Letter to The Baby: A word about your father
Week 23: 6/11/2007
Dear Little One,
I am writing this to you on Father's Day, so it seems like a good time to tell you about your Papa, and just how lucky you are to have him.
I should start with some context, so you know I'm not moony and in love with every thing the man does: I just walked in to the house after seeing some friends, and Papa and Sylvia are out on a run--I drove by them on the way home, Sylvia stretching her arms out from the stroller in greeting, Papa waving and pre-empting me from starting a conversation by saying, "See you at home, Mama!" I wonder if you'll like accompanying him on his runs as much as Sylvia does, or if that will always be their thing. Anyway. So I walked into the empty house to find the kitchen table covered with a flooded newspaper, paint spilled on the floor and the table, and the drip-drip-drip of the overturned water glass creating a small pool of paint-tinged water on the floor. Clearly there had been a lot of fun, and then there was a realization that the sun was setting soon and bedtime was looming, so if a run was to be had, the mess would have to stay.
Needless to say--and once you know me a little better, you'll know just how needless--this is not my favorite sort of scene. So that I'm writing this after I experienced a vivid reminder of one of Papa's flaws should tell you that what I'm about to say is with full knowledge of his very human imperfections.
I think you have the best father in the world.
And here's why
Maybe every mother thinks this about the father of their children. I hope they do. Of course, how I mean it is: You have the best father I could ever want for my children. Here are just a few of the reasons.
He is funny and silly and quirky in ways that not only make me and Sylvia laugh, but also encourages us to look at life the way he does--as a series of gentle absurdities, as a thing not always to be taken so seriously. He makes up names for people (someone with the last name Muscat becomes The Muscrat becomes The Rat--meant with appropriate tough-guy affection), food (one dish he makes, with rotating ingredients broiled in a casserole, has been dubbed Slag), celebrities (Kirsten Dunst--who he swears he actually finds unattractive--will be forever known as Sexy Tennis for her role in the movie Wimbledon). He and Syl already have inside jokes, one of which is to say, "Wanna know a secret?" She'll lean in and whisper loudly in his ear, "Berry pasta." Cracks them up every time. No one, including the two of them, knows what it means. He also started this thing with her where he wraps her up in a blanket like a burrito, and then puts all sorts of ingredients in it. (See picture for a recent burrito-stuffing with her cousin Owen--I think at this point he was slicing cucumbers into the "rito.") His grandfather used to ask him after he made a joke, "Who writes your stuff?" It's a good question.
Your Papa will also be your best teacher for all things outdoorsy and handyman-like. "Righty-tighty, lefty loosey" (probably something most people know, but was news to me), how to drive stick, when to use a needle-nose pliers... these are only some of the things I've picked up from him. Sylvia is already learning "ready position" for tennis, has a snazzy pair of running shoes she uses to chase him down the block, and is fantasizing about girls' softball. I can honestly say that while this thrills me to no end (a jock for a daughter!), I can take zero credit for it.
I should break the news to you: You may have some extraterrestrial blood flowing through your veins. Because your father is a little bit from another planet. He is very bad at keeping track of human concepts like The Passage of Time, on a micro- ("Eight o'clock already?") to macro ("What month comes after March?") level. He may have either blacked out entire sections of pop culture knowledge (he actually asked me the other day what sort of music Public Enemy was known for), or never had it to begin with, since he was apparently raised on Pluto. While these may seem like negatives (and they're certainly rife with possibility for future eye-rolling at Clueless Dad), as a very detail-oriented person who shares my life with him, I can honestly say that it can be a relief with someone who sometimes misses the trees, but really gets the forest. You know, even if the forest is of his own creation. But really: Do I need someone else checking the clock every 30 seconds, or being a know-it-all about minor indie film stars? I think it might drive me crazy.
This is not to say that he has a uniformly bad memory. He and I play a game we call "Memba," as in "remember." We only play Memba at special times, like when one of us can't sleep, or we're stuck traffic. One of us will say, "Memba when..." and then the trick is to come up with a really choice "Memba," which is not only the name of the game but a category of past happening, something that we both experienced but don't talk about endlessly. It can be relatively trivial, but the shared response to hearing it has to be along the lines of, "Ooh, that's a good one." A particularly gross sandwich we shared on a train. The story we concocted in college about the obese man with seven bike seats on top of his car we saw while driving to Montana. The guy at the restaurant who gave us a dollar when he overheard that we were engaged... these are all great Membas.
I can't wait for you and Sylvia to be able to play Memba with him, because I know you'll have your own unique memories to laugh and groan over. Every time he puts Sylvia to bed, I can hear them giggling and whisper-talking. You're in for more of the same.
I love you,
P.S. As I write this, I hear the kitchen being cleaned.
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.