Billy Crystal used to do a bit in his act about men being pregnant. The point was how the experience of carrying a child wouldn’t really change men. Guys will be guys. They would challenge each other, pointing at their bellies, “Hey, yea, go ahead. Hit me. No, come on. As hard as you can.”
Sledding. Sledding is what made me think of that bit of comic nostalgia. Specifically, Ward on the sled with T. Speeding down the hill, hitting every bump along the way, snow spitting Thorin in the face. Did I like seeing that? No, but I kept my opinion to myself. (See, I’m trying to be less critical of Ward. To future marriage partners – have that one put in your wedding vows. Trust me “love, honor and respect” doesn’t always cover it).
I wouldn’t have had to say anything anyway. Once they landed at the bottom of the hill T jumped out from underneath Ward. Indigent, pulling snow out of his mouth, yelling and shaking his mitten-covered fist at Ward. Being schooled by a forty-inch human in a snowsuit is a humbling (and hysterical) experience.
After that T insisted sledding on the bunny slope.
Ward was not the “worst” Dad out on the hill that day. Two Kamikaze Daddies went down the hill side by side laying flat luge-style. No attempt to see what was in front of them as they careened down the hill. Anyone in front of them – Be Damned! Oh, and one of them had a kid that about 15 months old strapped to his chest with a down quilted Baby Bjorn snuggy.
Before we got T I witnessed two incidents that gave me a little window into what my husband might know about parenting:
One – he was playing with our nephew, Spencer, who was six months old at the time. Ward held him a couple feet off the floor in a sort of sky diving position and then – I shit you not – let go. The kid went crashing and face planted. Screaming – ear piercing screaming ensued. As I was reaching to pick Spencer up my husband had a quizzical look on his face, “Jesus, he didn’t even try to break his fall.” Thankfully Ward’s sister (and Spencer’s mother) yelled at him so I wouldn’t have to.
The second incident involved babysitting a friend’s five month old daughter. Ward was standing in the living room throwing her into the air. Above both of them – man and baby – was an enormous ceiling fan. The screaming upon impact was even worse this time and lasted much longer and left a big bump. If a five month old baby could talked she might have said something like, “WTF!”. Thankful there was a woman in her forties who said it for her.
When Ward and T play there is often crashing, banging, falling, yelling, the hurling of objects – and sometimes crying. If they are outside they will come in dirty, wet and bleeding. And – happy.
Over the years I have learned to let “boys be boys” and Ward has stopped throwing children into moving, mechanical machinery.
I get this all sounds very stereotypical. But, Ward and T do connect on a level I don’t and can’t. Part of their connection is beyond a father and son and about ‘sameness’. About being guys. Buds. Dudes.
Yesterday at work my boss told me one of the ‘thank you’ cards I had bought to send donors was “too girly” for him to sign. It was a reproduction of a painting depicting a historic, local park with children on it. Later in our meeting he shared he wanted to be friends with a colleague based on the fact the guy used the word “Dude” a lot. I can tell my husband is talking to a male friend on the phone by how often he drops the words “Man” and “Dude”. Based on that alone he could be friends with my boss. I will introduce them.