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15 April 2009

The Prospects of Being an Old Dad

To continue my musings on impending fatherhood, Act II, let me point out a few other items of preoccupation:

*One of the first things that occured to me after we confirmed the news was that I would be 58 when this child, God willing, graduated high school. 58! I realize that in today's world this does not connote full decrepitude, and in fact this might only qualify me for the Viagra target audience, and not necessarily the mortuary. But will I be able to legitimately throw a baseball then without the kid going easy on me? Or stay awake by 10 pm? Or be able to intimidate a boyfriend? Yikes.

Plus, though this has not universally been the case, I've known many instances of a child being born to older parents, never having a real connection with them because they are so out of it, and turning into a rebellious turd. Will this child grow up thinking his/her parents are hopelessly outdated and just too old to share much with?

* What if this child is a girl? Seriously. Longtime readers are aware of the many head-shaking, not-able-to-be-rationalized stories I have from dealing with teenage girls on a day to day basis as a teacher. I've griped and griped about those bizarre creatures, so naturally I'm betting on a girl this time around. I picture myself wincing through the various delicate issues I would have to deal with starting at around age 10 or so. I picture myself shuddering at the thought of some boy touching my daughter. I'm not amused.

I will say I love what one of my favorite former students told me about how her father dealt with her and her two sisters when they would fall into "adolescent girl mode". This jolly, round man, usually the loudest person at all the sporting events he was at, was a fun-loving, blue-collar Catholic country boy (of all things!). But when any drama started, the exchange would go roughly like this:

Dad: "Quit whining, suck it up, and grow some hair on your chest!"
7th Grade-ish Daughter: "Girls don't grow hair on their chests!"
Dad: "Well then, suck it up and grow some titties on your chest!"
7th Grade-ish Daughter: "I don't really have any of those yet either!"

Doubt I'll be trying that line of attack, but you never know.

*What about the age gap in children? This I have the least anxiety about - I've surreptitiously been taking notes on others who have children this far apart, or grew up in similar circumstances. The anecdotal evidence is that all has been well, including the free babysitting down the road. What we don't want is for the Boy to feel either left out, or too left in (as in feeling like a third equal in the caretaking). We want him involved as much as possible, but to still be able to be a kid. This will take some work, but a good balance should be possible.

*I could go on about finances, time, work, the inevitable decline of the America, the loss of all public morality, and other worries, but no point in that now. By the time I'm 58 I'm sure I will have addressed those here, and with the kid, on numerous occasions.


Amy said...

Congratulations to you and BAW!

School Master P said...

Thank you Amy!

Belle said...

We are over the moon about this news. My husband (who is 8 yrs older than his brother, btw, and loves him dearly) has been meaning to call...we are truly thrilled for you both.

If it is a girl, you'll do great, because you, her dad, will love her, appreciate her, and let her know that she has enough self-respect and power not to be a squealing, silly thing. If it is a boy, well, you've already shown how nicely you raise those! CONGRATS!

JP said...

I have three - ages 10, 8 and 3. We thought we were done also. Being the good Catholic I am, I'd done nothing to prevent having a baby, so not having one for that long tended to make us think we were done.


Truthfully, the age gap made it easier for me to deal with the diapers, the sleepless nights, etc, simply because the older ones were at a more self-sufficient age.

Congrats and best wishes to you and your family!

School Master P said...

Thank you, thank you - one and all. It is amazing how many folks I've become aware of now who have such gaps between their children, or between themselves and siblings. It's a blessing to hear about the great experiences of others!

Locomotive Breath said...

My first was a son. My second was a daughter. They are 5 years apart. There was a whole lot less sibling rivalry. Also the son will be out of college before the daughter starts so no two simultaneous college tuitions.

Anonymous said...

Being the 56 year old father of a 15 year old daughter, I can attest to the fact you, and she/he, will get thru it. Being the oldest parent doesn't seem to have any extra impact. We are all embarrassing. Still working on being sufficiently intimidating to boys. Her Grandfather, 6'4, 340, is helping. Her older brother, 24, tattooed, shaved head, has also promised to pitch in. Best of luck.

Brad said...

About the late parenthood issue, may I say that having older parents can bring its own blessings? Many years ago Clyde Edgerton wrote an article in the Oxford American about having parents and grandparents who started late.

Although every kid (or teenager) is at some point embarrassed by their parents, with older parents I think you've given a perspective of history and time that other kids aren't exposed to, and perhaps are more open to feeling connected to the past. Certainly, the past has a visceral reality it could not have with all these child-parents running around trying to make their kids think they're cool. (Child-parents don't have to be young, by the way, and the Boy didn't and doesn't have them.) I believe having older parents makes older people in general less invisible to you when you're young. Not being ageist is increasingly a value I hold dear.

Cynedra said...

If it is any consolation to you, my boys will be two and four this year, my spouse will be 53. Puts the 58 at graduation into perspective, doesn't it? Congratulations on the upcoming birth. I've spent the past few days reading most of your blog and enjoyed it very much (for the most part). I say for the most part because there were a few items that sent me into major tears. Your writing, of course, is excellent.
Thak you.

Michael said...

Young man, my wife and I have a boy, 9, and a girl, not quite 3. I'm 51. It's not that bad. Congratulations to you both.

School Master P said...

Again, thanks to the latest commenters - LB, Brad, Anonymous, Cynedra, and Michael for the kind words and thoughts.

Anonymous, Cynedra's husband, and Michael definitely have me impressed. As usual, I guess I should look to my wise elders for guidance :)