We’re a strange lot, aren’t we? Active participants in the creation of a child, but relegated to the sidelines to watch for nine months after conception. I found it a really weird spot to be in and the idea of a child growing inside my wife was just mind boggling. Watching her give birth to our kids is sitting atop my list of the most awe-inspiring events I have ever witnessed. Second place is so far removed from this that you can hardly consider it a list. It looks something like this:
Once your child is born, your job as a father is to be a teacher; a role model. Your kids will look to you for advice and guidance, and you best be prepared because they will ask you questions and do things that you’ve never even dreamed of. I find that most of the time I just have to think WAY back to when I was young and carefree to figure out how to respond.
When I broke my arm the first thing I did was find my father and look for him to take care of me and get me to the hospital, so when I saw my 18-month old son running through the living room and take a nasty header the first thing I did was run over to him to pick him up. Of course, this was just a couple days after my vasectomy so when I bent down to pick him up I got him off the ground to about knee height and the pain in my nuts was so intense that I dropped him. The point is I was there to drop him in the first place.
|Me, my little brother, and our dad – taking in an inter-county baseball game
When I was learning how to play sports, whether it was baseball or hockey or either of my ill-fated single seasons of soccer or lacrosse, my dad was there to show me the ropes and help me practice, so when my little girl wanted to start playing soccer the first thing I did was head over to the park to kick the ball around with her. When trying to encourage her to run like the wind after the ball I couldn’t resist kicking it as hard and far as I could into the wide open field so she could chase it. Of course, the odds of me hitting her right in the middle of her face with the ball and knocking her over were astronomical. The point is I was there to kick a soccer ball into her face in the first place.
When I wanted a haircut my dad would take me across town to his barber and read the newspaper while this old Italian guy would fix me up with the perfect haircut, so when my son wanted a mohawk the first thing I did was get out the clippers. Okay, this one of those times where deviating from the fatherly guidance I received would work out, right? Of course, realizing that we had a big family photo shoot next week, I opted for no mohawk and ended up shaving his head and “ruining his life”. The point is I had well maintained professional hair clippers to use in the first place.
Lastly, when I wanted to know how to behave and what words to use for any given situation I would keep a keen ear open for what my father was saying. He was a very well-read man with an English degree and always chose his words carefully, so when my wife sent me running upstairs to get the camera because our daughter was doing something cute and I heard, “Never mind. She stopped doing it,” I naturally yelled out, “Shit!” Of course, this would have to be the precise moment our daughter would choose to speak her first distinguishable word. The point is she’s going to need words a lot worse than that out in the real world and I’d rather she learn them at home first instead of on the street or the Internet. How else would I have been able to take her to see her first movie rated 14A last night? I’d like to think the solid foundation of expletives I’ve taught her more than prepared her for the movie Spy, which didn’t quite rival Wolf of Wall Street for f-bombs but still had a fuckload of swearing in it (and two brief glimpses of a penis).
In another mind-boggling mystery, I can’t quite figure out why I haven’t received my Father of the Year award yet. There’s always next year, I guess.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad (whose own award is in the mail I’m sure) and to all the other dads out there lucky enough to have kids as great as mine.
|My kids “Princess Pants” and (The) “Dude”