The first time it happened, I was folding laundry.
My son was about eight weeks old. I grabbed a bright yellow onesie with the words “Cool Dude” emblazoned across the front in big red letters. In all honesty, I can’t recall where the thing came from. Probably it was one of the many, many baby items that our friends with older boys had graciously given us.
Prior to that moment, I’d never really “gotten” those funny kids’ shirts that sport messages such as “Dad Rules!” and “My Mom Rocks!” and so forth. Several years ago, when some friends got pregnant with their first child, I bought them an “Al Sharpton for President” onesie, but that’s really not the same thing. That one was legitimately humorous, on account of how babies can’t vote and don’t understand what a president is.
Anyway, as I looked at the tiny shirt, I was overcome with emotion. “He is a cool dude,” I thought, my eyes welling up ever so slightly. “Sure he’s basically a tiny creature that eats and poops and screams and sleeps most of the time, but he’s my tiny creature that eats and poops and screams and sleeps most of the time. And he’s awesome! He’s a cool dude, way cooler than any of those other dudes I know!”
It’s highly possible that I was just a little bit sleep-deprived.
I also totally got the “My Mom Rocks!” type of baby stuff as well. It is some tough going in those early days of parenthood and you need all the encouragement you can get, even if it’s just a reminder on a T-shirt.
It was a strange new sensation, though, this feeling of pride on a level that nothing else I’ve ever done can even come close to. It’s weird, too, to love someone the way you love your child. I was blindsided by it. Obviously I knew that I’d love the little bugger, but I was utterly unprepared for the new emotional vistas I’d experience.
In those carefree, childless years of my 20s, before I got all domesticated, pretty much all I cared about was beer and pizza and going to the bar with friends and maybe hitting up the record store once a week or so. I’d get really worked up over what now seem like ridiculously inconsequential things: “Did you read what that one guy wrote about that one thing in that magazine? Uh, the nerve!” or “Man, I can’t believe they raised the price of six-packs of Old Style to $4.25!” and so forth.
Nowadays, I get excited about taking my boy to the Zoo or the Museum of Discovery or the park.
Another new thing that made me feel all proud and excited: seeing this kids’ carnival ride at Riverfest. It was a carousel with all these cute little motorcycles, and all of a sudden all I could think about was putting my son on one of those and watching him ride it, probably squealing with the sort of pure joy that only children can experience.
Similar feelings have been prompted by awesome-looking toys at Target or wherever.
I suppose you’re blind to these sorts of things when you don’t have kids. Or at least I was. But man, how I can see them now.