Thirty-something Daddy
By: Michael J. Foster

Being well on my way to thirty-two and a new father, I find myself continually amazed. But not with the expected cuteness and wonderment of the spontaneous antics of children, but rather with the desperate lengths I will go to entertain my 18-month-old son.

It usually begins with a harmless phrase, "Alden, watch Daddy!" or "Look what Daddy can do!" As soon as his blue eyes turn upward and our tortured cat escapes the grasp of sticky banana fingers, I shamelessly enter into "man without dignity" mode.

This is the duality of the man-father. Like any man, I extend "please" and "thank you," attend church on Sundays, and pay taxes (even under protest). When a boy becomes a man, he customarily leaves goofyness and crude behavior behind. No longer does he urinate his name in a snow bank or use his sister's doll as third base.

But a father is strangely different. Despite his noble resolutions to set a good example for his children, nothing will motivate a father more than a screaming unruly child. The fine art of placating begins.
Like any circus performer, my personal routine is varied, but it usually begins with a pathetic display of Jim Carry-esque facial contortions and tribal-like dance exorcisms. Props are preferred and juggling is a prerequisite (Batteries definitely not included).

My bizarre gyrations excite the family dog and he begins nipping the back of my knees as I bound from the couch to the coffee table. This is not so bad because at least it keeps my weary body moving and the baby happy.

Perspective - Only in our house could you see an out-of-shape man with a plastic donut on his head dancing with a German Shepherd to the sounds of cartoon theme songs while a diaper-clad toddler spins himself into unconsciousness.

After a couple revolutions on the ceiling fan, I stick my landing perfectly drawing tens from the judges (but only a 9.1 from the Russian judge). The stuffed animals and little plastic people parts cheer wildly! "USA, USA!" Wisely, my wife has already dialed the "9" and "1." Just as this episode began with a phrase, so it ends. "Oh God, I think I pulled something."

© Copyright Michael Foster 2003

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