RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘children’

  1. #BEDM14: Fear 2, the sequel

    May 2, 2014 by superlative

    #BEDM14 topic – The things you’re most afraid of

    I wrote about this topic last year so I’ve already used up two of my biggest fears – cancer and death. I’m not doing those again, so I’ll have to think of some more things.

    Being wrong
    This one affects quite a few aspects of my life. I hate doing things wrong, or making the wrong decision, to the point where I’ll try to prepare and plan for every possible eventuality. I have to research everything, learn everything and feel I’m in complete control of a situation or it freaks me out and I get really uncomfortable and anxious. So this fear also covers moments of change in my life, especially if I’ve initiated them by moving house or starting a new job or anything similar. What if I commit to something and it’s wrong? What if I mess it up? Even worse, what if someone else KNOWS I’ve messed it up? Urgh, it’s horrible.

    In some ways this fear helps me, because it’s a good motivator to be really clever and know about everything. But it’s also a bit crippling, especially if it makes me avoid change, or expend lots of energy worrying about being wrong or losing control. People just are wrong sometimes, so I’m never going to be able to prevent it entirely. But I find it hard to let go.

    This is another anxiety-related one. I was mugged several times as a child, and was always one of the bookish, easy target sort of children that attracted the attention of the yobby East London boys I grew up around. So, not unreasonably, I developed a fear of rowdy or rough children in the street. I got good at spotting them from a distance and adjusting my route to avoid them without actually looking like I was avoiding them. I did my best not to be noticed by them. I still feel traumatised by the worst muggings and other experiences I had as a child, and I try not to think about them because of the rage they create in me at the injustice of it all.

    But the worst thing really is that my fear hasn’t gone away in adulthood. It has expanded to include rough-looking adults in the street too, but I still also feel anxious when passing a group of rowdy children or when I’m on the bus with them. I don’t think I’m afraid of being physically attacked by them – I’d like to think that even I could beat up a child if I really wanted to – but I worry that they’ll hassle me and make me look like an idiot. Children these days know you can’t do anything to them or give them a clip round the ear like people used to, so the shitty ones feel free to be horrible to people with impunity.

    Obviously I try not to look like I’m worried about it, and I don’t tell anyone because it sounds rather foolish to say you’re feeling afraid of those 13 year-olds over there. And nothing ever actually happens anyway; why would it? So the whole thing ends up being rather pointless.




  2. Big kids

    May 23, 2013 by superlative

    Blog every day in May topic – Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you 

    I had to think about this one for a while, but in the end all the things I came up with seemed to have to do with children’s perception of adults – either the perception they create themselves, or the one adults ask children to have.

    So the first thing I’ve learnt that school won’t teach you is this: adults are just children in bigger bodies.

    When you’re a child, you might typically think that your parents and your teachers know everything. That they’re always right. That they generally know what they’re doing. That they’re sensible and grown up, and probably a little boring. This, however, is false.

    Adulthood seems to consist of a learned veneer of maturity and a way of speaking with a degree of confidence. But underneath, we’re all just big kids. We might speak to children (and adults, in formal situations) in a lofty, knowledgeable way, but lots of adults when left alone in a group will just talk about rude things because it’s titillating. We’ll make idiotic jokes. We’ll talk about people who we don’t like, and encourage other people not to like them either. We’ll hope that other people like us, and secretly worry that they don’t. We’re just unsupervised children with driving licences and credit cards.

    Lots of adults aren’t very confident either, even if they seem it, and lots don’t seem to know anything at all. They might know more than a child, but there is a reason why children have a reputation for asking difficult questions – it’s because if you press most adults beyond their veneer of knowledge, there isn’t actually very much underneath.

    We need children to trust adults because adults have to exercise authority to keep them safe. If an adult says drinking bleach is dangerous, a suspicion that the adult doesn’t know what they’re talking about is not going to be advantageous to the child. So I’m not advocating that we reveal our flaws and foibles to our offspring. I suppose I am instead just musing that there must come a point where a child will realise the truth on their own. And at that point the child could choose to start behaving like an adult if it pleased them, and all they’d be missing is the bigger body.

    Related to this is the second thing I’ve learnt that school won’t teach you: it’s OK to question what you’re told. In fact, it’s very important to question what you’re told.

    This is a funny one, because children spend their earliest years being instructed to accept knowledge as it is presented to them. We might say we want them to be independent learners, but for all the core stuff, basic skills, social mores, and anything to do with any religion they’re being instructed in, we actually just want them to shut up and memorise.

