A couple weeks ago on this blog's Facebook page I mentioned that I was working hard on a new blog post. This is not that post. That post has become paralyzing to try to write; not because I don't know what I want to say, or how to say it, but because I don't think many people will understand it. I often find myself staying silent because I don't think people will get what I have to say.
I don't do that when I'm talking to my son Brad, though. I will self censor myself for many reasons when talking to him. He's often asks questions beyond his age and there are situations and people that it just wouldn't be healthy for him to know my true feelings about. However, I never avoid answering a question of his just because it's difficult to answer or hard to explain. Mostly because I don't want him to stop asking questions like that.
Tonight he asked me, "Dad, who are you?"
"I'm Dad," I answered.
Taking it as a dismissive, smartass response he said, "I know that but who is Dad? Who is Paul Murray?"
He was asking me this because I had asked him something very similar about himself a few days ago. I encourage him to think about things like that. I like watching him consider questions like that and puzzle over them. In this case, he hasn't answered me yet but the answers aren't the point. The thinking is the point and I knew he was still thinking of this one when he asked me the same question.
"I mean it, though," I said, "I'm Dad, Brad. That's who Paul Murray is; Brad's dad."
After 9 years of being a father, 52 blog posts that have mostly been self indulgent journeys of self discovery, and almost 34 years of life the conclusion I came to in my first blog post is still the best answer I have for that question. I am Dad. I don't know how healthy it is for me to have so much of my identity wrapped up in one person but I don't worry about it much. I'm a parent. Life isn't about what's best for me.
"But you're more than that, Dad," my son said.
"No," I answered, "I am other things besides that but there is nothing of me that is more than that. Do you understand that?"
He nodded slowly the way he does when he doesn't really get something but he's working on it. Then he grinned as comprehension sank in. I love being able to read his mind and watch it work like that.
"I love you, Dad," he said after realizing what I meant.
"I love you too Son," I replied.
"So what else are you besides, Dad?" he asked.
"You ask difficult questions," I said.
"Gee, Dad, I wonder where I get that from?"
I laughed and then tried to give his question the consideration it deserved.
"I'm lots of things," I answered, "I'm a son, brother, friend, lover. I'm a reader, sometimes writer."
I shrugged to buy myself some time. Apparently a shrug didn't meet his asking price.
"What else?" he asked.
"Well, I'm a game player and a heart breaker," I said with a wink, "And a bald, four eyed guy with an awesome beard."
"Be serious Dad," he said laughing.
"Mostly, I hope I'm a good person," I said being serious.
"You seem pretty good to me," he said.
"So good that you'll clean your room for me?" I asked.
"Let's not get carried away here Dad," he said and then went back to playing his video game.