Today is my fortieth birthday. 39 had its ups and downs. Lots of health issues and lots of bureaucratic frustration. I hope this year will be better.
It’s also around the age that my father was diagnosed with brain cancer and my mother was diagnosed with diabetes. Both of whom died far too young (47 and 56). Those numbers are terrifyingly close now.
Despite my health issues the past year, I’m in better health (my heart, pancreas, and brain seem to be fine) than either of them were at my age and I’ve lived a very different life. (Significantly easier in many ways.) I’ll feel better when I have the results from the MRI I took last Friday.
I have a lot of stories left to tell and a lot of life to see. (I want to know what happens in the 100th anniversary of Doctor Who (2063) and Star Trek (2066).)
Last time we went, Pegasus had just started walking and Dragon was so tiny.
This week was about Pegasus seeing a real classroom and playing with other kids his age. We also wanted to get Dragon excited for school next year. Dragon, you’ve been in digital school for almost three years and I think you’re stressed at the idea of changing.
People have been telling us that it would be better for the you two to be at school versus digital school.
I’ve been hesitant for a few reasons. First are the memories I have of being in grade school; I didn’t have a great experience and I really don’t want the same for you.
The second is more selfish, I’ll miss you. Right now I get to have lunch with you 3 times a week and hang out after. I also get to hear or be told what you did and I know that’ll change.
Change is inevitable and I know the best thing for Dragon is to go into in person school. I’ve been seeing signs that the screen combined with the sound quality is bothering you. You’re showing some pretty obvious signs of neurodiversity, which would be mitigated by having a teacher next to you and the resources at the school. I’m still worried about your temper and emotional regulation though. You also fidget more than I did at that age, which is saying something.
I’m not as convinced that Pegasus should be going into full day junior kindergarten. You are advanced in your language, math, and letters. Your small motor skills are excellent too. Unfortunately, your social skills are heavily influenced by your sister, so you’re more used to playing with kids rather than parallel play. During the open house, you actually got into a little fight with another kid. They didn’t want you to play with the kitchen and you really wanted to. You used your words, but they only spoke in partial phrases and didn’t. You ended up pushing the child almost twice your size against the wall. You did have fun and you would probably thrive with the right guidance.
Added to the fact that you are stubbornly refusing to fully potty train, I’m not sure it’ll be the best place for you. We definitely need to take you to the park and set up some play dates with other kids though.
All of this is complicated by my fear and stress. I’m trying really hard to not show it though. Covid is becoming a new normal and honestly I hate it. I’m still dealing with side effects, mostly breathing issues, from the first time I got it 3 years ago and I don’t want this for you. I was told that long covid seems to mostly get better with time, but I still worry about you both.
It was great seeing you playing with other people and I love how independent you were. You both checked in with us and wanted to share your joy, but you didn’t need us there.
Once again, things are changing and I don’t like it. I’m going to enjoy the next few months of us all being together as much as I can. I’ll try and store up the snuggles before they’re gone and appreciate the happy sounds before the house is too quiet.
What a wild year. It’s been quite a historic and interesting time. I’ve been lucky to work from home and be with you, your Mum, and Pegasus full time.
You’re clever, stubborn, and passionate. You’re also an extremely social kid and this has been tough on you.
Last February you visited your école. This is a new virus and there are all kinds of worrisome side effects being reported. It’s possible the threat of that and the threat to your grandparents is over-exaggerated, but we don’t want to take the chance.
With Mum working from home and the travel business being a little slow, we are in the perfect place to help you learn from home. We haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing. It’ll depend on what the école has planned.
Mum has some fantastic ideas and I hope you get as excited as mum has been about her ideas.
Overall, I’m not too worried. You’re already a little ahead and we mostly need to build on what you already know and encourage you to learn more French. Again, I’m sorry for not speaking to you more in French.
We’ll see what happens. The year is only three quarters done and has lots of surprises left for us.
