People ask me about my kid. Or they ask me about myself, and I inevitably get to the part about being a father. It’s interesting that these people–and I’m not thinking of anyone in particular–never ask me to tell them about my wife. But people want to know about my son.
They never ask how old my sister is or my brother or my spouse. But when people hear that I’m a dad, they want to know how old the boy is. They want to know what he’s doing. They want to know if he’s sleeping. They ask if he looks like me or like his mom. People are interested in children, especially little children.
I’ve noticed that I have a particular way of describing my son. Usually this description is for people who know my son, people who have met him. They’ll tell me something about how cute the kid is. Then, I tell these people, almost all the time, “Yes, he’s cute. That’s one word.” I tell them that I can think of other words to describe the boy but that I’ll limit myself to cute. I find saying, “He’s many things.”
There are always other words I can use. Sometimes I choose to use them. If it’s been a really difficult day–or week–with Bryce, I’ll invite myself to call him all kinds of things. He’s noisy or fussy or disobedient or disinterested or busy or angry or smelly or spoiled. You get the picture. If it’s a normal day, I hardly go beyond the one word statement. I limit myself. And in limiting myself, I am probably unintentionally locking the kid into some small box. I am probably restricting myself from recalling all the other things that my kid is.
He is many things. I don’t want to wake up morning one and have a long, dishonest list of attributes for my son. I want to be honest about him. About his hangups and his weird quirks. Even if I don’t tell a lot of people who he is, I want to remind myself of it because that’s what it means to be a dad. It means that I’m around as much as I can to pick up on these things about this child.