Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Junior Four

I joked with Lori that our lives were boring, long past safe; we agreed that if our story were a novel, then something juicy, dramatic would happen to keep the plot moving along, to keep the reader interested.

So, naturally, Damian was born. Dangerously premature. We should have read these tea leaves: he  couldn't wait to commence his tyranny. Our first night home was lovely. Then the screaming commenced. It didn't stop for seven months. He didn't sleep. Well, that's not entirely true, Damian would sleep for fifteen minutes every four hours during the night. Waking and realizing that he had been asleep would outrage him. The screaming resuming at a teeth-splintering volume.

For the last four and a half years, I have been hysterical. To me, parenthood is all about managing hysteria. I may seem perfectly relaxed, but inside I am bonkers.  Oh my god, what have I done, what might I have done instead? Naturally, Lori is hysterical as well. All parents are. Some admit it and some don't. Some smoke pot and some don't.

Only the childless think having a kid is a good idea.

I thought it was a good idea. That's because I didn't have a child, and I wanted it all. Lori capitulated to the breeding because she wanted to see what a product of us would be like. And what a product it is. What a gene pool! Brackish.

Now here's the thing I've learned about having it all: you are literally having IT ALL. You don't just get the stuff you want, the good stuff - although you get that too. You get EVERYTHING, and a lot of it is unbelievably annoying. Having a child means interacting with responsible, workaday adults around whom I feel terminally adolescent.

When your kid makes a friend you are forced to manufacture a genuine relationship with a stranger. Sober. It feels like a test of my will, and my determination to be a good dad. Doing things for the people I love is counterintuitive. I was raised at arm's length because raising a child is unpleasant. Let's face it, kids are assholes. They expect the tenderest kind of care as they shit on you for the rest of your life. My parents didn't want the burden. They could afford the help, so they understandably engaged that help. Good for them. Unfortunately, I can't afford the help.

I loved living only for myself. The problem is I didn't realize it until I stopped. I wanted it all! I wanted a kid but not the responsibility; I wanted to live for myself but I was lonely. It's the permanence of the change that is so jarring.

Imagine the period before Newton's apple fell. That apple might have hung on forever. That was my life before Damian. And then something happened, and in that instant all the things you've done, all the things you thought you knew belong to an earlier period of your life. One that is unrecoverable, one you may look back at wistfully.

I've been warning people against having children. I feel it's my duty to caution them. Wait until you're 70, I tell them. Live your life. Wait until you're too old to have fun so you won't resent the fact that you're socially hobbled.

But I would be miserable without my child, because I would have wondered about him, what is he like? As an adoptee, he is my first blood relative that I know. In his face, in his character, I see - although I don't know what I'm looking for - my biological parents.

These are people who realized very early that they made a grave error, and corrected it. Put me up for adoption. This is awe inspiring decisiveness and assuredness. These are people I want Damian to meet.