September 2017

Max and his cool
new-age Dad. Not!

by Kenny Williams

 

Max:
Not all modern dads are superheroes. Some are stuck in the transition – take my dad.
He’d like to think of himself as one of those cool new-age dads, you know the ones; able to change a nappy in under a minute, cooks, cleans, and still finds time to build a two story cubby house before rocking up to Playgroup with his muscular biceps bulging under the world’s largest box of Krispy Kremes.
But the truth is, my dad’s dreamin’. Sure, he tries hard, bless him. But he is so ‘not cool’. Like now, he’s laid a blanket out for me in the living room, which is great, it really is, but he’s just staring at me. What’s the dude expecting, a show?

Dad:
I can’t stop staring. It’s such a miracle. We have the same shape eyes, and he has those cute little ears that poke out. He’s just like me. That’s what everyone says.

Max:
We look nothing alike either. Seriously, he’s got this whole nose hair thing going on (erk!), and bloodshot eyes, and would it kill the dude to shave? Those whiskers really prickle my delicate skin. It’s obvious I get my adorable features from Mummy’s side.

Dad:
I love him so much.
However, my big concern is that we’ll grow to have nothing in common. I mean, here he is 8-weeks-old today, and here I am (ahem) 36-yrs. Sure; I look young for my age. That’s what everyone says. But I can’t help worrying. I just want some kind of assurance that I’ll always be a part of his world.

Max:
Then there’s the whole age difference thing; the dude looks 40 if he’s a day.
I can’t believe I’m responsible for providing him with joy and fulfilment. 
Hey, perhaps I’ll ask Mummy if we can trade-up to a talking Shrek doll.

Dad:
Perhaps if we had more quality time to bond, but it’s so difficult finding time. I work during the day so I need to sleep through the night. But, not this little guy.

Max:
I need someone who can keep my hours; sleep during the day and party all night long. Yeah, ‘Rock and Roll’!
Like this morning, I was doing some of my best work; letting my bowels run free, while singing like The Screaming Jets until my lungs almost blew apart. Hey, that’s ‘Rock and Roll’ baby. Or, at least it was, until the big dude stumbled in.

Dad:
It seems the only time we get to really hang out, is at 3 a.m., like this morning; it began with my little guy screaming the house down and me stumbling in bleary eyed to change him. It took ten whole minutes just to get my happy little chappy back in a clean fresh nappy. 

Max:
Twenty-five minutes and an entire packet of baby wipes later, we were both covered in poo and my new nappy was somewhere around my knees. Way to go big dude! I began to imagine discussions I’ll have at the ‘Playgroup for babes with dunderhead dads’, “So, I like your nappy ensemble, Max.” “Oh thanks, it’s one of my father’s creations.”

Dad:
Then, I slumped on to the couch trying desperately to focus on some late night TV. I looked down at my little guy, who was happily guzzling his bottle, when, out of nowhere, my insides stirred, my knees shook, and my eyes swelled with tears until it hurt to look.
No, we weren’t watching Aerobics Oz Style.

Max:
Moments later, as we kicked back on the couch, you shoulda seen the big dude’s eyes pop right out of his cranium when Aerobics Oz Style came on. But then from out of nowhere, the most amazing thing happened.

Dad:
Okay, I was watching Aerobics Oz Style, but I swear that had nothing to do with it.
The amazing thing was simply this – my little guy looked up at me. Those big blue eyes fixed upon mine in a way I can only describe as pure and unconditional love. And, maybe it was the lack of sleep, or the insane hour of the day, but all my concerns faded right there in his penetrating stare. I felt an assurance that, despite any age gap, we would always have this unexplainable yet impenetrable bond between us.

Max:
The amazing thing was this – I looked up at the big dude. His eyes caught mine, his droopy chins wobbled in unison, and we both stared in amazement.
And, maybe it was the warm milk, or the big dude’s dancing chins, or perhaps it was the enchilada before bed, but the dude looked just like a Shrek doll; all cuddly and funny. We’d made a real connection. I could see us being best mates.

Dad:
I wanted to freeze time right there and hold my beautiful son in my arms forever.

Max:
And, with that, I felt a hurricane rolling through my intestines. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. I tried warning the big dude with one of my grimacing smiles, but that just made him cry. Soon my eyes began to goggle and I knew I was getting close to lift off. And then…

Dad:
With tears streaming down my cheeks, I bounced that little guy on my lap and marvelled as a look turned to a smile. His tiny mouth opened wide, his dimples did a little dance, and his blue eyes sparkled with such intensity that I knew I was witnessing one of life’s most precious moments. And then…

Max:
Blast off!
Well, he bounced me on his lap like a ‘Bucking Bronco’.
Silly bucking dad. He never even saw it coming.
Of course, I tried to hold it off, but inevitably, up it came like a shot from a canon.

Dad:
It was like that scene from The Exorcist.
A thunderstorm ripped through his nappy, his face contorted, and a surge of warm pasty liquid shot from his mouth spraying me from head to neck.

Max:
Well, ‘better out than in’, hey?
Well, not for dad, he just sat there staring blankly, with milk dripping down his pyjamas.

Dad:
I sat there, speechless, waiting for his head to spin around. A mix of milk and mucous oozed down my top and all I could think to say was, “So, same time tomorrow?”
The little guy gave a reassuring nod as if to say, “Sure Dad, see you then. After all, this is quality bonding.”
And surely it can only get easier.

Max:
“So, same time tomorrow then?” I suggested by way of a concluding nod.
The big guy mumbled something incoherent, but I knew what he meant, “Sure Son, see you then. After all, this is quality bonding.”
And what’s more, it’s just the beginning. (Wink, Wink)

 

© Kenny Williams

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem