Making the most of a new life




In my last post I was talking about doing some crafting with Jake at a school workshop. I agree that the scenario sounded quite idyllic, and I did really enjoy it. What has been bugging me ever since is that I feel that it might have also been rather misleading. This is because I actually do not really like crafting, not for myself and not really with the boys either. Indeed there have been more occasions than I care to think of that Jake and/ or Sam have come up to me with a potential project involving painting, cutting out, drawing or sculpting in some way or another, and I have done my upmost to try to dissuade them; or convince them that they can do it on their own.

As I write this it makes me feel very bad. Am I, in essence, stifling their creative development? Why am I so opposed to doing this sort of thing with them? Should I snap myself out it and just get on with it? Well that little voice inside me is saying yes to that last question, but I still do not like hearing it.

I think that one of the reasons why I just do not like it is that I am really not very good at it myself, and while I do have my creative side (which I hope shows through in my writing) I just do not seem to have the vision to create something beautiful (I would be happy with recognisable) through the manipulation of paper, glue, crayons and various other ephemera.

While writing this my mind had gone back to an incident when I was probably twelve. I had been taking woodwork classes at school (to be honest I preferred domestic science) and had been let loose on a lathe, the idea being for me to produce a potato masher. I whittled away at the wood until I produced what can only be described as a standard lamp for a dolls house. I remember presenting to my Mum who was very taken with the object, but also found it hilarious when she found out what it was supposed to be. I remember that she carried it about in her handbag for quite a while as an example of my handiwork. She was proud but also realistic about my skills.

What I now wonder is whether experiences such as this, and the (lack of) expectation that was placed on me, have given me the ambivalence to crafting that I have today. Yes, as I said last time, they have the effect of allowing me to shape my own destiny much more; but there is a part of me that thinks that a little more encouragement in this area may have improved my confidence in my own ability to make and fix things.

What I have learned from my new work as a coach is that it is important to understand where our attitudes come from; and writing this post has helped me to surface some of the reasons why I am not all that keen on crafting. It is, for me, a relatively small thing but it will add to my overall view of who I am, and what sort of a Father I can be.

What it will not do is abandon my policy of keeping the DIY to a minimum. I may be more aware but I still think I can knock hundreds of the value of a house with one blow of the hammer. Overcoming that will take much more work.


Fading Memories I

Something happened this week that momentarily gave me quite a jolt, knocking me off balance for just a split second. This occurred while talking to Jake at the breakfast table. In between my exhortations to “please eat your breakfast otherwise we will be late for school” we somehow got talking about something, I cannot even remember what it was now, that required me to think of what I did at his age. My memory failed me at that moment and I could not recall that particular time in my own life at all.

I think that I have already forgotten about what we talked about because, like a bolt from the blue, I realised that if I cannot remember something about my childhood then, as an only child with both my parents now deceased, there is a good chance that that memory is now lost forever; unless the one cousin with whom I am still in touch can remember. As you can imagine the realisation of this was quite a revelation to me, and for a moment it made me feel quite alone. Not alone in my present, but alone in my past.

I have written before about the importance of such as photographs in helping us with our memories (and re-reading that particular post reminded me that I originally intended to have more photographs on this blog), and that this probably equates to around ten per year of me in our family albums. Not something that I can re-construct a whole childhood from. Not something that is reliable because there has been an editing process in taking and choosing those pictures.

So while I can remember my first unaided bike ride, my memories are passed through all sorts of filters and I have no way of corroborating whether my memories match what happened. In this particular instance maybe it does not matter how accurate those memories are since when I have them I get a warm feeling of my own achievement and sharing a moment with my father; a moment that I only now begin to understand from his perspective (but in the last couple of weeks I would have loved to know what his perspective was).

Perhaps it does not matter in this case, but I think that the source of my anxiety at that moment was that there are going to be plenty of times in the future when the boys experience something that I am going to have no idea whether and/ or how I went through a particular episode or rite of passage. It makes me sad that I will not be able to remember, and it makes me sad that I will not be able to share my own past with them as fully as I would have liked.

So circumstances, the fact that we moved around quite a bit when I was young and issues with more distant family members, mean that I will probably have to ride this out until I get to my teenage years (I still have good friends from those times onwards). I will have to rely largely on my own memories, and hope that things come back to me as I have similar experiences with the boys in the knowledge that I have no one to corroborate them.

This, coupled with the recent sudden death of a friend I had largely lost touch with, again reminds me of the need to maintain a good circle of people not only for the present, but for the past as well.


While I was writing this piece Sam came into my office and started looking at the photographs of the family I have around the place. Two things happened that seemed relevant to what I was writing. First he looked at pictures of Jake when he was younger and took some convincing that they were not him, and second he took umbrage that he was not in one particular picture of Karen, Jake and me. I tried to explain that he was not then born but he did not understand that there was a time when he was not part of the family. I thought that both instances were examples of how easily photographs can be taken out of context and given new meanings. The problem of fading memories.