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Simply put, you amaze me.
Every day, I find myself in awe of you and your ongoing discovery of the world.
I’m smitten with your excited points and shouts of “PUP-PY” and “KIT-TY,” even if it’s just a squirrel running across the street.
I’m enamored by the way you yell out “Goooo!” with the biggest smile on your face whenever I pick you up and start putting the slightest bit of speed into my step.
I’ve fallen in love with your hugs. In the last few weeks you’ve figured out the whole wrapping-your-arms-around-my-neck thing. Now it’s your favorite way to greet me when I pick you up out of your crib and each time it makes my heart swell.
And with each of these instances, and pretty much everything else you do, I find myself getting choked up because deep down inside my alpha exterior lies the tear-soaked, incoherent, snot-sniffling resolve of a recent divorcee on a Bridget Jones and Boones Farm bender.
Your first day of Kindergarten is still 3-and-a-half years away and I’m already strategizing ways to not ruin your new school clothes with my tears.
I cry. I cry a lot. And I’m sorry because it’s only going to get weirder for both of us as you get older.
I try my best to fight the tears but seriously, have you seen yourself clap whenever Sesame Street starts?
I don’t know why I have zero control over this. My best guess is it’s your Mommom’s fault. She can cry on command if you prod her enough. I’ve seen her lose it over a Kleenex commercial, which probably explains why
I’m such a mess any time I see one of those Google ads.
It’s always been like this, though. I can remember snapping the arms back too far on a brand new “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan figure. He couldn’t do his spring-loaded power slamming action anymore. I was crushed for a full weekend. I was 14.
Luckily, there’s been a bit of a cultural shift toward the acceptance of guys who tear up every now and then and I’m super excited for you to have been born in a time where showing genuine emotion regardless of gender is the cool thing to do. Conventional wisdom now says that it’s ok for dads to cry.
But conventional wisdom has never seen me watch the beginning of Up … or the end of Marley & Me … or WrestleMania XX … or (again) one of those goddamn Google commercials.
Most dads are going to be able to control themselves. They’ll stand on the sidelines and cheer while they watch their daughters run up and down the soccer field. Maybe they’ll even clap or pump their fists. I’ll be standing next to them wearing the biggest, darkest sunglasses I can find because I’ll be a pride-filled, blubbering idiot. And god help me if you score a goal.
Your mom has said on more than one occasion that she wants to put you in gymnastics once you’re old enough. I want to support that but let’s be honest, I probably won’t be able to handle it. Somersaults? Forward Rolls? BACKFLIPS? Are you kidding me? I’ll be inconsolable. You’ll stop in the middle of your ribbon routine to tell me to get my shit together and you’ll be totally in the right and you’ll probably get extra points from the judges because of it because I will be the worst.
Hell, you started taking your dirty diapers and throwing them in the Diaper Genie yourself this past weekend. I had to lock myself in the basement for 20 minutes before my eyes were dry enough to come back upstairs. What am I going to do when you learn how to ride a bike? Or start driving?? How will I react when you do something as mundane as tying your own shoe?
(I’ll give you a hint: Horribly)
Your first day of Kindergarten is still 3-and-a-half years away and I’m already strategizing ways to not ruin your new school clothes with my tears. I’d be a horrible dad if I just stayed in the car, but it may be safer for both of us than the alternative. I’d wear one of my Lucha Libre masks but that would only be slightly less creepy than me standing there openly sobbing in front of a room full of 5-year-olds. I think the best bet will be to just defer this day to your mom.
But seriously, have you seen yourself clap whenever Sesame Street starts?
But what worries me most is that that’s only one day and one event. Your life will be filled with countless more and I want to be there for all of them, I’ll just need to come up with a surefire way to numb my senses before they get here.
Dance recitals? Not a chance.
School art shows? I’ll go after-hours.
Parent-Teacher conferences? We can gchat those now, right?
In fact, you may want to rethink inviting me to your wedding altogether because of that whole thing about nobody upstaging the bride. I get misty eyed just thinking about that day and walking you down the aisle. My only hope for you (aside from happiness, love, yada yada) is that you become really good friends with a linebacker or rugby player, someone who will be strong enough to scoop me up and carry me back to my seat because … well … pheww … man … I just can’t even…
The point is, I’m afraid that whenever you look back on the memories of each of your many milestones-to-come, all you’ll be able to see will be my spazzy lower lip, quivering against the rushing tide of wonder and pride that’s begging to break free. I want your moments to be yours. I want you to experience them and remember them for all of the joy they bring to you, not for whatever sounds may come out of my face while I stand in the way, way back of the crowd.
In summation, I love you, I can’t wait to continue to be proud of you and I’m very sorry but you’re going to be hearing a lot this throughout the foreseeable future.
Alex is a writer from Virginia, currently living in the Richmond area with his wife, 2 daughters and way too many toys. Check him out on Medium.