Thoughts on Impending Fatherhood
There are three stages of a man's life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. ~Author Unknown
Yes, I'll be a father soon. March, to be precise. Since discovering that I will have a child (gender unknown for now, but will learn in about another two months) I've gotten to thinking about what kind of a father I will be. Fortunately I married a woman who be a kind of Tiger Mom -- big on discipline, which means I could end up being 'the good cop' in parenting situations. Mrs. Krogenar has declared that the child will play an instrument (violin or piano). I was able to plead these outcomes down to xylophone, saxophone, electric guitar or bass drum. Harmonica is flat out. A kid's gotta have options, right?
My first thoughts on being a father were a bit of anxiety; I want my kid to have all my advantages and none of my many, many flaws. The acquisition of the former is possible, the latter, almost assured. I wonder if genetics trump all in the end, anyway? Can I even (with supreme effort) bend the fate of my child just slightly in a more positive direction? I have to believe that I can.
Then there's the thought of gender. I was given withering looks by family members when I talked about my 'son' arriving. And they're right -- I should be wishing for a healthy child, period. I'm not a bad person for imagining a son, I'm a bad person for admitting to it. I know my wife is secretly (key word) hoping for a daughter. A daughter to tie ribbons into her hair, to bake cookies with, and generally do girly things.
The moment she confessed these things I saw hope. I imagined my daughter and realized that there's positively no reason why any of the things I dream for my son would not be applicable to a daughter. This exasperated the women in my life somewhat -- and I responded, "What if my daughter is a tomboy? Maybe she'll want to learn how to build treehouses, build campfires and use a compass, eh? Nothing wrong with that, is there?" And so I maintain my carefully cultivated aura of insufferability.
And best of all, that sense that the child in question could surprise us utterly. My wife and I are non-athletic geeky types. Maybe this kid will be an athlete? Or an artist! Or just exceptionally kind, with no other discernable talents. That might even be better; to have a child of which I could say, "We have no idea where this comes from."
But enough about the child -- let's get back to me, and the kind of father I aspire to be.
Please do not be put off by the image of Superman observing an asteroid headed for Earth that topped this essay. I don't feel like I'm being given an impossible task by any means -- I just feel acutely the monumental importance of it. I've got to be the best version of me I've ever been. I know I'll succeed.
I'm going to smash the asteroid, right up the middle, and the pieces will land on France and Canada.
See, now that's the kind of stuff Mrs. Krog crosses her arms about. I insist that Sacred Cows make the finest hamburgers, but she's terrified the child will inherit (or learn) this habit from me. Also, I have a tendency to have fun at children's expense and I'm not entirely sure this is a bad thing. I have two nephews and a niece (plus a baby niece). How to explain my 'having fun' at their expense? Well, the best phrase I've encountered is being a 'Troll Dad' or in my case a 'Troll Uncle'. I once convinced the oldest nephew that my father had invented lightning.
I got in serious trouble for that. My younger sister, a kindergarten teacher pointed out that they (the children) will not trust me if I openly lie to them. I insist that lying (and being lied to) is a part of life, and they best get used to it. I figured if I made them into skeptics it would make them stronger.
Not true, I just liked messing with them is all, but why shouldn't parenting be fun?
Paradoxically, I'm just starting to grow up, but feel that the advent of children is not a reason to feel that childhood is actually 'dead'. Sure, there will be bills, and diapers, and teenage zits and emotional waterspouts, but there will be fun times too.
I want to be the ultimate teacher for my kid. I want to see them as my version of Doc Savage -- the nearly superhuman hero who was raised on an island in a double-normal gravity enclosure, surrounded by the finest teachers, to be sent out into the world to do good.
Or, become the best (and most judicious) bikini contest judge that ever lived. I realize that there's a psychotherapist rubbing his hands together greedily awaiting this child, but I figure aim high. My mind conjures up ridiculous images -- like the one in the last Star Trek film which shows a young Spock at a Vulcan school. Wee baby Spock stands in a hemispherical depression whose walls are LED screens, flashing questions, images and requiring responses from him.
I was that kind of kid, who absorbed information as fast as I could get it. It's selfish for me to want that kind of child, but... I would be so ready for that.
I gotta build that thing. My wife, when watching television, is sometimes presented with a gorgeous home, or a fabulous outfit, or a mouthwateringly delicious something or other and she'll exclaim, "I want that!" and smile at me coquettishly. That's how I feel about this Vulcan child trainer.
When Mrs. Krog says 'I want that!' and stares at me I usually just nod, smile and say in my best impersonation of Mr. Rogers, "... it's nice to want things, isn't it?"