Last week as I was putting you to bed one night, in the pitch dark, I heard you say, “Here, Daddy…”.
Expecting for you to give me one of your half a dozen Hot Wheels cars as a parting gift before I made my way downstairs, I reached out my hand.
My instant response: “Ewwwww! GROSS!”
Yes, it was a big, long, slimy booger you had just picked fresh for me. It felt like the size of a caterpillar.
That sort of ruined the whole ambiance of the “settle down” part of the night.
Another strange surprise I experienced, also while putting you down for the night, was when I asked you which song you wanted me to sing for your bedtime song.
Your request: “Nooning.”
Having no clue what that was supposed to mean, I started singing the word “nooning” to a made-up tune I hoped would sound like some famous traditional Chinese folk song.
You interrupted my glorious musical number: “No! Talk about it!”
Talking about “nooning” was definitely more difficult than singing it; I must admit.
At that moment, I imagined you as a toddler talk show host, introducing the topic for the episode that day.
During those final minutes before I officially put you to bed before leaving the room each night, you basically just see what kind of random stuff you can say and get away with… and so do I.
To celebrate our mutual randomness in the pitch black darkness of your bedroom at 7:43 PM each night, I have now added Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 hit “Dancing In The Dark” to my list of bedtime songs to sing as I’m holding you.
When it comes to intercepting caterpillar-like boogers and trying to figure out what “nooning” really is, this gun’s for hire.
However, at the very last minute right before I published the letter, Mommy and I decided that broadcasting to the social media world whether or not we have a gun in the house is not a wise decision.
I think that to announce either way is to raise a red flag.
So in the likeness of the vague closure in the final episode of Lost, I ended the letter by simply saying, “My research is complete and my decision is now made.”
The way I see it, whether or not I own a gun is not really the issue; for me, anyway. The real issue for me was sorting out whether or not I am really capable, willing, and ready at all times to take the life of another human being who threatens the safety of my family.
That was what was important to me; taking the time to truly process that all the way through.
Like planning out a fire drill, in my head I have now mapped out an official “intruder drill.” Now I know the quickest and most efficient strategy for obtaining the [deadly weapons] on both floors of our house; in addition to immediately grabbing the cell phone to call 911.
It sounds so morbid, to say that I’m now ready to take the life of another human being, if necessary. And to be ready to do that at any given minute of the day.
But like Sayid on Lost, you want to have somebody on your island who is willing to be your bodyguard; someone who is always ready to fight and kill for you.
You want someone who is dangerous enough to keep you safe.
For the past two weeks, I have been spending a lot of my time trying to figure out the best answer to the question: Should I get a gun for our house?
Just to be clear, here are questions I am not asking today:
Should gun laws be changed?
Should no one in America have a gun in their house?
Should everyone in America have a gun in their house?
This is simply about us; our family. What other families choose to do in regards to protecting themselves is none of my concern or business.
However, I do know that every family whose political and/personal beliefs allow the option of owning a gun has had to deal with this question: Should we get a gun for our house?
So I did my homework. I borrowed a few issues of Concealed Carry magazine from a friend from work. Coincidentally, a coupon came through the fax machine for a handgun permit class that same day.
I had some lengthy conversations with the three coworkers who have concealed weapon permits; one of whom is a former cop of seven years.
In the end, the former cop with a concealed weapon permit and two young children was the most convincing.
I have no idea if he is a Democrat, Republican, or a Libertarian, like me. What I do know, his answer made the most sense, without any political strings attached.
His advice was this: Should you decide to get a gun, after you spend the time and money to get trained on how to use it, then, find an easy access place to keep the gun, but a place that is also out of reach of a child, you have to be confident you’ll be able to quickly turn on the light, to make sure who exactly you are aiming at, to make sure it really is an intruder. Also, you must be psychologically prepared to take the life of a person who is threatening your family’s safety.
It was important for me to hear and consider all that goes into owning a gun. The most valuable lesson for me to learn in my research was this: To get a gun is one thing; to get one and be ready and responsible from all aspects is another.
My research is complete and my decision is now made.
P.S. To read the follow-up to this letter, which further explains (or blurs) my decision, click here.
