7.05.2005

Manifesto

The question of having children is one that has never crossed my mind. Even as a child, I knew I would like to have one of my own. I admit that part of my motivation is to correct the errors of my parents' ways (my parents have been, and my mother continues to be in some regards, poor parents). I can understand those who do not wish to have them. They are a lot of work, sacrifice and even hardship. Children, as they grow older, can make their parents suffer at their hands (there are poor children as well as poor parents in this world; I know that I have been one on several occasions).

I have always felt as though I raised myself, and while I know that is simply untrue and ungrateful to boot, I cannot deny the feeling. I think my parents were never meant to be together but somehow ended up doing so. They were both in their forties when they were married, and I, in my embryonic form, was the impetus behind that union. They seperated when I was fifteen, about three years too late. I have nothing but wonderful memories of my childhood up to the age of twelve. Very few of them centre on my parents. I was mostly left to wander around on my own. I was left alone unsurpervised in a library, alone supervised at the park, free to wander the quiet neighbourhood roads and parks with the neighbourhood kids. I suppose they trusted me enough to let me do these things but at the same time they were never participants in my life, more like overseers with occasional leave. So long as I kept my nose clean and did well at school, I didn't hear much from either of my parents. I was given a lot of things like lessons for piano/tennis/chinese (yes, cantonese, to be precise; damned if I can do anything other than count to 10 and read dates) but interaction with my parents mostly consisted of the occasional game (scrabble, caroms, cards) with my mother or playing the rare game of keep-away with a soccer ball with my dad. Conversation, which is a keystone in my life, was a non-factor. Even now, my mother would rather talk of the ice cream she bought at the store than any real conversation. My brother tries to draw her out but it inevitably devolves into church doctrine. The closest I can come to intercation is getting her to relate to me her travels around the world. My mother, notoriously independent, has always been an individual and has seen more of the world than anyone else I know (and has also had a fascination with eating the various animals that inhabit our planet as though she were moving down some unwritten checklist). Even then, she refers to the personal details obliquely.

In any case (after I've single-mindedly turned this post into a screed about my parents' failings), I know that I can't be a friend to my son for many years to come. Authority prevents the full-disclosure an open friendship requires and I do feel responsible for giving my son a sense of right and wrong; I will not abrogate my duty to raise him to be a decent human. It is now my turn to wear the parent hat and I feel as though I'm working without a plan. My parents' example offer some guidance but nowhere near enough. I suppose I'll do what everyone else does: make it up as you go along. Thankfully, I have someone way more awesome than me to help me out (lord knows I'll need it). It'll be tricky to work it out together (we already disagree on a few points) but we've always negotiated our way to a common ground and I see no reason why this won't continue.

So now that I've written all this out, I await the day when I can look back at this post and laugh, laugh, laugh at how incredibly stupid I really am.