Shortly after the birth of my son, Thomas, I was faced with a brutal new reality. I was now responsible for sustaining the existence of another human being. Up to this point in my life I had barely been able to sustain my own existence. I was a semi-functional adult of 31 who owned his own business, complete with 10 employees and a building and loans and taxes and clients but a baby was something new entirely. I knew I needed to grow up but I wasn’t ready for a living, breathing, eating, peeing and pooping infant. This creature needed constant and undivided attention every minute of the day.
My wife was the only thing that saved me from abject failure. Somehow women just get it when it comes to kids. I wonder if she knew she was raising a baby and a newborn father at the same time. I got the big picture stuff like make more money and get home sooner but it was the little stuff that eluded me. The first time I tried to change his diaper I was attacked by a tiny fire hose filled with gallons of pee. I used the diaper to dry myself off and slapped it on him anyway. This shortcut didn’t exactly fly with his mom. She made me start over. This time I covered myself with rain gear and I worked much faster. Cowboys take more time to tie hogs than it took me to get that diaper changed. Don’t even ask me about changing a #2. I’m still not ready to talk about that. The first time I saw the business end of a baby and what it could produce I retched. Seriously, what are we feeding these kids anyway?
Infants are not my thing and I am willing to admit my limitations. They can’t sit up straight. They flop and fall over every time you try to watch the game. They have no sense of timing whatsoever. When the KC Royals won the World Series in 1985 I missed half of it with frivolous stuff like feeding and wiping and spitting up. Every time his mom wanted to take a nap and I was left with the helpless one, something important was happening on TV. The Royals have only won one World Series in my entire life but I can get puked on any time. How is that fair?
It got a little better as he got older. At least when he started to talk I could explain important stuff to him. Stuff like the difference between a can of beer and a bottle, chips and pretzels, baseball and football were all part of his formal education thanks to his doting father. In my mind, every 3 year old needs to do chores around the house. Getting stuff for dad seemed to make him very happy and gave his life more purpose while at the same time improving my quality of life immensely. At this point we really start to bond as father and son. Those are some very happy memories for both of us.
About the time his sister Lauren arrived things took a turn for the worse. Thomas had to move to another room in the house. He also had to wait while his mom tended to her every demand, which (as with all women) were plentiful. I seized upon this moment to begin his formal education in sexual politics. He was in grade school when he really started to ask questions about the opposite sex, “Gee Dad, they really don’t think like we do, do they?” My only response was, “That’s true son and if you know what’s good for you, you better just shut up and take it.” Given that he’s now almost 25 and still not married, I may have overemphasized that point slightly.
Luckily my son did develop some very useful traits. His verbal skills as a child were unmatched. He spoke in complete sentences at the age of 2. He could sing whole country and western songs by the time he was 4 and by combining these 2 skills he could completely embarrass his parents by the time he was 5. I can’t begin to tell you how it feels to watch as your very own child stands on his chair in a nice restaurant and belts out “All my exes live in Texas” in a perfect twang. After the laughter subsided, I could tell exactly what the other parents were thinking, “That kid spends way too much time in front of the TV, they must be lousy parents.”
I never claimed to be great at parenting but at least I was there for every minute of it. It was the most challenging thing I have ever done and yet the most rewarding. My kids have given me more enjoyment than anything else in my crazy life. If there is anything I can share with others from my own experience it is this old proverb “You can do anything with children if you only play with them.” That part I was great at.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.