Category Archives: Fatherhood

Proxy

Today was the Tiny Rhino’s two month check up and I wasn’t able to be there. I returned to work a week and half ago and each missed milestone is a piece of me that is not there. Still, part of me was slightly relieved not to be present for this one, since it would be the occasion of her very first vaccinations. Dr Mrs My Wife texted at the beginning of the visit to update me on her stats (she’s getting bigger!), and some questions we had been wondering about (she’s getting more than enough sleep!), before the nurse came in to administer the shots. I didn’t hear much after that, and had to wait for a call about an hour later.

The Tiny Rhino was inconsolable, and crying in a way that she hadn’t ever heard before. She’d calmed down a little after some cuddling, but was still pretty cranky. By the time I got home she’d been crying on and off for hours, finally falling asleep briefly on my mother’s shoulder. The rest of the evening was spent hearing her keening and wailing as my mother and then my wife tried to calm her down. She was in pain, and my heart ached as I sat in the living room. This underlined a fact about parenthood that I’d been ignoring: your children will be hurt, they will be disappointed. Sometimes it will before for their own good, sometimes not, but a big feature of these situations for you – the parent – will be your total inability to do much of anything about it. Thankfully, that wasn’t 100% the case here – we were able to give her some baby aspirin – but in some measure it was a harbinger of things to come. Vaccines are good for my child, and I won’t ask that she not get them, but they will cause her soreness, fevers and aches. Life will throw things at her, and there will be times when all I’ll be able to do is hold her while she cries and tell her that it’ll all be ok, while my own heart aches for someone to do that same for me.

Maracanzo Redux

people felt worse than this
one of the many faces of despair and sadness at the Brazil-Germany semifinal

Just finished watching Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the first semifinal of the 2014 World Cup. It was tough to watch for several reasons. Firstly, there is the fact that as a good Sudanese man, my World Cup support defaults to all African nations (except Egypt), and Brazil. True enough, this has not been the strongest of Brazilian squads, but their performance at the Confederations Cup last summer was somewhat heartening. Also, there’s Neymar, who has been able to put the team on his shoulders time and time again.

So when Neymar got hurt in the quarterfinal, a lot of questions were asked. Those questions were mostly answered today (though to be fair, the absence of Thiago Silva in the center of defense was probably as big if not bigger of a problem). I don’t want to use such an obvious cliche, but they don’t call it “ruthless German efficiency” for nothing. In the space of several minutes, the German national team (die Mannschaft!) put on a clinic, giving the semifinal the air of a rec league game at best or a training exercise at worst. The Brazilian defense was stretched and disorganized, being exposed again and again by the Germans who seemed to do as they liked. Meanwhile their offense was toothless and aimless for most of the game.

The loss, while devastating, may have other consequences, which are much more real. Brazil has been a nation split over the costs of hosting this tournament. The demonstrations and even riots in the lead up to the World Cup increased the stakes for the national team beyond what a football powerhouse typically experience. Brazil is expected to win the World Cup every time, but this time, the host team would have to justify all the expense as well. And all of this in the shadow of the Maracanazo of 1950. That loss overshadowed the team’s efforts from the moment Brazil won the right to host. Perhaps dropping out in the semifinal, before a potentially disastrous loss in the final to the Netherlands – or worse, to Argentina – is preferable. The infamy that would result from a loss like that would dog every member of the squad for the rest of their lives. But such a loss may not be distinguishable from what we saw today.

I felt bad watching it with my baby daughter. Even though she’s only a month old, it just seemed unseemly for her to see the once mighty laid low in that manner. She won’t remember this, but I’ll tell her she was there to see what looks like the end of an era. The question is whether this will seem like just a blip before they return to their all-conquering form or the beginning of the end that will see the Brazil of the past fade completely into legend and myth?

Baby Sounds

Fatherhood has only lasted 15 days and I am already learning so much. For example, babies have never burped and as such are terrified by the prospect (or at least my baby is). Also, why did no one ever tell me how loud newborns are? Our baby grunts, snuffles, clears her throat; half the times she sounds more like an old lady than a tiny baby. Or like the tiny rhino that we’ve nicknamed her after.

Perhaps I’m more sensitive to sounds since becoming a father. My sleep in general has been getting lighter as I’ve gotten older, but with an infant sharing our bedroom I’ve become especially aware. I wake up at changes in her breathing, grunts that could be stretching or pooping or something unthinkable. Moreover, I’m very lucid when I do wake up, ready to react. No wonder parents always seem so tired! At the same time, I have learned to differentiate her noises. Which grunts mean “I’m hungry”, versus which ones just mean that she’s fussy. Whether they’re the cries of a baby in need of comforting or a baby still asleep, and that is a huge difference.