I know I am a sentimental fool but Jill and I have been truly, deeply touched by all the lovely support, good wishes and celebration we’ve received about our sons birth.
There’s literally been an endless stream of it – from people we know, people we’ve not heard from in years and people we’ve never even met – and it’s been amazing and totally overwhelming.
I don’t know what we’ve done to deserve it – or should I say what I’ve done to deserve it – but we’re so very grateful and we hope that when Otis is old enough, he will see how many people were happy and excited about him coming into the World and realises that as much as the media likes to present the planet as being full of horrible things, the good people easily outweigh the bad.
That’s a beautiful lesson for him and a wonderful reminder for us.
So at 6:27pm on Thursday, December 11th, Otis Roger Edwin Campbell was born in Shanghai, China.
He is beautiful.
I don’t mind admitting I cried my eyes out when I saw him.
Mind you, so did he when he saw me … though, I suspect for different reasons than the overwhelming joy I was feeling.
Regardless, achieving ‘like father, like son’ status within 3 seconds of entering the World is, in my eyes, still pretty impressive.
He is well.
Mum is well.
Grandma is well.
I … well, I am traumatised and don’t even get me started on how Rosie is feeling.
In all honesty, this is mindblowingly mental-amazing.
I am totally and utterly in awe. And in love.
Oh, and you’ll be happy to know he came too early for our insurance payola which is why I got my own back by doing this as our official ‘birth’ announcement.
He now has 18 years to get his revenge and I’m already looking forward to every single day of it.
Guess this means the next chapter of my life has officially begun.
[Though I hope Jill has still got me a cool gadget for Christmas!]
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So it dawned on me, this is the most significant Friday since the day I was born.
Because on Monday, it’s the due date of my son.
2 little words … yet attached to them are massive implications, consequences and wonder.
But he’s probably not going to be born on Monday … they don’t think he’s quite ready.
Now, as much as I want to meet him – I’m ashamed to admit – that is kind-of good news.
You see if he can hang on for 4 additional days, our health insurance clicks over to another year which means our ‘maternity budget’ goes back to zero and we’re not going to be held liable for a massive bill.
Which means I will have some money to buy the last few gadgets I’ll probably ever get to own.
Which also means he will probably now be born on Thursday at 11:45pm just to show me who is really in control.
But all that aside, it’s a weird day because I’ve just realised, in all likelihood, this will be the last weekend I’ll ever have that is like all the other weekends I’ve ever had.
That sounds like I’m being uber-selfish but it’s not what I mean.
It’s just mind-blowing to think that this time next week, my life will be – depending if he decides to turn up – entirely different.
From how I live … to what I think … to the priorities I have.
It’s amazing and in some ways, almost impossible to comprehend.
Maybe part of the reason for that is because – as I mentioned a few weeks ago – I’ve only just sort-of come to terms with being a Dad.
Despite seeing my wife look like she has a constantly inflating balloon under her jumper.
Despite seeing the office at home transform into a wonderful babies bedroom.
Despite seeing the word ‘nappy’ appear on shopping receipts.
Despite my house suddenly looking like a toyshop for cuddly animals.
Despite reading books I have never had any desire to read in my life.
Despite hearing conversations about things that both amaze – and horrify – me.
Yes, I am that stupid.
[By the way, NEVER tell your wife she looks like she has a constantly inflating balloon under her jumper. You are on a high-thing to nothing. Trust me]
Now before I go on, I feel I should deal with the elephant in the room.
Look, I know I said this blog was on sabbatical – and it is – but the fact is I’ve not written this post to satisfy my desire to start spouting planning clap–trap again, it’s because I wanted to capture how I am feeling for future reference.
And yet despite all that, I am sort-of looking forward to the mountain of abuse I know I’m going to get for it.
Not because I’m a masochist, but because one of the things I have always worried about is that becoming a parent means becoming an adult.
God that sounds terrible doesn’t it.
Of course I know being a parent is a massive responsibility and it is a challenge I am looking forward to.
And of course I know a bunch of things will change – many in ways that will be better than I ever could have imagined – but the fact is, I have seen too many people suddenly turn into either crushing bores or selfish dicks the moment they have a child.
Where they lose all sense of perspective.
Where they lose all sense of reality.
Where they lose all sense of fun.
Where they become closed off to the people and the things that surround them.
Whether they are from the past or opportunities for the future.
I don’t want that for me and I don’t want that for my son.
As my parents once said to me, one of the best things you can do for your child is to be happy.
Of course you have to – and want to – do the right thing for your child, but that also includes doing the right thing for you.
And for the record, that is not an excuse to justify buying a new iPhone every year.
[I don’t need an excuse to justify buying a new iPhone every year]
But all that aside, I want to say this:
To my future son …
I can’t wait to meet you.
I can’t wait to see your face and look into your eyes.
To kiss your head and hold you in my arms.
To see you as you wake and as you go to sleep.
To watch your little chest move up and down as you let life fill your lungs with life.
I’m so curious to see all the expressions that will appear upon your face.
To hear the questions and observations that you will one day make.
And learn the lessons that you will teach to me.
I’m excited I get to re-experience life through your life.
As you discover everything for the very first time.
The very first time.
[Which, as a concept, still blows my mind]
And I promise you this …
I will always do my best for you.
To take care of you.
To support you.
To guide you.
To encourage you.
I will do everything I can to make you proud of who you are and where you come from.
Starting by making you proud of who I am and where I come from.
