Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Every Father's Struggle

There is a struggle among fathers, and maybe among mothers too, but I doubt that they even consider these types of challenges when it comes to their child.  I know that it is something that I have had to come to terms with recently as my daughter is growing so fast.  Chris Rock says that every father of a little girl has the primary job off keeping his daughter off "the pole," but I believe the struggle is more internal.  It is something that we all wrestle with as our kids get older.

Here is the problem - I am the funniest now that I will ever be.

That's it, I said it.  It's not easy to admit.

Every man has a trajectory to his life.  For a lot of men, that trajectory leads to "wise old man" who is quiet but every now and then gives great bits of wisdom that you know will help you succeed in life.  Another life trajectory leads to "funny old man" who always has a one-liner or plays innocent practical jokes that make you smile.  But for some men, their life's trajectory leads to "creepy old man" who says things or makes comments or jokes that are inappropriate for the general public, but we excuse his behavior because he's just a "creepy old man."  And here is where I am cursed - I come from a long line of men who will continue to repeat a joke, story or funny prank just to get the maximum amount of laughter out of it before they retire it.  Due to these circumstances, I have realized that the things that my baby girl thinks are HILARIOUS right now would only lead to me being a creepy old man if I continue to do them.  I must fight the urge to continue my family legacy of joke repetition.  That means I need to identify the things that generate the most laughter from my daughter and imagine what they would be like if I am still doing them when my daughter is say... I don't know... sixteen... so that I can eliminate them from my act when they become creepy.  Here we go.

One of the things my daughter laughs at is peek-a-boo.  Totally normal.  One of the times I get to do peek-a-boo is in our kitchen.  She sits in her high chair for breakfast, and I usually end up in the bathroom washing my hands from picking up food off of the floor.  As I open the door to come out, I pop out with a smile and say "peek-a-boo."  Funny now, but if I am still jumping out of bathrooms and saying "peek-a-boo" to my sixteen year old daughter, that's not funny.

A funny thing that usually gets her to laugh is when she poops.  I pick her up and say "Are you a stinky girl?"  And then, when I'm changing her diaper, I follow it up with a "PHEW!  Stinky girl!"  This bit generates a ton of laughter every time, but I don't even want to consider the consequences of calling a sixteen year old girl "stinky."

Another thing that makes her laugh is tickling her feet.  Funny now, not so much if she were sixteen.

My little girl also loves when I push her on the swing.  If I am still pushing my daughter on the swing when she's sixteen, I believe I may be arrested as other moms would most likely find this creepy.

When we all go out grocery shopping, and mommy vanishes down the canned fruit aisle making the life-altering decision of pears or peaches (We got both - phew! That was close.), my baby gets a little upset.  So, I hold her left foot and move her leg like it's a stick shift and make car noises - you've never heard such joyous laughter!  But, again, this would be creepy if she were sixteen.

This list could go on all day.  Part of the struggle is that there are so many things that I can do right now to make her laugh, and I thoroughly enjoy making her laugh.  I know that for the sake of my family, for the sake of my daughter, and to avoid prison at all costs, I must be fully aware of when these things stop being funny and start to get creepy.  At that moment, I need to strike these bits from my act and move on to more mature, less creepy material.  This will take determination, dedication, and self-awareness that I'm not sure I am capable of mustering.  Is there a twelve-step program for people on this life trajectory?  

To those of you who are currently in the struggle - I am with you - and we shall overcome.

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