On my 10th Father’s Day as a Father
You are not an infallible god king, even though they look at you like one. It is a terrifying thing to be unconditionally believed and followed by the most important people in the world. The weight of that faith can be reassuring when you’re on your game and suffocating when you’re off it.
The people to whom you are Dad will accidentally make your whole week and casually break your heart in the same day. They have no perspective on what it is to be a father and they don’t give a fuck. They’re just booting up a life and stumbling through a frighteningly arbitrary landscape. All while amassing a staggering amount of Pokemon knowledge.
My sons are less complicated than my daughter. They are padlocks to her bank safe. I imagine that trend will continue toward some asymptotic cardiac event on my part.
Traveling together is magical. Watching my kids ride donkeys through the High Atlas mountains while they assimilated new languages, sights, smells and an awe-inspiring array of tagine variants was the highlight of my year.
Kids like shitty music. The absolute worst. I have exposed them to some of the best artists across a broad spectrum — Willie Nelson to Born Against — and they still like Nick Jonas and Frozen. No accounting for small people’s taste.
Work is a lot easier than home. At work, we quietly discuss options then go act on them according to some very comprehensible rules. When I walk into my house, I always half expect there to be a pentagram drawn in blood and shit on the floor with a talking dog in the middle of it. I am not always far wrong.
Kids are not the property of, a reflection on, or extension of their parents. My grandma once said that you just rent kids. I like to think my job is to launch them. They are their own self-contained life forms with decreasing dependency on my support. When the kids go out in the world, it is to make their own way in whatever fashion they choose. It is my job to stay out of their way and help if I can and am asked.
I can’t teach them the things I had to learn the hard way. I watch my oldest son stumble through girl stuff and popularity contests. I know the winning formula and I might even be able to mash it into his head if I expended enough energy. But then he would be robbed of the opportunity to synthesize it himself and get it better than I have.
Except my daughter — I will teach her to be a human weapon and she can use those skills as she sees fit. Before she’s thirteen, she’ll be handy with a Bowie knife and know how to thumb someone’s eyes out without hesitation.
Like in “Thank You Masked Man” (Lenny Bruce, check it out), someday the career rewards dry up. When that happens, I’ll be defined by the impact I’ve had on my family and friends’ lives. I hope to measure up.