You’re no longer a baby. On Wednesday we went to visit your future school. You’ll be going to a French Public school and from the look on your face when we visited, you’re going to love it.
I’m nervous about a lot of things; snacks and lunches, you making friends, dealing with buses, you learning more French. I feel I’ve failed you as a francophone parent, but hopefully the school will help and I’ll start speaking to you in French more once you understand. (I spoke to you in both, but once you understood English I just stuck with that.)
One of the teachers took you to get a paper and a crayon when we visited the class and you never looked back. I have a feeling that we could have left and you wouldn’t have noticed. I’m glad you’re so independent. I’m still nervous. You’ve never spent more than a few hours without someone from the family and well… I know I’m being silly. (I’m starting to understand how Marlin from Finding Nemo felt.)
We still have six months before you go to school but when you do, it’ll change our whole lives.
You’ll love the social interaction though. I sometimes feel like we don’t stimulate your socialness enough. Sorry KYD, your parents are introverts.
Every stage you grow is wonderful and scary to me. This one just feels bigger, probably cause it has so much more paperwork.
I’m terrified because you are a perfect target for cults. When your Gramma was young, she joined a cult. They separated people from their families, fed them little, sleep deprived them, and made them believe that the central figure was faultless if not deific.
When I was young I noticed similar behaviour in school. In this case, it was a teacher with bad intentions who used all the same tricks to turn the class into his own private cult and he took advantage of select people. Even when he was caught, there were elements of the conditioning left in the class to make people want him to return.
You are growing up in a different age than your Gramma or I,
and in some ways it’s wondrous. The entirety of human knowledge is available to
you with little to no effort. As is the entirety of misinformation and hate
that we as a race are capable of. It means that cults today don’t need a
compound, they don’t need their old tricks. They have direct access to you
through multiple channels and they prey on your fear, distrust, hurt, and
Modern digital cults are cults of hate. They’re not new but they are much more far reaching. I’m scared I won’t have the ability to save you from them; I’m scared I won’t be able to prepare you to defend against them; and I’m scared they will steal you before you know what’s going on.
Your Mum and I do, and will do, our best to raise you and
your sister to think rationally. To look at the evidence, opposing views, and
make a critical decision based on that and your values.
I just hope it’s enough. I hope that in your darkest moments
where you consider joining or participating in these things that you know you
always have us to talk to.
As a parent, my goal is to help you be the best version of yourself you can be. That’s the goal, but on a daily basis I’m usually just trying to make sure you and your sister survive with limited trauma.
You’re on your way, two months now before you get here and I’m
terrified. I feel like I just got used to having three members of the family. I
have no idea what you’ll be like, or how you’ll get along with your sister and
it scares me.
I also harbour a strange fear. I’m not sure how to raise a boy. I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by girls and when I made friends with boys it almost always ended poorly. I often have no idea what to say or how to act around other males. I can count on one hand the men I’m close to and feel comfortable with.
Gender is a social construct, but with it comes social constructs on behaviour and shared truths. I feel like I missed the “male” seminar and that means in groups of men I often feel like I’m missing something. Some subtext that I just don’t follow.
Yes I’m empathic, yes I’m a writer, and yes I am a man. But those are despite my anxieties, not because of them.
All that to say I have no idea how to raise you to be a
good, great, or any sort of a man. Sorry.
What I do know is that I’m going to do my best to raise you
as a caring, intelligent, and good person. It means I’m going to try and ask
myself if I treat you differently than your sister and if it’s because you’re a
boy. I want to make sure you don’t just respect others but have genuine compassion.
No matter what, know that your Mum and I love you and want
what’s best for you,
A lot of people and media will tell you that life isn’t fair. It isn’t always, but your Mum and I will try to be.
We understand that your sister is a strong personality and demands a lot of attention. She’s adorable and uses that to get her way. It’s her strength that makes her both impressive and a little frustrating.
