Grandma & Grandad, Mum & Dad

Well that’s another first under the belt, my first ever Father’s Day as a dad. So far Phoebe seems fairly pleased with my progress, although to be fair it must be pretty hard to mess it up in six weeks. Hard, but not impossible as maybe suggested by earlier posts.

One unexpected aspect of Baby Beno’s arrival into the world was just how reminiscent she is of that other popular, influential and temperamental lady, Grandma Benson.

It happened almost immediately. Out popped our chubby little angel/monster, our first surprise was the finger nails, then the inky colored eyes, then the fluffy skin. Soon, those baby mannerisms and that head of dark hair instantly made me recall someone who I hadn’t thought deeply about for quite a while.

Carol passed away 3 years and 3 weeks before Phoebe’s grand appearance, thanks to a condition called Cerebellar Ataxia. The prolonged illness that damaged her balance, memory, speech and personality, from middle age to a sad end at age 61, left us with not only a distorted memory of what she was actually like, but also a fear that there’s a small chance that the same fate awaits us kids too.

Of course, having your own little munchkin gives you plenty to worry about, so there’s really not much point in dwelling on something that might never happen. There is though, the interesting question of just how much mum and dad’s child raising capabilities and personality have influenced my own.

When I think about that it reminds me of what my therapist said… Now wait. I know that already makes me sound like a raving looney, but hang on, she was a marriage guidance counsellor and it seemed like a good idea at the time! Aaaaanyway…

She said that parents obviously influence their kids but as young adolescents, we basically choose our own path. Hence, some footballers’ kids become footballers, some don’t, some steelworkers’ kids also become steelworkers, whilst others become doctors.

I suspect I’m over-simplifying her argument. She didn’t even laugh when I told her a Freudian Slip was ‘when you say one thing but mean a mother’, but then again I had just told her that ‘we’d got divorced’ when I meant to say ‘she got divorced’. Oops!

So, having strayed dangerously close to the cliff edge last time when thinking about baby’s status as potential relationship killer, I did wonder what the ideal family unit was for taking the stress out of raising children (before realizing there isn’t one).

I had the pleasure of the very popular ‘married couple, followed by single parent’ experience.

Sean Connery says you don’t know you’re underprivileged when you grow up poor because you’ve nothing to compare it to. Well, in this case you kinda do. That said, I always felt that it was the amount of ‘facetime’ we did or didn’t get with our parents that really mattered. The main problem here was that whatever they did or didn’t do right, I could never argue the point with my parents because they always came back with ‘well you came out alright didn’t you?’. How do you really judge success anyway?

Maybe for inspiration and guidance I can look to my contemporaries. Thanks to already being an old duffer there’s a plethora of examples of excellent offspring raising. Many friends have kids that are pleasant and just great to be around, sporty, arty or just plain good. Some are doing great at school, at the top of their class and passing exams. Some are going to college. A couple have passed driving tests. One is a bloody prospective Olympic cyclist!

Okay, maybe this isn’t such a great idea then. Too much pressure! Let’s just leave it by saying here’s one new father happy to have reached the end of another day without totally messing up, and with a little wriggling, crying, pooping and burping darling that, in my eyes at least, is pretty damn perfect.

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