August 20, 2006

Hey Grandpa, Er, I Mean "Dad"

Rand Richards Cooper has a great essay in the NY Times Magazine about becoming a new father late(r), in his forties:

The prospect of life and death in the balance brings a metaphysical dimension to what I began calling “late-onset fatherhood.” One day at the gym I showered next to a guy busily shampooing his 4-year-old son. “Not on my forehead!” the boy cried. “Why not?” his father asked — and before the boy answered, I knew exactly what he was going to say: “It gets in my eyes!”

With perfect clarity I recalled the outrage of that stinging discomfort, and my own father saying, exactly as this father now said, “Then close them!” I thought about how having a child extends you through time — genetically into the future, but also into the past, reconnecting you to perceptions and experiences you have all but forgotten. I felt tired of living only in the present.

I used to think my big dad advice epiphany was to tell guys to do more pre-skiing exercises before the kid comes, strengthen the knees and the back. See, *I* learned to ski before there were snowboards, and we only had moguls and--bah, you young punks never listen. Why don't you just go mash up some music?

Fatherhood, I Now Learn, Is a Young Man’s Game [nytmag]

1 Comment

At the farmer's market or CVS I've met many dads with a kid the same age as mine -- but who are themselves of an entirely different generation than me. And there absolutely has been a momentary "which of us is the wrong age to be a parent" vibe before we have to quit chatting and chase down our kids.

Amongst the Latino half of the population in my Westchester town you see plenty of dads in their 20's.

Amongst the non-Latino half you're going to find 5 cases of dad-or-granddad ambiguity before you find one dad in his late 20's. And that non-Latino late 20's dad will be me -- I've only met one other possible and he just moved to Canada.

In fact, even in the fat part of the bell curve I'd say a first time dad in his early 30's is a rarity. 37-40 is much more common. And from what I can tell, moms aren't a heck of a lot younger.

Wacky stuff.

[sounds like NAFTA to me -ed.]

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