Writing this, right here and now, our young son has one year and two months written on his bill of life. Myself – well, I am in my mid-thirties and am a very proud (and occasionally befuddled) first-time father.
Our son has been walking since before he turned one. Now, finally, this proud (and slightly befuddled) father can take his son on manly burly bonding expeditions into the great wild yonder… Which is to say the area immediately surrounding our recently acquired farm. No more than five or ten minutes walk when walking by myself.
Walking with a young child, it of course takes quite a while longer. This is just as nature intended: the little guy stops to marvel at anything and everything he sees or hears. Which is an absolute joy to behold.
Yesterday, we saw a flock of birds flying to-and-fro. He was absolutely mind-blown by this sudden display of all natural purple prose, and so stood in pure blissful astonishment for a good and long while, just watching them, mouth agape, with that bright light of spectacular joy burning in his eyes. I should think that anyone who has ever been a parent knows that bright light in the eyes of a child. It is fantastic. This was before we reached the goal of our expedition, where I had decided earlier that morning, that I’d show him something very special indeed.
We own a somewhat run-down boathouse, you see. This boathouse is situated besides a magnificent fjord, complete with a decent looking pier and a shoreline (obviously). I took our son to see the tide coming in. Standing on our pier as we did, it was almost as though we were surrounded by water. This was without even leaving the shoreline.
Our backs to the boathouse, I put our son down in front of me to look at the tide coming in; waves crashing on the shoreline… slight breeze in the air, bringing with it the smell of salt and seaweed; bringing with it just about everything one would typically associate with salt water and sea and fresh air. Good times.
For our son, it was both exciting and slightly scary. Noticeably so. Yet, he kept making these peculiar sounds that his mother and I have learned to associate with his joy and his excitement at experiencing something new. Or, you know, just plain enjoying himself.
I was standing somewhat crouched behind him, holding him ever so gently in order that he should know that his father was there; that there was absolutely nothing to worry about.
As the tide came closer and the waves got taller and stronger as they crashed on the shoreline; as the noises of the water got louder and the wind blew harder, our son’s mingled fear and excitement seemed to turn into more of a slight fright than astonished excitement. And so he clutched his father for security, albeit without turning his eyes away from the water, without loosing that incredible light of wonder in his eyes. Seemingly transfixed by the water and the waves and the noises, and with the comfort and security of clutching me (and me, naturally, holding him closer to myself in turn), our beautiful son carried on his experience of this small miracle of nature. Until he got tired and we went on our merry way home, him still stopping every three steps or so to gaze upon some other new and exciting thing.
And I, in that moment at the pier, as he clutched me for security… at the moment when this slight gesture made our son feel so safe and secure that he could keep on experiencing this frightening yet exciting thing… I experienced this incredible sense of pride that I have only ever experienced once before – at his birth, at the moment when they placed him on his mother’s breast and I leaned over him, whispering ecstatically that I loved him and that I was his father – welcome to the world. (Well, that was what I meant to whisper to him. I suppose it sounded more like some strange, beastly, guttural noises of gratitude and joy, due to this befuddled father choking and sputtering on a steady stream of tears and strange hormones. The intent was a nice one, even if the execution might have been slightly flawed.)
It further transpired that, at the moment of that clutch, I realised that I become completely and utterly fearless when I’m doing anything at all with our son. The reason for this is a simple one, as these things go: I become fearless because I have to be fearless. There is no other alternative: I have to be fearless because I have to protect our son, no matter what might happen or transpire. And I want our son, in turn, to become fearless himself. To become fearless and to become independent in that fearlessness; to become independent due to that fearlessness; to become independent in that fearlessness on account of his father teaching him that fearlessness by showing him that there is nothing to be scared about; nothing to worry about. In essence: by leading by example. By protecting him and caring for him as only a father can. This fearlessness is, some good friends of mine recently commented, my son putting me on a path of healing purely by being born. A strange experience and a stranger path, for sure.
This being something his father does seems to be something he is completely aware of. Which might just be precisely where that sense of pride and strength and fearlessness I experienced came from; the source of the whole profound revelation: our son exhibited this trust; this sense of security without a moment’s hesitation.
I pray and I hope that this is something he himself will experience in his life; something he in turn will teach to his children when he has his turn at being a proud and slightly befuddled father, as time comes around.
This was an experience that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my natural life. Second to his birth, it was the most incredible… the most profound experience I have ever had. And it was such a seemingly small thing. A small miracle in a sea of small miracles, I suppose. All part and parcel of fatherhood, this constant stream of miracles, epiphanies, revelations, pride and befuddlement. God bless.
Moiret Allegiere (Born 1986) hails from Norway. A self-described scribbler of lines, juggler of words and weird pseudo-hermit, he became so concerned with the state of the world that he left his long and deliberate hibernation to wreak bloody havoc on the world of fine art and literature.