Children and Questions – any idea’s?

I wrote this in the summer last year – and have just found it again, and it still has resonance for me so I thought I’d share it with you…

No.1 son decided on the way home from cubs to talk about words; “What does truce  mean?”
I gave him a brief explanation about how it’s just a way to make an agreement, and it’s a good way to keep the peace – my mind was already on making lunches and ironing uniforms for the next day.
“Why don’t the armies do that then? Why don’t they just call one of these truces and not go to war?”
The idle chat on the journey home instantly became one of those moments – well, it did for me at any rate. I was suddenly desperate to give him the right answer – but what was that exactly? What was I supposed to say?
He sat looking at me as I scratched around for a response, until finally huffing at me he turned to look out of the window.
I lurched into a bumbling explanation that both sides need to want peace to call a truce, and that’s not always how it is…which naturally lead to a waterfall of more questions, it turned out that I had entered… The ChildMind-field. That day at school they had been talking about soldiers, and communicating with different cultures.
“Mum, did you know Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas? That’s not even fair, how can Father Christmas leave those children out?”
He was outraged on behalf of the present-less children, and I just pulled a blank – what could I say? He was 9 a week ago, and I’ve been really keen for him to keep his Christmas belief for one last year, and the absolute unfairness of his observation struck me that I may have succeeded a little too well – he did believe. But he was now vilifying a cheerful old man in a red velvet suit for leaving other children out.
I need a handbook that has all the answers, as I never seem to have the right ones. I just offer up explanations hoping I get across a fair opinion for all, and in the meantime I just make things worse by offering too much information, or maybe not enough – or in the case of good ol’ Saint Nick, by not just telling him the truth…

What happens as our babies become children?

OK – so this blog is a bit garbled, but i hope you get the general idea…..

The Next Stage.

I’ve just driven home, and passed a man in a velvet jacket in his – I don’t know – early 30’s – ish, pushing one of these new fangled buggy’s with a little baby – who was maybe six to eight months old. And it strikes me that I wanted to get something down on paper that conveys this feeling – this ‘Sophie Dahl’ type expression of melancholy. That minute where you know, especially in this day and age that you’re not old per say – I mean, I’m only in my thirties, I’m still young (right?) – but there is a moment when you see a man – a Dad or a Mum – singularly or both together with a young baby, where you realize that isn’t you anymore, that stage of your life is over and you just have no – no…..what?… it draws a blank thought.

You know that the next time you hold a baby in your arms that you’ll care about in quite that way, will be when your own children have children.

I remember reading an article a few years ago along the lines of; gone are the days when you want to be the next David Beckham – now you hope that for your children, (not that I want for my son to be the next David Beckham, but you understand the sentimentality behind it), there is a point in your life when your hopes and dreams, almost aren’t for you anymore, you wish your hopes and dreams for your children. (Not like some pageant mum, shoot me now.) But you wish and yearn for them to have that newness of discovery, those feelings that you used to yearn for yourself, and it’s somehow more apparent when you see young Dad’s – it’s not quite the same when you see Mum’s, because we’re Mums, we know that they are worrying about milk and nap time’s and routine. But when a Dad is out on his own pushing the buggy – then you realize that those discoveries, those enormous big firsts in your life; (and I know this may sound a bit 1950’s), but when you get engaged and when you plan a wedding, when you get married, and you become a Mrs. and you introduce your ‘husband’, and we’re going to have a baby….those wonderful firsts.

And there is that feeling that your life is just starting out, and that you have become a grown-up in your own right, your starting a ‘life’ with a young family – when everything is new and fresh and surprising and frightening, and then there suddenly comes a time – or a stage ….

When even though your children are still young, they’re just not babies anymore, they’re not toddlers, they are growing up, trying to find their stride in life – working on they’re personalities, becoming their own person.

And then you see these little babies in buggies and you feel a sense of loss, for the children that you wont have – even though I’m lucky enough to have three lovely children of my own and I don’t want to have anymore, but I also suddenly realize – like a punch to the heart – that this stage of my life is over.

It’s gone.

I was once the new Mum, the young Mum. But not anymore, now I’m becoming “Mother” *said with my best teenage infliction* (and when dealing with teenagers I definitely mean infliction, not inflection) I’m working towards becoming the embarrassing parent – you know the type; “Mum! Don’t dance like that” or “Mum! Why would say that?! Mum pick me up from the car park don’t come up to the school.”

Suddenly I’m fast approaching becoming that Mum, I’m not …ready? To become my parents. I find the thought quite distressing, and I wonder, is this when the crazy stages start setting in – when I decide to cut my hair in some obscenely young style, wear clothes that are inappropriate to me, like those – oh! Do you remember those tops back in the nineties, those bright sweaters with printed pussycats and printed dogs on and cute slogans underneath, I always remember my Auntie used to wear one of those; and she was about forty, and I used to think, ‘my god I wouldn’t even wear one of those (I’d have been 15 ish) what are you doing in one ?’ And now I don’t know, now I see these cute little sparkly flowery hairclips in shops and I think ‘oh I like that’ …DO I?? I mean really, DO I? Or am I scratching about for my youth. Should I just grow old in a rush – go to Marks and Spencers by a couple of white blouses, a pair of sensible brown trousers and brown flats, get my hair cut short – some sensible straight brown helmet of hair – square specs that I can frown over, a shawl, how far does this go ?? A nice little beige pashmina – how desperate.

But, there it is – that’s what it is, the next stage is fast approaching …