Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fathers and Sons

Dear Simon,

Hi. I'm your dad. You've been in there for 6 months and I haven't written to you once. I don't have a lot of excuses. Well, actually, I have about a million excuses, but none of them are good. Sure, I'm busy. Who isn't? Sure, your sister takes a lot of time and attention. Sure, I'm very, very lazy sometimes. But you are my son, and I should have made time before now. It's weird that my first written words to you are an apology, but you better get used to that, because I have a feeling I'm not going to get any better at this.

The problem is I don't know what to say to you. I'm excited that you're coming, of course, and I'm excited to meet you, but if your sister taught me anything, it's that I really have no idea what to expect. What will you be like? What kinds of things would you want to hear about? I could spend this whole time writing about walruses only to discover that you are allergic to reading about walruses. So since I don't have a lot of words of wisdom that may be of interest to you just yet, how about we start with this, if you don't mind me being a little self-indulgent.

I'm not really sure how to be a dad to a son. While I didn't really know how to be a dad to a daughter either, that was terrifying in a different way. Madeline was our first everything, and so all of the fears were about parenting in general. What do babies eat? What if I'm changing a diaper, and it's full of spiders? I sort of have a good feel for that now, and most of the really outlandish fears have been put aside, but when we learned you were a boy, it presented a whole new kind of concern.

See, I'm not really much of a guy, in the traditional sense. Let me give some examples:

  • I've never been good at a single sport. When I was in little league, I played right field and picked clover. I'm that stereotypical. They make commercials about guys like me.
  • I think hunting is ridiculous and fishing is just intolerably boring.
  • I have no idea how to fix anything. Cars. Toasters. I technically own a toolbox, but it's the kind where all of the tools fit in some sort of vacuum-formed plastic case.

This leads to a couple of fears:

  1. I won't be able to teach you how to do any of these things.
  2. Despite my inability to teach you these things, you'll like them anyway, and I'll be disappointing because I don't know anything about RBIs or torque or lures.
Maybe that's how it is for everybody. Maybe my dad was like, "I know how to hunt, but I don't know anything about Broadway musicals! What if my son loves Broadway musicals?" And then I came along and I loved Broadway musicals and he just figured out how to adapt. Maybe that's all this parenting thing is: learning to adapt and love things you never imagined.

Despite all of these fears, I'm still very excited you're coming. It's going to be great, and I'll look back at all of these worries and think they're just as ridiculous as diaper spiders (which now that I think about it, should really worry you more than they worry me).



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