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A blog about my son

My son is six, as of tomorrow.

He is very much looking forward to this. So I am trying to look forward to it with him. But a part of me feels sad. I think it is because he is no longer going to be five. And five, in case you don’t know, is the age. I mean, five rocks. Five is when the person inside your baby starts to emerge. Five is going to the cinema and telling the story of the film in a slightly longer space of time than the film lasted. Five is telling the most terrible of jokes (‘Why did the pig cross over the road?’ ‘Because he had a bottom.’) Five is laughing until you cannot stop at nothing in particular.

Today we were on the beach. We threw stones into the water. We made up stories on the train. We had a silly dance competition. ‘This has been my best day ever’,’ Lucas said. It was mine too.

I wish we could pickle and preserve such days. Yes, we can take photos and films on our phone. We can even write blogs about them. But we can’t FEEL them, again. Only as a memory. And a sweet moment in the present always becomes bittersweet when remembered in the future.

To be a parent is to be constantly losing the child that just was and gaining the one that is becoming. I never felt time before I was a Dad, but now I feel its ticktock all the time. I feel that there is such pressure for children to grow up too soon, so I feel immense pride in the fact that Lucas still likes Postman Pat and picture books, as well as Toy Story and comics.

I have no doubt he is the greatest boy who has ever lived. He continually surprises me, and seems to have a gentlemanly spirit inside him that must have been passed down via Victorian DNA. I am sure he will be as wonderful as a six-year-old as he is at five. I suppose the sadness comes from the fact that they are getting closer to the adult world, and the adult world is not quite as I would want it to be.

As a parent, you can play God. You can edit the world and present it to children. The world in Lucas’s eyes is one in which Father Christmas looks over everybody, checking they’re all being nice to siblings and friends. It is one where the most obvious career options are astronaut and superhero. Or, at a pinch, being in the Beatles. It is one where everyone says ‘please’ and gives money to homeless people and where everyone is kind and where the only crime that happens is exactly like that depicted in Burglar Bill. It is a world where literally everything – cardboard boxes, bird poo, hand dryers in toilets – is a source of infinite wonder.

Is the role of a parent to usher in the adult or to preserve the child? I think we live in an overcomplicated age, where kids are being facebooked and iphoned and GTA’d out of their childhoods too fast. I think we lose as much as we gain as we grow older, and maybe we should keep hold of that wonder for as long as possible. Maybe we need more of it.

As John Lennon said: ‘When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They said I didn’t understand the assignment. I said they didn’t understand life.’

I hope Lucas retains enough of his five-year-old self to realise that any assignment that doesn’t have his or other peoples’ happiness as its goal, is never really an assignment worth worrying about.