I came to parenthood rather later than intended, becoming a father of IVF twin boys, Arthur and Henry, at the tender age of 43. Now, fifteen months in, things are starting to get interesting as they are learning to move around, talk and understand. I have to start doing some actual parenting rather than merely being a conduit for their survival. I’m beginning to wonder if I might be a little out of my depth as I attempt to demonstrate to them who’s boss.
I could, I suppose, read one of the many parenting manuals available. But then I am a bloke and we don’t usually do all that well in that regard. A friend advised that when he became stepdad to two young girls about 12 years ago he adopted a process he called open and honest parenting. I christened it Google Parenting because whenever one of the girls had a question he didn’t know the answer to, he would Google it and follow the links, employing YouTube where necessary.
This came back, quite literally, to bite him in the arse one day when the younger of the girls asked him what rimming was. He had to use Google. His step-daughter’s curiosity quickly waned, but I believe he spent an interesting afternoon following the suggested links generated by the initial enquiry.
I really have to look to what I know, so I’ve decided to model my parenting on the best parents I know – my own. It is said we all turn into our parents, the most clichéd example being the turning off of lights and yes, I have mentioned Blackpool (and Vegas) on more than one occasion when returning home to an empty, well-lit house. I also know where every last penny of my money goes, just like my mum did with the housekeeping money. I’m well-primed.
The thing is, I was brought up in a 1970s sleepy market town in a quiet cul-de-sac. They were different times. As soon as I could walk I was out of the door playing with all the other kids. It never rained in summer and always snowed in winter. All the kids lived among all of the neighbour’s houses, eating and drinking wherever food and drink happened to be dished out. My folks wouldn’t see me for hours, possibly days. I even learned to ride a bike without them knowing, depriving my dad of that proud but nerve-wracking, hand-letting-go-of-the-saddle moment. I was pretty much feral.
You’d have thought the social workers and the health visitors would have something to say about this, but we lived next door to a social worker and his wife was our health visitor. The kids I was off playing with included theirs.
Clearly, we can’t do this with Arthur and Henry. Our health-visitor would have a fit for a start. So as great as my upbringing was (and I had a blast), I’m going to have to find another way. Now, where did I put that manual?
Andrew was selected as a BISS guest blogger after entering our June linky. For your chance to write for GoodtoKnow, check out our Because I Said So platform.