Sunday, November 11, 2007

Setting the Bar

Usually on Sundays I write about gaming and characters and fun stuff. Tonight, however, I feel compelled to talk about parenthood and childhood.

I took Friday off as a personal day because Sera was going to be without daycare, so I have spent the past three days with her, every minute that she was awake. I enjoyed every minute of it, especially this afternoon when she fed me cereal from my own bowl while she ate the majority of it. It's been a wonderful three days. I'm sure it's the same everywhere, as every parent thinks his or her child is the cutest of all. Well, they're all wrong, because mine is!

I never thought I would be a good father. I was extremely hesitant to agree to adoption because of my fear. My parents didn't exactly provide good role models for me in that regard. I have written before about this, but not in great detail.

As I played with Sera today, I noticed something. Every time she comes running to me, I pick her up and kiss her on the cheek. I must have done that a hundred times over the past three days. I don't even remember my mother ever kissing me, or even hugging me for that matter. For the most part, when I lived with my mother I also lived with my stepfather, the guy who used to beat me. I can't imagine what it was like for my brother, who was just about Sera's age when we went to live with that man. It just boggles the mind that anyone could treat children in that way.

Tonight, while giving Sera her bath, I had a flashback. Not a severe one, like combat veterans sometimes have, but enough of one that when she splashed water on me, I realized that my attention had drifted. I was thinking about how when my brother, sister, and I took baths when we were young, I had to go first in scalding water, so that when I was done, they could get in the tub and still have warm water. When I tell Sera that it's bathtime, she gets excited because she's going to have fun. I remember bathtime far differently. I remember having my head held underwater and having to fight my way back to the surface. I remember being scrubbed raw even when I was 11 years old and starting puberty because I smelled like an adolescent. Sera has bath toys galore. She has stacking cups that sprinkle water, two squirting toys, and letters that stick to the side of the tub. I had ten minutes to get in and out of the tub before the water got too cold for my brother and sister.

I get the feeling that being a father is going to bring a lot of these memories back to me. And I feel comforted that my daughter is going to have good parents who show her love and affection.

My mother has told me that she allowed me to leave her home when I was 12 to go live with my father because she thought that my stepfather was going to kill me. During our most recent conversation the last thing she said to me was, "You didn't have it all that bad." Well, if by that she meant that he didn't kill me, I guess she was right. But the bar she had set for herself as a parent must have been set pretty low. I'm setting mine a lot higher.

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