You may have guessed that I’m not big on touchy-feely Dad writing. Mawkishness went into the trashcan along with my son’s first corn-and-black-bean shit-filled diaper; any dad who tells you that every second of every moment of fatherhood is an eternity of unbridled joy is either lying or trying to build their female readership. Kids are fun, they’re cute, and most of the time they love you. That said, I think we can all agree that if they could somehow magically raise themselves, if they were hardwired to know that things like eating Betty Crocker Ready-Whip Frosting for dinner, throwing the solid metal Hot Wheels at the 47″ LCD HDTV and pissing on the floor immediately after telling you they don’t need to go potty (looking you right in the eye while doing so) are wrong, we’d all be a lot happier. Parenting is rarely a Beautiful Experience, and it’s certainly not fun. Parenting is a hard, monotonous, time-consuming, and identity-crushing battle of wills. It’s Logic and Reason versus No (and No’s evil twin Why). If you didn’t love your kids, you’d just say “fuck it” and do something easier, like train cats or fix leaking oil rigs.
One looks for moments, lulls in the action in which both sides can just be. My kids are now Kids. Lucas is 6. I don’t get all weepy over that – much – but I do feel like a long campaign’s ended, and a victory of sorts has been achieved. To be sure, there are new battles looming (Operation: Homework promises to be a long and bitter struggle), but there’s a sense that he’s growing into his Son skin. The work is paying off. He’s growing up. The brief moments where we just hang out and shoot the shit are frequent, and provide me with a much-needed glimpse into the future, when I’ll still be his dad, but not his Parent.
Saturday, and we’re on the couch. The second Transformers movie is on – his choice. We are having in-depth discussions about what we’d turn into if we were Transformers; no arguments between us, as we both agree that if you’re a giant robot that can turn into any machine, clearly it should be a fighter plane. (You get where you need to be at the speed of sound, and AND! you can blow stuff up along the way. Why would any right-thinking Transformer turn into a truck?) The conversation then turns to favorites: Decepticon? (Me: Starscream, as he’s the only one with the sense to turn into a fighter plane. Lucas: Megatron, as he turns into a FLYING TANK. I give him that.) Autobot? (Lucas: Bumblebee, because “he knows Autobot karate or something.”) We watch CGI mayhem – buildings and giant robots getting blown to hell – and agree that it’s all very cool. I’m making no demands, he doesn’t have to meet any expectations. We’re coasting. It’s a parenting moment free of actual parenting, a break for both of us. Then the action stops and Megan Fox shows up (running in slow motion, of course) and starts kissing Shia LeBeouf. Lucas puts a pillow over his face. “I hate the kissing parts!”
“Oh, they’re not that bad”, I say.
“Yeah, they are!”, he says. “Because every time there’s a kissing part my penis gets big!”
And with that, the future seems further away than ever.