THIS is a Father’s Day article, so forgive me if I sound extremely sentimental today.
You can’t write about fatherhood without tears welling up your eyes. I consumed 30 rolls of tissue paper before I could even start a word. So here we go.
Last Sunday morning, while all the other fathers in the world woke up feeling important and ready to bask in the limelight, I was challenging my three-month old baby to a fight. The boy accepted the challenge and fought in the best way he knew how, by screaming his baby lungs out. Like the real gentleman that I was, I refused to smack the boy’s face with a pack of diapers and fought him in the best way I knew how under the present circumstances, by screaming my aging lungs out.
So that’s how I and my baby spent our first ever Father’s Day celebration together, by being locked in a shouting match inside our little rented room in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.
No, it wasn’t my fault, never. Here’s what happened.
I was in the middle of a dream, a dream that was taking me to places where men gather over beer and talk about art and poetry and philosophy and post-modernism and how Bonifacio is greater than Rizal and how the government sucks and how sometimes they want to kill themselves because nobody understands them, and how the Internet erodes morality while they find it impossible to deactivate their Facebook accounts, stuff like that.
In short, I was dreaming the kind of life I want to live when all of a sudden the dream was interrupted by a shriek, a real mean, ear-piercing shriek only a three-month-old baby is capable of shrieking. It sounded like this: UHAAAUWEEEIIkK@%^#&^%@&!
Parents will agree with me when I say a baby’s scream can shake even the tallest skyscraper within a mile radius. One time, a friend living five blocks from our place texted me in the middle of the night if I could shut my baby up because he was watching Hawaii Five-O reruns and he couldn’t hear a thing.
Anyway, going back, the wife was awakened too. She would tell me later she was also in the middle of a dream, a dream that was taking her to places where girls gather over cheese curls and orange juice and talk about shoes and bags and Johnny Depp and Phil Younghusband and cotton candy and satin sheets, you know, stuff girls post on Facebook, TEHEEE, LMFAO.
Unlike me, the wife welcomed the interruption because she hates those girly things. But I was getting angry. While the wife was laughing, I checked the baby in his bouncer, a two-legged crib that rocks on its own at the slightest movement, so that it works as if the baby is rocking himself to sleep. The bouncer had been doing miracles for the three of us since we bought it days ago. But that early Sunday morning, the miracle crib failed.
I checked the boy’s diaper. It was dry. I checked his ears, his eyes, his nose and other baby orifices if there was something in there, like ants, mosquitoes, bugs or Barney. None. His breastfeeding mom took him from his useless crib and offered him his meal, while I sang “I Have Two Hands.” No, he was not hungry, and he hates my voice.
It was Father’s Day and I was determined to play the role of a father seriously. So I asked the wife to give me the boy, praying the gods of fatherhood would be kinder to me now. I sang again, this time “London Bridge.” UHAAAUWEEEIIkK@%^#&^%@&! Not working.
What’s your problem? I asked Mr. Shriek. You want to fight daddy? Ha? Come, fight daddy! I was screaming now. Mr. Shriek fought back with another UHAAAUWEEEIIkK@%^#&^%@&!
Seeing my desperation, the wife took the boy from me and gently, very gently placed him adjacent to her in bed, effectively eliminating me from the family equation.
Whatever force of nature was at work that time, Mr. Shriek fell silent. I watched as the mother and son lapsed into a deep sleep together, then I went downstairs to check if Hawaii Five-O reruns were still on.