I found, hidden away in the attic, covered in spiders and cobwebs, some ancient forgotten recording devices. So old were they, there was nothing available I could find to play what they held. So they were despatched to the technological archivist who holds long-dead machines for just this purpose. The DVD's that arrived back contained memories from nearly twenty years ago. Three of the tapes were destroyed by moisture and were sadly unrecoverable.
What I discovered from the remainder were interesting portraits of my girls and of my interactions with them. What I didn't see then, is sadly all too clear to me now. At the young age of eleven, my eldest was astonishingly mature and grown up in her manner, attitude and speech. The youngest was still too little, just a bursting handful of energy. But I can now see that I never gave my eldest, at that important age, enough credit for being so mature. It's a serious regret with me that I never gave time to sit and talk and discuss both their worlds, problems and viewpoints, at any of their ages really. I let a wonderful oportunity pass me by and in doing so let them down.
Times were different of course, and working six days a week I had very little time, never mind quality time, to spend with both. But then I should have, somehow, made time. It must have been very frustrating and disenfranchising for her to have a dad that didn't really have time to listen. I think in the end she gave up trying to talk with me. In the video's she speaks so well, and I can see that I just don't really pay her the attention and respect she needed and deserved. It's no wonder she's grown up a little distant. I really wasn't the dad I should or could have been.
Its much better these days, with young parents really engaging with their children, listening to them, understanding their concerns and addressing their worries, treating them as people, not just as kids. Back when I was a kid, you just got on with things come what may, the adult and child worlds didn't interact. The seen and not heard attitude. And I guess that's how I treated my own kids. So if you have children, and you don't already, take my tip and make time to have some intimate one-to-one talks before it's too late. It's easy to forget your kids are people too.