Expat Dad: Reality Check

Each individual person has the ability to believe … whatever they want to believe.

I’m not just referring to crazy beliefs such as organised religion, but also that, with complete non-impartiality (partiality?),  a person can believe that something he or she experiences in their life has more meaning or worth than the experiences of others. That others ‘don’t understand’.

Well, friends, I can tell you that when you have children, you will certainly understand something that other people may not.

Not that simply having children is a wisdom-bestowing act, not that anyone should have children, not that all parents are good.

But having children presents the possibility of ‘more’. And sometimes ‘more’ is not always easy to take.

Starting with the more meaningless, fluffier aspects of life; do you ever think you are busy? Add a child to that.

But moreso, do you ever feel under pressure?

A parent never really laments, and this is not so. Rather, I enjoy merely analysing or even narrating the dynamic, the experience, the trial of a parent.

I like writing about the sacrifice that a parent needs to take. That can be mis-understood as the hording of sacrificial accounting — so that when the child is grown, the parent can re-count a tale of woe and thus guilt their child.

Not that, but instead there is a tragic beauty in the sacrifice – both material and physical, but also of the soul – that a good parent needs to go through.

Dealing with young children does not enact a pausing of your emotions — the reverse is true, because of the new. New experiences and new emotions are felt when dealing with your child; your offspring, your spawn, your seed, your creation. Add these as the ‘more’ to regular life and inevitable experiences, and you may find yourself in one of those situations that test your being and take you to the limits of your pathetic heart and mind – while at the same time you need to change nappies and stay awake and still be ‘Dad’ or ‘Mum’.

In a simple way, it is easy to dismiss or comment that ‘this is something parents have to do, so deal with it’.

I addressed useless comments such as that on a previous parenting blog, onto which I also tapped out some other theories and explanations on parenting.

And to begin to culminate into a point here, what I am writing now is relevant to Shanghai Syndrome, which I mentioned last week.

The difficulty of parenting young children ‘back home’, wherever your home country is something that is unspokenly known.

Yet with most of the expat population living such fabulous and star-making lives, outsourcing their parenting to women from Anhui province and regressing – with glacier-like unstoppability – back to the ego of a teenager, are there any parents ‘out there’ who are experiencing difficulty? I refuse to believe that the passport-check gate at Pudong airport is some kind of C. S. Lewis-equivalent magical-passageway into another World — a World in which the sheer benevolence of the cocktails at Bar Rouge deletes any taxing element of standard existence.

Or is it indeed the easy availability of both alcohol and other people’s sexual organs which facilitiate the red-misted denial of genuine emotions?

Or is it the fear of being the first person to remove the stick from their arsehole, relax, and to simply communicate with other people?

It is likely both, with the need for the latter negated by the ease of the former.

Shanghai does have that special talent for implanting into people’s heads both an urgency to conform as a priority, and also a worry that to reveal anything genuine is a weakness that can take them back to playground days of being pointed and laughed at just for showing real emotion. Fortunately this is no problem at all when you are only ever six hours away from the next Drinks Special and another lost night of repressed self-analysis and reality.


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Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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