Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Preparing the Identity

Witness here a link-less, science-less entry upon which one might interpret as feelings. Flavor Flav would be so proud.

So I'm going to be a Dad, probably the last great identity shift I will have in my life. Sure, I suppose the transition to Grandpaw is another, but I view that as more of a lateral change.

Naturally, when considering what I must do for my son, I've looked to my own Dad and how he raised me. Instantly I see differences that troubled me. For instance, my Dad was the model of professionalism. For most of my childhood he wore a suit and tie to work. While I do on occasion dress up for the sake of dressing up, the modern identity has shifted towards customization, comfort and casual sensibilities. I throw on a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt and think nothing of my colleagues discrediting my abilities. However, would my son think less? How do I answer that? It would be foolish to suggest that my Dad's professional, collected nature was housed in a polyester tie he bought in 1971, but on that same turn, I've never made a first impression without making every effort to look the part.

We did not get our first computer until around 1988 or so, a 386 that ran good ol' 5.25 floppies. Back then my Mom was the only one who typed. Of course, here in the modern age everyone takes working the qwerty as a given skill in the professional world. Nicole and I each have a computer and I keep a second functioning one in my lab downstairs for creative work and general tinkering. Even with that generous setup, I see room in my day for a laptop so that I may continue my access at remote locations and when I'm watching Pistons games, or need a recipe in the kitchen. It's also the central source of news; I only dabble into cable news for newsertainment or real lazy information dredging, we only buy newspapers sporadically, mostly to have that sophisticated look at the diner on Sunday morning as we ruffle the front page and give a scholarly peer over the fold to those around us. Even then, I go do my own research if the television or paper has anything of note to offer. How will I integrate children into that scenario? I remember watching the news with my Dad who had a devoted penchant for the stuff. Back then I only knew about Iran-Contra, the presidential elections and the Soviet Menace because I watched the news on television with my Dad, too young to read newspapers. I seriously doubt my son will sit and play near me while I surf the net for information on stem cell research or North Korea. Will that be lost to my son? Will I need to actively bring up current events, become my own talking head? Will that even work?

Bear in mind this is mostly an academic exercise for myself. I have bold confidence that I'll find the right balance - I just expect good things to continue to happen to me. On a subconscious level I presume I'm trying to create an idyllic version of my childhood for the template of what I want for my son, but I don't see that as a bad thing as long as I keep policy practical but my morality rigid.

Obviously I want my son to be an enlightened freethinker like myself. Once he's seven or so I will demolish the validity of Santa Claus and hope it is the first steps towards using knowledge and reason to find truth. Many parents head back to church when they have kids, I think I'll be doing that with the library, something my parents did for me, even when the Canton Public Library was just a crammed office floor in the modest City Hall. I often recall my Dad would spend long periods lost in his own findings, and our rounds about town almost always involved a stop at the Little Professor or B. Dalton. I envision a family evening at Borders*, everyone gets to pick out a book, we'll finish a waning night with drinks and some crumbly morsel. A night of capitalism spent on books is the snapshot of childhood I see; making it a reality sounds like a labor of love.

*All family members invited.


nicole said...

maybe santa claus at 8 or 9. but let's enjoy our little man as a baby first.

Scott said...

The 386 was an IBM PS2 that used 3.5 inch floppy disks.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what kind of "drinks" will you be providing for your son?

PS: Most of the fun of Santa is for the parents, not the kid. You'll see what I mean in a few years.

Anonymous said...

Comments on media technology, work clothes & fatherhood;
In terms of media technology my first rememberances were of large,free standing AM radio in a furniture cabinet in the early 1950's. My dad would listen to the nightly news broadcasts as well read the daily newspaper. Later in the 1950's we got our first black & white TV where we children were drawn to this media. My dad would dutifully watch the national 6:30pm news every day with a healthy degree of skepticism. Although he only had a 3rd grade education in a one room schoolhouse, I was keenly aware of his self taught machine tool skills which faithfully supported his family of 6. To some degree, I disdained this news obsession but in later life found a want to be informed concerning current events.I hope physically embedded communication devices never become a reality, no one needs to be "hard wired" all the time !!

In terms of business clothes, I attended Catholic school for 12 years, where the dress code was a white shirt, tie and dress pants. In high school this was elevated to include a sport coat. In college it was certainly a casual dress down. However the professional workplace of the 1970's was dress shirts and ties which I accepted as the dress code.
I do believe if you want to make a strong, positive impression, over dress for the interview, presentation, ocassion, etc.

My dad was an arm's lenght coach. I observered his strong work ethic, commitment to family, value your hertiage, quality work and follow through. Being a blue collar worker his entire life, the professional world was confounding abstract concept. However he would ask me through my later teen years " what are you going to do with your life ?" He wouldn't berate my naive responses but instilled an understanding about a plan. With my mom's nuturing and my dad steady support, I choose the engineering profession which I have found gratifying. In years afterwards he would proudly introduce me as "My son the engineer".

Family relationships can be very difficult with role expectations on both sides. So I appreciate Patrick's kind comments in this baby blog because I fully understand all of his dad expectations of me weren't realized, but I'll keep trying.

I do agree Patrick and Nicole will confidently rise to the challenges of parenthood. This is clearly evident to me first by their actions and second by their reflective comments in this blog.

I'm truly looking forward to the new grandpaw role (I'll let you know if it is lateral) where a new member will be added to our loving family.

I hope if time permits this blog will continue to the infant blog, toddler blog, "terrible twos' blog, etc.
love, dad robichaud