Today is my son’s birthday.
This day doubles as the one time a year I allow myself to get a little bit cheesy on my blog, or, if you read my post last year, a lot cheesy. When you write stuff like this, the occasional corrective is a good thing. But don’t get used to it! I do it as a gift to my son, reassurance to the readers out there who think I hate him, and an eff you to my friend Tim who thinks I’m betraying the Dad and Buried mission statement.
Don’t worry Tim, I’ll get back to pretending to hate my kid tomorrow. Especially if the Dolphins lose while I’m at the park cutting his cake.
Today, we celebrate!
When I became a dad, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don’t. And I spend a lot of time complaining about the responsibilities of parenting. Everyone, even non-parents, knows about all the annoying and stressful stuff that comes with being a parent. Even I, as clueless as they come, knew sleep would disappear and fear would increase and potty-training was gross.
But there were a lot of other things I didn’t know about. And not all of them were terrible!
Six Great Things About Being a Dad That I Didn’t Expect
Waking Up is Easy: Not easy easy. I’m exhausted most days, and get up earlier than I want to most days. But I’ve never been a morning person, and although that still holds true, nothing puts me in a good mood quicker than hanging out with my son. I knew I’d be tired, parents are always tired, but I didn’t know I wouldn’t mind. Even if he wakes me up two hours before I’m ready, by screaming my name or climbing on top of me begging for breakfast. It’s just not possible to stay angry at someone so goddamn cute. And that’s what erodes my morning grumps and makes waking up easy, even if it means I’m dead on my feet every afternoon.
Dancing with No Judgment: Unless you count the crushing judgment laid down by my relentless self-consciousness. But my son doesn’t care if I look like an idiot or keep doing the disco point to cover for my lack of rhythm. And suddenly neither do I. He just wants to shake around with me, and who am I to deny that? Even he does want to shake around with me 100 times a day. The kid LOVES to dance. I can’t say that I love it, not usually. So I didn’t expect dancing to be so fun, since the only other times I’ve had fun doing it were when I was really drunk. But dancing with my son is tons of fun, especially when I’m really drunk.
Dinner Is Fun:Let’s not get crazy here. It’s not exactly “fun”. But having a reason to actually commune around a dinner table rather than scarf some food down while watching TV… never mind. Let’s stick with “it’s not exactly fun.” At least it’s time carved out at the end of the day for us to interact as a family, and I didn’t expect it to be so important. As he gets older and starts living his own independent life, family mealtime will become essential. Jesus. I sound like my freaking dad.
I Get to Play Again!: Little kids love to play. Adults love to play too, except by “play” I mean “drink”. When you get older you’re too drunk and/or hung over to have time for play of the old-fashioned, innocent sort. But when I’m with my son, I get to pretend to fly like Superman or take some batting practice or ride the little train at the park or even go down a slide once in a while. All because I’m a dad. It’s a blast! And it works out, because when we’re done playing, I get to have a few beers while I’m icing my back.
Junk Food! We don’t give him junk food. Mom and Buried wants me to be clear about that. But when we do give him junk food – on his birthday, or at a fair, or on vacation, or just for dessert – I end up eating most of it. So I’m suddenly awash in cotton candy and chocolate chip cookies and sugary cereal and Goldfish crackers! Stuff we would never have in the house because we don’t want to be fat fatties is now accessible purely because we want to be able to give Detective Munch the occasional treat. What a loophole!
Looking in the Mirror: I’m not talking about an actual mirror. I’m 37; the grey is sprouting, the crow’s-feet are multiplying, and I look less like David Silver every day. It’s sad. I’m actually talking about looking at my son, who many people insist is my mirror image. I’m not sure I buy that – my cheeks just aren’t that chubby! – but it’s a special treat to be able to watch him grow up and figure out what he likes to do and how to do it and everything else that comes with growing older. The fact that he may look a little bit like me makes it even more fun, because it allows me to recapture my youth just a little bit, and I can feel less sad about losing my looks as I watch him grow into his.
And on my son’s third birthday, being able to indulge in my own narcissism without feeling guilty is the greatest gift of all.
So thanks, kiddo! And happy birthday!