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Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Thought experiment

You're a fairy godmother at a christening. The other two fairy godmothers couldn't make it, so all three wishes go to you - you have three good qualities to give to the baby that's currently lying burbling happily in its golden little cradle. The evil godmother who nobody likes hasn't shown up yet; whether or not she will, and what kind of curse she'll impose if she does, is anyone's guess. You have to equip the kid, not knowing anything about how its life is going to go.

What qualities are you going to give the baby?

Here's mine, to start you off: the baby is going to be brave, kind, and have some common sense.

Argg! I have this situation most nights when I put my youngest daughter to bed. She turned one a couple of weeks ago, and every time she smiles at me I wonder what I would most like to give her to help her cope when she's older. In contrast I also have another daughter who's seven this year, and who is already developing skills which will help her a lot when she's older.

So, what a baby girl REALLY needs is:

1. Independence. It's most important that a girl has the savvy to be nobody's fool. All her life people will try to con her, to get her to agree to things she might not like. She needs to be switched on enough to spot them coming, and not to worry too much if they're offended when she says "no thanks"...

2. Intelligence. Men are, broadly speaking, very stupid (and I should know - I've been one for nearly 40 years), and have too much aggression to think things through properly. Women are by nature better equipped to resolve problems, but they need that extra something to understand and manage all the (usually male) fools in the world, and protect and improve their own lives.

3. A high pain threshold. Although now I can protect my girls with my life if I have to, sooner or later they are going to either get hurt themselves, and/or see people they care deeply about in pain. They'll need to understand this and be strong enough to move through those times, and see that there will always be a future, that the most intense pain will eventually pass.

Those are the three things I wish for my two wonderful girls, and I do everything every day to give them those skills!
Of course, if we're talking about popular, salable fiction, the three wishes would be completely different! :-)

Surely men aren't all that bad!

Would you have different wishes if you had sons, do you think?
I know it's wrong to generalize, certainly not all men are bad. But I do think that women have a much tougher time than guys. I don't want to provoke a battle of the sexes here or sound like an ardent feminist (even though I probably am one!), but women have to be much, much smarter if they want to get ahead. They have to be savvy enough to deal with your average guy's ego and aggression. And if a woman is smart enough to suss that out, then she can usually get what she wants, or at least get by.

As it is, I have three kids, the eldest of which is an eight-year-old boy. While I play games and have fun with both of them, I put more effort into my eldest daughter, because I do believe she'll need to be more switched on when she's older, that she'll have the potential to suffer more if she's not careful.

I suppose we just want to raise our kids in the best way possible, and we can't do that by raising them in a cave. Whatever you think of society (and all the stupid rules it puts on us usually just so a few very rich people can get even richer), if you do take the leap and have kids it's important to equip them for their future properly.

Oh, and don't forget to have fun while you're doing it! :-)

(And yes, I do have the sneaking feeling that I'm the only parent posting here - is that right? Am I the only wrinkly??!!!) :-)
Well, I don't have kids myself, but I have some excellent nieces and nephews, and the lines on my forehead are coming along nicely... This year I shall be thirty. I have decided to get used to it by referring to myself as 'pushing thirty' up until my birthday. Anyone else feel like disclosing their ages?
Well, I'm 40 next week and I want to tell you to enjoy your 30s as much as you can. Lots of things change, but mostly they're for the better. You start trading your youth for a bit more self-confidence (well, I did anyway!)

Ten years ago I also had no kids and a heap of nieces and nephews, and I'm actually on camcorder getting beaten senseless by them and saying that I will never have my own kids! But it's too wonderful an experience not to have: tickling their feet, blowing raspberries on their tummies, and THAT moment when you switch the light off, they put their arms around you and tell you they love you... It just knocks you for six and changes your priorities!

Probably the only feeling that comes close is getting your own publishing contract, but some of us are still waiting for our literary agents to fix that! :-)
1. A sense of humor- to enjoy the best of life, and be able to laugh even in the worst of situations. Also, so they don't feel awkward at parties.

2. The uncanny ability to actually see what they're looking at and listen to what's going on around them.

3. This last one is a toss up between patience and an unbridled sense of curiosity.


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