Sandy Hook, Franklin Regional, Fort Hood, KinderCare

A picture in front of KinderCare last night. Taken by @MarinaMarraco.

A picture in front of KinderCare last night. Taken by @MarinaMarraco.

Fia is a funny little kid, a few weeks ago she asked me to “put talking on” – we were listening to her favorite Spotify mix, but she wanted some NPR.

On Monday I dropped off my daughter at the preschool/daycare she goes to two mornings each week, this morning there was some piece about Sandy Hook on as we were pulling into the parking lot of her daycare in Winter Park, FL and I thought of all of those parents who sent their kids to school that day and never heard their voices again. Fia walks and runs like a champ, but she wanted to be carried in that day and I was more than happy to hold and hug her tight on our way in.

Wednesday afternoon, after we’d picked her up from daycare, after hearing about the stabbings west of Pittsburgh, I got a call from a friend asking where Fia’s preschool was and if she was there. He said something about a car running into a daycare in Winter Park and that kids were hurt. Even though I could see her curly mop focused on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, my heart dropped out.

The Winter Park KinderCare is less than a 1.5 miles from Fia’s school. As we drive there, I know that we pass cars carrying kids that are headed to KinderCare. There are definitely children that live in our neighborhood, it’s just too close for there not to be.

As I carried my first baby in on Monday I thought about how much her absence would wreck me, not just her being at school absence or her one day going to college absence. But, if she was gone. If she was taken like little Lily Quintus is, the child killed by some big jerk with a big ego in a big truck, one of two things would likely happen. I’d either turn into Liam Neeson from Taken, but without the “particular set of skills,” or I’d end up a kind of empty shell for a while. I’d snap out of it eventually, I’d have a wife to love and comfort, a son to raise, and most importantly I have a God that is merciful. I’d eventually get to the point that King David did when his first son died, believing that I will see her again.

I don’t have a point that I’m aiming at. I’m just processing a little.

I used to get mad at these kind of things happening (I still do), but more and more often they lead me to hug my wife, my daughter and my son tighter and to try to soak up every minute we have.

I hope they find Robert Corchado, if it turns out that he really is the guy that cause this I hope they throw the book at him. I hope he goes to prison and is know as the guy who killed a 4-year-old. Eventually my anger turns to mercy, my rage to forgiveness, my desire for justice for my desire for the same mercy that has been shown me by this God that sees the depths of our hearts and still calls to us.

Driving cars off the road. Shooting kids. Stabbing classmates. Escalating fights to the point of violence at work.

But for the Grace of God, there goes Jayson Whelpley.

Daditude: How I’m becoming Elaine Benes’ father.

All fathers are intimidating. They’re intimidating because they are fathers. Once a man has children, for the rest of his life, his attitude is, “To hell with the world, I can make my own people. I’ll eat whatever I want. I’ll wear whatever I want, and I’ll create whoever I want.” – Seinfeld, S02E03 “The Jacket

Pipe down, chorus boy!

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve become a father is a general disregard for other people’s crap and some social conventions regarding “politeness”. I’m pretty sure I’m channeling Alton Benes.

This may sound like an odd statement to those of you who know me; I am often perceived to be someone who doesn’t really care about these things anyhow – which is not entirely true. I often find myself being awkward about things that aren’t that big of a deal… for example, if Carrie and I are on a road trip and have some water bottles which we’ve emptied (purchased ones – Dasani, etc.), Carrie will just want me to go into a gas station to fill them up at a water fountain rather than purchase more. For some reason this sets off my “socially awkward” alarm and I have a hard time doing it. These are the kind of things that I usually care about and get wierded out by… I don’t know why.

Lately, though, I’ve grown a bit of what I’m calling a Daditude. That is, if there’s something regarding my child’s (or baby mama’s) comfort, hunger, privacy, or anything else that I notice needs taken care of – I just do it.

I don’t care who thinks it’s rude or weird or anything else… you can deal with it, my kid is happier when we sit in the shade so I’m going to sit right behind you in the grass.

I think that this is healthy at some level. I’m not doing this for my own good, comfort, or whatever… it’s for the two ladies who are my priority. The things that I won’t do to save myself $5 or make myself less blasted hot are things that I’ll blow right past for these two without looking back.

So, if a bald-headed dad with big eyes pushes you out of the way for a place in the shade for his daughter’s stroller, I’m sorry.

Kinda.

Not really.

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The Marks of a Father

Fia's first nap on daddy's man-mane.

I became a father yesterday.

I feel like I’m already learning a lot from Fia. Our nap time today brought a pretty nice tidbit.

