It took having a child to realize that I had a temper. Thought I was cool. The most difficult thing that I’ve ever done was become a father. And I did it in one of the strangest places in the world. The pressure to model Japanese societal standards has the force of a car crusher. It’s a homogenous country that refused to talk to the world for 200 years. Spending a lot of time alone makes you weird, ask anybody with a lonely occupation.
Here, child abuse and parents killing their kids is a problem. It’s common.
Far from being Japanese, I’m isolated from normally interacting with other fathers like me. Reading these parenting magazines, you’d assume that everyone had enlightened mothers and fathers. As a raging toddler, when you screamed in your parents’ ears at pitches that rattled their equilibrium, they meditated. Their pre-millennial problems were segmented from your parents minute to minute modes. Slaying childhood demons that haunted their unconscious, your folks child-proofed their unresolved anger. Creative mind games were substitutes for corporal punishment. Race, history, and class had nothing to do with child development. You grew up living that “conflict-free life.” #ojsimpson
After Kantra was born, whatever irrelevant noise of what came before her got turned down, pushed to the side, like a cross fader. Life without her is a void. Still, for the past month, from my perspective, my parents are looking like Pippen and Jordan. I’m Starks in the finals. “You ever catch yourself trying to be a parent?” I heard somebody say on Black Astronauts.
Haruki doesn’t even have time to eat dinner. She’s working at home too. I try to stay calm. It’s like cupping water in my hands. Sometimes I manage to squeeze my fingers just tight enough to stop the leaks, if even for a deep breath of a moment. Drip drip.
Recently my wife was on a work related conference call and Kantra was jumping on her bed. I kept whispering to her to stop, til finally, “You’re not listening and that makes me very sad,” I said. She fired back, “No your not. Your mad.” Her maturity level spikes at what I perceive to be random times. I give her a few more years before she surpasses me.
Soon as she’s done owning mommy’s attention, she turns to me. “Lets fight daddy,” she says. She becomes a blue sword swinging Spider lady with checkered bat wings for ears. I’m a pink pillow wielding Superman. At home, I’m daddy. At the park and at school, I’m her escort.
Trying to dial down the trauma, she gets away with things that would’ve easily gotten me an ass whipping. I pray that I don’t ruin my baby, but she shows no signs of backing down from me. She about her business. Undeterred and forever extroverted, she wouldn’t give fucks if Super Why! asked her. Everyday I hug her and tell her that I love her and that I’m proud of her. “Daddy’s not perfect,” I say. “I know,” she replies.
We’ve been practicing how to write her name. She’s getting it. I see a hand-style in the making.
Yesterday morning when we were getting ready to go to school, she hit me with a left hook, “I love daddy,” she said. “I love you too. You make me so happy.”
P.S. My wife keeps telling me to watch this movie, Sunk Into The Womb. She said it disturbed her, but it painted a close picture of what is going on here. “What, you want me to be traumatized too?” I already saw Nobody Knows.