I like to think of myself as a good father.
I also like to think of myself as capable of wielding a lightsaber if I had one, but this is beside the point.
No, I like to thnk of myself as a good father and I think part of that is due to a year after college spent as an elementary/ Jr. high school teacher.
It’s kind of like the Marines, I would imagine, in that if you survive, you’ve absorbed all of these soft life skills and hard life lessons: how to lead, how to establish order in a chaotic situation, how to yell.
College certainly doesn’t guide a nerd into responsible adulthood. If anything it does the opposite. For me, the only way to really stop being a kid was to stand in front of 20 actual kids and realize I was the only adult in the room. And thus, I had to be the adult in the room.
For all the posturing, affected snobbery and lost virginity, I’d say the only way to truly become a man is find yourself in a situation that requires you to become a man.
Could be the same thing with women. Not being a woman, I don’t feel qualified to comment (one of many reasons I’m not in the federal government).
The Flaming Lips speak about this in the song “Fight Test.” The line goes ‘cuz I’m a man, and not a boy/ and there are things you can’t avoid/ you have to face them when you’re not prepared to face them.
Yes, I’m quoting the Flaming Lips. “Nerd” is in the name of the blog, deal with it.
I’ve thought a lot about this line in the last month. It’s been a hard month.
Not for me personally. No, it’s definitely been a month to make me grateful for all the problems I don’t have. Me, mama, little man, even grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everybody’s really doing pretty f#*king grand. First world problems for the most part.
Nobody’s had pulmonary embolisms in their lungs, for example. Or lacked the health insurance to deal with it. Nobody’s had to take a second job on top of a full time job to try getting out of an underwater mortgage. Nobody’s been in a painful, messy domestic separation involving lawyers, cops and restraining orders. Nobody’s 12 year-old son was diagnosed with Lymphoma.
No, the family’s doing well.
All of these things happened to friends of mine, though. This last month.
It’s been a hard month.
I’ve been thinking about that lyric. How you can have your ducks in a row, eat your spinach, do some pushups and save for retirement and still beyond your careful precautions, beyond your backup plans and nest eggs and support networks there exists this terrible Chance. Careless, lawless and entirely egalitarian in its awful choices: rich, poor, young, old, artsy blogger, or nascar fan, whatever your marketing demographic, one day suddenly the sky goes dark and the funnel cloud descends.
There are kids involved in all of these problems I’ve described. All of these things happened to parents.
And when you’re a parent, it’s up to you. You have to take that tornado on the chest and you have to find your feet and stand up again, somehow. You have to find your way out of the storm, somehow. And then you have to clean up the pieces and rebuild, and somehow, somef%!kinghow keep living, keep going, because you’re a man, and you have to face it. Because there is a child depending on you.
I’ve hugged. I’ve liked statuses, offered kind words and helped when I could and through it all been so grateful I wasn’t the one who had to figure out how to stay standing at the end of all of this tragedy.
And I was doing okay. And then 20 children were murdered in their school.
Now, I’ve thought a lot about what to write here. I’ve stated before that this isn’t a political blog, and I don’t want it to become one. So I’m choosing not to write about my views on gun control, mental health care, religion and all the other pundit-food in this clusterf#@k of a scheduled-program interruptor. I have my views, and I will express them elsewhere.
But the truth is, I can’t even get outraged. I can barely get out of the foetal position.
My son is 2.25 years old, and only just talking so thankfully, thankfully, thankfully I won’t have to explain what happened in Connecticut yesterday to him any time soon. I can play his little games with him and watch him splash in the tub and immerse myself in the world through his eyes and manage not to weep uncontrollably. Because I am so fortunate, and I am so grateful, and I am so lost, and my heart is broken I am so done being a man. Take it all back, I don’t want it anymore. I don’t want to have to bear this weight. I don’t want to carry on through this. I want to be carried, and reassured and sheltered and free from the terrible burden of this knowledge.
My heart is broken.
My heart is broken.