I have a confession; I’m not a huge fan of the beach. There; I’ve said it, and I can’t take it back. Despite living right by some truly remarkable beaches, I’ve never been one for spending time on them.
But now, of course, things are different; there’s a purpose to going, as an activity that I can only pray tires my son out for a short while … oh, and that he enjoys. I probably should have put that first.
He loves the beach, and we’ve been three times in the last week or so; twice with two of his friends from school and their families (absolutely delightful human beings), and once with just the two of us. It’s a bugger to get rid of all the sand, I have to be honest, and the washes I’ve had to do this week have made me wish that we had solar panels on the roof to offset some of the cost.
Still, on the other hand, I’m rather fond of giving my son happy memories – and what better than something that allows him to exercise and stretch? I was not a very active child, and would have been happy to be left to my own devices with a book, a radio, and a TV (where four channels was a luxury). Parenting a child so active is exhausting, but any parent worth their salt accepts their child for who they are, not who the parent says they should be.
It was my birthday this Thursday just gone, and I was rewarded with some beautiful presents. He later told me that he had decided to do me something separate for Father’s Day, which I thought was rather decent of him, all things considered. I’ve never been one for massive celebrations; when I was 21, I had a joint birthday party with two of my friends, and that was rather fun, but also unusual for me; I don’t usually organise anything more lively than a meal out somewhere.
But, of course, this year was very different; I always (wherever possible) refuse to work on my birthday. It’s a quirk of mine, dating back to my late teens when I went into work on my 19th birthday and was shouted at by a customer. I thought, “Never again,” and never have. It was unusual, to have a birthday without any expectations of arranging get-togethers or going far afield; I’ve never really experienced that before, and it was lovely.
I think that’s something many of us can take away from the last few months; the change of pace to our lives. It’s unusual to have the opportunity to slow down – to stop – and think more deeply about the small pleasures in life; the everyday moments that we can often forget in the heat of getting from place to place and experience to experience. I’ve seen people comment that they can’t wait to get back to their old, busy lives, and if that works for them, then fine – but that’s not for me. These past few months have helped redefine what the fundamentals are, and I’m comfortable making some changes; it’s not about Father’s Day cards (which Bryan is currently remaking in a frenzy of activity as the first one seems to have been … misplaced in the maelstrom that is his bedroom), but about moments in time that can never come back again.
Father’s Day is a perfect example; Bryan very proudly made a card for me the other day, but it has somehow been sucked into the black hole that used to be called his bedroom. I could see the panic in his eyes this morning as he came into my bedroom to confess, and I had two options; to get cross or disappointed that he’d lost it, or help him think of a solution. As a result, he’s currently working on a new card and a new present – and I know these will mean even more because he is investing a lot into them. And, hopefully, he’ll have learnt a lesson for next year.
No-one said this parenting lark would ever be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dads out there, including my own.