“…you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”
Its a powerful statement albeit a little inaccurate.
The physical act of courtship, copulation and birth is a basic human right that Governments rarely interfere with. However, just because you are capable of having a baby, well that fact alone does not qualify you to be a father. Its the wintry nights at soccer training, the chilly morning rugby games, the score-keeping duties at Sunday cricket matches, the countless kilometres spent ferrying the little ones from one activity to another; and its the unconditional love you give them, no matter what the circumstance, that makes you a dad.
Once again I had actively participated in all the joys of our pregnancy, much to my beautiful wife’s disgust. With a bloated belly and sore boobs (don’t ask) I waddled back downstairs to move the car whilst the midwife settled Blue Eyes into the luxurious delivery suite. Ten minutes later I was being seized at the elevator by my mother-in-law because No.3 was coming in early. In hindsight I suppose the impetuousness of his arrival was a sign of things to come but as the doctor handed me my third son I couldn’t help but feel a sense of deep pride. Three boys, what a man!
No.1 was four and a half with short blond hair, bright blue eyes and a vocabulary that would put most grunting teenagers to shame. God Sakes was nineteen months old and had moved on from singing bawdy retro rock ballads. Between the two of them though the high pitched squeaky chatter was enough to drown out any adult conversation and the only way to get them to be quiet was with big bowl of spaghetti. Both boys loved their pasta and iDad was continuously extracting noodles from nostrils and trying in vain to contain the slippery mess. One night as I was bathing God Sakes I found a dried out piece of yellow vermicelli stuck behind his right ear. I peeled it gently off his face I asked him what it was.
With two older brothers No.3’s development was a lot faster. He walked earlier than the others, recognised numbers, colours and shapes at a younger age; and, much to our chagrin, he learned to talk very quickly. During a shopping trip our plump little cherub was sitting in the trolley batting his big blue eyes at all the passers by. One kind lady with a Rubenesque physique stopped to pinch his cheeks and comment on his cuteness and No.3 replied in a voice that seemed to channel Cookie Monster,
After much apologising Blue Eyes attempted to educate our little boy on good manners, respecting elders, and overall acceptable behaviour. With remorse written all over his face Blue Eyes ceased the lesson and began to clean up God Sakes spilled soft-drink. As she collected the last piece of broken glass she heard the biscuit eating muppet fire up the voice box one more time for the elderly couple that had stopped to say hi.
He’s making it up as he goes along.
Pasta was one of the foods that No.1 could eat without aggravating his Anaphylaxis. Unfortunately we were still none the wiser as to what actually set him off and Prince of Wales Hospital was something of a second home for our little family. Usually Blue Eyes and I took it all in our stride but there was one instance that left me questioning my ability to be a father. The asthma had taken hold of No.1 pretty bad, which resulted in a week of no sleep for either parent. On the morning of the fourth day I was at home with God Sakes and Granny, getting them ready to go back to the hospital and relieve Blue Eyes who had done the night shift. The boys were missing their mother and brother, and neither one had slept well. When kids don’t sleep neither do the parents and iDad was rather worse for wear.
I changed Granny and left him on the bed as I went to do the same for God Sakes. Being the impatient type Granny refused to stay put and so he climbed off the bed and onto a bedside lamp that was on the floor. With no lampshade the 60w globe was exposed and pressed up against my little boy’s inside thigh. Granny never made a noise and it wasn’t until I turned around and saw where he was that I realised he was in trouble. I lifted him off the lamp and the bulb was stuck to his leg. It was a horrible burn. I quickly filled a wet washer with ice and held it to his leg as I raced back to the hospital. Granny sat in my lap with watery eyes but never cried. God Sakes rattled around the backseat of the car having a ball as iDad hit the corners at speed.
I bypassed triage and went straight to No.1’s room where the doctor was waiting.
“Please help my little boy.”
“He’s fine Mr. Green. You can take your son home this morning.”
“Not that one. This one.”
The doctor took Granny from me and raced off to another part of the hospital with Blue Eyes in hot pursuit. There was no holding hands in the dark this time round. iDad was left alone to ponder his inability to protect his children. It was an empty, hollow feeling of despair that I will never forget. Even now, twelve years later, when I see the cheloid scar on his leg I feel pangs of guilt.
Being a dad is hard.
Coming Soon: iDad Redux – Ready, Aim, Fire!
iDad © Matthew Green 2010