A Musing About My Eventual Fatherhood
Peter Tatara - November 12, 2010
I'm going to be a bad father. Let's just get that out of the way up front. My child's going to be raised on a steady stream of Babylon 5 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, spend every Saturday at the Bronx Zoo, and have a wardrobe consisting entirely of T-Shirts with cartoon dinosaurs saying "T-Rex says Rowr" and itty bitty corduroy jackets. My kid's primary mission during his or her formative years will be to beat Eddie Stemkowski's kid in Street Fighter VI. If my son wants to play football or daughter wants to be a cheerleader, I'm not going to know how to take it.
All this said, there are some arenas where I will prove responsible/anal. The kid ain't eating junk food and very little red meat, apart from the aforementioned shows, my child will be listening to NPR rather than watching TV (I'll make an exception for Muppet Babies), and he or she will spend an hour a day doing exercises in creative writing. My kid's secondary mission will be to have a novel published by age 12.
Where I'm going here is that I'm not going to be the best parent, but I learned today, too, that neither will I be the worst. On the 7 Train, just after leaving Courthouse Square, a mother and son sat down next to me. The kid was four or five. We was gabbing, talking traditional kid babble, while his mother nodded, staring off into space, wondering where her life went wrong. A typical sight on the subway. Today, though, the boy was babbling not about bikes, or frogs, or doodoo, or other kid things, but about Mortal Kombat. He was talking to his mom about his favorite Mortal Kombat character, moves, and then did a little beatbox-styled Mortal Kombat theme.
Call me a prude. Call me backwards. Call me a hypocrite (see the Street Fighter mention above), but I'm not putting Mortal Kombat into the hands of my progeny until they've turned double digits. I've got nothing against Mortal Kombat and have fond memories of sleepless nights playing it with friends during the latter half of my grade school education, I doodled my favorite character -- Scorpion -- on notebook pages long into college, and I stuck with both the animated and live-action Mortal Kombat shows until both thankfully met their cancellations. But, you just don't give your five-year-old something that allows them to rip out spines, lob off heads, and cause bodies to explode into fountains of bone.
Ditto goes for the latest iteration of Modern Warfare and whatever else daddy's playing when little baby Davros or Claudia wants to play games, too. God knows I was exposed to some things I shouldn't have been growing up that have stayed with me, and I sought out these things solo, never, ever chatting with them with mom and dad. So, for this mom to nod her head as her son rambled about Johnny Cage's finishing moves, I could only scratch my head.
No matter what crap I've got to dig through at the office or how behind I am on bills, my son or daughter is my son or daughter, and I'm not going to let them get screwed up other than the ways I ruin them myself. I'm going to be an active parent, an eager parent, and an over-achieving parent. I can't wait for PTA meetings. I'm going to be in the front row at school plays. And, if my kid wants to try out T-Ball, I'll cheer from the sidelines, too, as long as it doesn't lead to any harder sports.
And, as I assume I've become a successful novelist (and hopefully a vampire) by the time of my first son or daughter's birth, I can only imagine this and all my other miscellaneous writings have been preserved in a hardcover compendium. As such, one day, Junior will find these very words and see daddy had a plan all along. It probably wasn't a good plan, but it goes to prove I didn't just make it up along the way.
Now, to the future Davros or Claudia Tatara, you know you're still too young to play most of daddy's games. If, though, you're tired of punching away at the typewriter or training to kick Eddie's kid's ass, I'm sure daddy would be happy to let you play Xenogears a little early.