This morning I was dreaming (I know it was this morning because my alarm jolted me awake) that I was suddenly the father of four young children- two sons and a couple of daughters.
The mom was out of the picture for unknown reasons, but she had left abruptly and I had to immediately look after them.
What was most intriguing about these events was that this was not me in ten years, or me being more “mature” and dad-like. No, this was me now at twenty-three being thrust into a role completely new to me. I felt myself realize the enormous responsibility of being a parent and at first I actually resisted. It was when my sons were silently feuding and I had them make up and go to bed that I thought, “This is nice. Let me go see my girls now.”
I went into their room, which just so happened to be my old room at Idora Blvd., and they were sitting on the floor watching a baseball game with the lights out. They sound like mine, right? Anyways, because I had never exactly been a father figure to them it was a little awkward at first. In fact, I was probably more like a second-cousin always away at school, than anything meaningful in their lives. Nonetheless, it was a classic story of estranged man reaching out to his children.
I sat on the floor next to them and tried to talk to them. The standard, “How are you?” and the like. Strangely enough, these girls happened to be two young girls I had known in my time as a tutor at Horizon Middle School in Kissimmee. Also, the oldest one’s name was Crawford and the youngest was named Joan. My mind, right?
Well we’re just about settled when my own mother comes turning on the lights and asked the girls if they would like to watch Lincoln with her this Christmas. But it was definitely the summer and this line of talk was definitely interrupting a perfect father-daughter moment. I remember Joan rolling her eyes at Grandma and Grandma forgetting to both turn out the lights AND shut the door when she left. I distinctly remember thinking through all this, “I got this mom. I can raise them just fine.” Is that a feeling many parents get concerning grandma and grandpa? Another feeling I got was a deep pang of guilt and sadness. Because things had transpired quickly and I was still an actor, I had plans to move to a job for a number of months (Minnesota perhaps?) and knew I would be leaving them behind for a little bit.
The dream then shifted to the next day and Crawford and Joan were playing in the backyard (again at Idora), beyond the cow fence, but the field stretched impressively into a lake. Very shallow, but they were going out just a little too far, and at the behest of my mom, I yelled, “Come back!”
“Daddy… wants to hug you?”
I clearly had no idea how to command them but then Grandma hollered for them in a voice only grandma’s posses and they came back. Once back to us, we taught them about the dangers of alligators in the lakes and they should never really go swimming in them. When that was all over my mind began moving on to something else, trying to give them each something, but my alarm sounded and I lost the dream.
Already there are a few things I have noticed in writing this down. First of all, I just learned yesterday that a cousin of mine is having a baby himself. He is not yet twenty and he is being thrust into very much the same scenario as I experience in dreamland. Generally speaking, it is a scenario that I would only like to experience in dreamland for now. I do want children one day and the joy I felt of being a dad, if only in a dream, was really awesome. And while I really want a son or two, I guess I wouldn’t mind a couple of swell daughters. I think the bond a dad forges with either is different, but both in supremely great ways.
Who the hell knows when or how God will bless me with little ones, but when He does I guess I shouldn’t run and hide from it. I trust my responsible side won’t allow me to just as I trust it won’t allow me to name my daughter Crawford.