My dad LOVED kids.
He loved babies, he loved walking/talking/sassing-back ones, he was even cool with annoying pre-teens and teenagers. He wasn’t cheesy about it, though–he was funny and adversarial and just the right amount of teasing with kids. When he was dating my mom, he convinced my then-ten-year-old aunt that he had magic powers because he could make his car’s windshield wipers go without touching the actual handle, though little did my aunt Zaida know that the actual button for this was under the wheel. Even when he did things that made us roll our eyes (honestly, pulling me out of tag for a “birds and bees” talk at the age of 11, in plain view of my friends–mortifying much?), we were ALWAYS aware that my dad was 100% cooler than all the other dads we knew, mostly based on how cool he was with us.
As soon as my little sisters started talking, he began joking about sending away for another baby for the house. If there was a political hot-spot or conflict zone anywhere in the world, he was gonna get in there, rescue a baby, and add another one to the family name. Had he gotten his way, our house would have made a great photo op for the United Nations. We would have never fit into any car other than a minibus, and none of us would have gotten any sleep, EVER, from the cacophony of babies from all across the world.
In his dreams, he would have made Angelina Jolie look like a newbie.
Once I hit college years, my dad also joked–much to my chagrin–that, should I find myself in a baby-having way, it would NOT be the end of the world. All I had to do was have it and hand it over to him, and he’d bring it up like right alongside my sisters. He was totally joking, but I was TOTALLY not amused. No way was I saving him anything on potential-new-house-baby postage. I said I’d jump off a bridge before I let that happen.
I also pointed out that he’d better not hold his breath for me to have kids, because I was baby-unfriendly, traumatized by my younger sisters, grouchy, and selfish. I added that I would rather grow a child in a pot, like a plant, if I ever needed one for some crazy reason.
Well, the time has come for me to eat my words: I’m having a baby. I am growing it myself, not in a pot like a plant, and much less baby-unfriendly than I used to be. I’m not remotely jumping off any bridges. I do, however, wish more than anything that my dad were here to see it and attempt to steal his grandchild away from me, because I’m eleven years too late for that.
Last year, I made a dress especially for this day. This year, I’m going to have a really nice lunch (Young Money permitting), wear a pretty dress before they all stop fitting, and start making a list of all the crazy and wonderful and ridiculous and amazing things that my dad did and my dad was all about so I can tell this child grandfather stories like other kids get read fairy tales. My dad is going to be bigger than life, the stuff of legends, to this child–just like he is to me.
I mean, how could he not be–the hat, the shirt, the newspaper, the glasses, the pose, all circa 1975? TOTAL character.
As for the postage for a baby from far-away places: I think my Puerto Rican/ Polish-English-American Trini-born baby would fit into my dad’s imaginary UN-baby-posse dreams just fine.