"Occasional Blogger" and Such
So, here's another bit from this occasional blogger on looking forward to fatherhood (originally written in Sep. 2003).
Back To Basics
I had a good long conversation with a good friend of mine last night. We usually talk for two or three hours at a time, and last night was no exception. We ranged from new jobs to law to religion to politics. We differ mightily on some things, but that makes for interesting conversation. Talking with him is always very stimulating, and I enjoy it very much.
I enjoy it because I am an intellectual (of the Ozark variety), at least in the sense Bill Cosby meant it when he put together some of his early comedy routines. My wife and I both graduated from college and were very successful there. I'm a computer programmer and work with abstractions all the day long, and I often think about and discuss deep sociological and philosophical issues with anyone I can. My wife and I are intelligent, sophisticated, educated people who can go head to head with just about anyone on any number of issues.
But our focus is about to change. This new person will come into our lives, and our conversations will not be primarily about educational theory or the proper restraint of federal judges. We will talk about rolling over and raising a head from a chest. We will be absorbed by the mechanics of crawling and pulling oneself upright and making funny little basic noises. The topics that will capture our attention day and night(!) will be eating and sleeping and heat and cleanliness and, er, bathroom functions. Grass and flowers will become important in a way they haven't been in years. Books, for a while, will be something to chew (or prevent from being chewed) instead of something to read.
He'll have so much to learn! More to the point of this missive, we'll have so much to teach! And it won't be the things we're concerned with now. It will be those things we've known for so long that we've practically forgotten how we know them: balance, language, manners, humor. It's been a while since I've dialed down that deeply, and I'll have to learn again how to listen to sounds I've heard for years but have screened out, like crickets and birds and the wind in the trees. Clouds will once again be fascinating to me; to a little child, everything is UP, and clouds are the epitome of UP and thereby get a lot of focus. A demanding little boy will insist I see what he sees while I'm trying to get him to see what I see. The hard stuff can come later; first, we'll have to work out whether that's a bunny or a duckie in the big puffy clouds. (Yes, son, they really _are_ made of water.)
I am excited by this and daunted at the same time. It's certainly a test: how much do I _really_ know about the world? I suspect I am going to be severely humbled in the coming years, which is probably one of the fringe benefits of being a parent. Humility is good for the soul, after all (oh my, I've got to explain what a soul is to this child. Great theologians differ on the exact definition, and I've got to get a future four-year-old to grasp it? This will be tougher than I thought.) I will once again experience the truth that simplicity is the heart of profundity--which I explain to my son as: that frog is really, really neat, huh?
Soon, and very soon, it's back to the ol' drawing board.