Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fatherhood: The Unvarnished Truth

The Morning News has a nice piece on the reality of fatherhood as experienced by a most articulate group of dads. Here are some excerpts and a link to the full text:

Our son subsists entirely on a snack food called "Pirate's Booty." This would be bad enough, but it's compounded by the fact that he saunters around the house saying, "want booty." We don't love the game, we love the playa.

Things that initially seem cute become alarmingly ingrained habits. He evolved a peculiar gurning grin—budding teeth thrust forward, eyes squinted. Naturally, we imitated it in delight, encouraging him to do it more and more… Only later did we notice friends and family recoil in slight horror at the sight.

Other things are more transient—at this stage the window for parental gloating at your child's amazing aptitude and social skills barely lasts for a week until his peers catch up. We think of him as a fast learner, an early developer, a capable walker. "Oh he's fine," we tell friends as he waddles out of our sight into another room, before there's a bang, a heart-stopping pause, and a familiar wail.

One mistake I guess we've made is in encouraging our son to be completely fearless. My wife and I were raised in the '70's, when Sesame Street and albums like "Free to Be You and Me" were all "rah-rah, build up your self-esteem, you can do anything, don't be afraid!"

We've now passed that mentality on to our child, who now suffers from the illusion that he is bulletproof. The other day after his bath I put him on our bed to dress him in his jim-jams and then, on a lark, threw the towel over his head. He reacted by laughing, leaping to his feet, and running full-bore in a random direction. When he went over the edge of the bed he hung there for a moment, Elmer Fudd style, legs bicycling in mid-air, before hitting the ground with a heart-stopping Wa-UMP! Tears were shed, hugs were administered, bruises were admired…and then, when I put him back on the bed, he was off like a shot, looking over his shoulder like, "OK, but can you catch me NOW?"

Link to full text.

Thanks to Danny Gregory for the pointer!

No comments: