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Paternal Joy And Pain

My paternal ego instincts kicked into supersensitive high gear the other day.  As a brand new first time pa at the tender age of late forties, and as a man whose relationship with his own father was kept in a condition euphemistically referred to as unnourished, I have always been aware of how fragile a healthy relationship to my son, and his well being can be.  So I want to be sure that I make sure that my son will be sure he can count on me, talk to me, come to me whenever he feels he’s having a crisis in his life, no matter how trivial I think it might be.  So whenever I see him I am reaching out to him.

And he is so secure in his relationship with me that he’ll bat my hand away as he rushes right past me and heads for his mother.  And truth be told, every time he chooses to pass up on an opportunity to help affirm daddy’s sense of self worth, it’s like one of those Klingon daggers to my heart.  If you’re a Star Trek fan you know what I’m talking about.  It’s a mechanical dagger.  So after it penetrates the skin and sinks deep into the tissue underneath, the wielder pushes a button on the handle and a secondary set of blades pop out to slice into the surrounding flesh and make the knife impossible to remove without causing serious damage.  Yep, that’s just how I feel when my soon to be three year old rebuffs my affection.

Father’s Day is no help.  Ms. Peacemaker will give him the Father’s Day card, drag him to within about three feet of me, and tell him to give me the card.  Now I’m looking at him standing literally just two of his tiny steps away from me hoping that he’d have enough compassion for his old man to toss me a bone and give me the card.  Instead, he’ll throw the card on the floor and run out the room.  I’ll laugh.  I’ll do a lame ventriloquist act, throwing my voice and sounding as if I’m the baby and say, Sucker!  But damn his hide!  Don’t he know he’s killing me!

My son has a much older brother.  Young Peacemaker and I have been in the same house for the past four years and I make it a point not to push myself on him.  I try to be a positive male role model for him.  But like many teenagers recently graduated from high school with a computer, Young Peacemaker would prefer to spend his time alone and doesn’t share many interests with most adults.  We don’t talk about much.  In exchange for a room and board he does chores around the house.  I encourage him to go to school and to get a job and think about the future and the contributions he would like to make to the house, the community, and to the world.  He does his best to keep it simple.

And as hard as I might, I try not to compensate for the lack of interaction with my son, by trying to force myself on Young Peacemaker.  But dude is so nonchalant about our relationship that I doubt if he would care if I fell off the earth tomorrow.  In many respects, he’s just like his little brother.  Now that I think about it, the two might be in cahoots to make me feel so inept at being a parent.

I know what you’re thinking.  What triggered today’s tripe?  Earlier this week, the misses and I went to lunch accompanied by baby boy.  He sat across the table from me, right next to his mother.  He was as handsome as any kid about to turn three has a right to be in his blue jeans and a light blue shirt with a cartoon lizard blazoned across the front.  When it was time to go, his mother got up and put his coat on him.  While she did that I pulled my coat off the back of my chair and put it on.  When she finished putting on his coat, she turned to get her own coat.  With her back turned I reached down to baby boy and offered him my hand.  He actually started voicing his objection and started pulling on his mother’s leg.  Not wanting to be one of those parents in the restaurant unable to control their kid I quickly put my hands in my pocket and just turned to start walking towards the exit.

The misses turned around and told me that he was upset because I walked away from him.  I laughed.  But emotionally, deep down, I couldn’t pull that mechanical dagger out of my heart.  When we got outside I explained that I had reached for his hand and his reaction.  I explained that he must’ve been complaining because he thought I was trying to pull him away from her.  She said ridiculous, picked him up, and put him in my arms.  He started to complain again.  But before his protest could get too boisterous I started throwing him up in the air.

And then the most beautiful thing happened.  He gave me a big grin and a smile.  My heart melted and that knife slid out as if it was sliding out of hot butter.  There was no wound left.  That smile was all I needed to heal my heart.  And deep inside, I was breaking my arms trying to pat myself on my back.  Sometimes it feels like I live only to get one of my son’s beautiful smiles.  And then other times, I know it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Thoughts


  1. Alafia brotherpeacemaker,
    You are a gem. A father who longs for his son’s affection is rare and precious in these days. You know that small children belong to the mother, but big children go to the father. Give him a few more years and you will think you have grown another shadow! Many blessings to your family.

