If you don’t actually remember saying it yourself then you will, most likely, remember hearing newly pregnant couples saying something along the lines of, “We are not going to let the baby change anything / our social lives / our lifestyle.” Those people who already have at least one child will also remember the wry smile and nod of affirmation that they gave in response to the proclamation. That would be because we are aware, and painfully so, of the degree of change that comes with the arrival of a child. Oh well, they’ll find out!
But! Yes there’s always a big ‘But.’ There are some things that still surprise the seasoned child care professional (also known as a parent, after all it is a full-time job whatever we first thought.)
Nobody ever told me that the success of days would be measured in terms of smiles and tears. Nobody ever told me that a day without seeing my son, and as a pilot I am away a lot, would be an incomplete day. Nobody ever told me that you only need to look away for ten minutes and your child has grown an inch and learnt how to use the TV, video recorder, microwave and computer. Nobody ever told me that the words, “I love you Daddy,” would bring the world to a halt, and put everything into perspective, and take the sting out of a bad day, and be the cure for the common cold. Nobody ever told me that hearing about a knee scrape could give me such pain and consternation or that hearing about the sticky pizza slice, devoured at lunch, could give such listening pleasure. Nobody ever told me that I would be laughing, as opposed to gagging, whilst scraping excrement from every imaginable crevice of my son and trying to divine how it possibly had got there.
Nobody ever told me that a child is more than a social inconvenience but also an addiction; if I am travelling and I don’t get to talk to my son, or better yet videoconferencing for the total e-parenting or ‘tele-parenting’ (to coin a phrase) experience, I feel cheated and suffer from withdrawal. Nobody ever told me that the ‘unpaid’ post of father, and I can safely assume mother too, would be the most heartbreaking and simultaneously joyous and rewarding undertaking of my life.
Next time you hear the, “We won’t let it change…” speech, write down the date, time and name of the utterer and then a couple of years later you can ask them if they would care to retract their statement. You can also ask them what “Nobody ever told them.”
©Jeremy Vandersluis 2005
If you enjoyed this article, you can find more of Jeremy's anecdotes, this time flight related, in his book, 'They're All Trying to Kill Me!: (Or How I Manage to Survive as a Flight Instructor)'
Find They're All Trying to Kill Me! at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com