Are you happy? The question is innocent enough. My four-year-old who is running around the house with his plastic sword in case we get attacked by Princess Robots (year, don’t ask) stops dead in his tracks to ask me.
“But I didn’t know the first dad-gum thing about raising one,” says my dad, who still talks like that, Southernish, with a twinkle. For her part, my mom likes to tell the story of the maternity nurse at Touro Infirmary who—after my folks gathered their things and Mom settled into the wheelchair for the short discharge trip to the car—winked at my mother and grandmother, then turned to my startled dad and offered him the 21 tightly swaddled inches of his firstborn.
You’ve spent most of your young life cooped up with us in our small Brooklyn apartment, first by felicity of generous leave policies and then by necessity amidst a pandemic. The world outside, which we gird up to face with our odd masks and anxious glances at people not observing social distance on our regular walking routes, must seem both fascinating and a little frightening.
When Mr. Alex asked me to contribute to the Bookshelf for Father’s Day, as the old guy looking back on raising three sons, I thought I’d offer some reminiscence about about my kids’ eccentricities. I imagined I’d gently make the point that our kids need to be their own true selves, not our reflections, no matter how attractive we may find the mirror.
“Daddy, what’s death?” This is a question no father (or mother, or grandparent, or caregiver in general) looks forward to, but we all know it’s going to happen sooner or later. However, if you look at it from a strategic angle, possibilities arise for making it a relatively painless encounter. At least in theory.
It took mere days after learning that my wife and I were expecting our first child before I began to worry how society would see that child, and how that child would eventually come to see herself. Yes, through some weird extrasensory perception that I still can’t explain, I knew we were destined to have a girl. And I knew society is not kind to girls, much less to brown-skinned girls.