Having Children Changes Your Worldly Perception In Unforeseen Ways
When people tell you about what it’s like to have a child, they inevitably get into how much your life changes. You’re pretty much never going to have money; you’re going to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off; you’re going to pull your hair out (if you have any); and, of course, you’re going to love every minute of watching your little one grow up (apart from the having-to-watch-them-grow-up thing). So, I mean, it’s not like it’s all doom and gloom.
Except that it kind of is all doom and gloom! Because what no one tells you about is this other, intensely dramatic but incredibly subtle way that your life is going to change…
When you have a child, your life suddenly becomes this intense empathetic struggle. When I say “empathetic”, I’m stressing the “pathetic” part. In fact, it should probably be pronounced “I’m Pathetic”.
What do I mean?
There’s this strange sort of innocence in the world that disappears when you have children. I know that probably doesn’t seem to make sense. After all, when you’re in your thirties, what innocence could you possibly have left? There must be things that happen in the world that stir your emotions – from terrorist attacks to senseless murder to the results of America’s Got Talent. And, sure, that stuff gets to you – but everything changes the first time you hold your little one in your arms.
First, there’s stuff that might be a little more obvious…
When I hear any news story involving a child getting hurt or killed, I literally can’t breathe. That could be my kid! And sometimes it’s worse when it’s an adult with kids of their own… I can’t bear to think of what those children are going to have to experience. And that adult was probably someone else’s kid!
When I get an Amber Alert on my phone, I can’t sleep! Those terrify me! I lay awake thinking about how scared and freaked out that that child might be, and how absolutely helpless his or her parents must feel. I’ve actually tried to fathom that experience (I’m an artist – it’s what we do) but I just can’t even picture it.
And school shootings. Petrified. I don’t think I need to say anything more.
There’s a lot of stuff like this…
But then there’s the other stuff – the stuff you never would have expected. And for someone like me who lives on creating and ingesting everything entertainment, this is a biggy.
I’m talking about how everything from TV to movies to books suddenly changes form the moment you have a child.
I have a really hard time watching movies where kids are in danger. Slasher flicks I can deal with because there’s a cheesy quality to those that makes you sort of detach from it. Then again, I really don’t watch those anyway.
But what about movies that used to be completely entertaining and seemingly innocent? Maybe not The Goonies so much, but what about Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom? Before Addie, that was a fun, child-friendly (I mean… apart from it being the reason we have PG-13 ratings) movie. Now it’s really difficult to think about all those enslaved kids getting whipped and beaten. It adds a whole new level and dimension to the movie. (For the record, I still love it).
How about Jurassic Park? Before having a child, sure, I could feel the dilemma that Alan Grant experienced as he watched those kids get attacked by a T-Rex, but after having Addie, that scene alone takes on a whole new level of “oh shit!” The gravity of it is rather intense! I mean, they’re kids! On the other side of the coin, it makes Grant’s guardianship of the children that much more heroic! (And, for the record, I still love this movie).
Ever see Ransom with Mel Gibson? Love that movie, too, but I don’t dare attempt it after having a child. I don’t think I could get through it. I think I’d have an aneurysm.
There are plenty of movies that change because of this – Super 8, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Star Wars: The Force Awakens…
And I’m not going to lie, I sobbed like a big baby during that scene in Interstellar. You know the one I’m talking about. Actually I sobbed through most of that movie. It was like it was made for Dads.
Hunger Games, anyone? Thank God I’d had Addie after reading those books. They were intense to begin with. The movies dumbed that down a bit, thankfully (and were still really awesome) but the weight of that reality is still a bit tough to take.
By the way, this is also one of the main reasons I can’t watch shows like Grey’s Anatomy… apart from it not having been good for about 9 years.
Even Batman can be pretty gut-wrenching if the story is told right.
That’s right – your kid might ruin Batman.
Except that, obviously, I jest.
Because having a child is so amazing and wonderful and beautiful a thing that it actually changes your perception of the world. A child. This thing that is as innocent a creature and as blank a slate as anything you could ever conjure up. Somehow, it has the power to make everything… well… not what it was.
Something better than it was, perhaps.
Meanwhile… I had said earlier that there’s a strange sort of innocence that disappears when you have children. And that’s true, but what I didn’t mention is that you gain a whole new one. And it’s the most bizarre thing in the universe. You have this new kind of innocence that you experience with your child, but at the same time you have this knowledge that pure innocence can’t have. It’s like you’re of two minds. The one that knows, and the one that has an impulse to empathize.
I suppose that’s the power of children – they teach you empathy – the gateway drug to Compassion.