One of the things parents must understand is that their child is an individual. Like it or not, the child is their own person, not just a carbon copy of mum or dad. To an unpartisan observer it’s clear that this dissimilarity is often a good thing. That said, real differences in the personalities of parents and their offspring can make life a little… well, ‘interesting’.
Take a look at my diary entry from the time I discovered that my son and I weren’t necessarily on the same page when it comes to social interactions.
I didn’t think I was an introvert until I became father to a TOTAL extrovert.
“Get outside of your comfort zone!” that’s what they say, isn’t it?
For the record, I’m not 100% sure who ‘they’ are, but this is certainly the type of philosophy that seeps into your bones if you consume any form of media these days.
Life as a parent, especially as a stay-at-home-dad, can feel like a permanent expedition ‘out of the comfort zone’. It’s a daily learning curve, where everything you do feels somehow ‘foreign’. With the arrival of kids, my life did a 180 degree turn and has filled with pressures and demands that I’d never even considered considering before. TBH, until recently, I thought that this type of a revolution was a 360 degree turn until someone pointed out this would leave you back exactly where you started.
I was never a fan of maths.
The thing is, I’m not a shy person. I’m really not. But spending time with my 4-year-old is making me look and feel like one. He doesn’t have a ‘shy’ bone in his body. He is loud, he is enthusiastic and he is unpredictable. Don’t get me wrong, in most contexts, these are all admirable qualities – they really are. But that doesn’t mean that his enthusiastic embracement of life and anyone that comes within a half-mile radius of him can’t, on occasion, make this slightly-more-reserved-daddy feel a little awkward.
After a recent trip to stay at his grandparents, where the neighbours are a lot more friendly and engaged than most, my son has decided it’s perfectly normal to shout (I do mean shout) “Hey there!” to everyone he passes on the street.
It is, I must admit, unbelievably cute.
His untamed enthusiasm screams of all that is wonderful about children. It’s also, in the abstract, incredibly funny. As we walk through the shopping centre other pedestrians stop, mid conversation, and double take – trying to find the source of a booming “Hey there!” Some reply, while others scowl (scowling at an enthusiastic 4-year-old is pretty pathetic, don’t you think?). More still laugh and nod at me. The thing is, he has no filter, no boundaries. My son will as happily go up to someone mid argument or someone else polishing off their 5th can of Special Brew, as approach the Miss Marples of this world.
What I’m slowly learning is how to avoid showing any form of embarrassment with this unfettered behaviour. I’m not embarrassed by my son, far from it. I just wouldn’t, necessarily, choose to act that way myself. I’ll tell you this much, through him I’m now on acquainted with a whole host of my community who kept themselves to themselves before the kids arrived.
One of these days I’m going to take a leaf out of my son’s book and start shouting ‘Hey there!’ at strangers. I may, however, wait until he’s a teenager – it’s all part of my long-term plan to become the world’s most embarrassing dad.
Chris McGuire, Outofdepthdad.com