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.


Football and babies

YNWLWhilst watching my team play in the FA Cup on the TV last weekend I realised I need to curb my enthusiasm in the presence of my baby son. My beloved LFC were playing a club from a much lower league and I had imagined the win was guaranteed. There was as always I slight doubt in my mind as Liverpool seem to raise their game for teams better than them and don’t try hard enough for teams worse than them. And so it was. Oldham bullied them through the most part and sliced through the shaky defence when needed. The seed was planted as they scored first while we hardly had a single chance. I thought their goal would stir my team into action and this seemed to work when our lucky number 7 equalised.

In standard football fan tradition, I shout out as their net bulges and picturing a reversal of fortunes for us, stand up waving my fists at the TV screen and our opponents. The sudden unexpected change in position and volume disturbs Theo, who up to this point was happily playing on his mat right in front of me. Within seconds his bottom lip begins to tremble, his face reddens and then he lets out an ear-shreading cry.

I bend down to pick him up, apologising and trying to settle him with soothing words: “Silly dad, shouting like an idiot, scaring his poor Boo. Oh sorry my love” etc etc. He cries for a few more moments and takes a little longer to completely calm down. A few more cuddles and then 10 minutes in his bouncer brings the smile back to his face.

Lesson learned.

As it goes, the rest of the game has no further excitement anyway and we later trail 3-1 before finishing 3-2 after we score from a deflected shot. A deserved win for Oldham and another day wiser for dad.