Becoming Of Age

One of the joys of raising children is to have a reason for doing things you once found enjoyable in childhood. Some activities could be considered progressively un-cool as children move into adolescence and certainly taboo as they get into the serious pursuit of a spouse later on.

If you were to see a young adult sitting by themselves on a beach with a little bucket and spade building sandcastles to their hearts content you’d be phoning the keepers of the funny farm to have them committed. But what if the same adult were to be accompanied by two small children? Now that’s a different matter. Women passing by would think it cute, and men would feel sorry for their fellow adult and smile in sympathy. Another of those onerous jobs a married person has to do? Or is it?

In actual fact the person sitting on the beach with their children could be enjoying themselves thoroughly, in spite of an artificial look of boredom on their face.

I remember my Father Eric buying me a wind up train set for Christmas when I was young. These days train sets are a dime a dozen and come with all the bells and whistles our electronic age generation have come to expect. But in the 1940’s a train set was a major purchase and represented the top of the pops in kid’s dream world.

I can remember jumping up and down with glee when Dad pried open that large box and assembled tracks and accessories on the family room floor. But my dreams were quickly dashed when plainly told I could watch but couldn’t touch without supervision. When Eric tired of the game it was packed away again and put out of reach until his next convenient time to play with me.

Now I decided to be more democratic in the raising of my children. They’d be participants in decision making, and there’d be time for joint family fun. The sand castle on the beach routine was certainly entered into with good spirit, and when Georgine wasn’t looking the girls and I would roar off into deserted hills overlooking Pune, India on our Vespa scooter, the eldest on the rear seat urging me on to discover where the bullock tracks led, and the youngest standing solemnly behind handle bars managing the horn. The horn and accelerator are the only important items on vehicles in India.

To add a little spice to bedtime I’d rush around and tap on the window, then rush back to their bedroom to find them looking hopefully out the window to glimpse “Wee Willy Winkle” who I’d informed them always showed up at dusk to remind them it was time for bed. It took a while for them to figure out who “Wee Willy Winkle” really was. The same went for Santa Claus.

Bedtime was the time for bath, the “kangaroo ride” in the towel afterward, and their favorite stories, some of which repeated so often they’d recite the words as you read. I was fortunate enough to have a job in those childhood years that allowed access to my office after school. They’d wait patiently for me to process my interviews, then dash in excitedly for a few minutes to tell me about their day at school.

So I patted myself on the back. The children were part of our round table discussions when we looked at family issues, and time was set aside to share playtime and participate in the excitement of their discoveries. I secretly gave myself the Good Father Award!

Then one day my self satisfaction bubble burst. The eldest had been attending Academy in Singapore and returned for her first vacation home. Allegiance had shifted from the family round table discussions to intimacy of her peer group back at the Academy. She now had personal space we weren’t permitted to enter. The Vespa scooter no longer was cool for a three person adventure, but our Moped got a good single workout each day as she moved around with her vacation peer group. It was one specific issue however that bought me face to face with reality and helped put things into perspective.

A foreign music group was visiting Pune, and daughter number one lamented the fact there wasn’t anyone to take her. Enter self sacrificing Father, anxious to reestablish old feelings of togetherness! I indicated I’d be willing to take her. Her answer floored me. “I can’t do that Dad, what would people think of me? Girls don’t go to these places with their Fathers; they go with people their own age!”

Then it dawned on me. We’d prided ourselves in teaching our children to think for themselves and develop their unique personalities. I’d not comprehended eventually the generation gap would demand our children show individuality and a certain distance from familiarity, and henceforth there’d be things parents didn’t or shouldn’t participate in.

She was on the verge of adulthood, deserved respect this rite of passage demanded, and without damage to the family relationship there’d be things only she and her peer group would do together from that point forward.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved”

15 thoughts on “Becoming Of Age

  1. Wow, very heartwarming and lovely story!!
    It made me remember the days when my dad used to play with me, then we’ll walk together at the park and he’ll be there in almost every part of my life ^^ Now I find it hard to mature because I believe my dad pampered me too much, but slowly I’ll get there and I can see my dad understands that. My mom is the one who can’t cope up with the generation gap and the individuality thing but we’ll get by somehow ^^

    Thanks for sharing! Love, therese ^_^


  2. Loved this sweet Ian…like I have always said you were the coolest and most fun father I have ever heard of or known to your children while they grew up. Hugs


  3. Lovely story!
    I enjoyed read it!
    You are the best Father for your childrens my friend….
    Thanks for sharing 🙂


  4. I was stunned to hear the two daughters of one of my neighbors refer to their parents by their first names. This was in the late ’50’s. I always called them by their Mr. or Mrs. last names. It took me until I was in my late 20’s before I felt comfortable addressing any obviously older person by their first name – preferring to call them by an honorific. It wasn’t until they said, “Oh please call me Joe,” that I would do that – and then only with a slight amount of discomfort.


  5. Horns ans accelerators are the only important part in Italy too, notwithstanding the fact that traffic sings indicating you may not use the horn and indicating speed limits are littering the country. Loved the read.


  6. I understand that completely…we raise them to be independent, responsible adults and off they go into adulthood. Wait for those grandbabies though, you’ll get another chance to play 🙂

    Eric–if my children or grandchildren called us by our first names, somebody would get a “whuppin”


  7. Yes I know what you mean about using first names. My children married and went to live in the USA. It took me a while to get used to my son in laws calling me by my first name but am used to it now. I would never have used my parents Christian names growing up, but now they are gone have no problem at all. It endears them to me now they are no more and I only have their memories to comfort me. Eastern culture would not tolerate such familiarity and I fully understand that.


  8. My three ‘children’ are all young adults now and your post resonates.

    There is only one item that I found (and still find) jarring – the tendency of people in the West to refer to their parents and grandparents by first name…

    All good wishes, Eric

    P/s You are right about the horn and accelerator being the only important items on vehicles in India….they still are 🙂


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