Little boys are unusual to say the least. I’m saying this from the perspective of someone who until relatively recently didn’t pay too much attention to details like these. Not until the role of parent was introduced into my life. Like most rookie-father-figure-types-in-the-beginning-stages, I was at once excited and terrified of everything that this one single word could mean: father!
The responsibilities that come along with it, even more reason to spend countless nights tossing and turning wondering just how badly I could screw up a kid. I mean by all accounts my childhood was pretty normal, and yeah my youngest siblings were so much younger than me that at times it was easy to forget they weren’t my own kids, but being a very involved older brother was very different from being completely responsible for another human being. What if I just wasn’t ready?
Coming to terms with the expectations
I’ve never been much of a sports fan, my skills as both a handyman and a mechanic are pretty slim – I know just enough to get by – and while my brute strength is exactly what you’d expect it to be for a man my size, there was always that question in the back of my mind – what if it’s not enough?
What I started realizing a couple of years ago, though, probably since Edgar could talk in full sentences, is that all of that stuff really doesn’t matter. Sure it’s important for his social development, especially as he gets older and things like baseball and football become more important among his friends, but those aren’t the things he’s been depending on me for, up until now.
Embracing and accepting things as they are right now
I was the one that taught him how to use the restroom standing up. I was the one who showed him how to spit. I was the one who told him it was okay to sing as loud as he wanted to in the car… yes, even to the songs sung by female artists, just as long as he didn’t do it in front of his friends. I’m the one who pushed him in the water and told him to start swimming. His mother yelled at me for that one. I’m the one that tells him “Stop crying! Do it again! Keep practicing. That’s how you learn.”
He looks up to me for things I never even imagined he would.
Every time I spit, he spits right after me. If we’re going to bed and I take of my shirt he does the same. If I take off my tennis shoes and put on a pair of sandals, he does the same. I have a wallet. He wants one too. He wants to pump gas, he wants to spray down the truck at the car wash, he wants to go to work with me, and one day work in the same office building “so that we can go to lunch together everyday.” I can’t imagine what it is to see myself through those eyes.
And hey, who knows how long this phase will last – kids are also pretty unpredictable – but for the moment I am completely okay with the way things are.