Parental Guilt

My son was eight when he started to get nostalgic and began speaking in melancholy, tearful tones about ‘the good old days’. Eight years old and already feeling that sense of loss, feeling already that experience corrupts, that expanding consciousness displaces innocence and that that sweet state of not-understanding is gone forever once it’s gone. He didn’t get that kind of shit from me – I’m a virtuoso performer on the right stage, and every night in that claustrophobic turn between wakefulness and sleep, wrapped up in a duvet with no-one but myself, I consider the ways I can try to delay his inevitable wide-eyed and blasted confrontation with the blank, soul-less horror of it all. I’m careful. But it’s horrible, watching them lose that innocence. You know you’ve done that to them. You brought them to this place. You, with your own understandings and lack of hope and faith, have fed them living into the gnashing jaws of this world, you’ve given them suffering and catastrophe and death. You’ve given them the loss of everything – and you have to watch them learn that, until you break their hearts and bring a cold rain over their horizons forever with your own agonising conclusion, the ultimate desertion – you brought them to this dark playground and slipped their little hands from yours and turned your back and walked away.

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