October 23, 2012
I have no idea what kind of dad I'll be.
I'm pretty quiet. I watch. When talking with kids I talk to them like adults, and ask them questions. I'm fairly patient with their response, and with kids in general. I need to loosen up. I'm not a rough-houser, but can learn. I've never given a proper piggyback ride. I was never tossed, squealing, off the end of a dock, so I'd like to try that. There's so many things I've never learned in my time, that I can now simultaneously experience from scratch with a tot by my side. I'll be a good dad, I'm not concerned about that – I have lots of love to give – but I'll be a constantly-in-training dad, too. I don't think I'll ever be able to remove that label.
I hope I'm not too panicky. Babies make me nervous – I've held maybe a half-dozen or so in my life. The first baby I held was Kerry's nephew, when I was 25 years old; he was so squirmy and hot, I was soaking underneath my sweater. My own niece I met for the first time when she was six weeks old. We had a photo shoot, I remember, on a bed where she fidgeted and quietly watched me the entire time. I could barely make out anything to her above a whisper, I was so scared. The moment seemed so fragile.
That will change, I'm sure. I hope. I'm decent with swings of things, once things become established. This baby of mine and I will have plenty of stare-downs, plenty of feeling-out periods. But we'll become good friends. We'll start to talk. I'll figure out that piggy-backing thing. We'll start to roll my blue, red, and white rubber ball to each other across the living room floor (and in time it will become kiddo's blue, red and white rubber ball).
I'll want to take my kid outside. I'm so excited to introduce someone to the world, showing them how things work. Showing them a curious ground squirrel, letting them chase gulls from a beach. Feeling a pussy-willow bud or a foxtail, and poking at a dead crayfish with a stick. Running through the woods with a rotten piece of deadfall, pretending it's a speeder bike blasting through the forests of Endor. I want to show my kid how safe most things out in the world really are.
But I'm not prepared. I suppose no new parent really is. One day my kid will be sick, and I can't guarantee I'll have any flat ginger-ale on hand. That I'll make it upstairs quick enough with a bowl for them to harf into. But I can stay up late at night and stroke their forehead like my mom did, change their sheets and wash their mess even if I have to peg a clothespin to my nose. I'm prepared for that. I'm saying it to myself, anyways.
Even idiots have babies, is one of our few relatable mantras. They seem to turn out all right.
It just breaks my brain though, to contemplate a person – yet to exist – who will have their earliest memories ingrained with something innocuous in our house. Some tchotchke, the painting of Beeker on the wall or the smell of muffins that Kerry makes. Of a song I like, and play ad nauseam. Or a dorky Threadless t-shirt I might wear. Or of me without grey hair.
One of the oddest concepts to consider is that some day my kid may actually read this. So I have to ensure there's no typos, and that the value of the written word and good storytelling is paramount.
So. I have somewhat of an idea what kind of dad I'll be.
PS: Kid, I really hope you're not allergic to peanuts.