Your kid is not a time machine

That’s not an accusation, and hopefully it’s not startling news for anyone. No matter how well your child does in living a happy and harmonious life, their life cannot reach back into your past and fix your lingering bad memories. Their scholastic achievements will not erase your F in grade 10 physics, and their popularity will not retroactively get you invited to the high school parties you missed out on.

I’m not someone who looks to right the wrongs of my own past through my child’s life. But, I do sometimes notice a difference in my childhood and his, and some of them are kind of interesting.

In a broad sense, his early years are much better than mine. My mother tried to her hardest to raise my brother and I, but parenting is a two (if not multi) person job. The slow and steady deterioration of my father as his alcoholism sank its teeth deep into his heart was hard for everyone watching it happen, including me. Even in the early years, I don’t think I had much connection or interaction with him. And as the marriage steadily worsened and he began to sleep and spend all of his time in the basement, the gulf between us grew even bigger. I’m in a fairly good place about all of this now, but it does make me happy that Max will never come home on a sunny summer afternoon and find me drunk and passed out in the living room. Ah, the good ol’ days of my youth. Unfortunately, that also means Max doesn’t get to have another grandpa in his life, but there is only so much under my control.All I can do is cover that boy in smootches (and I do).

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t go to school until the first day of junior kindergarten, and I do remember being terrified by my confusion at the new experience. Max is now having a great time at his pre-school two mornings a week, and he’s socializing wonderfully and bonding with his teachers. Score another one for the little dude.

On the topic of his pre-school, I realized there’s a tangential association that will also be markedly different for him. His preschool is on the second floor of a church parish hall, and there is a faint lingering smell of incense and generally churchy odours. For me, the smell of church evokes melancholy and sadness, because being dragged to church irregularly by my mother is not a fun memory. I also went to Catholic school until grade 9, but we were anything but a religious family, so the gap between what we were supposed to believe and act like, and what we actually were like always bothered me.  But for Max, the smell of a church will be associated primarily with his school where he has fun with his friends, and that’s alright by me.

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One thought on “Your kid is not a time machine

  1. Sadly Chris, I think there are many parents who try to live vicariously through their kids…but what I really like about this post is your ability to reflect upon your own childhood and not burden Max with it. I know a couple of people who had alcoholic parents who seem to think their children should be constantly grateful, because they don’t have to go through the same experience. Yet here you are celebrating the differences. Qudos.

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