Like every parent I thought I’d be cooler and more laid back than my parents were, 33 months later, I’ve had to rethink that. My parents weren’t always the strict, stressed couple I remember growing up. I’ve seen old pictures — there was a time when they were young and energetic. Raising two sons has a way of catching up with you.
Over the past months I’ve noticed changes, I’d like to say subtle changes, but I don’t do subtle — I started morphing into my parents. If you are a parent you’ve either experienced this or are in denial.
I’ve put together this list to see if you’ve become your parents.
The Bulging Vein in My Forehead – I first noticed this during Mommy and Me Class. I thought being the only Daddy in Mommy and Me class would have set the vein a popping but bringing a cooler of beer tucked under the baby stroller took care of that for me. However spending most of the classes prying open Cristian’s mouth making sure he wasn’t eating Play Doh, stopping him from gobbling up other kids’ snacks, and keeping us both from looking like an old drop cloth while he played with paint and shaving cream made me twitchy.
Daddy Doesn’t Do Tantrums – I was born in the mid 60s before parenting books, websites—or even the internet. In those days common sense was an essential component to parenting. My Dad comes to mind, he had no tolerance for tantrums so he used an old-school approach — he ignored them. Tantrums are Toddler Performance Art, they work best in front of an engaged audience — the show ends quickly when there’s no audience entertaining them.
Heeding Dad’s wisdom, I adopted this policy on Day One. Holding my crying one-hour old son, I whispered to him gently, “Cristian, I love you but you need to know something, Daddy doesn’t do tantrums. I’m going to let this one slide because it’s your birthday and you don’t know the rules yet, but going forward I want you to remember this little talk.” To date, he’s been slow picking up on this one.
Parents Say No, Grandparents Say Yes – You know karma’s bitten you in the ass the first time this happens. When I was a kid visiting my grandparents meant I’d get away with things I never could at home. I remember my grandmother saving a six-year old me from a butt whipping or two. These days Mom is the one spoiling the little one. I usually find her chuckling as she sees my expression as she’s giving Cristian a sugary snack right before his bedtime.
You’ve Become Your Child’s Personal Driver – Mom never learned to drive, so in addition to being the sole breadwinner, Dad sometimes had to drive a group of us home from soccer practice, or drop me off at a hockey game in Williamsburg. After working on job sites as a carpenter, he preferred to relax with a beer or two and the evening news, but off we would go.
These days I take Cristian to play dates, My Gym classes, or to the park to play and burn off excess energy. It’s inconvenient at times, especially after a nutty week at work but I knew this was part of becoming a Dad.
Of course it’s all a matter of perspective, one of my favorite memories of my Dad was the two of us battling rush-hour traffic to get into Manhattan. Although he hated driving into Manhattan under most circumstances, he drove me and about 30 pounds of props in to a photo studio on 18th Street, because third-year photo majors rarely get access to a professor’s photo studio for a shoot. Hopefully when he grows up Cristian will have similar memories of me.