In the end there is not much that separates us from them. We are meant to give to them. We are meant
to be a bottomless source of love to them. But we use them in the same way. We demand of them
bottomless love and at least some service. Service and love. Sounds like a Sunday sermon. But I am
not talking about service to God, or God’s love. I am talking about the future, our children. (A terrifying
thought that something that I produce would be responsible for anything, but hell, why not. I’m pretty
responsible.) I would put emphasis on the bottomless part of the third sentence of this paragraph. Not
that we as parents are tried or that we don’t fail, but the expectation is there, that expectation that our
patience will not end.
But is this how it should be? I don’t believe that it always has been. I believe that we invented childhood
about 150 years ago, and since then the child’s need of a grownup’s love has increased. When kids
ceased being small adult they became vulnerable. And vulnerability needs a counterweight feeling in
order to be protected. That counterweight is love.
So we are connected to them by vulnerability and love. This is a good thing. Not that everyone sees the
same amount of vulnerability in their children, not does everyone have the opportunity to allow their
children to be vulnerable. Childhood is the prerogative of the rich. Not only the very rich, but the relative
rich, as well. The poor have more incentive to decrease childhood vulnerability as a way of coping with
I have a need to give my children space. I am frustrated by the fact that I have chosen to live a life that
does not provide them very much. As I have thought about this, I have come back to the idea of the
relationship between vulnerability and love. And I wonder if I have over compensated the love side
of the dialog to the detriment of the vulnerability. But I’ll be damned if I can come up with a situation
where I can create balance. So I keep thinking.
Perhaps I could argue that by giving them the life that I have, I have presented them with different
forums for expressing their vulnerability. With this I mean that by taking them away from one type
of childhood, a childhood shared by countless children and putting them into a childhood that differs
greatly from the vast majority of children, I am giving them perspective. That’s the point, anyway. That’s
why we’re here, because we believe that by doing this, we allow for vulnerability to be expressed in a
way that is different, but valid. Excuse me if I doubt this conclusion.
I have recently read a passage in a book by Karl-Ove Knausgård where he expresses his general
skepticism towards multiculturalism based upon the assumption (here I am greatly simplifying a point
that he makes in passing any way) that without shared collective assumptions we are bound to have
conflicts in one form or another. But he then goes on to argue that the city that he lives in is so diverse
that all assumptions take on the form of novelty, giving its citizens a sense of vitality that leads to
So I am stuck looking for my own balance by providing diversity in the hope of giving vitality to my
children. Damn, maybe I should just relax and enjoy the time I have with them. In a couple of years they
are going to hate me, not matter what I do any way.