There will be mistakes … dramas … moments where we all end up frustrated and upset.
I will never enjoy watching a kids movie as much as I enjoy watching a documentary.
And the thought of spending my weekends at children’s parties will always fill me with dread.
But I want you to know this.
It will all work out, it will all be OK … because there’s one thing that conquers all.
You are wanted.
Desperately, desperately wanted.
And I will do all I can to prove that to you every single day.
I am excited. Sure, a little scared … but mostly excited.
And I cannot wait for the journey we’re going to have together to start.
But please. Pretty, pretty please. Don’t come until the 12th.
See you soon son.
And if you accidentally found yourself on this blog, change your search engine immediately.
That’s it. For now. Ta-ra.
So this is it, the end.
At least the end for now.
As the old bird in the picture above once sang, “we’ll meet again” … before adding “don’t know where, don’t know when” … though if I was to hazard a guess, apart from continuing to co-manage the Advertising Planning School On The Web [#apsotw], I’d say there’s definitely a good chance they’ll be a post when my son is born and I want to show him off.
So until then, thank you for all the laughs, lessons and insults over the past 8+ bloody years … have an amazing Christmas and may 2015 be an utterly epic year for all of us. I have a feeling it will be, after all, my son will be here.
And with that, here’s a little reminder why you should be glad my impending fatherhood is forcing me to disappear for a bit.
Christ almighty, how the hell do I still have employment after that?
Mind you, that’s not as bad as the fact that some of you watched it way back in 2007 and still came back for more. Mental.
For the record, I still have – and wear – that shirt, and even more shocking than that [at least for Northern] is it doesn’t have any military insignia on it at all.
Not one bit.
And on that bombshell, all that leaves me to say is thank you and goodbye … or maybe it’s au revoir? … who knows, I guess we’ll see.
Whatever it is, off I trot to experience a new, mad, scary, wonderful chapter in my life.
Wish me/him luck.
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There’s a couple of people I know who are struggling with some major decisions in their life.
Some of them are almost paralysed by it … knowing they should act but fearing what might happen if they do.
All this is leading to is doubt, uncertainty stagnation and regret.
Of course big decisions need big considerations, but too often we end up focusing on what we might lose rather than also considering what we might gain.
I get it. I really do.
When I was deciding on whether to move to Australia, I was utterly conflicted.
A lot of things were going on in my life at that time so the easier option was definitely to stay in England.
And yet my heart – and my parents – felt it was something I should do.
I was so stressed out by the decision that, much to my parents amazement, I went to see a councellor.
In over an hour of conversation, there was one thing he said that especially helped.
While he acknowledged moving to Australia was a risk – especially for the reasons I was going to do it – he said the thing I had to remember was the greater the risk the greater the potential reward.
Of course that’s obvious and of course, that also highlighted how in my particular case, there was a relatively low potential for success … but in my quest to work out what to do, I’d lost sight of the possibilities that could occur if it all went well and that bit of clarity helped me make my decision.
For me, that decision was to move 12,000 miles away from my beloved family and see what might happen.
And what happened?
Well, based on the original reasons I went … it failed.
It didn’t fail immediately and I had an amazing journey along the way but based on the final outcome, it failed.
However for a billion different reasons, it changed my life for the better forever.
I cannot begin to cover all the amazing things I have experienced and discovered in my life because I took that first step.
To be quite honest, everything that has happened to me in the last 18 years can be traced back to that decision to go.
Every single thing.
The life I now enjoy would never – and I am not overestimating that – have happened had I let my mind only focus on the risk rather than the potential for reward.
That doesn’t mean my life would have been bad had I stayed in England, but it would certainly be very different and so I am forever grateful to my parents, friends and councillor who helped me make a balanced decision rather than a fear driven one.
So to the people I mentioned at the beginning of this post who are going through their own moment of indecision, I leave you a little poem.
It was given to me by a friend who was given it by their friend.
After 17 years of marriage their husband died.
He was 39.
She was on her own with a young child.
She didn’t know what to do but she knew she had to do something.
It helped her. I hope it helps you.
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I am a massive believer in understanding associative memory.
I’m not as extreme as Clotaire Rapaille … but I do believe that if you uncover someone’s first experiences with a particular situation, environment, product or category, it can give you a clearer understanding of what the individuals real relationship is with that situation.
There are many people who don’t subscribe to this point of view and that’s fine, but recently a friend showed me something that – in a very roundabout way – highlights why looking for someone’s frame of reference may give us more understanding about their actions and behaviour than the classic ‘insight’ model, favoured by so many.
[For the record, I am not dissing insight. I am a massive advocate of it and believe in it’s importance and value … however the way many people/brands go about identifying it [not to mention, what they actually classify as an insight] is both bewildering and embarrassing]
Have a look at this.
What do you see?
If you said a naked woman being held by a man, then this would indicate you are probably over the age of 12.
For the record, if you said a naked woman being held by a man that is sexually stimulating to you, this this would indicate you need help. Fast.
The reason I say that is because my friend – a psychologist – told me that when he shows this vase to young children, they see something entirely different.
Because young children don’t have any associative memory for ‘intimate couples’, they see dolphins.
No, I can’t see them either – not even one of them – but the point is, while our associations can evolve, if you look for where they began, you might get more insight into how to fundamentally change attitudes and behaviour than anything ‘big data’ can tell you.
In short, it may be the difference between infiltrating culture and playing only within the confines of the category.
Of course, it’s not easy, but then anything worth something, rarely is.