Could I Be a Good Father? (Adventures in Babysitting)
I had to go back to my place in Queens over the weekend to deal with a pesky leak in my rental property. Needless to say things didn’t go too well, but I won’t get into all that. I bring up my Queens trek because being around the debris and contractor work reminded me of something I wrote about four years ago in the midst of remodeling my place. If y’all don’t mind, I’d like to share it with y’all, with minimal edits. Here goes…
I had the opportunity to babysit a 7-year-old the other day. My contractor had to finish working on my place and couldn't find a sitter, so he brought along his son, a cute kid with glasses, about yeah high and inquisitive, like most children. Well, my place is/was a mess and tools and material are everywhere. I'm a worrywart of sorts, so I wanted to make sure there was a safe space for the kid while his father worked on the pipes in my bathroom. [II]
After checking with his father to see if it was okay for lil’ man to play videogames, I cleared out a space in the living room to pull out the modern day babysitting machine known as the PlayStation 2. My plan was to leave the kid there while his father worked and I went off to my room to get some work of my own done.
I unraveled the controller and powered up the system, and was about to bounce; then came the question, "Do you wanna play?"
I'm a workaholic and haven't had a chance to play video games in a while, so I thought about it for a few seconds before buckling.
“Sure,” I replied. “I could play one game.”
I unraveled the second controller and grabbed a seat on the floor. The kid and I decided to play Rocky. Of course he chooses Mr. Balboa and I opted for some random no-name Black boxer. I let the kid win a few rounds because, well, he's a kid and it’d be unfair and just plain ol’ mean to knock him out like that. But of course, I did knock him out once or twice—totally by accident, of course.
Anyway, the “one game” turned into several. During the course of our competitions in boxing, tennis and snowboarding; questions were asked and I answered with little jewels of wisdom. Eventually I escaped to my room to do some work, but kept checking in on the kid and caring to what needs I can.
As the night progressed, daddy tells his son he's gotta do homework for school tomorrow before it gets too late. While I'm in my room working, the kid occasionally walks in and asks for help in understanding a book report assignment and spelling certain words. I drop my vocab gem on him: "Every time I look up a word in the dictionary, I look up the word before and after it, that way I learn three words at one time."
Needless to say, we all got hungry and since I was remodeling my kitchen as well we ordered Chinese food. I set a plate for little man and once he was done and homework was complete it was time for him to go. He asked if he could come back, and I responded, “Yes.”
I doubt I'll ever see the kid again, but he got me to thinking; could I be a good father? I know the question may seem silly to most, but I know me and my workaholic ways. One of my biggest fears is that when, and if, I have a family I won't know how to prioritize my loved ones over work. But I guess being aware of the fear and possibility of its reality will help steer me away from that path. I hope.
I see my best friend, who's expecting a child in January (it’s a girl), interact with his nephew and other kids in a carefree way that I hardly see myself doing. In fact, whenever I see a man interacting with his child (not yelling or beating), I wonder to myself if I could be able to do that one day. More importantly, would I be good at it? But the fact that I was able to make time for this kid that I had no familial connection to and put work to the side for him, leaves me with hope. And sometimes, a little hope is all you need.
If you aren’t a parent already, do you ever wonder about your innate parenting skills? Could you imagine yourself being responsible for another person at this point in your life? Are you too selfish to be a good parent at this point in your life? Do you think that you’ll make a good parent? Why? For the parents, how hard was it for you to adjust your lifestyle to fit a child and his/her needs? What’s the best advice or lesson you learned about parenting? Do you think that I’ll make a good father or will I just be another emotionally distant workaholic that’s just there physically?
Speak your piece…