When the Americans dropped the nuclear bomb, twice, on Japan, did that change the country (both countries in fact)? Well, of course it did. I know, it is probably not the best or most appropriate analogy, and my wife will most likely punch me when she reads this, but you get the picture.
For the record, I love my kids very much and would not change them for anything in the World, and would do anything to keep them safe. So, I’m like most parents out there.
It was, however, a surreal experience to become a dad at first. Being handed the little bundle of joy and told that is your kid so love it, takes some time to adjust to. Your wife had almost 9 months adjusting and living with the baby inside, whereas you have to catch up in approx. 22 seconds – if you don’t react positively or correctly, then your wife, who is still in labour pains, will curse and beat you openly. But, that’s another blog all together.
But, having kids does change your life, no question about that. There are sooooo many things you are no longer able to do, not because you can’t, but because you now have new priorities. On the other hand, there are sooooo many things you can do again, things you haven’t done for years and secretely dream of doing again. I’m talking to the inner child here.
I have to admit, you miss being able to simple take your girlfriend (wife) by the hand and go to Paris for a spontaneous romantic weekend. Yes, you can do it, but with kids you need to organise baby sitters, often relatives, to mind your kids. And, these relatives are too nice to say yes, even if they really don’t want to – “of course we will look after your kids this weekend, while you are off enjoying yourself in Paris!!” It’ll cost you for years to come as well and will be mentioned in every speech at every family party thereafter – so perhaps that isn’t the best of ideas.
Another thing I miss is getting absolutely hammered with friends and my wife. Getting home late or early in the morning, getting a kebab on the way home, only to wake up the next morning with kebab sauce on your shirt and in your hair – not too mention the massive headache and hangover. You most likely wake up well after lunch / early afternoon.
Waking up with a hangover, and having kids, is the worst combination ever. Our kids have tendencies to wake up very early on weekends. We are talking before 06.30. I guess they simply want to spend all day with their parents, so they run straight into our bedroom to see if we are up. Lying there with a hangover, while your son bangs or slaps your head with his hands and your daughter imitating Sarah Brightman cures any hangover – or does it? If you try to pull the duvet over your head, then they just join you underneath it, thinking that you are playing with them. You gotta love them.
But, you are getting older, so you can’t last as long in the pub or drink as much as you could back in the young days anyway. We’ve gone out with friends, leaving the kids at home, to get some food and drinks, only to find that we are all getting slight tired around 23ish (11pm ish). Personally, I’m getting so old that I can’t stand sitting in a noisy pub, pretending to hear what people say and laugh at the wrong time in a joke. So, I enjoy having friends over instead or visit them of course.
Traveling with kids is just a challenge, nothing else. Don’t make too much of a scene out of it. You can read more about our experiences in our other blogs, but we’ve been lucky with our kids. Perhaps it is simply a matter of trying to entertain them, get them food and make sure they have enough sun protection on (unless you have your holiday in Ireland like we did!) while bathing in the pool. Most parents are, I think, more worried about how their kids behave and what other people might think, rather than letting their hair down and relax – honestly, if you worry too much, then you end up being too stressed and not enjoying your time with the family. YES, they need to behave, especially when having dinners, and they will – most of the time. 🙂
Now, having kids brings something back that you have been without for ages – playing with toys. As a father, you might as well admit it, you have always wanted to play with toys again. It doesn’t matter what toys (barbies would be the wrong choice to suggest or play with, with your son) as long as you can drive the little cars on the floor again, build amazing worlds with Lego or make funny faces.
I myself, absolutely enjoy playing with Lego again. I find myself suggesting Lego to the kids, spread the pieces on the floor and start building house, castles, roads, etc. I don’t even notice that the kids have either left or fallen a sleep, and my wife looks funnily at me from the door – just because I make all the real sounds too. You know, a plane doesn’t just fly silently, does it?
My kids seem to enjoy playing Lego with me, I think, as they always ask me to build the zoo or princess castle. It doesn’t take much to persuade me either.
Going to the toy store is another thing I really like. Running down the isles with the kids, looking for a new cool toy. I tend to stop at the Lego or Playmobil, to see how much has changed since I was a kid. I probable selected and bought 97% of the Lego, the last 3% they got as a present from my parents (my dad probably chose it). My parents have still kept all my Lego and Playmobil, just in case we come home on holidays and the kids want to play. I still remember the first set of Playmobil I got when I was a kid – Harzen (Germany), April 1979, indian village with indians, cowboys, tents and horses – coool.
People don’t even look weird at you anymore, when you test different toys in the toy store, merely because your kids are there too. Don’t worry, just go for it, it is so much fun to play again.
The other day, I tested my wife and mentioned food fight during dinner. She laughed nervously and gave me the stare. Us men know the stare from our wives well, and what the different stares means, so this one was “Don’t you dare!” I didn’t dare, but my daughter did, and within minutes the four of us were laughing and throwing pasta at each other. Pasta solo is fun as it sticks to your face, but pasta with tomato sauce is not that much fun, especially afterwards when I have to clean up.
We now enjoy meeting friends for late lunches or early dinners, normally in the houses, and have a lot of great laughs. Yes, we get some alcohol too, but moderate consumption, and the sessions last normally 2-4 hours, depending on how long the kids can last. I meet my mate occasionally for either golf or in the pub to watch football, but not as often we might want. But, it doesn’t really matter anymore, as our weekends are fully packed with kid activities, such as horseback riding.
So, your life has changed completely and now everything is being planned around the kids’ schedule. It takes a couple of years to adjust, but you will soon adapt to the new life style. A quote from a great Clint Eastwood movie (“Heartbreak Ridge“) “Improvise, adapt and overcome” says it all.
When the kids get a bit older, you get the chance to do some of all these things again. Looking at my parents, they had a huge party when I moved out and haven’t looked back since. In fact, they never offered me my room back when I had some financial problems as a student. “You moved out, remember, and you are an adult now”, that was what I got.
Anyway, I enjoy being a silly dad, within the 4 walls of our house of course, and I treasure all the hours ahead of me with loads of toys and all these wonderful Christmases and birthdays, with even more toys – yahoooo. I’m sure it’ll get to a point where my kids don’t want to play with me, as they are with their friends and don’t want to be embarrassed by me, but they go to bed earlier than me. he he he he 🙂
And remember, you will get grandkids one day, so you have to stay sharp.