“Walk gentle when you’re spilling”
“Be careful if you’re gonna sit chirping”
“Don’t fit that to the pudding”
These are real sentences that I recently uttered.
I don’t know what I’m saying anymore, and there is hardly a time when words dance by my lips announced. They tumultuously escape. They coagulate loosely in my skull then rush past my tongue and face with haste and quick disdain. I can’t think fast enough to react correctly so I abruptly yell something idiotic at my son who is two and a half now and getting into all sorts of trouble.
“Quit parking that thing’s all wet!” I yell. He looks at me confused and bewildered and I can tell he already thinks I’m stupid. But we all think our dads are stupid, until we’re dads. And then we know our dads are stupid. But it’s for good reason. We’re tired, we’re confused, and we’re all a little bit of a toddler ourselves before bed and when we’re really hungry. And maybe that’s why my son and I have been getting along so well and the same reason why we yell at each other.
“You see cup”?
“What cup? Red?”
“Thomas see show? Cory?”
“Quit nosing water with them.”
“Two red Cory.”
I have no idea which one of us started that conversation or where it was heading. We sound the same, the only difference being his voice is higher than mine and much less gruff. And when we’re alone together, while mom is at work, we both wander around the house confusing each other and making strange noises, throwing things down the stairs and laughing at farts.
I wasn’t sure how hard parenting was going to be. I thought I was sort of ready. And I was, but I keep getting surprised at things I didn’t know about or things that I’m not quite ready to handle. It’s like finding out that different color Fruit Loops are actually all the same flavor. You’re not completely surprised, but you certainly didn’t know that before and it’s shocking at first, then you rationalize, and move on.
But for moments in time it’s frustrating, confusing, and hectic. And no amount of reading, studying, or mimicking can prepare you for fatherhood. It just happens and there you are standing naked in the middle of a snowy field, no direction, no idea where you are, just standing naked for the world to see, and you’re so blatantly obvious; obvious you’re a new dad, a new parent, and just starting to find your way. The other parents that have found their way walk by and giggle a little. “I remember that”, they think to themselves. “Poor, bastard. He’ll learn. The hard way. Ha Ha Ha”!
I’ve taken my bumps and bruises along the way so far. I’ve had my fair share of train wrecks. But when it all comes down to it I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world. Every single frustration is met with an equal elation. Every second of sleepless nights is worth the second it takes him to utter “I love you” for the first time. Immediately you forgive and forget. Immediately the ire you have for him climbing on the TV stand or dumping his milk under the couch cushion is absolved when he says with a big goofy grin “Dada funny” for the first time. As miserable as I can be coming home from work when I enter the back door and I hear his tiny feet scamper wildly through the house and the kitchen door bursts open, and there he is, half naked, half eaten graham crackers strewn in his hair, snot dripping from his nose and a smile erupts on his face and he excitedly screams “Dada!” I know it’s going to be OK and suddenly I feel better and I’m happy again. In five minutes he’ll be climbing on the TV stand and I’ll jump up spilling my beer across the living room floor and yell “Don’t pile up to that stick”! But that’s OK too. At least it makes him laugh.
No Pi, dad isn’t an idiot. He’s just dad. Now quit carton and start moving, so we can dipe that changer.
Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.
He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband