I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I played a lot of basketball and got pretty good at that. I found alcohol quite late into my teens and got pretty good at that. I left my home in England shortly after getting a promotion I’d be working toward for years. I just decided I didn’t want to do that anymore and I should travel instead.
I’d not done any travelling at all until then, something my friends had all routinely done after university. So at the age of 26, I sold everything and left England to travel the world. I had no plan, I just knew I wanted to see things.
My friends thought I was insane.
I'm not your average ‘trendy dad’
Now I’m 40 and I don’t play basketball anymore, I don’t drink anymore and I only really travel for work. 26-year-old me never would have seen that coming.
Those same friends who thought I was insane, are mostly in the jobs they got after they got their degrees and whizzed around Europe for a few weeks. I guess my point is I’ve never really been one to follow trends. I’m not even trying to be cool, most of the time I’m just unaware the trends even exist.
I don’t know if it’s in me or if it’s what I was influenced by growing up. I’m not sure. I do know it’s helping me immeasurably when it comes to parenting my son though.
Milestones (don't) matter
Milestones and expectations are something we impose on our children on many levels. And how can we not? It’s often the metric for progress. Walking, talking, reading, writing, and even things like sleeping and teething. We watch keenly and await these milestones, often while comparing them to the progress of other children.
I’m definitely guilty of that, I know that I am. But I think I’ve managed it pretty well and I can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with the expectations I once set for myself.
That is to say, I didn’t really set any at all.
They'll get to where they need to be
My son is currently at a language development school and attends weekly occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions because, despite the fact he has a father who never shuts up, he didn’t speak until he was four years old. Of course, it was concerning, and my wife and I got him all the help available to us although he still attends the school, he is thriving.
I almost miss the silence. Not for the sake of my sanity, by the way, I’m not a monster. But his inability to communicate by speech meant that we got to know him in a very unique way that I don’t believe we’d have been afforded if he’d always been the chatterbox he is today.
For my wife, it was hard watching him seemingly struggle while her friends’ kids were all stringing sentences together before they turned two. For me, I just had a feeling he’d get there. With the correct support of course, but I was never worried. He’s a very special boy. He is terrible at Mario Kart and I am sick of letting him win, but he’s an incredible person and part of me hopes he continues defying the milestones everyone else sets.
Part of me also hopes he realises you have to slow down as you’re about to take a corner, not accelerate into it.
I hope he grows up and finds lots of things that he enjoys and then pursues them. And I don’t care if he does it all “the wrong way round” as I was often described as doing.
Maybe he’ll build a house and go live on a boat. Maybe he’ll go to medical school and end up drawing comics. I hope he does what’s in his heart and follows it always because I did and it lead me to him.