One of the many nurses that have been visiting us every hour or so was talking about “Kangaroo care” which basically means the baby lying down or napping on the parents chest skin-to-skin. Carrie’s been doing it a bit, and today I decided to give it a try as we napped. I have to say, it was nice. Being close like that to my daughter was comforting for both of us. She didn’t wimper the whole time, no crying at all. I – in all of my newly-sprouted sappiness – felt at ease with her close to me enough to get misty at one point.

After we laid there for about an hour it was time to try to feed her. As I sat up and took her off of my chest I noticed that there were little squiggly indentations on her soft, smooth chest and belly… it took me a second but I realized that they were the indentations of my chest hair.

This was where the epiphany came. No, I’m not kidding.

Fathers have a huge impact on their kids. There’s no end to the studies that show that close and present fathering is connected with children who are successful in life (whatever that may look like); and the opposite, distant or absent fathers can leave huge scars that affect lives of their children for many decades.

I think Kangaroo care and it’s indentations are significant. A good father has to be someone who is tender enough that the sensitive softness of a newborn can find comfort there. Yet, even the smallest things that we do will impact our children. I’m still waiting to see all the ways that this little beauty will impact me.

On becoming a father…

I haven’t really mentioned it here, but I’m going to have a daughter as of early June.

Most of that reality hasn’t sunk in yet. My wife is definitely “showing” now, but beyond that my kid is just a sonogram. We don’t have any names picked out, we don’t know anything about her. I am looking forward to meeting her though.

I started to write what I thought might become a “daddy blog,” but I am not good at writing regularly. Perhaps I’ll improve though. I’ll try to include these thoughts on fatherhood here. Here’s something I wrote on the other blog:

Today I’m thinking about things both before and after me, us, the Kiddo, etc.

On the way to work today NPR was talking about in-vitro fertilization and one of the scientists who pioneered it getting the Nobel Prize after 32 years. It’s only 2 years older than I am… I’ve always known it as a reality (not for me, just in general).

This made me think about things that have happened before and after we’re around. I remember back to my developmental psychology class and talking about how long it takes children to gain a concept of things that happened before them. The Kiddo will grow up learning about 9/11, the internet, the Steelers winning one for the thumb all as history, the same way I did with Vietnam, Elvis and Koehler beer.

I also think of things that people who have died have missed. A friend who died while I was in college never knew of September 11th either. “Dimebag” Darrell (of Pantera fame) died before Saddam Hussein was captured.

I just wonder what the things are that will shock the Kiddo to learn. Especially the things that I grew up through or was just a part of reality for me. What do you mean you didn’t have a cell phone until you were out of college?!

I also wonder at the things that the Kiddo will experience after we’re gone.

I’m really angry that I’m going to miss out on teleportation.

Well, off to ponder becoming a big softy.

Polluting the Darkness [Fatherhood]

So, as you may know, we’re having a kid. This means that I’ve been thinking about what kind of dad I’m going to be and how we’re going to raise the incoming kiddo.

Today DesiringGod Ministries posted something on their blog that caught my eye and spoke to the way that I would like to see my children raised. They quoted from a book that I have on my shelf, but haven’t read yet, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N. D. Wilson:

The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.

Yes!

There is no kind of parent that bothers me more than the parent that hides the world from their children so that with the effect that their children don’t know what to do when they get out into the world. I know a family  that does this and it pains me to watch their youngest enter his teens and have no idea how to engage in the world that is really out there. He is home-schooled, and is allowed to play football, but is not allowed to hang out with his team outside of practice and games… no sleepovers, no movies, just the actual team work. He’s barely a teen but he’s about 6’5″ and he doesn’t know his own strength – in the exact opposite way in which that phrase is most often used. He doesn’t know how to resist the temptations of the world because he doesn’t see them. He doesn’t know how strong he is physically because he isn’t allowed to test it against other boys his age except for when he has pads on.

I fear that when he turns 18 one of two things will happen – he’ll either stay weak or he’ll go off the deep end.

I know where this desire comes from, 2 Corinthians 6:17 says:

Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,

They try to do this, and that is wonderful, but they do it wrongly because they forget what Paul has already written in 1 Corinthians 1:9-10

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

Paul specifically says to not hide yourselves from the immoral people on the outside of the Church, but to protect yourself from being polluted by the immoral people who claim to be following Christ.

This is why Wilson’s quote is so wonderful; he does not advocate blind joining and engagement with the world and with the grossness in it, but a trained, vigilant and purposeful engagement. Train your children to be wary of the ways that the world may tempt them, but train them also to bring joy, truth and grace to the world as one who would help rescue it through the blood of Christ.

“They will pollute the darkness.”