I started writing this thing over christmas even though it’s been on my mind for about 3 years now.
I’m calling it “Fatherhood” and I wanted to portray the realities of a millenial dad (because we’re not the youngest around and we’ve been making kids for a while now…) I still felt misrepresented in most media (that dumbfounded guy who can’t do shit with kids…jesus christ, people!!!) and the goal is to write 100 moments that I feel are an accurate representation of what it is to be a dad (and maybe even a man) at 35 in 2018.
I did about 40 for now. This is still very rough, very early stuff but I like that “pure emotional statement” of the early stages of any writing project.
I’m sharing these 3 because they’re a pretty good indication of where that project should land.
I hope you enjoy.
One of my favourite moment is not a singular occurence. It’s not that one point in time that changed me or moved me beyond words. It wasn’t even cute or cuddly.
Simply put, one of my favourite moments as a father is when everything lines up just perfectly during errands. It could be a mall or some art supplies or just groceries. I always found a quiet bliss when the girls get in the back and the spouse has one kid and you’re taking care of the other. You open the doors to the jeep and slide the little one in her seat and you snap that children’s seat just tight enough as she’s asking for her bag of whatever it was you got her.
It doesn’t matter what it was: trinkets or a toy or a book or a game. It doesn’t matter. She just wants something that’s hers and she want’s it now.
“In a second,” you say trying to get that one thing done before she goes on to something else.
And then the older one can sit herself even she’ll ask for attention one way or another. Your spouse shuts the door shut and you reach over for a kiss or a slap on the butt as she goes for her door.
You slide up to the front and the kids ask for some music. You back up the car and it’s an hour till supper, the house is fifteen minutes away.
You can already see the oldest one running up the stairs alone with one of you chasing after her to open the door while the other one takes care of the toddler. Bag in each hand and not a care in the world, supper’s on your mind and then homework and you look forward to that moment around 9 when you get to crash in that couch and it feels like you wouldn’t change a damn thing in the world.
It’s so much easier when there’s two parents. So very much easier. I have no problems admitting it. It’s moments like these I miss the most
Gun powder and cleaning oil has a certain smell, so does steel and well varnished wood. There’s something about a shooting range that is hard to explain unless you are there. It’s in the dust and the sand, in the smell of the wooden shooting table, how the sun cooks the earth between you and the targets. The way the range is set up with targets every hundred yards and it’s strangely silent if you don’t count the successive rounds of gunshot that reverberates till they lose themselves in the surrounding woods.
Then the range master calls a break to go to the targets. You take off your muffs and feel the quiet, almost serene atmosphere that contrasts with the (yes) brutal cacophony shooters can produce when that light turns from red to green.
I learned to shoot early. Maybe not too early, probably just early enough. I don’t know.
I do know that by the time I was fourteen, I had learned how to safely handle a rifle, how to properly dismantle it, each unique part layed carefully in front of me, and how to build it back up. I’ve learned how to assemble the cleaning kit and slide in that little cloth at the tip of it, two swipes to clean the dirt, and then two swipes to oil it well. I’ve learned never to point the nozzle at anyone even if it was empty, even if it was dismantled. I’ve learned to be careful and conscious and was told that weapons were a responsibility.
“Any idiot can grab a weapon and feel important,” My dad would say. That or some version of that statement. My dad never shied away from calling people idiots if they deserved it. That’s something I did pick up from him.
I’ve since grown to be a city kid and seldom ever go to the range anymore. My life now is public transit and art shows and coffee shops and city parks. I don’t see what I’d have to shoot at in the middle of Montreal and it’s certainly not part of my city’s culture. I don’t come across it on my daily grind.
Still, every now and then, every other year, maybe, my dad manages to get me in his Pathfinder. We got the 30-06 in the back and a two small .22 just for fun. The kind of thing where you can get a whole box of bullets for five bucks and just waste ammo on empty Pepsi cans.
I sit shotgun and we hit the country road up to the range. I always look at the moment when the suburbs turn to industrial lots and then to farmland. I like to watch the distant houses and the treeline beyond the cornfields that seems to be the only thing we grow north of my city. I open the window and feel the fresh air on my face.
I look for that moment when get there and feel the gravel under my foot, get that scent of oil and dust and gunpower in the air, metal sheeting cooked by the sun and I get to remember where I really am from for once.
I had this idea in the back of my head that I couldn’t teach my girls how to play music. I didn’t know how to play music, not really. I played punk and I played all sorts of heavy shit, but I didn’t know how to play “for real.”
I always felt they would lose interest if I tried to teach them. I just wanted the instruments to be around so they would feel the urge to be curious about it, to mess around and just make some noise with it.
I wanted to have enough of art and canvases and instruments for it to feel natural to them. I didn’t want it to be special or unique. I wanted a paint brush to be as natural to them as a remote would be.
I had found a synthesizer. A simple Casio I had found for a hundred bucks and carried all the way back from Cote-Des-Neiges by bus. It had been in the living room all winter and they hadn’t touched it. It was just there, it worked, it was fine. It was cheap but it was fine. I was starting to believe my plan wasn’t working at all.
And then one day it happened. One of my fondest memory as a father came in the middle of summer and I swear to god, you can’t fake these.
I was in my kitchen and the girls were in the adjacent living room. Windows were open and the curtains too. We had a palm tree out on the front porch and some tall grasses too in a pot there and it waved with the winds as rays of the sun filtered through leaves. I have a video of this, I could show you how true what I’m saying is.
And Dee was playing with her little toy kitchen, messing around with the little doors and wooden fruits and such.
And then I saw Kao walk up to the keyboard. I watched as she switched it on and just started playing. There was utter silence in the room, no cars on the street. She just started playing.
Three note. That it.
She didn’t know what they were or why they sounded good or how to do anything else with them.
She just picked three keys and pressed them, one after the other, so very slowly. She pressed them one after the other, time and time again.
I was in the kitchen having coffee. Three simple notes, perfect notes, as I watched from afar.