When you’re a kid, life is pretty simple. I’m not saying it’s easy, by the way. It isn’t. Childhood isn’t the rosy glow of crumpets dripping with butter and chintzy Cath Kidston style flannel pyjamas that people would have you believe, and anyone, anyone at all who tells you that school days are the best days of your life, needs shooting, instantaneously and on the spot.
It is simple though. In terms of problems, mainly the days are too long and you have to find ways to fill them. You have to find ways to deal with boredom. This is reasonably easy in the days of 24 hour cartoon channels, access to social media and the robust market share Lego is still enjoying. Then you have to find ways to mask your utter egocentric, selfishness and half heartedly pretend you actually give a bit of a shit about other people. This is easy to achieve when their problems interrupt the smooth running of your life, less so, otherwise.
We are, as children, pretty much animals without the cute button noses and fur. I include myself and my children in this theory, by the way. I am not for the moment stating that me and mine are any better or worse than you and yours.
What I find a bit wearisome as an adult, and particularly as a parent is the ridiculous and fairly uncontrollable urge to care about others and care for others. It’s a good thing really. Caring about and for other people has given me some of the most splendid and deeply joyous experiences of my life. It has also, undoubtedly contributed to me and my children still being alive to this very day.
On the other hand, on the level of the daily grind, I do find it it a bit much sometimes.
It’s a bit like Pringles. Once you pop, you can’t stop. It kicks in seriously when you fall in love. It drop kicks you down a ravine when you have children.
Yes, of course it is important that I love my children and make sure they are fed, watered, clothed etc. Do I really need to worry quite so much that if Tallulah has forgotten her trampolining socks again, she’ll get half an hour detention though? No I don’t. Can I stop the thought circling like a shark in the back of my mind all day? No, I can’t.
Do I really need to worry that Oscar has taken up football with an enthusiasm that is bordering on messianic, but with no commensurate skill nor any sign of getting it any time soon? Do I really need to be sending images of him knocked out cold after running into a goal post to my already overladen brain with such alarming regularity? No, I don’t.
Ditto, fretting over Matilda’s absolute and uncanny ability to attract strange religious zealots of all persuasions whenever she sets foot more than thirty feet out of the house, Oscar’s latest naked P-bone hobby, Tallulah’s fascination with the religious studies teacher at school, which is beginning to get more than weird, and her ongoing obsession with Dance Moms. Then there’s Jason’s up-coming root canal, and whether he’s going to get around to choosing new glasses or just stumble blindly through the days hoping someone will steer him away from the edge of cliffs and not let him order things with cheese on from menus with too small type.
None of these things are crucial for me to worry about. None of them eat up my day and cause me emotional paralysis and/or rocking back and forth in the purgatorial twilight, but they do persist. They’re more like gnats buzzing round my head, and I wonder how much background energy I am using, by either swatting them, ignoring them or giving them my full attention every now and again? If I were a phone the worries would be like Facebook chuntering away in the background until by tea time I’m on 20% battery and going into power save mode.
No wonder I’m knackered.