Sunday 03 March 2002

Joy and sorrow

Thunderbirds: Tracy Island I just came back from a wonderful evening out of town. In mid-afternoon I took a train to the Blue Mountains (50 miles west of Sydney), where a former colleague lives with his wife and two young boys. He met me at the station, we picked up a bottle of white wine and a six-pack of James Squire Porter from the liquor store, and headed off to his house.

I played football in the backyard with the younger boy while his older brother watched a Thunderbirds DVD. My friend, his wife, and I drank the beer (which I thought deserved better than the 3.6 out of 5 it received from beer tasting expert, eczematic). The boys and I played with their Tracy Island toy set and discussed the relative merits of Thunderbirds and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. We ate a delicious dinner of beetroot soup, Thai chicken balls with rice and salad, and pavlova (my favorite dessert). The boys had their bath and trooped off to bed. We chatted—about politics, movies, families, immigration, the boys—until I’d missed the last train. Then my friend drove me all the way home.

Though I don’t believe in regrets, I have just one: that I don’t have a child. All my closest friends have children and every time they invite me to their homes, I feel a sense of gratitude that I’ve been able to share the intimacies of family life. I’m well aware that I’m getting many of the pleasures with none of the pain, but the rewards seem so great that I’m always left wondering at what point I took the wrong turn.

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Comments

Jonathon, what a lovely note! And what a nice quiet moment of sharing.

Posted by Burningbird on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

And they say it's never to late to change direction either!

Posted by Anita on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

"Though I don't believe in regrets, I have just one: that I don't have a child." To be blunt Jon, that isn't a permanent thing. If you want to change your mind about having a child - it's not exactly difficult to arrange one. It might even be fun in the process. ;)
I'll suggest this to you before you decide to do that though, if you'll allow me...
I have kids. People have many times said to me 'Hey. I wish I had kids like you do!' Well to be honest, it's not quite so simple as this - I love my kids, but, jeez, it's difficult to do that sometimes.
Sounds rough? Yup, maybe. That's the truth though. Kids are people, and people are complicated. And when you have your *own* people, you have to deal with their things, as well as yours. And in truth, it's hard enough to find ourselves isn't it, let alone be responsible for finding other people for them.
I guess that what I'm trying (and failing perhaps, it's a tricky subject) to say is that having kids is the most incredibly mindblowing pleasure - but on the other hand, it is so very, very, difficult. The sheer pleasure of their company is beyond description. They are a part of you. The actual reality of it most of the time though is the *massive* responsibility of it all.
Uh. I'm rambling, and it's difficult to say.
To cut to the chase - in my opinion. Kids are the very greatest pleasure to have been priviledged enough to have had. Yet looking at it the other way, they are the worst possible thing to have. Unless we can assure ourselves that we are 'perfect' enough to deserve them. And none of us are right?
Children are just the most fantastic thing to have in my opinion. I couldn't love them more. And yet so very very frightening to take care of.
Whatever. I tried my best to explain it.
Oh and on another note. You are an example to webloggers in many ways in my opinion (again). You say it from the heart. And good on you for that.
I'll be back, regularly.

Posted by Rogi on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Thanks for the generous words, Rogi. I can't be sure about this, since I'm not speaking from experience, but my instinct is that the complexity of the process -- exhilarating and terrifying simultaneously -- offers its own rewards too. There's another great comment thread on this subject over at Burningbird's.

Posted by Jonathon Delacour on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

I think Rogi has hit the nail on the head as far as have children are concerned, I have two boys of my own and at time they simply amaze me, scare me, aggravate me and teach me. For me they are a big part of my life purpose, but not all of it. I think it is important that you understand that you not necessarily took the wrong path, and as Anita mentioned it's not to late to change your path. We can't live all paths at the one time, you can certainly try but often something will get left out. Like you Jonathon, I don't believe in regrets, I think it is perhaps at what point in your life you do the things that are important to you. It's not often easy at times but usually worth the effort. Cheers Mate.

Posted by Robert Lent on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Children. When they enter your life everything changes forever. I love my kids and they have changed the way I see life but I still think that they are NO key to happiness in life. Children are happiness if you are truly in love and the desire is equally shared. The only recommendation I could give you is love every child you meet, respect him and teach him the best you have to offer. Learning is what drives them, don't deceive them.

Posted by Benoit Cazenave on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Wonderful advice, Benoit. Thank you.

Posted by Jonathon Delacour on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Thanks Jonathon, I think, for starting up a train of thought again that I've been pushing to the back of my mind for too long. And Rogi? - too right, mate.

Posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on 2 March 2002 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

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