We will try our best to make sure you both get our attention, you both get to do what you love, and most of all, that things are fair for you.
It might not always seem that way. If you need more sleep but refuse to get it, we might give you an earlier bedtime. That will make you feel like it’s not fair, but it would be unfair of us to let you be tired all the time. (Trust your Papa, it’s not fun being tired all time.)
There will be times where one of you demands that you deserve something (bad idea – I don’t like demands) but we’ll try to make things work.
The absolute most important thing is to talk to us. Not yell at us, throw a fit, but actually talk and discuss. I’m sure you’ll hear this a lot (your sister certainly has) but we have reasons for what we do and we will gladly explain.
We want you to have everything you need to make you the wonderful man I know you’ll be, but sometimes you won’t get what you want. You’ll feel it’s unfair but we always have a reason.
You could have had a normal nickname, Lump or Bean or something, but that’s not how your mom and I think. We like geeky and strange things, I hope you will too.
In my first letter to your sister I told her we weren’t
perfect, and that is still true. I can be impatient, prone to being loud, and
sometimes I’m impossibly dense.
As your parents we’ll do our best for you, we’ll try to
help, understand, and encourage you. At some point we will fail. I’m sorry for
that but it’s inevitable. I hope you’ll forgive us. No matter what, there is
one thing we’ll never fail to do and that’s love you. No matter what, we’ll
always love you!
If I have one wish for you, it’s that you grow up to
understand the strength in love, in emotion, and in knowing yourself. That you’ll
understand the power of words and the unmitigated strength of kindness.
There’s a trope in YA and children’s entertainment that drives me up the wall. Parents not believing or not trusting their kids.
You know the scenario. Something bad happens and all the characters are yelling about it and the kid/protagonist tries to get their attention but no one listens. Normally it ends up that the kid is right.
It’s a trope that was immensely popular in the 80’s and 90’s and has, thankfully, fallen out of favour. The idea behind it is that if the parents knew, they’d be able to fix it and if they couldn’t then why would the kids. Or if the parents knew then the kid would never be allowed to fix it because it’s too dangerous.
The only example of this trope that I enjoy is Candace from Phineas & Ferb.
The problem I have with the trope is that it promotes the idea that parents are obstacles and not resources. It also makes the parents look really stupid.
It’s a difficult balance between supportive parent and irresponsible or negligent parent. Especially when the kids/protagonists in question are battling monsters or other terrible things.
Seriously. I see you over there tsking at the parents whose kids are crying or being loud.
Not every child deals the same with different stimulus. It’s not that they’re badly behaved, it’s that they have no methods for coping with stuff. Infants and babies literally have never experienced anything as terrible as what they’re going through. Cut them some slack.
4. Complain about their clothing
Not all parents can afford designer clothing, some parents are geeky, and not all parents follow your gendering ways. If a parent wants to put their girl in a batman outfit it’s none of your business. Same with if they want to put their boy in a pink wonder woman shirt. It’s none of your business.
3. Touch them without permission
The parents don’t know where your hands have been, the child can’t give consent, and it’s down right creepy. Check with the parents, and then if they’re ok with it, go nuts.
How would you feel if someone came up to you and started poking you, messing your hair, or grabbing your hand?
2. Insist they smile at you
Baby smiles are awesome. I understand that everyone loves it when a baby smiles at them. That doesn’t give you the right to stop the baby and parents and insist that the baby smile at you. If the baby smiles in passing, yay. If not, move along.
Having someone stop you in public to explain to your baby why they should smile is creepy.
1. Smoke in their vicinity or living area
At this point you either understand the dangers of smoking or you don’t want to understand. That’s perfectly fine but you forfeit the right to complain when someone tells you to move away from a baby.
Second hand smoke and third hand smoke (the smoke that stays on your clothing) can cause severe respiratory issues in babies for their entire life.
If you smoked in that clothing, you should not be holding a baby.