Today started just like most Sunday mornings. Woke up to the gray morning daybreak, get up and get on the computer to see if the world ended while I wasn’t watching. A brief awareness break then back to the cloud of sleep with running in the snow in socks, trying to get into a government building to take a shower, cut off by an area being roped off for a big party, and all these smiling Latinos dressed up getting a free dinner but I won’t take you into my crazy mind.
As I do every Sunday, I make a cup of coffee, get my fruit cup and oatmeal then settle into “This American Life”. This PBS radio show is the only electronic media I concentrate on listening instead of just background chatter. Today’s program was on “Child’s Logic” or how children make perfectly logical arguments and arrive at perfectly wrong conclusions. The program was interesting and thought provoking.
And you know what that means.
First, I had to compare what I remember from my childhood to what was being presented in these skits. It was a long time ago but some of the statements rang true. Kids do not have any control. They are just observers. At first with families then with friends from church organizations then into a school system telling each the same message. Only the family gives different values that will go on forever.
Second, I thought of my friends. Most are parents so my buddies from high school and college are all “Daddies” now. They had to deal with these questions and try to find the correct answers.
Now I think I called my father “Daddy”? Maybe I called him “Dad”? Never called him the cool “Pop” or the formal “Father”. I’ll have to check with my brother on that.
But I cannot fully relate to the discussion because I never procreated. I had some chances and the plumbing works right but I could not see myself producing another me.
Ah daddy-hood and the joy of poopy diapers and projectile vomit. Late nights of constant crying and endless doctor visits. PTA meetings and teacher/parent conferences and continuous toys/games/clothing/sports requirements are what the “Daddy” creature endures, but they all say it is worth it. Then again what choice do you have if you are a stand-up guy and takes responsibility for your actions.
No, this kid is not mine. He is my nephew at a very early age. This is the only picture you will ever see of me holding a child.
Don’t get me wrong I like children. Hey, I was one. At an early age though I came face-to-face with the consequences of what having a child would bring so I tried to avoid it. Besides being a “Daddy” is too much responsibility for a kid still growing up.
So I respect those who are called “Daddy” because you had to deal with these sorts of questions.
“This American Life” (2/3/2013):
Daddy: “It all began at Christmas two years ago, when my daughter was four-years-old. And it was the first time that she'd ever asked about what did this holiday mean? And so I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus. And she wanted to know more about that. We went out and bought a kids' bible and had these readings at night. She loved him. Wanted to know everything about Jesus.
So we read a lot about his birth and his teaching. And she would ask constantly what that phrase was. And I would explain to her that it was, "Do onto others as you would have them do unto you." And we would talk about those old words and what that all meant.
And then one day we were driving past a big church and out front was an enormous crucifix.
She said, who's that?
And I guess I'd never really told that part of the story. So I had to sort of, yeah, oh, that's Jesus. I forgot to tell you the ending. Well, you know, he ran afoul of the Roman government. This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorities of the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troublesome.
It was about a month later, after that Christmas, we'd gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant. And it was mid-January, and her preschool celebrates the same holidays as the local schools. So Martin Luther King Day was off. I knocked off work that day and I decided we'd play and I'd take her out to lunch.
We were sitting in there, and right on the table where we happened to plop down, was the art section of the local newspaper. And there, big as life, was a huge drawing by a ten-year-old kid from the local schools of Martin Luther King.
She said, who's that?
I said, well, as it happens that's Martin Luther King. And he's why you're not in school today. So we're celebrating his birthday, this is the day we celebrate his life.
She said, so who was he?
I said, he was a preacher.
And she looks up at me and goes, for Jesus?
And I said, yeah, actually he was. But there was another thing that he was really famous for. Which is that he had a message.
And you're trying to say this to a four-year-old. This is the first time they ever hear anything. So you're just very careful about how you phrase everything.
So I said, well, yeah, he was a preacher and he had a message.
She said, what was his message?
I said, well, he said that you should treat everybody the same no matter what they look like.
She thought about that for a minute. And she said, well that's what Jesus said.
And I said, yeah, I guess it is. You know, I never thought of it that way, but yeah. And it is sort of like "Do onto others as you would have them do unto you."
And she thought for a minute and looked up at me and said, did they kill him, too?”