May 17, 2005,
A Fatherís Dream
I can see it nowÖ
Like many fathers, I find myself gazing at my sons and dreaming about what they will become. I have a vision for the most important parts that they become strong, gentle husbands and fathers, servants and leaders, better men than me. But I wonder what they will do for a living, especially since we expect them to be out of the house by the time they are
21 18 16 12.
Perhaps itís wishful thinking, but sometimes I think I can see in their mannerisms glimpses of their future professions. Take the newest addition to our home, William Isaac, a few months short of a year old. Some of you may scoff, but I think he is destined to be a sniper for the Navy SEALS.
I know, I know, we all imagine our sons will be NFL quarterbacks and our daughters nuclear physicists, and nobody ever envisions that his child will grow up to head the janitorial-services division of the local community college. But hear me out on this.
I have to begin by acknowledging that the thought of her son becoming a Navy SEAL sniper fills my wifeís heart with dread, as it probably would many mothers. She canít understand why I would encourage fate by giving voice to such an idea. But I nurture my dream nonetheless. Let's face it, the number of people around the world in need of a match-grade round between the eyes is on the increase, and you and I arenít up to the task. Iím proud to think of my son filling that niche in the job market.
Why do I think Isaac is headed for this profession, you ask? First, heís a natural-born jumper, which is key if your future job requires you to occasionally bring silent death from the skies. We have a seat suspended from springs that we attach to a door sill, and he can spend an entire hour in it, hopping about like a frog, without, I might add, tangling the gear overhead. Heís still working on the silent part, but the boy's a natural parachutist.
An even better predictor is the fact that Isaac can hit the weak point in his diaper with amazing accuracy. As every parent knows, when babies get fatter, they create vulnerabilities in their undergarments. This child exploits them without mercy. If he can be that accurate with his butt, imagine what he'll be able to do with a .50 caliber M88 from 300 yards.
At first I thought the destruction was just coincidence. But once you've got a whole drawerful of onesies with permanent mustard-colored waist-high stains, you realize that either the Lord hates you, or you've got a natural marksman on your hands. Since I know Jesus loves me, that leaves Explanation B.
I've actually gone to change the boy after hearing one of the intestinally generated explosions that are his hallmark (explosions: another SEAL specialty!), only to findÖan empty diaper. Somehow, he's able to fire a whole payload of poop over the rim of his diaper, and up his own back. The Defense Department pays, what, $2 billion for a Stealth bomber? I say this to our nationís military leaders, with all due respect: you folks donít know from Stealth bombing. Iíve got a Stealth bomber right here under my roof, and he only cost one dinner, half a bottle of wine, and nine months of misery to make.
Itís not easy raising a lean, mean, pooping machine. As an ESPN announcer might say, you cannot stop such a Hazmat disaster, you can only hope to contain it. Lately I've taken to stripping us both naked and getting in the shower after he makes mockery of his diaper. This has the dual-benefit of letting me enjoy his happy wiggles at being both naked and in a shower (he likes water another trait of a good SEAL), while muting the distressed cries of my wife as she struggles in vain at the sink to scrub indelible stains from cotton.
I try to explain to her, just like making a cake entails breaking a few eggs, making a warrior means we're going to ruin a few sets of multicolored Gap baby clothes. And truth be told, most of the Gap line doesnít suit my tastes anyway; their clothing makes the boy look like he was dressed by a band of juggling circus gypsies. Since most of the clothes come from her side of the family, this silver-lining argument tends to fall on unreceptive ears.
The final bit of proof I have about my sonís destiny can be found in his hand-to-hand combat skills. With the drool and the goofy grins Isaac may look like heís destined to ride the short bus, but just put your face within striking distance of one of those chubby little grabby hands and youíll find that heís a ruthless master of pain. His specialty is the lip-pull. One second youíre making stupid baby talk to him, and the next heís got your bottom lip stretched down over your chin. If you donít retreat to a safe distance while you recover from that indignity, heíll get you with a Chinese finger-through-the-brain-by-way-of-the-nostril kung-fu move heís been practicing on his mother. I pity Osama bin Laden when my son finds him cowering in a Pakistani cave in 20 years.
The wife and me, we donít see eye to eye on Isaacís future. Though she is too kind to say so directly, I suspect she thinks my SEAL dream is farfetched. It's one of those tom-A-to/to-MAH-to things. Were I French, I might be inclined to say "vive la difference." But then, were I French, I probably couldn't have sired a son with such deadly skills in the first place.
Tony Woodlief is president of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and he lives in Virginia with his wife and three sons. More of his writing can be found at www.tonywoodlief.com.