I must be a very shallow man.
Maybe I’m just thick in the noggin?
Son Shamus has taken to calling me, ‘Dad.? I’m not used to it and I am not sure how I feel about it.
Let me back up here a moment. The word ‘dad? is not a four-letter word, hence some would say it is not a bad word. As a matter of fact, ‘dad? is something I called my father all the time (except when I wrote about him, then it became Pops Rush). I like the word ‘dad.? I have mucho-grande respect for ‘dads? of all colors, shapes and sizes. I love my dad. I am a ‘dad? — I just have to learn to respond to it.
It just doesn’t sound right.
For nearly six years now, the Rush lads Shamus and Sean have conditioned me to move, sit, roll-over and beg to the word ‘poppy.?
‘Poppy, get me some more milk.?
‘Poppy, put up a swing set.?
‘Poppy, wipe my butt.?
Ever the obedient pet, I am only too happy to comply with their commands. They have strong bones because they drink plenty of milk. They have a fun time in the back yard because their ‘mom? bought them a swing set that I their ‘dad? then put up. And, (for the record) they have clean bums. But, as an old dog can I learn new tricks? I guess technically I don’t have to learn any new tricks, I just need to perform them when commanded to with a new name.
‘Dad, can you get me a beer??
I don’t know if I’m up for this.
Poppy is a good name. I recognize it when Shamus and Sean (the children of the corn) call me poppy. When we’re in a park with lots of kids and fathers and there are plenty of ‘dads? being shouted, I can hear the word ‘poppy.?
When one of the boys call out ‘Poppy,? I am on point, prepared for whatever may arise. Ready to jump into action. I imagine under my street clothes is a colorful tight-fitting, polyester body-suit with a big, bold emblazoned ‘P.?
Poppy to the rescue!
Somewhere in the distance I hear music. It’s getting louder . . . they’re playing my song . . .
I am Poppy, hear me roar
Some say too big to ignore
And I know enough
because I can fix a broke door . . .
I see wind blowing through my long, flowing dark hair. My cape flutters in the breeze. I can see myself silhouetted against a light shining from somewhere. And with a deep voice, resinating from the depths of my barrel chest . . .
‘I am here, Son. What is your problem??
There goes the wind and the music is gone. Oh yeah. I have short, grayish, brownish, reddish, blondish hair with an ever growing forehead and, my barrel chest fell a few inches south.
Dad. When I type it, it doesn’t look correct.
‘How are things going, Dad?? Shamus recently asked. Then asked again when I kept on doing whatever I was doing, not acknowledging his presence. I wasn’t ignoring the boy, it just took a second for the word ‘dad? to tingle that part of my gray matter that responds to labels.
I’ve been called and have responded to many things over the years: Donald, Donald Patrick, DP, Don (never Donny), Rush, Hon, Honey, Big Fat Jerk-off, You Rat Smackin? Mean-Spirited-Homophobic and Racist Neanderthal. To all these words I turn, smile and reply, ‘Yes . . . how can I be of assistance . . .? But, for a few awkward seconds after Shamus said ‘dad,? nothing happened.
Silence isn’t golden when your boy is trying to get your attention by calling you what 99 percent of American boys call their father and you sit their like a deadbeat until you realize the quiet stillness was caused by your own blizin? rizin? slowness.
Shamus will be seven years old by the end of November and he’s in a stage now where he wants to be the big boy . . . the number one son. He wants to be the next best thing to grown up, which is to be six but think you’re 27. He still uses the word ‘poppy? but ‘dad? is creeping in more and more these days.
So, the little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy is growing up and I guess ‘poppy? sounds immature. Dad. I guess, with a little work I can get used to that label. Yep, ‘Dad? is good. (I just hope he doesn’t want to call me, ‘Don, You big fat jerk? or anything else. I’m not good with change.)
Comments for the man who would be Dad can be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I must be a very shallow man.