I’ll never leave you, son. I won’t be like other dads. I won’t get caught-up in the egocentric world of full-time, part-time, or seasonal work. Sure, some other dads have jobs. They’re working for huge companies. They’re closing sales, climbing the corporate ladder and not looking back. But let me ask you something, son. Can those Harvard MBAs braid friendship bracelets? Can they play Bruno Mars covers on the xylophone? Or do they have a system of adorable hand-signals that only they and their sons know? Signals that mean I’m hungry, I’m tired, or I’m covered head-to-toe in peanut butter colored shit. I seriously doubt that they do, son.
I won’t run off on you. As you grow up, I won’t ever run. I won’t jog, speed walk, or mall walk. I won’t join a gym and waste precious time on cardiovascular health or other dad vanities. Sure, I could lose some pounds. Just ten-minutes a day would tighten things up. In a few months, I could sculpt a fantastic physique. Maybe your mother and I could reconnect, revive our sex life, and fall back in love. But that’s time I could be spending with you, son. Do you see the tension there?
I won’t put anyone before you. I won’t go to social events or family functions. When friends call and ask us to dinner, I’ll offer convincing excuses for why we can’t attend. “Oh this kid,” I’ll say. “This kid is a nightmare!” But, son, I won’t mean it. The point is, who can cultivate friendships when raising a man? You can only do one thing at a time. I mean, if Bill Gates had tried to run Microsoft while raising a child would we have the Zune? Absolutely not, son.
I won’t enroll in Adult Ed or night classes. I won’t acquire marketable skills. I’ll stick with Windows ’97 because I love you, son. And because it’s a classic operating system.
You’ll see your fair share of “cool” dads. They’ll gel their hairs. They’ll wear durable corduroys and half-zips. But, son, I’d have to be a workaholic to afford those contemporary styles! I promise you, your dad will never be cool. I’ll wear pleated shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and fishing hats. I’ll mix blacks with browns. Year by year, I’ll fall deeper into fashion oblivion and deeper in love with you.
When you’re a teenager, I won’t pull up to your school in some flashy, late model sports car and embarrass you. You have my word, I’ll park 700-yards from the loading zone and wait for you in an old Buick Century—a champagne colored one with a large “cat-lover” bumper sticker. Sound familiar? It should. It’s your grandmother’s car. Soon she’ll be gone, god rest her soul, and it’ll be mine. I’ll drive it good and hard, right into the ground. And then, on your nineteenth birthday, I’ll give it to you, son.
I’ll wrap up my identity with yours. The man formerly known as Todd Hansen will be known only as “Colin’s Dad.” Colin’s dad who mails care packages to his son’s college. Colin’s dad who makes surprise visits and sleeps-over in his son’s dorm room. Colin’s dad who cries continuously on the long drive home each week. And while I may have a poorly differentiated “self,” at least I’ll have you, son.
Of course, you may hear a different message from your mother. As you grow up, you may overhear her talk about my so-called “situation” or my “motivation issues” or my “man boobs.” Your mother may use a condescending tone when discussing your stay-at-home father’s “employment history” or laud the dream of a lavish, dual income lifestyle. But hear me now, son: everything I don’t and won’t do, I don’t and won’t do it for you. I’ve set the bar low so you’ll never have to climb.
Do you understand?