Disclaimer: Contains potentially confusing viewpoints that may be exclusive to the male mindset.
The main reason I feel anxious about the thought of having another child is not the financial aspect, or even the fact we only have a 2 bedroom townhouse; it’s knowing that I would be placed in that frustrating position again of not knowing what to do on a daily basis.
Sure, I’d know more of what I was doing the 2nd time around, but it would also be on top of taking care of you too; though you demand less attention than you did when you were a baby.
To see me in my worst element is to see me in a high pressure, reoccurring situation where I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. For me, that was the first 15 months of your life; back when you wouldn’t let me take care of you without Mommy being in the same room.
Therefore, I couldn’t feel like I was leading our family, and it made me feel horrible about myself.
Just to be clear, I don’t mind high pressure at all. In fact, I like the challenge of it; given that I’ve been well trained on the subject.
It’s no secret: I find my self-worth not in how others see me, but in how I see myself. If I don’t feel in control, or at least that I know what my role is, I sort of feel worthless.
Now that you’re well beyond the age of 15 months, in fact, days away from being double that, my frustrating days of flat-out not knowing what to do in regards to being a dad are mostly a thing of the past; back in the year 2011.
As for modern day life, I know my role now; every minute of the day, and I love it!
In addition to being your official chauffeur, bedtime singer, protector from monsters… I also am the official dishwasher, bathroom cleaner, garbage man, vacuumer, relationship mediator, and the parent juggling two jobs outside of home life.
Every night, after our family eats dinner, I know that once Mommy takes you upstairs for your bath, I am going to immediately start washing and drying all the dishes, then wipe off the counter, and vacuum; just in time to go upstairs and sing your final bedtime song.
While it would be really nice to just chill out after dinner instead of doing housework, I don’t even mind. The reason: Because it sure beats the heck out of those first 15 months when I didn’t know my role.
As your dad, who is wired to fix problems and lead others, it’s very challenging for me to… I’m trying to think of a way to say this without using the PG version slang word…
I like to be driving the motorcycle, not riding in the sidecar.
(Watch the movie Garden State, when you’re older, to fully understand the reference. “Sidecars are for…”.)
What I am saying is that right now, I don’t feel like I’m riding in the sidecar. I feel like our life is predictable enough now where I don’t taste the chaos in the air anymore.
I love having this peace in my head; not dwelling on my inabilities to successfully figure out what exactly I’m supposed to do every single second. I love knowing what to do.
Ah, if and when the time comes for a 2nd child, I fear losing that again.
Yesterday I bragged on how much I loved the “Pals” ad by Robinsons. Since then, I’ve read some comments online pointing out that the commercial closes with the tagline, “It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend.”
For some people, that motto carries a different meaning than it does for me.
Here’s an example, from “richa20560″ on The Drum.com, of the kind of comments that barb in between the positive ones, in reference to the ad:
“Nice ad if you reversed the strapline. Current ad epitomises everything thats wrong with current parenting practises, kids have plenty of friends in their life but only 1 mum & dad this trivialises the importance of stepping up & being the dad you can’t always be their friend, to infer its better to be their friend devalues the vital role of a parent, sometimes you have to say no & sometimes they won’t like you for it. Better to be a dad and raise a child capable of making friends, than being the only one who can bare to be their friend.”
As for me, I hear the phrase “It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” and I don’t think that the message is to be a parent who overlooks discipline for the sake of wanting your kid to like you.
I can hear it without thinking it is promoting something stupid like buying alcohol or cigarettes for your kid, too.
Instead, I totally get what ”It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” means; without jumping to polarizing conclusions or taking it so literally.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s impossible to love and lead you without serving you. Therefore, so many of the elements of me being a good dad require that I am a good friend.
My interpretation of ”It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” is this: The best part of being a dad is the part where I get to have a buddy who loves me unconditionally.
I could go on to theorize that the worst part, or, my least favorite, is the discipline part. However, it’s no less important that the “being the friend” part.
As your dad, I do my best to make sure the majority of our time together fits into that glorious (and more marketable!) “friend” category; because a good friend can still teach, mentor, and even discipline you.
Really, I guess it just comes down to a person’s definitions of the words “dad” and “friend.”