March 05, 2004 | Graham

Road tour

I have not been pulling my weight on this blog. Over the last month since the Queensland State election, Peter McMahon has blogged (cyber for “spawned”) twenty times and I have only blogged three. I have a number of excuses, but one is a beauty, in fact, not really an excuse at all. On the 25th of February I became a father again, and I think that counts for much more than 20 bloggings.
Harley Thomas Huesch (I’ll be adding the name “Young” when he is with me) was born in the Manning Base Hospital at Taree Wednesday last week. I wasn’t there at the time, but I was the next day. Taree is around seven hours drive from Brisbane, so timing arrivals at births is difficult.
This is not a position that I expected to find myself in at age 45. Harley was not a “planned event”, but he is now an important part of my life. I have never been married, de jure or de facto, to his mother, and never will be. He is an unlikely career occurrence for a church organist. But he has caused none of these things. Instead, they have happened to him.
Harley arrives at a time when we have become very aware of the problems that boys face in this society that we have constructed for ourselves. His mother is single. We know that this is statistically portentous for his future quality of life. Some years ago, I came across Christina Hoff Sommers “The War against Boys”, and published a link to it from On Line Opinion. I am troubled at the decline of the pre-and-adolescent male, and want both of my sons to achieve as well as any other person. This is more difficult for a child whose parents do not live together. For Harley it will be a challenge as his parents have never lived together. The challenge for me is to deal with the situation in a way that makes his life as good, if not better, than it could otherwise have been.
Harley and I can draw some comfort from my own family history. While baby boomers have been weaned on the myth of the nuclear family, my father was raised before the Great Depression at a time when marital relations were less straight-laced and certain than they became in the middle of last century. Not only was he the child of a broken marriage, but neither his mother nor his grandmother ever knew their fathers. Children will survive with proper nurturing, and as long as they know that the parents they have really care for them.
My own mother was a “grass widow” because Dad was always away at sea in his profession as a marine engineer. Growing up, this did not worry me, and it still doesn’t. There was the romance of hanging around the docks when the ship was in town, and the certainty that Dad cared for us. From childhood I remember nothing more precious than curling up with my sisters in Dad’s faintly acrid arms and listening while he extemporized stories about the children who lived in the mango tree in the backyard.
I trusted my father, and it was a trust that grew out of knowing that there was nothing that he wouldn’t have done for any of his children. At the same time I grew up in a house full most of the time with women – two sisters and a mother – where gender had few privileges. That’s why I’ll be spending a lot of time between here and Forster, where young Harley will be living for the while. Boys need their own Dad. So too do girls. Looks like Sophia and Libby will be spending some time on the road as well. Welcome to Australia Harley, you’ve got a bright future, and lots of love from Brisbane. Perhaps not the ideal world either of us would have wanted, but I’m sure we can extemporize a tune that a more perfect world would have muted.

Posted by Graham at 10:46 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. That’s a very gloomy view of the world! Feminism is not necessarily a bad thing for men or for boys, nor is it necessarily good for women. I think feminism has been indirectly responsible for men taking much more interest in their children, and that is a good. The problem with educating boys appears to partly stem from the way that we are teaching and partly from the ways that we are measuring. It might in fact only be perceived problem arising from putting too much emphasis on educational outcomes rather than professional outcomes. For all that women outnumber men in the academy, men outnumber women significantly in the professions and business. Book learning isn’t everything – testosterone and aggression, plus a propensity to take risks counts as well.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 7, 2004 @ 3:43 pm

  2. Congratulations Graham, What wonderful news. I know you will take your responisbilities as a father very seriously whether or not your little son was planned or not.

    Comment by Susan — March 9, 2004 @ 10:38 am

  3. Dear Graham,
    Your birth announcement blog is very beautiful, what a welcome Harley Thomas Young has received from his loving father. Editors rarely get a chance to write about their lives, let alone their favorite subjects, so your son is doubly blessed by his father thinking out loud, or at least on line in this lovely missive!
    Jane RR

    Comment by Jane Rankin-Reid — March 10, 2004 @ 3:25 pm

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