Daddies Have Them, Too (but we’re not supposed to talk about it)

Lindsey from “A Design So Vast” wrote a very succinct post on the early years of parenting after reading another inspiring post from Amy at “Never True Tales”.

In a strange way this echos for me as well. I say “strange” because the posts epitomize womanhood, yet I’m a man.

There were long nights that felt like those that fall on the arctic where I would hover over the crib to soothe the baby, swaying like a drunk man from the lack of sleep. From her post I remember the same sand burnt eyes, the same smells and how that baby smell is like no other. I even recall the same confidence and fear that somehow intermingle at that time in life.

There was a tenderness both in me and in others that eroded over time. People seemed kinder and gentler then, and even euphonised their snide and hurtful remarks about our already large family (if you call two children a large family) if not withheld them altogether.

A little older, there’s already a longing for those times. I play with thoughts and memories like a young boy’s wish to travel back in time or to another world altogether, but unlike that boy I know each moment is different and there’s no return. My children are a little older now, so there’s still some magic left in my house, but at my age – at their ages – the end of that tunnel is blinding; it strikes me with a disquieted remorse that only comes out in deep quivering sighs.

As a man there’s supposed to be a hardened-steel strength that masks these emotions in some supernatural science-fiction Spock-like manner… but it still shows. Our wrinkled and melancholy eyes from the years of laughter and tears betray us to those who look deeply. Other men, thinking they were wild and free, were blindly shackled to a hard loneliness that comes from being childless, or shirking their children, and hardens even more with age until all that’s left is bitterness or, if they’re fortunate enough to possess a kind heart, remorse.

Dates With A Ten Year Old

I haven’t been as good with this as in the distant past, but have been wanting to do it more recently. The idea is to treat each of my daughters to a “date” to show them what to expect from guys who date them in the future and to spend some one-on-one time with them to get to know them better. It’s a bit intimidating because my expectations are a bit high and after a long work-week I’m pretty worn out.

How do you date a ten-year-old? I have a few plans based on her interests. For example, take her on a photography walk at dawn after stopping to get some donuts. What about my other two daughters? There’s glow-n-putt … bowling. Hmmm the bowling alleys strike up memories of thick smoke and cursing old men, but they should have a family night that would omit both of these nasties.

A friend on facebook asked what constitutes a date to a guy. In her case a boyfriend asked her over to his place to watch some TV. This means one of two things to a guy: either he’s really wanting to hang out with her or he’s trying to put her in a compromising situation. She’s right to be offended if he implies this invitation is a date. It means he offers low standards to her.

How to plan a date:
1. Know her interests.
2. Plan a place and a time.
3. Give her anticipation.

Don’t get mad or irritated on a date – ever! Even if the waitress throws a plate at you and you see cockroaches crawling on the kitchen floor. Just politely excuse yourself. If the lady looks embarrassed then explain to her that she doesn’t deserve to eat at a restaurant where the business doesn’t give her respect.. that she deserves better. Apologize to her, and take her someplace else. It’s best to scout out the place first, then you won’t be in an embarrassing situation of paying a bill for food you won’t eat… but don’t even sweat it. She’ll associate your frustration with her, not the restaurant.

As my girls get more sophisticated, I’ll deliberately go into these situations to show them how a man should behave.

At a dinner talk my wife introduced the question “What shows more character: the way a person acts while being watched by others or the way a person acts when not seen by anyone?” My answer was “Neither. A person’s character is best seen when put in a nasty situation. The uglier situations are the most revealing.”

When my wife and I dated, I would take her up to the restaurant, glance around, check out the menu, check out the bathroom (people who cook your food spend time there and if it lacks soap, they didn’t wash) then on occasion, leave. She would get very upset. It was in her head that if you parked in the lot of a restaurant, a hidden obligation was set that you had to eat there. To alleviate her embarrassment, I would ask her to stay in the car and relax while I checked the restaurant out. After explaining to her that I wanted to show her a good time, and wrenching for days after going to a bad restaurant does not equate to a good time, she agreed to this solution.

It’s things like having the man think about and look out for them, showing responsibility and initiative, that my girls are being taught to look for…

A Little Light Reading

I love reading to my children. We just got through reading the unabridged Alice in Wonderland. Before that it was book 6 of the Lemony Snickets series. We intermingle The Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie segments and other books throughout the year. I think we’ve read through the Narnia series twice, or at least some of them keep getting reread.

I find the imagination in books to be better than most movies – particularly in older books before there was TV. My guess is that watching mainstream media saps the creativity out of your brain and back before TV just writing out some crazy dream you had was surreal enough to have people question your sanity, if not your intentions.

A great quote for this photo is from Gallagher the humerist – “Don’t you wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.”

[Book pictured: The Annotated Alice, compiled by Martin Gardner – without dust jacket.]