    Madame Koiteh

    Comment by Madame Koiteh | Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. I recognize your feeling Brotherpeacemaker.
    If you don’t mind, I would suggest that spend as much time as Ms.Peacemaker does attending to his basic needs. At his present age he is dependent on and has received from an adult everthing that he needs thrive and develope. Just do more of the hands on things that his mother is now doing. Don’t be so standoffish. The clue is when you picked him up and gave him a buzz. Start initiating and following through consistently everyday.
    I don’t presume to know your situation by any strecth of imagination but feeling that I know how you felt I felt compelled to offer a couple of cents worth.

    Comment by Akinwole | Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Akinwole,

      But it’s pretty hard to spend the same amount of time as the misses. I work full time leaving the house at four in the morning and getting home at six. While I would love to be there when he wakes up, somebody has to provide for him and the rest of the family. My job is to make sure Ms. Peacemaker has the time she needs to spend with the kid. And if that means she gets to spend more time with him, so be it. In the grand scheme of things, I know that my relationship with my son could never compete with his relationship with his mother who is able to spend time with him 24/7. So I’m going to try and spend more time with him? Not exactly. But thanks for the suggestion.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Reply

      • Believe me brotherpeacemaker when I say thatI know exactly where you are comming from for I have been there. Believe me when I say,I KNOW HOW HARD IT CAN BE.
        In spite of it all though there is a way.
        I am reminded of the times I came home from working,taking a bath and eating supper (what we call it here in the south) then sitting down to spend time with my son just barely able to keep my eyes open and hearing him saying,”PLEASE DADDY don’t go to sleep.
        There is a way and I know YOU can find one.
        Please forgive me if I sound like a critic for that is not my intent. See me as your cheer leader cheer leader cheer leader.
        May you and your family receive perfect health,prosperity,peace,and happiness.

        Comment by Akinwole | Monday, February 22, 2010

  3. Nice.

    Comment by asabagna | Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Reply

  4. rahrah akinwole.

    Comment by RADD-CIVIL | Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Reply

  5. Weird how those little moments can cleanse you of all the other re-buffs from before. Enjoy the moments. MY soon to be 11 year old used to go thru a hug-n-kiss ritual when he was litle. now, the only time I even get hug from the boy, it is either what his mother and I call ninja hugs. he is not there, then suddenly he’s bursting your personal bubble at odd times. And then there is the hug which is the set-up to wrestling with me. Now, he mostly just wants to go play with a friend, on the computer or his littl enintendo DS.
    The youngest, age 6, used to go thru the hug-n-kiss ritual at bedtime, now it is becoming increasingly rare, even when I am up. He doesn’t ninja hug, he just comes up to pick a fight.

    They love wrestling with me and each other, just being boys. But if their mother gets involved in our tangles…wouldn’t you know it, they side with her. EVERY time! Even the youngest who spent all day with me and almost no time with his mother for the last few years. You can’t turn the little traitors from their mother no matter what you bribe them with! And the funny thing is, she’s the authority in the house when she’s around.

    But we get our moments, and I cherish them as the boys grow up way faster than I ever thought possible. My childhood lasted FOREVER, while theirs goes by blindingly fast.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Monday, February 22, 2010 | Reply

  6. I KNOW that your boy loves you more than you know. You just need to give him time to break the umbilical cord from mom or cut the apron strings so to speak. All boys are momma’s boys from the start.

    Then in a heart beat they become daddy’s boys or whoever is the male dominant figure in their lives. I remember when my little one got to be about 5 or 6 he just loved his pa. He didn’t see mommy when pa was around.

    So trust me, he was my little shadow for about 5 years, then it was mommy who until he skinned a knee or needed permission to run to a friends house. But, I know he loved me. I was just hurt that my shadow disappeared. But then you grow a new relationship.

    It is cyclical. You will be prying him off of you in no time. And wondering why you can’t get a seconds rest. Then you will have a new post asking why he won’t stop mimicking everything you do. Ha, then we all will have a good laugh at this last post.

    Keep your head up, who knows maybe he talks about you all day when you are at work. You might be surprised.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Monday, February 22, 2010 | Reply

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