Fair warning, kiddo: When it comes to this whole parenting thing, your dad has no friggin' clue what he is doing. Nine months of anticipation, preparation, nesting, planning, reading, and fretting over your birth amounted to very little return.
After only two months of your existence, I came to the profound realization that there is nothing that parents can do to fully prepare for the blunt reality they are about to face. Each day is a new challenge, and your mom and I have learned quickly who is truly in charge. (Don't let it get to your head. Your ass is grass for your first game of H-O-R-S-E.)
Now, I’ve got the basics down. I know you need food, shelter, and the occasional diaper change. I know not to shake you, leave you in a hot car with the windows rolled up, or use your head as a beer coaster. I’ve got all of the fundamentals more or less covered.
But I can’t shake this overwhelming sense that I am about to spend the rest of my life just winging it. I’ve mastered this skillset in a professional setting. I’ve learned how to demonstrate absolute confidence at times when I completely lack competence. I can speak in front of a crowd with little preparation or write on a topic that I researched a few minutes prior, and still manage to convince my audience that I am “well informed” – even though I know that I am complete fraud.
This time, it’s different. This time, your mommy and I are responsible for the cultivation of a little person – transforming you from the tiniest of embryos into to a healthy, articulate, successful, well-adjusted citizen with minimal social awkwardness and solid credit scores. This time, I know I am complete fraud, and I don’t have the foggiest idea how to fake it.
I feel like even more of a fraud when I consider my contribution up until this point in comparison to your mom, the person who has willingly sacrificed her body to incubate you. My biggest contribution at this point is ordering ready-made nursery furniture online, and spending an afternoon putting it together.
Though I feel confident that your mom and I have created the best environment possible for you, I still know that I’m going to fuck up somewhere down the line. And this fuck up will be a part of a bigger list of other fuck ups that, thirty years from now, you will be repeating to a therapist or *cough* writing about on your public blog. I am your future “daddy issues.”
Nick Simmons wrote an interesting piece titled “My Dad, Gene Simmons, Is Full of Shit and So Are You.” Long story short, Nick shares his story about transitioning from a wide-eyed child who revered his infallible rock star father to a pubescent skeptic who publicly disagreed with his old man. In the end, this evolution not only brought clarity to his relationship with his father, but also a better sense of self for Nick.
This article got me thinking: I too was a child who revered his father. He was the guy who could throw a baseball harder than me, reach places beyond my grasp, fix anything, lift heavy stuff, and outwit his peers. He taught me to how to hustle people at pool, change the starter on my truck, and remodel a house. And he always managed do all of these things one-handed, while never spilling the beer he held in his other hand.
However, I too was a rebellious teen who then outgrew his father (both physically and emotionally), learned to disagree with him on virtually everything, and did my damnedest to build an identity separate from him.
Then, I became an adult (more like a balding man-child with diminishing metabolism), and I realized that I was repeating a lot of my father’s annoying truisms. Or I was putting up drywall or rewiring an outlet like how we taught me to do years ago.
In the end, I learned that, sometimes, it is just better to agree to disagree. For example, a few years ago, my dad and I spent a Christmas Eve prognosticating about world affairs over a case of beer. Very rarely do we find consensus on political issues, but my dad and I were seriously just a few beers away from figuring out the world’s problems that night. Unfortunately, we ran out of Pinstripe, so we couldn’t agree on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. (If my dad and I can come this close to agreement, I have hope for Congress.)
This revelation about fatherhood took another drastic turn when I realized that I *gasp* may turn into my dad, meaning that eventually you, my child, will discover that your old man is also full of shit. That’s a daunting thought.
No matter how much wisdom, morality, and good manners that ma and pa can impart upon our little genetic cocktail, we will inevitably experience rolled eyes, your dependency on the word “whatever”, and other various antagonistic expressions of prepubescent incredulousness.
Part of me wants to knock that futuristic smirk right off of your face. But then the other part of me remembers that this was me at one point. And the last thing that would inspire the younger version of myself to respect authority was for said authority to dig its heels in with “my way or the highway” dichotomies. This isn’t to say that I have to cave into every one of your emotional outbreaks, but I just have to pick my battles wisely.
But, most importantly, I have to embrace my original thesis: When it comes to this whole dad thing, I am tragically clueless. And damn proud of it to boot! Oddly enough, there is something cathartic about this self-deprecation. There is no shortage of “parenting experts” who can provide troves of “wisdom” or philosophize about the “beauty” of being a parent. The only difference between me and them is that I readily admit that I am full of shit. The first step to recovery is admitting that a problem exists.
So here goes nothing. I’m about two months into this adventure. And as for you kiddo, you are none the wiser about your father’s ineptitude.
The question is how long can I keep up this charade? Stay tuned.