Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stumbling Toward Maturity

Last night I had a vivid dream about looking for arch support inserts. Is this what I have become? A man so interested in good arch support that his nocturnal visions, a time for unchecked whimsy and self-indulgence, concern finding comfortable shoes rather than something more interesting like, say, sailing a pirate ship or dating Lili Taylor (with Denver Mom's permission, of course)?

I have a theory about aging. I don't think that you ever truly get old, but there is a list of things that only adults do. The more things on that list that you can check off, the more adult and mature you happen to be, regardless of your actual chronological age. Here are some examples:

1. Made an appointment with a doctor to have something removed

2. Gone to a funeral or wedding of someone you never actually met

3. Refused to eat something because it gives you heartburn/gas/bad breath/whatever

4. Read the instructions for a new household (television, blender, electric toothbrush, etc.) device before turning it on and just trying it out

5. Tracked your gas mileage and actually found it interesting

6. Got excited about buying new socks

7. Actually have conversations about how much you like pudding

Unfortunately, most of these items are cumulative and push your maturity level higher and higher. For example, I've gone to three funerals of people I didn't know. THREE! That puts me just a couple notches beneath the point where you watch "Murder, She Wrote" on purpose. And, I've been known to go on at length about how I think tapioca is an under-appreciated flavor of pudding. So, "Early Bird Special," here I come!

In a lot of ways, being a dad follows the same sort of list. Obviously, you *do* just suddenly become a dad. It's not something you work up to over time, like becoming more mature, but I think there are a number of choices you make that add up to being a good dad, someone who fits that label in deed and action.

1. Spending more time at the park than on the couch

2. Being able to recite two or more Dr. Suess books from memory

3. Actually knowing how to use sun-block (that includes all the little "rules" about applying it 30 minutes before you go out, knowing when to reapply, etc.)

4. Not using your custom-built subwoofer when watching movies after your son's bedtime and not really missing it all that much either

5. Cutting down on your weekend skiing/golf/football/Nascar/whatever to spend time with your family and not because you were asked

6. Buying a new car seat instead of an X-Box 360

7. Being able to make waffles/pancakes/whatever on Saturday morning

8. Knowing your child's nap and snack schedule and sticking to it when you have your child for the day

It's not a complete list. I'm just learning some of them myself.


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