Being a parent can be hard; in fact it usually is, but I find that life in general isn’t a series of easy decisions, ones that I can make without much thought or angst. Having a child feels like an extension of having a life, an important part of being alive-I’m not trying to imply that everyone should pro-create-but for those of us that do, most have discovered a new realm of living; opened up by being completely responsible for a little one. Well, half responsible.
I find ordinary decisions being coloured by my role as a father, from what I eat, how much television I watch, and even the language I use. I have always appreciated a carefully placed swear word, a cleverly appointed expletive that can add spice-or punch- to a mundane sentence. So how do I elicit that pleasure now?
Like so much in parenting it is as much about the habits that you leave behind, the old skin that you have to shed, as it is about the new things that you take on. I have developed the Daddy persona, something I bemoaned when I watched such daring and raw personalities adopt them-like Eddie Murphy’s transformation from a foul mouthed and homosexual Mr.T into an annoying and pesky donkey.(Pre-child I don’t think I would have even used the word pesky). But if life is driven by evolution than I guess this is inevitable and something to be embraced rather than fought against. I always shake my head when I hear people say they wish they were eighteen again; I remember that stage as a time of promise, but it was also full of angst and I was desperate to be an adult and begin a life of my own choosing. Sixteen years later I’m still searching but at least I have a son now to help point out my way.
Before him I used to spend time and money getting to places I thought of as worth going to; whether it was the mountains, the movies, concerts or theater, I was constantly on the go. Finn has shown me how to slow down, how to appreciate the splash of a puddle, the feel of a slug in your palm, the pleasure of a walk in your back yard. With unrestrained joy he applauds and revels in the simple wonders that are so abundant when your eyes are open to them; and because of him my eyes now are.
I’m sure there are non-breeders that can find purpose and direction internally, but for the rest of us we need to divide, have children, to uncover many of life’s mysteries. I salute their strength, learn from their determination, and catch myself whenever I feel a flicker of envy at their lack of roots, their freedom. For all the speech sanitation, the adventures that never leave the backyard, and the entertainment derived from a four page book; I wouldn’t trade it for the planet.
As we sit and play with Playdooh for the five hundredth time that week I smile inwardly at the way he rolls the mash-able substance into fifteen snakes. Chuckle as he asks me to make him just one more frog, and happily comply. For all those things I gave up-or shed-so much more has been gained; in fact I didn’t realize how constrictive my beliefs had been until they were gone.
Finn’s snake slithers off the table and hits the floor; Bronco-a Chihuahua/Shih Tzu cross- grabs it with his tiny jaws and trots off.
“That dog is a f*&%ing one,” Finn asserts as he watches his tail wag its way into the distance.
“Yes he is Finn,” I reply calmly, “yes he is.”
PS: I am not an advocate for foul mouthed toddlers-but I have been advised to not react too strongly if you hear a child use the lingo of a pirate, or the obscenities of the French.