Saturday, June 14, 2014

Guest Post by my Brother, Papa Bear

My brother just had a new baby, and I asked him to guest post about  because he's a great writer and I think the male view of parenthood is underrepresented in the blogosphere.   Also, I'm back in school and have been neglecting my blog. (But that last bit is self-serving. I should go with the first two reasons.)

Please welcome Papa Bear, my 6'9" brother, and read his essay written in the middle of the night like all good parenting stories. I'm proud to be his sister.

Papa Bear. Note how close his head is to the ceiling.
Yes, he is really that tall.
June 9, 2014 12:06 A.M.   

Vigilant : adj.: keeping careful watch for danger or difficulty

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles,

but most of them have never happened.
Mark Twain

As I sit here, in the darkness of the third day of my son's third week of life, I realize I do not worry for him. He will most likely get scrapes and bumps, bruises and hurts; all of which we will bandage and I will comfort him. These are important things for him to have. Danger in small amounts, enough to learn from, to build confidence in himself. 

I do not worry, but I am vigilant to any dangers he cannot handle; and at just past two weeks there is a lot he cannot handle. Spitting up while lying down is his newest challenge. And when I hear a gurgle, I'm quick to raise him up, pat his back until greeted with mama's milk or a burp. He is also challenged and challenges me to what I expect in a nights' rest; but I am learning to appreciate the quiet darkness, to hearing his panting breathing from his bassinet; hearing him self soothe, sucking fingers or thumbs, to succor himself back to sleep.

I think my generation and the one that followed has become too worried for our children, forgetting we once were children. We have allowed safety to overrule common sense; we have followed the government and manufacturers warnings to the letter, often quoting them as gospel; when they are mainly, merely suggestions.  We once rode big wheels too fast down hills, that were way too steep; far exceeding manufacturers recommendations. We ate mud and threw snowballs; we walked to school during the blizzard of '78, because that's what our parents and their parents did. We rode our skateboards in pools and in traffic; we invented sports that didn't exist before we lived, because that's how crazy we were. I know you think, "well, I didn't." But enough people did; otherwise the X-Games wouldn't exist.

Vigilance should be our watchword; not worry. Caution and consideration, not fear and doubt. We should be ready to remove unnecessary danger, replace it with a little danger; fear has a place, it sharpens our senses, let's us know when to pay attention and when to relax. If you've never reached for a hot pan only to pull back a burned finger; you will never know how hot you can handle and how hot you can't.

No, I won't let my son play with a knife, but I will teach him to use one and expect he will know how to use one - to cook- far before other children are allowed to use spoons. I know life will come at him hard and fast, and I look forward to standing beside him: Papa's got your back! We who stand watchful in night, listening to coyotes baying and howling in the woods, we lock our windows and doors. There are things out there in the darkness to worry, even to fear; things to go bump in the night, but we stand vigilant to keep him safe.

Baby Bear, I love you. Papa has always got your back; I will stand up, tall as I am, to watch over you; keep you safe, bandage your knees and wash your cuts, hold you as you cry and comfort your heart when life and others break it. I love you, and you will not fear, (or only fear a little) while I am on watch.

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