Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Little Brother

When I was a kid, there was one thing I consistently wanted for Christmas year after year: A little brother. I remember as a kid thinking that kids don’t cost any money (you just have to feed and clothe them). So I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my parents wouldn’t just get me a little brother. How difficult could it be?

Today, on the eve of my wife delivering our first son, I now think first of money when I consider what it takes to have a kid. I’ve also come to understand why my parents never gave me that little brother I always asked for: They stopped loving each other. I’m kidding, I’m kidding—I know why they stopped having kids, and it was for legitimate reasons.

However, one thing that hasn’t yet changed during my life is my insatiable desire to have a little brother. So it goes without saying that I am excited to welcome a baby boy into my home. But alas, with the much anticipated package, I am struggling to come to grips that our new addition will have an owner’s manual of sorts.

First, he is not a little brother. As much as I may try to subconsciously (and consciously) live out my dreams of having a little brother with my son, I will still have to be the dad. The far-too-often-having-to-discipline dad. Yuck. Such is the daunting task of parenthood.

Second, it will be quite some time before I can do “brother” stuff with my son. Even though I know it’s irrational, I have visions of heading straight from the hospital to our backyard to play catch with our baby boy. That’s of course irrational because there is no such thing as newborn baseball mitts. At least ones that are any good. So, I will have to exercise some patience for these next few months and years. (In the meantime, I will pray that my adorable daughter develops a love of sports, and that her habit of yelling “touchdown!” when I am watching basketball—or soccer, or baseball—is more an indication of her humor than her sports aversion.)

Third (and perhaps most importantly), I must accept my son for who he is, and not for who I want him to be. The chances that I hit the “He likes all the things that I do!” lottery are slim, and I need to come to grips with that. He may not love all the sports teams I do, and he may not like the same music as me, or laugh at the same jokes that I do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love him completely. (But still, I really hope I win that lottery.)

Our son’s name is going to be “Jameson Brent.” Jameson because he is the descendent of a long line of James’s. And Brent after my next-door neighbor who was killed in a car accident fifteen years ago. When I was in elementary school, I used to go to Brent’s house virtually every day after school to play basketball (or baseball, or football). And while there were plenty of days he could’ve (and probably would have liked to have) told me no, he virtually never did.

I guess what I am saying in a roundabout way is that I want to be the type of older brother Brent was, and the type of dad he would have been. So to you, the unknown people of the internet, I say this: I cannot wait to finally get a “little brother.” And to my son, Jameson Brent, I say this: Can you come out and play?