Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Before Isa was even born, Abram—like all fathers, probably—began often to wonder what he would be like when he grew up. His mind tended to gloss over the early developmental years of his son’s life, skipping infancy and toddler-hood and getting right into the formative years of childhood. Not that those years weren’t important. They just didn’t interest his imagination.
He knew that his baby boy would spend a lot of time in a nursery, that he would make strange sounds, that eventually his babbling would become attempts at sentences, that he would teeter around on unsteady legs. He knew that his infant son would need attention and affection and all the things a baby needs. But his role in that time, he knew, was at a much lower level. Even then, his child yet unborn, Abram felt a visceral, biological imperative to care for and protect what he felt deeply to be a part of himself. Baby needs, baby needs.
But that’s just a baby. At a high level (he remembers these thoughts with some embarrassment), Abram sometimes regarded his own child as a lump of mewling flesh that ate, shit, cried, and did little else. This was an “it,” not a “he,” not Isa. He remembers resentment that on occasion overpowered his love even though his own essential need to care for his child would never wane.
When Isa began to talk, though, and learn to read and to interact with the world, what would he be like? This is what Abram wanted to know. Would his son be a smart child or a dim one, Abram wondered. Would he be kind? Cruel?
Abram—like most fathers, probably—came to find out.