Before we cheated and discovered (in 3-D, no less) that Ian was a boy, I’d been hoping for a girl.
I’ve always seemed to get along better with girls, and I was worried about being a father, to a son, who knows nothing about being the textbook American male. I can’t (and really shouldn’t) throw or catch anything, I’m not terribly aggressive, and I stink at small-talk.
I’m also just a little intimidated about trying to impart to my son what it means to ‘be a man’. I barely know myself. Which is, I think, the real reason that children start as babies – parents need time to figure out what the heck they’re doing before the kids start asking questions.
But, of course, now I’m absolutely thrilled that I have a son. Ian and I seem to be relating just fine – we share a special bond, something ephemeral which passes between us when I meet him at the door, or wake him in the mornings. It’s indescribable, really. The best word I can find to illustrate this special connection between father and son is…
Last week, while Ian was particularly cranky – a phase which we fervently hope will soon pass – he and I discovered that his orange, plastic baseball bat makes wonderful farting noises. Place the hole in its handle against your leg, sqeeze ever so gently, and, “Thhhhbbbbbtttt!” It works equally well on faces, feet, hands, and tummies.
Being a boy means using everything within your grasp for anything other than its original purpose. I’m having a blast.
The relationship between me and my son is based upon doing stupid things. Kelly reads to him, sings, talks, plays games…Ian and I hit each other with toys. Or ourselves.
I’ve always thought of myself as more intellectual than your average NASCAR fan. But when it comes down to it, Ian and I are just two Tim Allen clones, grunting at each other and breaking things. While hiking in Scotland, Ian (while riding in a backpack) discovered that if he timed it correctly, he could bump his forehead against the back of my head. We spent an entire afternoon hitting our heads together and laughing hysterically.
Kelly’s dad does it, too. He’s operations manager for a classical radio station, knows everything about Classical music, is a member of the Bach Society, and respected by all. Yet, while singing a Classical piece to Ian, can’t help but finish with a boisterous “Thhhhhbbbbbt!” right in Ian’s face.
My mother has a photo of my step-father and me, underwear on our heads, pretending to be deep-sea divers hunting sharks.
I use Ian as a backscratcher.
For Father’s Day, the only gift I wanted was to take my son hiking. He and I spent the afternoon walking through Bee Tree State Park, bonking our heads together, playing on the swings, taking trails of which his mother would have most certainly disapproved, and sharing a cherry sundae on the way home.
I once told Kelly that I wish I could speak ‘guy’. Now I realize that there is no such language. Language denotes intelligence. Ian and I read together, talk, and sing – but if Ian wants a real intellectual challenge, he goes to mommy. If he wants to throw up, he comes to me.