Earlier today I was reading a story from my son’s current favorite book, Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever. It’s a book that I both love and hate. It has some very cool stories, interspersed with weird short little one-page pictures of houses. It’s basically what I can imagine ADD would be like if ADD were a book. I was however, brought to tears but one particular story and I’m here to talk about two things. The first, is the touching story that I read and the second is crying.
I am a crier. I cry. Movies. Book. Songs. Sporting events. Basically, anything that generates any sort of emotion can and often will cause me to cry. Things I’ve cried about this week include the passing of Doug Flutie’s parents, this story, and episode of 24 and a conversation that I had with my son. Basically, anything can make me cry. While I was growing up, I was told over and over again that I shouldn’t cry and that I was a boy and that boys don’t cry and that if I want to be a man I shouldn’t cry. Crying is a sign of weakness and boys aren’t weak. Boys are tough and strong. My dad taught me that if you want to be tough, you don’t cry. Oh, and I should mention that my dad is kind of a prick. My dad taught me a lot about being a father by doing all the things that I try my hardest not to.
I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to be nothing like my father. I decided to be a father partly because I felt that my father had done such a terrible job and I wanted to be better than that. I’m not going to be so presumptuous to state that I’m a better dad than my father was however I will say that my son turns 4 in less than 2 weeks and by 4 my father was no longer really in the picture.
In any case, when my son cries, I let him cry. I tell him that things are ok and that things are going to be all right. I do occasionally tell him to stop crying but it’s not out of some misguided sense of masculinity. Usually it’s because I need him to calm down and go the hell to sleep.
So about this story. It’s about a bunny. The bunny is asked by his parents what he wants to be when he grows up and then his entire family speculates on what the bunny might want to be. They go through the big childhood list; fireman, farmer, etc. The bunny just sits there the entire time with a smirk on his face because he knows what he wants to be when he grows up and they’re all guessing the wrong things. In the end, the bunny reveals that when he grows up, he wants to be a daddy bunny.
And boom goes the dynamite.
I cried. Not huge sobbing tears. Just a little choked up and misty eyed. Because for me, when it really comes down to it, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sure, I wanted to run my own business, which I’m doing, and I wanted to be a writer, which I’m doing, and I wanted to live in a house instead of moving from apartment to apartment, which I’m doing. But I wanted to be a dad.
Now, before I had children, I really wanted a lot of children. I wanted 4 or 5 or maybe even 6 kids. And then I became a stay at home dad of 1 energetic little man. After that, my wife asked me if I still wanted 4 or 5 or 6 kids and I told her I wasn’t even sure that I wanted 1. Well, now we have 2. 1 boy, 1 girl. And they’re magnificent. I spend my whole day on the brink of tears because they’re mostly trying to murder each other. I read this tweet today and NOTHING I’ve ever read about kids makes more sense.
So, if your girl cries, comfort her. If your boy cries, comfort him. Whatever you do, let your kids know that wearing your heart on your sleeve is not a bad thing. It’s a great thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Jack Bauer save the country while I sob on the couch.