The Joy of Parenthood
When I was in my mid-twenties, people used to tell me to have children. They said kids would take care of me in my old age. Terrible reason to have children I thought.
Now that I’m in my eighties and heavily into retirement, I realize how great it is to have an adult daughter (Katy) in my life. She not only does errands for me, but also brings joy into my life in so many ways. Those people were right after all.
A lot of that joy comes from humor and her prescient observations about the world. All that was there from the beginning. I used to keep a diary of Katy’s interesting observations about life.
- She was about three years old, and we had visited her aunt in Healdsburg. Just before we got back on the freeway to come home, we stopped for a McDonald’s burger. She was in her car seat in the back slowly drifting off holding her hamburger. Mary (her mother) reached back to get the hamburger. Katy woke up immediately complaining. Mary said, “Well, Honey, you were drifting off. ” Katie said, “No, mom, I can eat and sleep at the same time.”
- She was about three years old and said, “I have to go poo poo.” I took her to the bathroom. Nothing happened. She offered this explanation “My poo poo’s asleep”.
- When she was about four and a half, one day, she got really mad at her mother. She said “Mommy I hate you. And I’m still going to hate you even when you’re my grandmother.”
- Speaking of the grandmothers, when she was about five, I was telling her that my mother, her grandmother, had died some years ago. And she asked, very concerned, “Did your mother die before you were born?”
- When she was about six, we took her to see a performance of Carmina Burana in San Francisco. During the intermission, she asked of the male dancers, “Why are they wearing those tights? You can see their butts.”
- She was about six years, and I was complaining to her about my fat belly hanging over my belt. “Well, Katy,” I said, “I need to go on a diet to get rid of all this fat.” She said, “No you don’t. Just get bigger clothes.” Now there’s a sensible response to the diet problem.
- She was about seven years old when she said, “I know what sex is.” “What?” “When people get naked and kiss,” I said, “Yes” “Have you and mom ever done that?” “Yes, we still do.” Long pause. “Can I watch?”
- Katy was nine years old, and we were on an airplane flying to Spokane for a family reunion. She was in the middle seat next to a woman by the window who was flying to Spokane to be with her son who was having emergency surgery. The woman was looking out the window and crying. Katy was very concerned. She had just seen the musical, “Annie.” She got a napkin and a pencil and wrote the woman a note which said, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” The woman completely lost it. She gave Katie a little flashlight with Winnie the Poo on it.
- We went to an antique show in San Mateo. I bought her a doll for her 10th birthday using a credit card. My wife, Mary, was mildly disapproving of this…. thinking it was too easy for Katy to get whatever she wanted from me. As we walked away from the doll booth, I said, “I think you just love me because of my credit cards. Would you still love me if I didn’t have credit cards?” She said, “Oh, sure, dad, then you’d just pay cash.”
- Katy was in the sixth grade and was going to the Friday night dance at her school. We dropped her off at six and were to be there at eight to pick her up. As she got out of the car, I teased her saying “Well, honey, maybe you’d like mom and me to go in with you and be chaperones.” She was mortified at the very idea and said, “I don’t want to see your faces around here at all.” So, Mary and I went to Safeway, and did some shopping. We picked up two extra bags. When it was time to pick her up at eight o’clock, we cut eye holes in the bags and put them over our heads. Walking from the car to pick her up, when she saw us, she went completely nuts, which was the point of it all. We said, “Well, you said you didn’t want to see our faces.” We still laugh about that today.
- When she was 15, the three of us were out to dinner. Mary and I were talking about our first marriages. Katy commented, “Sometimes the first marriage is a practice marriage.” The conversation went on for another five minutes. Mary said something that made me angry. We got into a big argument, and without missing a beat, Katy said, “Sometimes the second marriage is a practice marriage.” We all cracked up.
No question that parenthood can be a challenge. But for us, the whole process has been so much more fun because of our daughter’s humor and world view.