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Parental love

Conrad shares his experiences raising third culture kids in international Denmark.

Photograph: iStock

Text: Conrad Molden

Children are lucky they are cute. Their beautiful sweet faces somehow manage to dissolve the upset and frustration that comes with taking care of them. No matter what struggles they put you through, their adorable little souls will somehow convince you to forgive them. Their cuteness connects deeply with a parental bond of love.

I have two children - I love them to bits. They are part British, part Hungarian and (from being born here) basically part Danish. Trilingual, energetic and both very cute. Luckily very cute.

Because if familial bonds of attachment were not there, you would not hang out with your children for very long. They would quickly become your worst best friends. Although despite their madness, your love for your children remains, it would quickly disappear with friends. Imagine coming into your kitchen, and your best mate has opened all the lowest cupboards, pulled everything out and broken your Royal Copenhagen tallerkener in the process. Or he decides to violently wake you up at 05:00, only to tell you he’s really tired. Or you go to pick him up for a brunch date, he isn’t wearing any trousers, and he refuses to ever put any on. Ever.

Unconditional love for your child is tested during your lives together, unlike any other relationship. You watch this tiny human being move from fragile first movements all the way to an entirely miniature adult through the most bizarre and beautiful experiences. It is almost like taking a drunk friend home. You watch them discover they have a body, learn to crawl, walk and develop their speech. All along the way, you are their little guide. Helping them navigate through space and time. The only real difference is you are taking them to vuggestue (daycare) rather than the local pizza place.

“Did I ever love something this much before?”

However, unlike taking your drunk friend home, being a parent is genuinely an honour. Without an application process or even an interview, you are suddenly in charge of giving a tiny person the most fulfilling life experience possible. No questions asked, no training, no little voice asking, “do you really know what you’re doing?” Instead, you’re just thrust into total responsibility with a new pressing familial bond of attachment that forces you to love their sweet little face.

You really find out how much you are loved during these moments. I remember realising very quickly that, mostly, children’s toys are not necessary. (Spoiler alert for anyone getting baby-ready and just spent 5.000 DKK on all manner of child entertainment). Sure your child will look at the flashing lights or click the blocks together, but what they really want is you. They love you so much, and you are their world. You have been there for their entire existence. Games need your input, and stories need your voice. They will ask you everything and anything. It is extraordinarily exhausting but even more magical. And weirdly, you start to think: did I ever love something this much before? Of course, we all love Ferrero Rocher, fiskefrikadeller (fish meatballs) and expensive gin. But this new level of adoration moves heaven and earth to redefine how one perceives love.

Not all people will have children - some people will definitely have fulfilled lives without them. But if children aren’t for you, still take the time to put yourself in the shoes of the mothers and fathers out there. From the outside, sometimes these little people can seem like too much. Sometimes they break overpriced porcelain plates, decline to wear trousers or wake you up at a time that can only be described as “Satanic”. But just look for the glow of love they have for their parents and the cuteness in their faces. These bonds of attachment tell us so much about the human condition. They run so deep that they are probably the glue keeping this whole civilisation together.

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