Friday, November 16, 2007

learning not to cry over spilled legos

is it strange for a 2.5 year old to be your role model? it's safe to say that i have a lot to learn from the jackal and sometimes find myself actually wishing i could be him. i have touched on this before, i am sure, but this is not a fleeting feeling, and it begs more dissection from me lately.

the other day i built a lego firehouse for him, so he could park his new tonka firetruck next to it while the crew of ladder company "dos-ey tres-ey" -- a fireman action figure and my orginal boba fett star wars figure -- rested and sat on the potty. construction took about 15 minutes. it might have taken less time, but the little architect submitted several change-orders along the way, such as "no, dad - the potty goes here" or "make boba fett's bed blue." it was exciting stuff, and i could not wait for the grand opening. i even planned to enact a little ribbon cutting ceremony using a piece of leftover spaghetti from the fridge.

alas, when i unveiled the new structure, the jackal transformed into a cuter version of godzilla and reduced it to smithereens in a matter of seconds.

my initial reaction was to frown on the inside. but in the presence of the jackal, regardless of what's going on, a frown is impossible to maintain since he's so damn funny and lovable, so my frown gave way to laughter, and soon i was thrashing the remnants of the firehouse.

me: these are renegade firemen. they don't need a house!

jackal: yeah, renegades!

when we finished the demolition, i noticed that the living room looked "like a cyclone hit it," to borrow a phrase my mother used every day when i was a kid and one that still seems to echo in the archives of my mind to this day. and herein lies today's lesson...

god damn, is it hard to not become our parents or what? i have to say that one of the biggest adjustments i have to work on every day (and admittedly sometimes fail) as a father is accepting chaos. i have anal proclivities, especially when it comes to feng shui around the house. clearly this does not fit into the kid picture. it's like that corner lego piece that the jackal keeps trying to jam into another angled piece -- it just doesn't come together. i know the root of this is my mother, who was, and probably still is to some extent, perpetually fretting over any level of disorder in the house. i would have friends over randomly and her immediate comment would be that "the house is a mess." (recently, in the wake of her blood clot, they hired a house keeper, which is great...)

i am sure this stems from a control issue. perhaps that sounds like me calling my mother out, but make no mistake -- we all have certain control issues whether we want to admit this or not. it does not take a deep psychoanalytical foray to decipher that keeping one's castle in order can lend to the illusion that the rest of one's shit it together. the thing is -- it's impossible to have all of your shit together. while your finances and career might be in great shape, your love life or mental state of affairs could be a completely different story. so what?

still, we all have a tendency to focus on keeping one aspect of our lives together and we keep our eyes on it. we practically cling to that one thing like a life jacket in a fucking tempest. goal as a father is to be more like my son. i know that his innocence will eventually fade and he will start picking up on the realities of the world. i am not so naive to think that someone can apply the paradigms of a 2.5 year old to the complexities of life and get by. at the same time, i roll out of bed every morning and try to do just that. the alternative tends to scare the hell out of me. at the very least, i don't want him to become me.

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