Notes to a soon to be father.
You will soon be a Father. And as a Father, you share your child’s age. This is perhaps History’s great tragedy, kids never come alone, they force their Father’s birth with their own. So we never have one adult and his kid. Just two kids, without a guardian past. But you are not a kid yet, and may this note to your impending fatherhood find you and your kid the shelter on a rainy day. Let it spare you the arduous task of repeating history.
The first ten years will be fine. It is very easy to love a kid that young. Teenagers are harder to like. But remember how sure you were about the world as a teenager, in the face of newly understood intricacies, you thought this was complete knowledge. You loved terrible music that sang about shallow individuality and used words like ‘life’ and ‘love’ just because they sound deep. They still do, but your relationship with them has aged and matured. Don’t forget the time when ‘life’ and ‘love’ were crushed grapes, waiting to be bottled and waited upon. You liked using heavy words because they carried the heady smell of what they stood for. It was like carrying a gun with an empty cartridge. The mere weight of the beast in your hands makes you wild. So don’t look down upon the teenager who uses weighty words liberally. Because language drives teenagers to madness when they learn to use it more than just to ask for food and toys or a change of diapers. People blamed your hormones for how you behaved, but you were merely ashamed of how language was undressing you before the world. Remember that it took time to bear your nakedness with grace before the gaze of society. You only very slowly learned how to use words and not embarrass your self. So treat your teenager’s reticence with respect for it is the first time they will want to choose their words. Let them know it is a noble thing to do. Your teenager will choose silence over Phatic and will mostly go wrong about the choice, let them learn to make a choice, instead of forcing them to choose Phatic over silence every time.
They will soon want to choose a career and will be exposed to ‘passions’ and ‘interests’. Let them think about what they like. But also tell them that ‘passions’ and ‘interests’ are ephemeral flowers. They make our lives beautiful but, come fall, it is time to rake their dead remains. Teach them instead to become themselves and do what is their nature. Teach them not to look for joy in their jobs and careers. Joy will only be in the quiet corner of the self.
Money too left you disheveled initially. Teach them to save first and use the rest with dignity and grace.
Finally, do not forget how every thing in this world, even a regular schedule, is a great mystery. Teach them to honour this elusive world and to not take for granted what comes naturally to them. Tell them that they can never stop learning, and to learn, is mostly, to surrender.