Yesterday morning I was panting after Marcus, as he scooted down Degraves Street on his bike. He waited for me at the tricky blind corner, we crossed together, then he took off down the Rivulet track, and disappeared around a bend. He rides to the footbridge, then turns around and rides back to me - by then I am within sight of the footbridge and he stays in my sight the rest of the way to school.
As I watched him I was thinking how much progess he's made, so quickly. I am mentally patting myself on the back for shepherding him through this process so effectively, in such a fatherly manner. Then I got a big idea.
One of the super-rewarding things about parenting, is seeing the progress. Your kid crawls! Then he walks! He eats solid food! He reads aloud! He reads silently! He reads silently for an hour and won't come out of his room! Etc.
When we as grown ups want to get better at something, we practice. And maybe we get better. Maybe we don't. Maybe we're just not cut out for it. Maybe its our job and we just, feh, aren't that driven to get better at it. We've found our level. We aren't particularly striding ahead constantly at every new thing we try. (Unless we are one of those people who write inspirational self-help books as sold at airport bookshops.)
But our children - they start out soft, pink, helpless. There is a right and wrong way to hold them so they don't die! Do you know what I mean? Six months later they are a different proposition entirely. To progress that much, I would need to be, by 12th June 2009, a) super fit and flexible like a world class rock-climber, b) able to recognise and name 95% of all Earth's plants and animals and c) 9 feet tall.
I propose that one of the reasons we keep at this occasionally difficult job, is the purely addictive golden glow anyone gets from watching progress, improvement, problems solved and unfinished things completed. "My how you've grown" is the biggest cliche, but perhaps on a deeper level it reflects our adult fascination with, and envy of, these little people who REALLY ARE remaking themselves every day, growing physically and in every other way.