Friendly Advice

Published in the Heckler column, Sydney Morning Herald, 27th January 2005

Stop reading this article now! Turn immediately to another section of the paper or click on the nearest hyperlink. I have no idea what I am talking about. I have been told this since the age of five and I recommend that you cease reading this column immediately.

For those of you who have been foolish enough to ignore my warning, let me explain.

“Maaaate, you have noooo idea…” The phrase is with me still. As a teenager, as soon as I showed the any hint of an interest in the opposite sex, I was promptly told by anyone who was more that a couple of years older than me that I had “noooo idea” what I was in for. “Girls, they’re a different species, nothing like us. Forget it. It’s a minefield. They’ll have you for breakfast, gobble you up, make mincemeat of you and for dessert, spit you out in little pieces.” 

Strangely enough, no doubt by sheer good fortune, I managed to make the acquaintance of a number of wonderful women, some of whom I had the privilege of seeing on a regular basis. I took then to movies, dances and dinners and even went on holidays with some of them. Much to my dismay – we actually got on very well.

Not long after, I heard the same advice again. “Maaaate, you have noooo idea…”  I had committed the cardinal sin. I’d expressed an interest in marriage. I was promptly told by all my wedded friends that I was “crazy” Such sagacious advice as “Why buy the book when you can borrow from the library? It’ll ruin your life. You’ll be tied to the ball and chain for the rest of your days. Don’t sign up with ‘she who must be obeyed’”, was heaped upon me.

Again, no doubt, by nothing but sheer good luck, I found that when I did marry I enjoyed the company of an intelligent, witty, practical and interesting wife whom I love very much. I was honoured to find that she was there for me every day. My life was not impoverished at all. It was enriched.

“Maaaate, you have noooo idea…” Soon I was hearing it all again. I had mentioned that we might be thinking of having children. Sure enough, the unsolicited advice started pouring in. “ Make sure you see plenty of movies before the little brat arrives because you sure be seeing anything except the Wiggles afterwards. Oh, and go to a few good restaurants now, because it’ll be nothing but left over baby food and fish fingers from now on. No more lie-ins on Sunday mornings.”

Strangely enough, my wife and I found that we enjoyed having a child. Sure, life was different, but different doesn’t necessarily mean worse. We still manage to maintain friendships, go to weddings, read books, have holidays, talk to one another and bring up our wonderfully entertaining son.

Of course, if we ever mention this to friends who have more that one child, the response is predictable. “Maaaate, you have noooo idea…. Your baby, he’s sooo good. Wait until you have two. Your life will be turned upside down. It’s so easy with one…” And so it goes on.

Well, I obviously have no idea, but I reckon I’m up for whatever may come. So far I’ve managed to get by, so obviously, having “no idea” is not such a bad thing after all.


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