Writer Ian Colvin’s jaw dropped when he heard the phrase come out of his kindergartner’s mouth. How’d he learn that? From whom?
“Go fake yourself, Daddy!”
“Go fake yourself!”
Okay — not sure if I heard that right. I was hoping my son did mean “fake,” but part of me was worried he was actually dropping an f-bomb.
I’ll admit, I’ve accidentally dropped an f-bomb a few times in front of him, but there’s usually been a good reason – a driver cuts me off or I step on a piece of Lego. (Those little f-er’s hurt!) Or, let’s be honest, when I’m trying to pretend I’m butch and know how to repair things around the house, which usually leads to a few f-bombs before I call a real repair person. Okay, so maybe not the best reasons — I’m a dad, but I’m not perfect.
I’m pretty sure he didn’t learn the f-bomb from TV. While we try to limit screen time, our son loves television, but only if it’s Disney Jr. or Treehouse. He has absolutely no interest in other channels and I’m okay with that. Mickey Mouse and his friends don’t seem like the swearing types. Jake is a pirate, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t swear like a sailor. And while the Cat in the Hat knows a lot about that, it sure would suck if he knew the word f—!
Maybe he learned the f-bomb at the park or the school yard? I know he’s bound to hear things from the older kids and will start to pick up bad words. He’s just starting his first journey into elementary school, so I’m sure he’ll hear more words that I’ll have to be prepared to deal with, but can’t I just keep him shielded for a little while longer?
I look at my son, and while I’m so proud of the little man he’s grown into, there’s a part of me that wants to keep him the small and innocent boy he is today. He’s my little buddy and I love the fact he still calls me his best friend. I adore that he constantly wants to play with me. And I cherish that fact that he still wants me to read him bedtime stories.
But I also know that it won’t be like this forever.
With Kindergarten starting, it means he’ll soon find new best friends. Instead of constantly asking me to play, he’ll be eager to wave good-bye to me as he runs off to go have fun with somebody else. And before long, he’ll be reading on his own. He wants to read so badly and he’s starting to recognize words.
Don’t get me wrong — I want him to read. Our son has such a passion for books, and it gives me intense joy to see him excited when he’s able to read a word. Our road trip this summer was filled with his asking us what every highway sign said. Halfway through the trip he started identifying certain repetitive words and proudly telling me, his Poppa, and his sister what they said. We were so proud.
But as he begins to read more, I’m not keen to say good-bye to our evenings spent together, reading “The Pigeon Wants a Cookie,” “Go Dog Go,” and any and all books to do with trucks, tractors, diggers and dinosaurs.
I appreciate he’s supposed grow up — that’s what kids do. Our job as parents is to get our kids ready for the day when they don’t need us anymore. But I’m not prepared for him to not need me.
I still need my little buddy.
I’m certainly not ready for him drop f-bombs! I thought I had a least 10 more years before that.
So I asked him, “Not sure what you mean by “go fake yourself,” little buddy. Can you explain?”
“You know, Daddy,” he says. “Dress up like a pirate or a bad guy and play pretend! Go fake yourself! Now let’s go play!”
I laughed so hard and smiled the biggest smile. So did my little buddy — and then we ran off to play. Okay, so maybe my son is still my sweet and innocent little guy who needs me and wants to play with me.
No matter how hectic the world gets, we always have time to enter into a world of make believe and imaginative play with our kids. The time we have with them is so short and we want to enjoy every minute of it.
So, little buddy, as long as you want me to “go fake myself,” I will. I will play detective, pirates, Playmobil and cars; I will keep telling you make-believe stories of the monkey who lived with your Grandma and Nana and who drives fire trucks and ambulances around the city; and I will read books to you, over and over again. As many times as you want.
And yes, I promise that I will still teach you to read, even if it means you’re growing up. Because no matter how big you get, I’ll always be your Daddy, and you will always be my little buddy.
(By the way, thanks little buddy for giving me my new favorite hashtag: #gofakeyourself. I think it might just catch on.)
Originally appeared on Gays With Kids, by Ian Colvin
Photo: Flickr/Amy Veronica