Tag: father

Let’s Talk About Fear (Happy Father’s Day)

The first time I held my oldest son in my arms, all I felt was a warm rush of incredible joy and a sense of jaw-dropping, gobsmacked wonder at the perfect, wonderful, beautiful innocent we had made. And then the fear arrived.

The fear sort of sidled up from the corner, insinuating itself a little at a time. Sort of introducing itself to me, one rapidly increasing heartbeat at a time, until the fear was all I could see.

I looked into my son’s eyes, watery and mostly closed against all this unexpected light after nine months plus in warm, comforting darkness, and realized it was all up to me and his mom. We were responsible for this tiny, wonderful life.

On left: Luz Castillo-Jones and Ben Jones. On right: Nate Jones and Rich Jones.

He couldn’t feed himself. We had to do it for him. He couldn’t clean himself. We had to do it for him. He couldn’t change himself. We had to do it for him. He couldn’t put himself to bed, couldn’t crawl, couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk to the horribly vicious world in which he now lived. And, what’s more, he couldn’t go back to the warm safety that, until now, was all he’d known.

The only things standing between this beautiful, wonderful tiny human and a cold, heartless existence filled with brutish horrors were two very flawed adult humans with no actual baby-wrangling experience. My heart pounded away in my chest as I tried to draw air into my suddenly too-tiny lungs.

It’s a bit of a small miracle I didn’t pass out right then and there. The only thing holding me up was the thought that I was NOT going to be the one who first dropped my son on the cold, hard floor. (Admittedly, I WAS the first one to drop my son on the floor, though that was months in the future, the floor was carpeted and it was from a height of about two inches.)

The world is a scary place, especially for new parents. It’s filled with drivers who use their cars like battering rams, driving with all the subtlety of a monkey with a coke monkey on its back. There are hard corners everywhere. There are the hundreds of dangers we see all around us and the thousands more lurking just out of sight.

As dads, it’s our job to know these dangers, to see them coming, then to stand between them and our children. We learn to fear the world. We fear the world so we can learn to become better protectors to our tiny humans, such huge, wonderful responsibilities.

We dads hold that fear close, using it as fuel to provide the kick necessary to move VERY fast when necessary. And we hold that fear close for another reason: We hold it close so we never show it to our children. They must never know the fear with which we view their world.

Dads fear the world so that our children will learn to see the world with joy, to approach its wonders and terrors with abandon, to explore, to see, to become who they want to become. Dads show the dangers to their children, explain consequences, and help their children create solutions.

We do not show them our fear. Fear is contagious. If we want our children to conquer the world, or at least that little part of it they desire, they need to understand that there are ways around danger, that problems can be solved. If a problem can’t be solved, then they can bounce back, be resilient and try something else.

Dads fear so that our children can grow and become.

My youngest son now is 21 years old. His brothers are 26 (almost) and 27 years old. And still I feel the fear for them everyday. Though that fear is lessened substantially these days because I know the men they’ve become. They are strong, responsible young men who see the world as a challenge to overcome, a partner with which to work, and a place they can make better.

If my dad is any example to go by (and I’m pretty sure he is), I’m going to feel this way for a long, long time. He still sends me articles on how to stay healthy, talks to me about how best I can navigate through this world, and offers endless advice.

I listen. I take it in. I thank him for his help. I figure he must have something good going on. After all, he did dad me, and I turned out pretty we— SQUIRREL! — pretty well. I must have, right? Otherwise, I wouldn’t be the lucky dad I am today.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Rich. Thank you, Ben (and my new daughter Luz). Thank you, Nate. You all make this a happy Father’s Day.

Just. . . Look both ways before you cross the street, all right? And wear your seat belt. And. . .

Examining The Selfie

Examining The Selfie

No one ever sets out to take a bad selfie.*

Which isn’t to say that there are not a metaphorical crap ton of bad selfies clogging the tubes of the Internutz out there. Because there most certainly are. A lot. Of bad — really bad — selfies.

Think about that a minute. People don’t want to look bad. They will take a bad selfie, though. Usually it’s not because they mean to take a bad selfie, only that. . . Well. . . Stuff happens. And it’s usually stinky.

The strange thing is, rather than discretely dispose of a bad selfie, lots of folks will publish it on the Intranutz for everyone to look at.

Yes, that is a snake and *sigh* yes that is my head within easy striking distance.

Even stranger? If you google something like bad selfie and great selfie, you’ll find plenty of the same pics on both lists.

Sometimes, the difference between a good selfie and a bad selfie is all in the perspective. If you’re the person in the selfie, it’s horrifying. If you’re someone else seeing the selfie from far away in space and time, it’s fantastic.

I suppose at this point, some of you are wondering why a blog dedicated to personal storytelling and memoiring is going on and on about selfies. If you’re not, you should be. Go on. Say you are. You are, aren’t you?

Yes, I thought so.

I’m going on and on about selfies because what is a memoir but a written example of the selfie. It’s a snapshot of a time in your life, taken by you and then shown to others. Excepting the fact that you’re not using a camera, it’s exactly the same thing.

Sort of.

In a way.


In a manner of– I think you get the point.

Getting To The Point

And, like a selfie, there’s something important to understand about getting metaphorically naked (See? Told you it was a metaphor.) in front of the mirror and then telling everyone who’ll listen about what you see.

Personal's not the same as important. People just think it is. -- Sir Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Just because it happens to you, that doesn’t mean it will be important or interesting to anyone else. It’s up to you to not only make that decision, but also make sure that when you trot out your prose version of a selfie, it’s something that people will want to read.

The best way to do that is to make sure that what you write isn’t focused only on the naked parts of yourself you’re exposing to the world, but also shows why other people should be interested in what you’re saying.

Take a look at the selfie I took of me yesterday. There is, as you might expect, a story that goes along with that picture. It’s a sad story, full of head shakes and wonders about how I could have made it to my current age, much less have been able to successfully breed and rear three children.

In The Beginning. . . 

The story starts with my middle son — a recent college graduate — going upstairs and then shrieking, followed by a lot of cursing. None of which really made me look up from my work.

I told you. . . I reared three children — three boys — so I’ve heard a lot of shrieking and cursing and large thumps and loud bangs in the last decade plus. There’s not much that really bothers me any more.

“Holy crap, Dad! There’s a huge snake up here!” is definitely one of those things that will bother me.

The snake: In Happier Times