On Saturday I had a day out with my father.
The day did not start well. 4son just refused to get up, saying he was tired and he never missed a grand-parental visit so it was his turn. I didn’t much want to get up either and wondered why I had agreed to meet at 11 o’clock rather than midday so I could be more relaxed.
3son was going to join us later and I was concerned he too would just not bother although he had missed the last visit and I had emphasised how pleased my father would be to see his favourite. 3son was doing a course in the morning. Originally I had suggested to my father that we meet at that town instead as it was a short and frequent train from London and there would be more time.
My father immediately questioned this asking what would we do, where would we meet, where would we go, he didn’t know the town at all. My answer that we could meet at the station, go for a wander and find a pub was reluctantly agreed to. As it was, 1sis said she could meet us but only if we kept to London so the South Bank it was again. I love that stretch but there are other areas in London. I think.
It took me a while to process this conversation but I acknowledged what I’ve probably always known at some level. My father’s need to plan everything down to the last detail and six months in advance is about him being a control freak because he gets anxious if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The whole concept of winging it is not in his vocabulary.
I feel as if I’ve taken an evolutionary leap over him. Yes I get anxious, as my holiday really revealed to me. But I know I do and try and work through it. I don’t want to plan my activities down to the last detail and my childhood was filled with more plans than most people make in a lifetime. I haven’t gone to the other extreme; I do plan, but loosely and plans can be changed if a more interesting path presents itself. It may be right or it may not be but I have the freedom to make that choice which my father doesn’t (ya boo sucks).
When I child I tried to get him to teach me rock climbing. I thought it could be a bonding experience. I was wrong. He was so petrified of my falling and hurting myself, even from a few feet up, that all he succeeded in doing was making me share his fear. So I stopped.
Indeed when my children were younger and we had a shared holiday by the seaside he was reluctant to spend any time on the beach because he was scared one of the children might get into difficulty in the water and he was not competent enough to rescue them. A valid fear but the chances of any of them going that far out were non existent.
The one time one of my children had an accident on holiday my father was magnificent. His ability to ignore his emotions meant that he organised everyone and was taking 2son to the doctor almost before I knew what was going on. He has always been good in emergency scenarios. But that is for the very wrong reason that his emotions are switched off so he doesn’t panic but deals with the situation.
This is a long way from the anxiety that I started from but anxiety, fear and panic are all interwoven.
Anyway, the day went, as these days always do, with parts slower than others and no major bun fights. That counts as a win.