out there - here is the episode I am talking about.
Over to you, dear reader.
Do you like kids?
How many have you got?
Are you a big kid yourself?