Why I Want To Be A Father

I’ve always been a rather languid person, partly by nature, partly by choice. It’s been a blessing at times, and a curse at others, but it does afford me one particular advantage, particularly in this post-graduation lull where my immediate future is no longer prescribed. I have the time and the inclination to reflect and ponder a range of things. In the past few months I’ve had the pleasure to spend a fair amount of time with children — mostly toddlers, but it’s been a rewarding experience all the same.

When I was admitted to Stanford, it was on the back of an essay for which the prompt asked: “What matters and why?” My answer, in short, was that beauty matters, principally because it gives people something to strive for. Now more than ever, as I’ve grown older and ostensibly wiser, my pursuit of something beautiful has been renewed. I find it everywhere — in the abstract and the concrete. I see it in the kindness of strangers, the devotion between lovers, the unconditional support of good friends. Looking back, I might have instead answered that beauty matters because it purges the darkness that too easily takes root and festers in the hearts of men.

Most people my age are busy asserting their independence or diving into their careers and don’t pay much attention to children, or rather the idea of children. And yet few things are so beautiful, or do more to light up the recesses of my heart than the laughter of a child. Young children embody the chaos of raw emotions, unfettered and more pointedly, untainted. They know little, if anything of selfishness and greed, jealousy and hatred, pettiness or hubris. A child’s laugh, amusingly, represents so many things that as adults we have come to leave behind. Unbridled joy, unconditional love, a purity and innocence to which we may aspire but can never really return.

Every time I spend time with my kid cousins, or the children of my older cousins, I always find myself wishing I had a little brat of my own. The gift and receipt of affection between a child and their parent is unique in its beauty. It’s not transactional, and neither is it obligatory. It’s intrinsic, people don’t love their children because they feel they have to, it’s something that just is. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be any good as a parent, simply because I would utterly suck at discipline. Lord knows I crack whenever my cousin’s kids so much as sniffle, let alone cry. And what am I to do in the face of a giggling unrepentant toddler but crack a smile and ruffle their hair?

I know I’m idealizing the concept of parenting here — and most parents would readily testify that it’s not as glamorous as I’m making it out to be. But I also can’t help but feel that I don’t really care. I still want a little brat of my own and damn the consequences.

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