Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Child of our time

Just watched Child of our Time which has always offered me a little glimpse into my future as the children are just three years older than my eldest boy. Tonight's episode was particularly poignant as it captures all the children on the cusp of teenage. Watching them transition from carefree, twirling toddlers to spotty awkward almost adults was almost physically painful.

I have long been one to agonise over the loss that is intrinsic to childhood, weeping over last trips to baby music groups, playgroups or classrooms. I still recall walking home after my oldest boy's last day in his reception class as tears poured down both our cheeks at the realisation that he would no longer pass his days in that colourful room, with that delightfully welcoming teacher. That he would finally become a big boy.

I am not good at letting go and appear to have developed an allergy to change. I watch as my children grow up and ram my finger down on the pause button. While everyday frustrations mean that often their demands on my time drive me demented, I continually scold myself that one day I will long for the time when they would badger me to play with them, talk to them or simply provide them with a fresh piece of paper to scribble on.

I felt my heart preparing to be crushed into a million scared and bewildered pieces as I watched the onscreen parents attempt to navigate their new relationships with their growing up children. Flailing to cope with the fact that the daughters who had loved nothing more than pink and fairy tales, now scorn them as childish preferring to discuss potential boyfriends and mull over future career choices in which the option of astronaut has been firmly rejected in favour of pop star or actress.

The sons who were only recently the same unformed mess of energy that is so typical of my own young boys, who are now sullen, wrapped up in fashionably flicked hair dos and unfeasibly baggy trousers, who listen to music their parents can't pronounce and have ditched childhood sporting dreams in favour of hanging out aimlessly with their friends.

The grandparents who played such a critical role in the years when the height of excitement was pushing the swing a little faster in the playground or being spun on the roundabout are now superfluous to a teenager's needs. The are too old and too slow to hold the attention of someone whose life is moving forwards at such high speed.

It is the heartbreaking human condition that time marches inexorably on leaving each of us behind eventually, even those all powerful teenagers whose hormones tell them they are immortal and invincible. Who amongst us doesn't blush at our callous treatment of our parents when we look back on our teens with the benefit of hindsight?

It is a strange thing though that for us as parents we are savouring each moment, holding onto them for dear life as our children just as eagerly seek to discard them. Perhaps it will serve as a warning to occasionally stop work or to miss out on that run or that episode of my favourite TV programme in order to just be with them. To drink in their childhood before it runs out.


  1. That's one side of the coin - treasuring the precious moments. But the other side, the letting go, has great positives too. I am finding it very exciting, watching the man emerge from the child in my oldest (age 15). There are definite challenges, and it's emotionally exhausting, and yes, you do feel excluded, and I do find I shout more than I mean to... but he wants to discuss politics, he watches West Wing with us, he has a really dry sense of humour, he still adores his grandmother, he trained the dog to stay - which I hadn't even attempted as I'd assumed the dog was far too skittish for it ever to manage that... Take heart - it's not all bad.

  2. Particularly difficult one for us to watch as we related to the mum who discovered her boy had been bullied at school for 5 years before telling his mum. But very positive to see that the move to a different school has given him happiness, lovely new friends and he (and his mum who also experienced bullying as a child) are doing OK!

  3. Oh are making me sad. I can only hope that the love and attention we give our children now will result in them navigating the teen years as well as possible to become balanced, loving adults.