Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Is there such a thing as a happy childhood?

Before I even start writing I want to put a disclaimer on this post.  This post is not written in any way to diminish the trauma in peoples' lives -- especially in their early life.  I concede many people have had a childhood and life crappier than mine.  This post although inspired by ones I have read very recently by a number of people is not an attack or a STFU.  I am not here to say how my early life sucked and how it made me more successful or happier in my later years.  I don't want to re-hash my past or show how it made me stronger. I want to write about the fact that it's not the 'bad times' that create us, it's how we deal and learn from them that matter.

You can place siblings together in the same family situations, yet there is no guarantee that they will both come out into adulthood in the same mental frame.  More likely one will be successful and one will be a screw-up -- with both sides blaming each other for the residual baggage they bring into their adult years.  Why should that be?

The thing is, I don't think there is one person out there who thinks their childhood was perfect.  Admittedly some are 'more perfect' than others, but we have to remember that our parents are people and they screw up.  Their screw-ups will diminish our perception of our younger years.  Regardless of how well you parent, you can guarantee that at some point your kids will come back at you and claim
you 'ruined their life'.  I joke to D, that when he becomes a adult we will do a deal.  He can pay for my hair-dye and I will pay for his therapy.  I have pretty much accepted that he will claim I was the reason for X, Y, and Z happening in his life.  He will then have kids and realise that he is now the one to blame ;)

Taking D as an example, I know that he will not have the happiest childhood.  When he hits 18, he will look at the stuff he is going through now and see how hard it was for him.  He will see the fact that he wasn't in school much.  He will see that his friends thought he was strange.  He will look at the fact  stopped him doing everything he ever wanted and my favourite word is "No".  He will look back at all of the international moves we made and wonder why we couldn't stay in one place for longer than a car-lease. He will remember that I hated playing his computer games with him, even though they were the most important thing in the world.  He will remember that I would lose it occasionally and shout at him.

When he hits his teens, he will probably dye his hair purple, wear the strangest clothes on the planet, drink, smoke, swear and get into a few scrapes.  He will storm into his bedroom as I tell him his girlfriend, or boyfriend or consensual animal can't stay the night.

He will look back at all the stuff I am doing now -- not working, spending all the time in school talking to staff, ferrying him too and from therapy -- and call me controlling.  I never let him have the freedom he wanted.  The fact is, if I went the opposite way -- I just let him get on with it and assumed he would figure it all out on his own -- then I would be blamed for not caring or helping him enough.

He won't remember the trips out we had together.  He won't remember me holding him as he slept or the hugs I gave him when he had a boo-boo.  Doesn't matter if he remembers or not.  I will still do them because I will remember.  I will also take ton's of photo's as evidence when he says "You never took me anywhere".

Negative events become more fixed in our memories than positive ones.  You remember the horrors, but not so much the joys.

If this is the situation with our kids, it stands to reason it is the same for us too.

Our lives and childhoods are never going to be perfect.  It stands to reason that they won't.  We are not our parents and they are not us.  No matter how we try to understand our kids, or we try to understand our parents, it will never be enough and as such there will always be disasters.  Yep, there are some parents who do jack shit for their kids -- who are frankly no more than kids themselves.  There will always be parent's who in our conservative mind-set should never be allowed to procreate.  Their kids will grow up fine.  However, there will also be parent's who no matter what they do, from reading all the parenting books in the library to taking courses will still produce screw-up's.

The fact is that the most important thing we can remember is that we are going to mess-up our kids.  The  most honest thing we will ever admit is that we are making this up as we go along.  The best skill we can teach our kids is that when life goes wrong, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and we start all over.  That disasters are only disasters if you let them rule your life.  You are only as strong as you want to be.  No matter what we do as parent's, it's the childs' attitude that will prove wether they are a survivor or a victim.

Because in the end, that's what they will be.  A survivor or a victim, there is no middle ground no matter what we do.  Our job as a community is to show kids how to be a survivor.


As I said before, this post wasn't in any way set to diminish anyone or their lives.  This post wasn't designed to say my life was crappier than yours, or your childhood was shittier than mine.  I don't want to rehash the stuff that happened to me in the past as such, because frankly I am over it.  I have dusted myself off and attacked life with a bloody big hammer.  I just wanted to say that teaching each other how to do just that; to take the knocks and bruises and come back up with a smile and a whoop-arse punch is what makes the difference between a crappy life and a good one.




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