It is one of the seven deadly sins, if you believe in that, and something I swore I would never be guilty of in my relationship with my son. Pride is also only a short distance from disappointment and you can so easily end up there when situations don’t quite meet expectations.
I remember my mum and dad’s whispered conversations from my teenage years about whether I was doing better at school than my brother and how they would like me to make them proud. Later in life I recall conversations with friends, who had children way before I did, about how well their kids are doing in school, or what a great job they have now, and I admit I thought it very superficial.
I guess their attitude is to do with that whole ‘he is a chip off the old block’ mentality – that your offspring’s successes are in some way a confirmation of how amazing you are yourself. And I hate that. I believe we all stand or fall on our own merits, not by association.
However, as a recent father (my boy is just 18 months old), my attitude has altered a little. Now, I am always happy to talk about my son’s first steps, or his first teeth, or how he knows his animals, vehicles and numbers up to ten. And there is a part of me that is swollen with pride and the twisted logic that he is amazing because I made him that way… no! He is an individual and I am constantly supportive and attentive, and maybe this has had an impact, and maybe genetically he has something of me swimming around in his DNA, but he will decide how he wants to do things throughout his life, for good or not. I can’t take credit for everything he does that is wonderful, can I? If so, I must equally take responsibility for all the terrible things he does too – that is only fair.
I guess I must fight this daily battle, between my emotional side that is riddled with pride, and my rational side that appreciates that I can only ever be my son’s guide through life – ultimately he will grow, as I did, in spite of the guidance of my nearest and dearest.
I have tried to have as few expectations about my son’s future direction as I can, not wishing to load onto him my own emotional baggage concerning my own ambitions and failures. I have to stop telling myself how happy I would be if he was musical, or artistic, or whether he likes Bowie, or Star Wars, or Liverpool FC, or motorbikes. I suppose that stems from a desire to have something in common to share with him later in life, rather than my way of judging if he is a good son or not. And I can’t help feeling the ugly presence of pride in me, knowing that if a day comes when we can play guitars together and he is the Mick Ronson to my Bowie, my heart will explode with pride.
I will endeavour not to be too disappointed if his musical taste differs from mine, or if he prefers soap operas to movies, but I will consider disowning him should he ever support Man Utd!
I suppose at the very least I would like my son to not have all the faults I have, as if he is the new, improved version – now more dynamic, more focused and better than me, the earlier model.
Regardless of all my deluded fancies, I do think that I should be allowed to be proud of the small but important things in life – when people say how happy and content my son is, I class that as a personal victory and something I am most proud of, without any trace of shame.