    It’s only later in their education that they start to be told that this is a very bad thing. By postgraduate level, you’re not meant to be reading and regurgitating – if you aren’t questioning the text you’re reading, you’re not reading it right. But what happens if children never get told when they start questioning things? If it’s left too late, or they never learn that lesson, they go through life accepting things just because someone says so in a loud voice, or because it’s printed in a newspaper or written on a webpage.

    This is a very, very bad thing. As mentioned earlier, lots of adults don’t know what they’re talking about. Accepting what they say is a recipe for disaster. Learning about something, hearing different points of view, and making up your own mind based on evidence, is extremely important, and not enough people seem able to do it.

    So I suppose my advice to children would be – yes listen to adults, but be a little cautious. Look at a dictionary or an encyclopaedia (it’ll be an online one, I imagine, so make it reputable) and don’t be afraid to check things. Taking control of your own learning is one of the most valuable things you’ll ever do.

  3. ‘Do you think you’ll have kids?’, they ask generously

    February 15, 2011 by superlative

    We spent the weekend staying with some friends and their small children, and it was actually quite nice and not as annoying as I thought it would be having curly haired tots running around all over the place.

    As often happens during any mention of children and families, I was asked the question ‘Do you think you’ll have kids?’ by our friends.

    People like to ask us you see, because they don’t want to assume we won’t have children just because we’re gayers and don’t have a vagina to rub between us, and probably because it makes them feel quite hip and trendy to be so natural about the idea of gays having children. I’m not sure if they would ask straight friends in quite the same way, because the presumption is slightly more that yes they will have children one day unless they have vehemently said in the past that they never want any.

    My answer used to be that yes one day I would like to have children, even though I didn’t know how we would achieve it or at what point in our lives ‘one day’ would be reached. I’ve always felt that I would be a good father, that I would enjoy raising a child and teaching it things, and that I have a duty to bring up one or two children properly just to dilute the number of god awful children and terrible parents that there are in the world.

    Over the last couple of years though I have come to realise that no, it’s not going to happen. Quite aside from the technical issues of finding a willing oven for my bun, I don’t think that I’m ever going to arrive at that ‘one day’ point where I want to change everything about my life, stop doing everything that I enjoy doing, and completely slog my guts out for years (even if it does feel rewarding) raising a child.

    We have a few friends who have had children now as we’re getting to that age when everyone starts popping them out. And while they seem very happy with the choice that they have made, and are happy with how their life is, they’re just not the same people that they were before they had children. It changes everything, everything, about your life, and consumes every single part of every single day. Where you can go, what you can do, what time you can do it, what you experience, what you talk about – all of it is swept aside and a completely new order is imposed with the child at its centre.

    And that’s fine, for them. That’s their choice, and I’m not criticising it.  But I can’t see myself ever wanting that.

    I like eating out. I like going on holiday. I like spending money on myself and my partner. I like having a tidy house full of nice things. I like peace and quiet. I like being able to go somewhere on no notice, overnight if I want, and it’s up to me.

    That all goes away when you have children, or at least goes away for so long that you’re a different person by the time your children are self-sufficient and don’t need you all the time.

    And in return you get the joy of children, and their love, and their company, and that’s fine. I just don’t think I can give up everything for that.

    So my position in recent years has become that I want to contribute to a child’s life, but not to have my own. I want to babysit nieces or nephews; I want them to be excited when I come round and to run out to greet me and see what I’ve brought them; I want to take them out and show them things, and chase them and scoop them up.

    But then I want to give them back.

    And I think that’ll be fine, and will be fulfilling enough for me. I can love them and be loved by them, and shop for nice things for them, and give their Mum and Dad a hand and a break by taking them away for a bit sometimes, but they’ll be an addition to my life not a transformation of it.

    So now all I need is for someone to have some. Chris’ brother will, at some point I’m sure. He’s been married a couple of years and is in his 30s, so it can’t be all that much longer. They live far away though, which is a shame, because it means visits will be more infrequent. My own brother and his wife are a bit closer, but I honestly can’t see them having any – again, it’d be too much of a change to their lifestyle. And those are my only options for nieces and nephews.

    So I suppose I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Chris’ brother to have some soon, and reconcile myself to long drives on the motorway with sackfuls of Ben 10 merchandise in the boot.