A few days ago, I had a rehearsal and Mom needed a nap, so I volunteered to take the monkey with me. He loves hanging out at the theater, so it was no problem to talk him into tagging along. In the car, though, the conversation took an unexpected turn.
“Jerry, I just realized that I’m a really lucky kid because I have two dads: my step-dad, and my real dad.”
“That’s right buddy...you’re pretty lucky!”
“And when we have a baby, the baby will be lucky to have two dads, too!”
This kid is relentless. He’s been dropping hints about wanting a little brother/sister for a little over a year now, and recently he’s picked up the pressure like a closer at a used car lot. It used to be that he would just harass The Cricket about it, but lately he’s expanded the scope of his campaign. And, as you can probably tell, he’s not entirely certain how the whole thing works; he’s under the impression that since I’m his step-dad, if and when his mother and I have kids together, his real dad will be those kids’ step-dad. It makes sense, I guess, if you don’t know about things like divorces and custody arrangements. When you’re six, shit is simple.
So I did what I was always do when six-year-old logic leaves me speechless; I diverted.
“What do you think would be your favorite part of having a baby in the family?”
“Well, I could just teach it stuff...like how to make paper airplanes and play X-Box games. Oh! Jerry, did you notice that I’m getting better at making paper airplanes?”
Thankfully, the six-year-old logic is coupled with a tendency to randomly change subjects; I’m pretty certain it’s just a tactic to throw us off our balance, and I knew this wouldn’t be the last of the baby talk.
Sure enough, on the drive home from school yesterday, the tone became very serious as he said, “Jerry, I need to ask you something.”
“What’s that buddy?”
“When we have a baby, will we have a baby shower?”
He’s like a CIA interrogator, asking surprise questions and slowly chipping away at your resistance.
“Probably so, buddy,” I replied. “I mean, if we have a baby, that is. *If* we have a baby, we’ll definitely have a baby shower. Why do you ask?”
“I’m just wondering who I’ll invite to the party,” he replied innocently.
“Oh. Gotcha. Who would you like to invite?”
“I’m not sure. Being pregnant takes a long time, so I might know different people by then.”
You have to admire the tenacity, and the ability to visualize an outcome so convincingly, but where the hell is this baby obsession coming from?
Later that night, he was back at it.
“I think we should talk about what name we’re going to call the baby.”
“Well buddy, Mom and I have already talked about what names we would use if we have a baby.”
“Oh. Good,” he said, walking out of the room. “I just don’t want the baby to not have a name.”
Of course, all this talk of babies has me squirming. Divorced at 38, I’d pretty much written off the possibility of being a dad, and I was okay with that. Then I met The Cricket and I got an instant 4-year old son, and I settled into the Step Dude role nicely. I’m still kinda shaky, but I’m learning as I go and getting a little better at it every day.
Now I’m 41, and I’ll be honest: the thought of having a baby simultaneously exhilarates and terrifies me. I know I couldn’t ask for a better partner in the endeavor, but I have all these doubts about whether I would be up to the task. What if it turns out that I’m a good step-dad but a shitty bio-dad? What if I fuck it all up and my kids end up hating me? Or worse, what if I don’t like them?
But none of that matters to a determined six-year old. He wants a baby sibling, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to take no for an answer. So I expect I’ll be hearing more about it on the next drive to school. I know one thing for sure: if this kid ever decides to go into marketing, I’ll be first in line to hire him.
Jerry Kennedy is (in no particular order) a fiancee, stepdad, writer, actor, director, singer, and web dude living in The Greatest City In the World, Sacramento, CA. His hobbies include reading, skateboarding, falling off his skateboard, drinking, karaoke (especially after drinking), and making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape. You'll find his irregular ramblings about life, the universe, and everything at http://jerrykennedy.com