Sunday Column (119)

It was Colin’s second birthday this weekend, and for that reason Oma und Opa came from Germany and granny and Robert from Scotland. A big family feast.

Colin had a great time. He got a rugby ball, a basket ball, a tent to play with and new additions to his train set. His dad, e.g. myself, and his granddad managed to clean the patio front and back, paint the garden fence and get the garden furniture in order. I also washed and polished the beast. A true family weekend. Bless. I was also off work Friday and Monday which made things a lot easier, only spending a few hours sorting things.

But all those developments made me think. How was it when I was young? Why did the now 70 year old kindergarden supervisor that my parents met randomly on a trip to Rome remember me. She said “yes, Volker, the child that couldn’t separate from his parents, I couldn’t help him”. It got stuck in her mind. There was this boy she couldn’t help as he cried when being separated from his mum. And now, after all those years she finds out that actually I am going to be ok. Or am I? Only now she seems to find “closure”.

What I am trying to say is that things stick in your mind. I remember sitting next to my friend “Astrid” on a bench in my parents’ home. I was two. I don’t remember much else until I was three but I do remember sitting next to her. I have seen pictures but still remember it was her and I was looking at her from an angle differently to the one in the picture, e.g. it must have been a real experience. And this experience stuck in my mind, and there are others which took years for me to find closure with – if that is a good way of describing it?

Now I am a dad. I have the responsibility to have only good experiences for Colin and Rohan. I am in charge. How do I avoid them remembering things that might be bad? Things that influence them later in life? How can I avoid this feeling of the kindergarten person that “I cannot help”? How can I avoid them having to find closure with experiences they had when they were young?

Maybe I am paranoid. But I guess us parents are when we don’t have all the answers. Maybe I am just worried. Maybe I just want to have all the answers for my boys? Maybe I am just trying to be a good dad. Maybe I am just trying too hard. Maybe I think that even small bad experiences have a high impact whilst they really don’t?

Bottom line: I don’t know. All those stories are handed down from generation to generation. Some true, some are not, and some become more heroic over time. And for a split second I was forwarding myself by 40 years to when I am sitting there with my boys, them having family and I am the granddad.

And I would be telling them about what they did when they were two years old. I would be thinking back to today. And I’d speak of all those things that are still to come too, like kindergarten, school, sports, travel, puberty, first girlfriend, uni, graduation etc……

There is so much that lies ahead of us. So many more memories to collect. But at the end of the day it is this very moment, this moment in time we have to cherish and enjoy. The stories live on and can be amended.

But what really counts, is the love and the attention that you give to your kids this very moment. Only this very moment is real. Only this very moment can be cherished. Everything else is gone or a “future possible”. But it is the here and now you can change, cherish and enjoy.

I had a fantastic weekend. Not only with my boys, but with my wife, my parents and my in-laws. It was a true family weekend. Annoying, lovely, tense, and great. All facets of life played back to you within a very short period of time. I hate it, and I love it. It was a good weekend.

Now that is it I believe. Much more simple than it sounds.
But I am trying. Once again, I am trying. Because I want to look back to a good time. I want to look back to a time we enjoyed, and where we cherished every moment. Because we could and because we wanted.

And it is great. Life is fantastic!

I love being a dad. I love being part of (a) family (ies). I truly do.