As I begin my ninth month of being a father, it occurred to me recently what my favorite part of raising my son Owen has been. He challenges me, outsmarts me, annoys me, and completely changes the way I go about my life — but more specifically, he invites me to think as a child again.
For people who know me, this does not sound out of the ordinary: as part of my work, I play video games, watch film, and engage with a boatload of material related to mass media on the Internet. Doing all of those “fun” activities with the mindset of an academic analyzing an artwork does not always translate into the innocent fun of my childhood, however, even if I do greatly enjoy them.
What I had not had the opportunity to do until Owen was crawling and actively playing was to do things like make animal noises at another person, or play with stuffed animals for extended periods of time. Doing things that are normally considered strange for an almost-thirty year old man, like rolling cars on the floor while pretending to honk them at someone, playing with puppets that all have different singing voices (performed by me), or inventing new tunes on a four-note xylophone that plays only a major chord has reminded me of how much fun it is to be a child.
I hope that Owen enjoys his childhood as much as I enjoyed mine — for now, he continues to invite me to see the world through the eyes of a younger person, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.