A man spit in my mouth…and I loved him for it.
Now, let me add some context so that statement doesn’t end up on my tombstone one day.
This one time when I was holding Jack above my head in an attempt to indoctrinate him into the cult of Superman he let out a string of drool that gale force winds would not have been able to break. Before I even knew what happened, before I had any time to react, that line of 5 month old drool tricked down and landed squarely into my gaping mouth. At first my brain told me: “some one just spit in your mouth”….this was quickly followed by “but it’s okay because it was your son.” I looked up at Jack and he had the biggest smile I had ever seen on his face. I shot one back at him, brought him down onto my shoulder and gave him a kiss on the side of his head. He giggled and I kept smiling.
This may seem like the minutiae that comes with raising a child. For me, it was a solid step towards a potential answer to one of the most haunting and glorious questions of being a father:
What will he think of me?
It’s a question that you cannot ask yourself too often or you will, eventually, find that you have either:
A. Encased your child in a John Travolta Boy in the Plastic Bubble-esque isolation so as to keep him free from all the world’s influence outside your own…
B. You have managed to let your kid run amok in the attempt to become the “cool dad”, while not realizing that while he will have many friends he will only have one father.
As a Stay At Home Dad I will be more to him than “the provider” or the “you just wait until your father comes home” bad cop. I have every intention of being as crucial to Jack’s development as his mother is, and in some cases I’ll surpass her influence and she will surpass mine. That’s the balance. Allison and I have always (forgive the cliche) completed each other. The things I lack she excels at and vice versa, and this has naturally applied to our care for Jack. Disagreements over something as serious as creating a human being are inevitable, but we both share one fundamental belief both in keeping Jack in high spirits while also maintaining our legacy of greatness as his parents.
He has to know how loved he is.
He’s got to know that, even when he’s let us down, that he is still our son and that we are still here for him. And so, until he’s old enough to know better, I will laugh with him as he spits in my face. I’ll be the angel when he needs tenderness, the champion when he needs my strength, the bad cop when he needs discipline, the scientist when he needs my wisdom and the lion if anyone is ever foolish enough to hurt him. Jack is my mission and everything else falls a distant second. If the balance can be maintained, I will never really have to worry about what he thinks of me. He’ll tell me each time he smiles.
And if all of that fails, you can always sell a healthy baby on the black market.
P.S. — I’ve learned the number of times saying that sentence to your wife before it is no longer funny is THREE.