They say it’s possible for any given person to contain a molecule that used to be inside Thomas Jefferson. You can insert any famous person really; or any regular person for that matter. As I understand it, when a person dies, or coughs, or throws up, or pees, or any other action that frees life’s building blocks from their body, molecules are simply passed on to other living things, and I guess dead things too (I think they also have molecules.)
Listen, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m trying to sound smart but instead come off like a 9 year old after a Bill Nye binge. “DID YOU KNOW RACCOONS ARE NOCTURNAL?!” Yes, yes I did, Max.
Last night my 4 year old appeared in front of me with a bottle of Cascade dishwasher detergent and said, “Daddy, I can’t open this.” “Well it’s a good thing because little boys aren’t supposed to run the dishwasher!” I responded in a very annoyed tone (according to my wife). I was on dad autopilot, the molecules of millions of other fathers having combined to program my brain for numerous default reactions to behaviors.
I could say I sounded like my dad but the truth is I sounded like every dad ever. Maybe even a little like Thomas Jefferson. Granted, the dishwashers in those days were actual people so his son may have said, “I can’t get Sally to do the dishes,” to which daddy Jefferson responded, “That’s good because little boys don’t tell their mothers what to do,” or something like that. Actually, I bet Thomas Jefferson never spoke to his children. Who knows. I’m not very good with history.
Here’s what my wife suggested I should have said instead: “Were you going to try to run the dishwasher? It’s pretty cool, right? I really appreciate that you want to help clean up, but the dishwashing detergent is not safe for you to handle and the dishwasher should only be operated by adults. Next time you want to use it, tell us and we can help you.”
That’s modern parenting right there. A perfect execution of how the books and blogs tell us to raise happy, confident, curious kids. Mothers have always been nurturing; it’s in their DNA. Women’s bodies and brains change after they have a child. Nothing of the sort happens to men. We’re exactly the same person chemically, only now we have children. It’s no wonder new dads look so confused next to the oddly and almost inappropriately confident mother of their child.
Only in the last 30 years have fathers become even remotely decent. Before 1970 they went to work, came home, played with the kids for 15 minutes, told their son that blue was the best color and their daughter that pink was actually best. Then they mindlessly wandered out to the garage to cry and tinker with their car while the Mrs made a roast and slyly washed her diaphragm in preparation for a night of dutiful, boring, married sex. Of course there were exceptions and I’m sure your father was one of them.
We all know a lot more is expected of dads these days and rightly so. We should split the parental duties; it’s an egalitarian world. The difficult part is to undo the influence of all those ancient dad molecules floating around so we can also be as nurturing emotionally to our children. I’m not sure how to do that, but a blood transfusion might be a good start.