Call it lack of sleep or a certain summer melancholy that’s overcome me but there have been several moments in the past couple of weeks where the transient nature of childhood and by extension parenthood have been very real for me.
We spent a long weekend camping in the Norfolk Broads over the weekend. A mixture of lots of outdoor activities, late nights and, for him, relatively early starts, left the boy a little sensitive. Although we went on holiday with friends and their kids, we came back alone as they’re on a nine night trip and we only did 4. Perhaps one of my biggest failings as a Dad is that I over-empathise with the boy. He’s 5 and prone to tears when things don’t work out just the way he wants them to. So when we had a lovely picnic by Salhouse Broad and had to leave our friends there for fishing and paddling to come home, he was quite upset.
As I gave him a big cuddle, the sort of cuddle only a Dad is qualified to give (not as reassuring as a Mum cuddle but more engulfing and cathartic), I thought that my little boy is upset. A few years ago we didn’t even have a little boy and in a few years a hug from his Dad in public will be just about the most horrific thing he can imagine. As his tears soaked into my gilet, and I stroked his hair I felt empowered at my ability to make things okay but also immensely sad that it wont be long before my ability to do this simple thing for him will be gone. He’ll be bigger and have to console himself; find his own ways to deal with upset and hurt.