Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Every dad has his day

I'm a big fan of this "Father's Day" thing. I love how our country sets aside a day to recognize the hard work millions of dads put into parenting, and the love and care they provide their children. Most of all, I just like feeling special and getting presents. It's like suddenly having an extra birthday, without the "you're getting old" mockery.

Sunday was my second Father's Day as a dad. The first happened just two days after Kyle was born. I didn't really feel much like a dad then. We were all still at the hospital, where Kyle seemed more like a baby-on-loan than my actual kid. During those first few days at the hospital, I didn't need to do much care taking. There was a nursery for that. Nap time? Send him to the nursery! Diaper needs changing? Send him to the nursery! Can't hear the TV because of all the crying? Send him to the nursery! It was great.

However, for most of Father's Day last year, our son wasn't allowed to leave the nursery. That's because he needed to be treated for a common newborn condition called jaundice, which gives babies the complexion of a mustard bottle. Jennifer broke down and cried when she learned I wouldn't be able to spend the whole day with my son. Of course, Jennifer was sobbing over a lot of things those days, because women's hormones go wacky after giving birth. I could have told her we were all out of popsicles and she'd weep for hours. I still had a good time, and Kyle didn't seem to mind it much. To treat jaundice, nurses put babies in a device that looks like a tanning bed. For much of the day, Kyle was under the lights, snoozing bare-chested with his goggles on. As I watched him from outside the nursery, my pale skin reflected in the window and I thought, "Hey! I could use some of that! Isn't this my day after all?" My kid was less than three days old, and already I was very jealous of him.

This weekend was different. This time around, I felt like a dad, having earned my stripes as a stay-at-home parent. So, to celebrate being a father, I did as few daddy responsibilities as possible. Nap time? Send him to his mother! Diaper needs changing? Send him to his mother! Can't hear the TV because of all the crying? Send him to his mother! It was great... just like having the hospital nursery in our own apartment. Jennifer didn't mind, either - after all, she had her day last month.

Of course, I didn't spend the entire holiday just sitting around and watching Jennifer take care of Kyle's messes, as tempting as that was. We all managed to get out to participate in the day's big event: a street fair in our neighborhood. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and not just because of all the tube socks, worthless trinkets and mozzarella-cornbread pies available to me for a reasonable price. No, this event was particularly monumental because we were able to attend it without weather-protective gear. In case you haven't heard, up until Sunday (and including Sunday morning), it had been raining in New York for 243 consecutive days. Times Square has become an official water park, and certain avenues now have gondola taxi service. Yet, for Father's Day, the clouds broke, and hordes of people swamped our street fair, trying to relive the good ol' days when we'd get sun for maybe two, three, or even four days straight. We heard some live music, ate watermelon bites, and dodged the politicians and their minions who wanted our support... a feat that's even harder now that we have a baby to kiss. It was just so much fun to be outside with Jennifer and Kyle. Unlike last year, I actually was able to spend a lot of time with the little guy, and even though I do that all the time, on Sunday it felt extra special.

We finished the day with beer, pepperoni pizza and gourmet "grasshopper" cupcake Jennifer had bought me from a fancy bakery called Crumbs. I couldn't have asked for anything more, except maybe bacon on the pizza. We'll work on that for next year. Yeah, I'm a big fan of this "Father's Day" thing.

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