What wasn’t surprising to me when I became a father was just how difficult it is to express the depth of love for a child. What was a surprise, however, was the unexpected ways in which that love manifests.
Before ZK was born, I expected it to take a while to really bond with this new little one. Entirely wrong on that account, I was instantly connected the moment she issued her first, soft, barely audible cry. The wave of joy triggered by that cry was as momentous as it was complex. In one moment, it’s a lifetime of exuberance. In the next, and in some ways not next but simultaneously, the worries of a lifetime come crashing in. Ah, Merrrrrrde! …willibeagoodfathercanisayyescanisaynowhatifwhatifwhatifwhatif? Stop! One step at a time sucka. You haven’t even HELD her yet!
It’s over seven months later and I can usually hold back the flood of lifetime worries, choosing instead to address them one at a time. Today, however, one worry arose that still has a profound effect on my life and to which I have no answer. Of all the physical traits that ZK has inherited from me, I am most pleased that she has my long eyelashes. True, this means that she will forever be cursed with having to pull her sunglasses further away from her eyes to keep her lashes from touching the lenses…but this is a small price. I am less sanguine, however, about her getting my melon head.
We’ve joked a lot about ZK’s big head…it is really off the charts. This is no exaggeration. On the growth curve she’s in the mid 90% for height and weight…but her head size isn’t even on the chart. For us it is part of what makes ZK so endearing. Today, she and I had a little photo session during my lunch break and there was something about how I positioned her…or maybe it was the outfit…that made me say, “Damn, ZK, that’s a big noggin.”
Shit, what if she’s bullied because of her big head as she grows older like I was? The thought of it kills me…it feels like a gut-shot. The memories came back of years of teasing by my classmates related to my huge head. Names like Frankenstein, egg-head, and Lurch were leveled at me on an almost daily basis. The result of all of this was social isolation, spit-balls, and fights. These insults continued even into my teens and continue to have an effect on me today. True, I embrace my monster melon but that didn’t happen until my mid-20’s.
Will she have to worry about this? I hope not. But if she does, how will I respond? The very thought of it feels like a personal attack…not just an attack on her or me personally, but on my love for her itself. It’s the one thing that I feel I won’t be able to handle like an adult. The thought that some imaginary twit could spoil her joy gets me worked up. And this worry, born of my love for ZK, is humbling. And yes, it hurts. As I write this I weep hard enough to make her cry too.
Wait…take a breath…what was that I said about one step at a time? She’s not even WALKING yet! …Sucka.