It sometimes occurs to me that Aidan’s experiences growing up will be very different from my own, and from his father’s. This is not just because we grew up thirty-some years ago and times were different. It is not even that he is (for now) an only child. Since I am the oldest and Anthony was an only until he was 9, we are having the same experiences with parental attention. It isn’t that I stay home with Aidan either. Both Anthony and I had Mothers who stayed home as long as they could and were involved with schools and such, so that is not it. The main reason for the differences is not even the amount of money we have compared with our parents, it is that Aidan is a city child.
Both Anthony and I did most of our growing up in similar situations and very close to each other in the suburbs. Both of us started our lives in Dartmouth and moved from Gaston Road (apparently a couple of apartment buildings away) a year apart to Forest Hills. We lived about 10 minutes (walking) away from each other and went to different schools until grade 10. We were both band geeks, and did well academically. We knew each other very briefly and not at all well in grade 10 and for grade 11 not at all because Anthony spent the year in Montreal. We met and became friends in grade 12, and in February of our grade 12 year we got together as a couple. It always amazes me that we didn’t know each other before, but although we would have met a few times it wasn’t until grade 12 that we hung out in the same group.
So, although we didn’t really get to know each other until we were 16 and 17 years old, we had very similar upbringings and very similar settings in which to do it. I won’t speak for Anthony but I loved growing up in the suburbs until I was in my teens. I loved being able to play in the backyard and being in “Calling Distance” to home. I loved being able to go for very long walks along the back paths and exploring new places. Living in the suburbs didn’t start to chafe until I was in my teens and had a lot of friends who lived in Halifax. Yes the big bustling metropolis. I think that I was a little jealous of the musical opportunities afforded the city kids compared to what was available in the county.
We now live in the Vancouver in the city proper. I know that the life we live is quite different in a number of ways. We walk or bike most places, don’t have a backyard and our place is very small. We have tall trees and mountains nearby. We can see all sorts of trucks anytime we go out for a walk. We play at our community center all the time. We go to parks instead of playing in a backyard. We walk to the library. Our stroller gets much more use than our car.
Aidan will have all the musical opportunities that you can have. I am looking forward to putting him into the junior Bach choir when he is 5. He will have his choice of instruments, not just band instruments, he can actually play strings too. We will be taking more swimming lessons in the winter, we will be taking art and maybe dance. He will have the opportunity to be dramatic in plays and such. In a few years he will be part of the festivities for the host city of the winter Olympics. All these opportunities.
Now before you take me to task, yes, there are things that are great about city living and there are also drawbacks. We are well aware of the drawbacks, like the lack of space and playing areas. No place to throw the child out in the backyard to play. We always need to be full on supervising his every move. But right now the main point I am trying to make is not whether either lifestyle is better or worse, just how different his experiences will be.
I guess that is nothing new. We will again just be parents saying to our children “when I was a kid . . .” The more things are different the more they stay the same. We will all be parents who had different experiences and therefore don’t understand our kids. At least I know it. 🙂