What If? Damocles was a Father.

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

There was always a strange question on my mind about fatherhood.

On one hand, it’s something I desperately want to avoid. Children are incessantly messy, costly and in most risk assessments, simply not worth the “potential” reward of being a “parent.”

I also would question what sort of terrible monster I would be, to bring a child into a century with some of the most bleak apocalyptic scenarios imaginable in human history. Nuclear winters, pandemics, massive food shortages, rising water levels, inept governments, higher cost of living and nearly 8 billion other people on the planet.

Still, this is a hypothetical scenario and it is a question I’ve asked myself many times, ever since I’ve re-read multiple times, the Roald Dahl’s classic: Danny, the Champion of the World.

What sort of father would I be?

I’ve run through so many scenarios and simulations in my head and most of them paint a rosy picture. It depicts me as a doting father and a dad who is probably too keen to push his passions on his kid.

But the main thrust of it all, is that I have a daughter.

I remember having this discussion with myself, all the way back in high school, when I was deliberating about this issue, whilst in the midst of writing my first ever story.

In the end, I preferred to have a daughter than a son, because of two factors: I like having more girls in my life and I had just finished reading Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly, in which the main character had a sweet little troublesome girl named Lily.

Perhaps what is surprising about so many of these imagined scenarios, is the fact that I am actually a single father in most of them.

I’m not even sure why I chose this tragic scenario as the default setting, but in many of them, my partner died during childbirth and all I have left of her, is our daughter.

And I would love and look after her very much, all the love and grief I felt for my partner’s passing, would be dedicated to ensuring our daughter become the most capable and beautiful woman she can be.

I would learn how to do all the crucial feminine skills, from braiding hair, to dealing with periods. The right way how to contour, what colours of clothes would match together, how to do regular skin-care and neuter some of the worst aspects of being a much more emotional being.

Then it would be on to teaching her how to fight, how to defend herself, how to assert herself and be more than any stereotypes that might be thrust upon her. She would know strange skills like how to hotwire a car, how to spot someone following her, how to blend and disappear with the crowd.

No daughter of mine would ever leave the house without some form of EDC gear on her, regardless of what she is wearing.

In many ways, I really want to mould a very balanced individual. She will be tough and attractive, vulnerable and open, full of logical contradictions that make her capable and adaptable in any situations.

I’ve reasoned to myself, so many times, that having a daughter would be advantageous, because girls are just more attuned to their emotional needs and desires, which means that all I have to really do is teach her how be tough and survive scraps, whilst ensuring her mental health is self-reflective and inquisitive.

Already, I am sure you can picture what kind of kid I would be raising. A proper hellraiser.

But what about my own parenting style? Would I be demanding? Controlling? Always applying pressure to her achievements? Worse, would I be absent? Cold and aloof?

In all honesty, the way how I picture myself as a father is very much a strong, silent figure in my daughter’s life. I wouldn’t be the type to get into long arguments, just engage in civil discussion. I would actually copy my own upbringing and do my best to mature her mind as quickly as possible.

Hopefully, by the time she is 10, she’ll be as cynical as a Chandler protagonist.

But in all seriousness, my main attitude to my child would be simple: I am talking to another adult. I would let her learn from her mistakes, teach her to avoid more dangerous ones and really just let her mind advance the right way. Whatever she would be interested in, I will listen and carefully encourage it.

Whilst I am definitely taking her karting, if it isn’t her thing, then I won’t push it. I hate the pitfall of pushing your passions on your child, when you should be listening to what they really want. If it’s ballet, I will hold her up, and even learn how to stretch alongside her. If it’s air-rifle competitive shooting, I’ll be the Dad that cleans her gun for the 7th time before an important competition.

I’m not exactly one of those people that think kids are of a lesser intelligence than I am. In a lot of ways, their brains operate and see things clearer than I do. They just don’t have the same mental traps that I do at 28 years old. Kids don’t overthink, over analyse or second guess themselves. They just see things for they are. They are refreshingly free of judgement, stereotypes and other toxic mental weeds.

A big proponent of life is just accepting that you will always be a student. If my daughter can master an Arabesque in a week, I can do so as well, but will humbly admit that I might need a month to get even close.

But that is the type of father I want to be. I want to learn her skills, her passions and what she is good at, so that I too can see other worlds that I might not have been interested in before. I also think it’s just plain supportive. I see no reason why she can’t be my friend as well as my daughter and vice versa.

That is my promise to my daughter, if this hypothetical becomes real.

I will be her Dad, her friend and her cheerleader.

In a lot of ways, fatherhood to me is the ultimate test of whether you are a good teacher.

Whether you have the patience to deal with all the price of failure and success on behalf of your kid.

Whether you got what it takes to be attentive to your child’s needs and personaliy.

Whether you can make the right choices when it comes to shielding or allowing mistakes to befall your child.

Whether you are mature enough to understand the responsibility that now rests of your shoulders. You could have avoided this, prevented it, but now you are a parent. There cannot be any regret involved in that decision.

But most importantly, raising a child and seeing how they develop is the ultimate reflection on whether you have taught yourself well. Your morals, your lessons, your attitude and your personality are all magnified in a child’s blank slate and they are the ultimate proof whether you have mastered yourself or not.

Because if you haven’t mastered yourself and become truly at peace with who you are, you should not be anywhere near a child.

How do you teach a clueless child, if you are not a master of your own life? How do you expect to hand down life lessons, moral compasses, difficult decision making and maturity to a child when you are barely have or are any of those things?

Perhaps this is why I always get such strong phantom simulations of me being a father. Because I already feel like I have addressed most of these issues. I am ready to be a father, if somehow the situation demanded me to be one by tomorrow.

I would just prefer if I wasn’t one right now.

Deep down, I know I would be a good parent. I’ve always been seen as the responsible, serious but mischievous older brother in many different social settings and to upgrade that to responsible, serious but mischievous Dad isn’t a very long stretch of imagination.

There is something compelling about the idea, a strong belief in myself but the problem has always been my career. I can’t be a very good parent if I am constantly dragging my daughter to crazy events where she sees her father in the the worst, stressful and angry light.

There is also the very irrational fear that I might lose my partner to a child.

Which is illogical in the extreme, considering the advancement in medical sciences today, but I’m also not sure if I could ever truly live down the strange resentment that I would fester towards my child, because of her indirect involvement in the death of my partner.

This strange feeling of resentment to an innocent child is really the keystone of my argument against children and parents. I never understood how parents get angry at a child for being a child. It is like they’ve never realised that the child is an actual human being, capable of rational thought and thus should be treated like one.

Too many parents also have children far too early in their journey of self-mastery and thus suffer the consequences almost immediately. Their children end up inheriting the worst traits of their parents, and there is always this air of resentment to the child, because somehow the kid was responsible for all of the parents’ mistakes.

Your children are a reflection of you. If you are mature, responsible, and intelligent, emotionally and logically, then your child is going to turn out the same. If you are none of those adjectives or traits …. your child won’t inherit any of them either, unless they possess an incredible force of will to resist the toxic environment they live in.

Being a parent is a serious decision, not taken in haste. After all, you are sacrificing a lot of personal freedoms. Holidays, good sleep, sex with your partner, expensive hobbies, personal fitness, and even to an extent, personal happiness for the sake of raising a child.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready to take that step.

However, if push came to shove, I know I’ll be ready. I won’t be repeating the mistakes of my forebears.

My kid will be the very best version of themselves they can be.

That’s the only way they’ll survive this crazy world.

~ Damocles.

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