Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pitter Pater

The temptation to see the things that are so obvious that they assail you with a benumbing sideways headache that you can actually reach out and touch on your skull, in a light that is reflective of prejudices that are ingrained auto-mechanically on your psyche finds special expression in the experience of being a father to a child in ways both startling and shameful once you come to recognize the inherent discrepancy at the heart of its subjective puzzle.
I took my 19-month old daughter to a two-year old's birthday party yesterday. There she was joined by many children around her age. Once ensconced within the atmosphere of the party and reconciled to the balloon-cake-soft toy-party hat ethos, she danced, sang, laughed out loud and revelled in the adulation thereof, like a veteran of social engagements of the kind that I used to balk at ever since I can remember. I was bemused at the confidence with which she approached her interactions with people she had never met before. I was nonplussed at the assertiveness with which she dealt with other children considering she doesn't really have much to do with any in her day-to-day existence otherwise. I was secretly proud of the ways in which she chose one contorted farm animal balloon over another, and sometimes two, based not on what the other children were getting but on her own predilections at the time. And I was flabbergasted at the relative ease with which she manoeuvred her way in and out of crowded spaces, and into the thick of the action so many times with nary a backward glance at her father looking warily on, even while registering her mother's absence at the event.
There are many ways of analysing this sorry excuse for a post brimming with beaming paternal conceit, but if there's one thing I cannot reconcile with it is the instinct that hits me with a sledgehammer every time I experience one of those moments that everyone hears described as, ' heart nearly burst when...'.  In these moments I am most aware, not of joy or pride or gratification, even though they must constitute the sum of the experience... but doubt.
Can I be the best father to this glorious creature so full of promise it breaks my heart to just contemplate her? Can I justify the enormous and unquestioning faith that resides in the heart of she who runs toward me at the hint of an angry outburst (that has nothing to do with her) - to cuddle, coo and soothe. Can I put the constant preoccupation with my private study of eugenics aside in the realization that time will decide what life wills for my child and not her genetic heritage? Can't I just love this...?

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