“I think one of the most masculine things a father can do for his son is to communicate with him clearly and regularly; from the day to day to the big picture stuff. Therefore, it has been easy for me to be a fan of RJ Licata’s blog–and now his book. A good father is a good mentor. That’s why this book is special. It’s a glimpse of what hands on fatherhood looks like, fleshed out in the form of 100 lessons.”
I easily celebrate any fellow dad who publically and positively portrays fatherhood. Something I’ve learned in the 4 years of writing about you/to you is that I care less now about how the media so obviously makes dads out to be idiots.
These days, my focus is on spotlighting any entity that shares my passion of reinforcing the positive examples of fatherhood.
For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see the healthy relationship between the father and son the movie, About Time, that I recently wrote to you about.
It’s subtle, but it’s a big deal to me.
I read a fantastic article recently, called “Why Fatherhood Matters,” by Stephen Marche, which proclaims that fatherhood has never mattered more, as the definition of masculinity has evolved through generations:
“Only fatherhood is indisputably masculine, which is why when you ask men when they became men, they usually answer when they became a father or lost a father.”
He goes on to declare fatherhood as a marker of class.
The way I feel, this is one of the most important times to be a dad. And let’s face it… it’s also one of the coolest times to be a dad.
Fatherhood is masculine.
I just don’t see how a man can be more manly that being a good father- and by “good father,” a huge part of that is how well he communicates with his child.
To me, that is perhaps the most important aspect of being a father.
So while I could easily go on all day about all the times I’ve missed the mark in life, I can at least feel positive that I’m doing one thing right:
Jack loves reading. In other words, he loves looking at the pages of a book for the purpose of identifying the animals so that he can make their appropriate sounds.
The book he is currently obsessed over is The Beginner’s Bible; a children’s cartoon version of the stories in the Bible. Why does he insist of reading it all the way to daycare and back everyday? Because he’s just that spiritual of a toddler? Or…
To practice his animal sounds.
A couple of minutes into the car ride each day, I hear “Sssssss…”. That means Jack sees a picture of Satan, as a serpent, tempting Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit.
Five minutes later, it’s “Bzzzzzz…”. Yeah, that’s the Seven Plagues on Egypt; the gnats and lice to be exact.
I’ll hear various spurts of “Pffffttt…”. That would be Jack’s very impressive impression of what a camel sounds like: There are plenty of random pictures of men riding camels throughout the book.
Eventually I hear “bah-bah,” Jack’s version of a donkey, which means Jesus is making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem… on a donkey, of course.
And then for the rest of the book, there aren’t so many animals anymore; mainly just bearded men in robes talking to each other.
Each time Jack gets to this point, he just starts laughing.
It took me a solid week to figure out what was so funny. I’m pretty sure it’s because Jack has never seen a man in real life with a big bushy beard.
So he’s laughing at the brown sheep’s butts on men’s faces. Or, beards, as we recognize them in the non-cartoon world.
Yes, my toddler son leads his own Bible study twice a day in the back seat of my car. Technically.
Being that I spend most of my lunch breaks at Borders, over the past year I have been acquiring a small library of discounted books. One of my purchases off the “five dollar clearance rack” was a huge colorful book on Feng Shui. While I have yet to spend much time really learning these ancient Chinese secrets, I did scan through a few chapters. One of the concepts of Feng Shui that I did pick up on warned against long uninterrupted straights, whether the layout of the house is based on one basic hallway or the driveway to the house has no turns. Without turns and interruptions along a straight path, one might “fall out of the house and out of their own yard”. That’s considered “bad Feng Shui”.
If you are able to grasp that concept for the most part (which I think for some strange reason I can), then maybe you can understand my recent perspective on how having Baby Jack relates back to Feng Shui, if nothing else, in my own sleep-deprived head. Recently, some of my cosmic insecurities have been heavily resolved as I realize that by being a parent, I am forever in the middle of a generation, no longer the tail end. I am no longer the tree itself, but instead one of the branches on someone else’s family tree. No longer am I a coastal state like Rhode Island or South Carolina, exposed the possibility of breaking off in the Atlantic Ocean, only separated by a few thousand miles from giant Africa; instead, I am now landlocked Kansas. Like sitting in the middle of the third row seat in a 15 passenger van on a church mission trip to Mexico; like no longer being on the outer edge in a herd of zebras escaping from a hungry lion, so am I.
As a parent, I now feel more Feng Shui. I will not “fall out” out the universe into outer space without it being immediately noticed. Because I am no longer simply a husband; I am a father. And being a father doesn’t simply hold importance in the direct care of my son, but also in an undeniable eternal sense. Baby Jack is not just simply a cute little Bambino. He is a spiritual being who I am responsible for.
I am no longer an island of any kind. More than ever before, I am needed and necessary in this world. What I do from this point has potentially everlasting outcomes. I won’t look back on my life when I’m an old man and think, “I lived such an empty life.” Because I will always be linked back to my son. So cosmic, man.
“These moments, they can never last; like a sad old man with his photographs keeps wishing for the things he can not change.”