REGRET SHOULD BE A FOUR-LETTER WORD

I had this great decal on my last car. It consisted of a skull with a dagger through it, surrounded by red roses. Underneath it, written in Old English were the words “No Regrets.”

I wanted to get that image tattooed on the side of my body, with those exact words; words to live by. In my mind, I pictured myself as this adventurous, free-spirited sort of person; a person who was able to look Risk in the face and shout, “Bring it on, Baby!” If that risk then resulted in disaster of ginormous proportions, I still would be able to shrug it off and tell myself, Well, at least I have no regrets.

Then I realized, Who am I kidding? That ain’t me. I have more regrets than there are tattoos on line at Social Services. Having no regrets is a great way to live, but if you were born Catholic like I was, regrets go hand-in-hand with guilt, and that better describes my personality.

Have you ever had those moments where you’ve wanted to freeze time so you can go back and do something all over again? Moments where you’ve experienced a wave of anxiety, because you know it’s too late to change the way things have turned out; moments that make you want to beg to a Higher Power, “Please give me another chance to make a different choice.”

My son has been fascinated lately by the idea of reincarnation. I believe in it, and I’ve told him such. His little mind tries to grasp the vast concept; one that I have trouble explaining in simple terms. I initially introduced the idea to him so that he wouldn’t be afraid of death, his or mine. I wanted him to know that when you die, it is possible to go on to something else, something better. It isn’t all darkness and maggots and nothingness.

I’ve told him that when he dies, he can be born again into a different body—sometimes a different sex even, with new parents, in a new country. The downside is he’ll have no recollection of his previous life. This makes him sad, of course, because he doesn’t want a new mommy, but I can see the wheels spinning in his head when I say there’s a chance he can be a girl, living in Russia.

Sometimes I tease him by telling him he can also come back as a spider; he’s terrified of them. In my best Mr. Miyagi voice I say, “Teach you not be so afraid of spiders.”

One night as we lay in bed, discussing the pros and cons of coming back as a girl or boy, he said, “I hope I have a dad next time.”

There was a huge FREEZE moment. One of those moments where I felt sick to my stomach; a moment so full of regret, and sadness that I would have given anything to be able to rewind time and change things.

“You have a dad,” I said without conviction. We both knew I meant only in the biological sense. His eyes filled with tears, before he quickly brushed them away.

It’s too late for my son to grow up with a father. It’s too late for me to find him a step-father. Coaches just don’t cut it as a male role model, and all but maybe fifty teachers in the world are female. Forget priests; forget his grandfather. Our Chihuahua isn’t filling the father void, and neither are the cats. Or the parakeets.

This is something I cannot fix, and for a parent, it’s heart-breaking. How do I raise a boy without understanding men myself? Where’s the manual that guarantees a strong and independent productive member of society, with a good sense of hygiene and the ability to pick up after himself? Who can teach him how to be a man today, when most of the time I go out of my way to avoid men?

I’ve stocked up on all the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies. When he’s old enough, we can make some popcorn and put our feet up while watching them together. I may not be able to teach him how to burp the alphabet or wolf-whistle, but I can teach him how to make some killer brownies to impress his future girlfriend, and that the secret to a sparkling toilet bowl is pumice stone.

And love.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Valerie
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 15:51:55

    Tiff, you are a really great writer. This is the very first blog I ever read. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. 02fan
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 16:11:06

    …a true step-father, possibly not since you appear to be relationship averse. However, I think it’s important that kids, male or female, grow up with role models.

    My father was gone quite a bit and although I loved him very much he wasn’t exactly a good role model. I did have a few coaches that were a huge influence on my life. Some were when I was younger and another specific one when I was in high school. The ones when I was younger were friend’s fathers that went the extra mile to always be there for their kids. Even though they were busy men they could always be counted on to coach their kids teams and by doing so help the other kids as well. Because of their influence I always did the same for my kids even though my father never did. Are they father figures? Nope. However, they can be a positive influence if you point out to your son that you admire their effort and the donation of their time.

    I also had friends fathers who were scout leaders and took me hunting and camping with them even though my father did not. Because of them I also have always tried to volunteer my time and help kids through various organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs where I’ve lived. If I can’t donate time I try to donate money to help out.

    I had a man in the neighborhood who played semi-pro baseball. His kids were younger than me but he took the time to play catch and coach me on techniques. He enjoyed doing it and also was a role model for me on helping others grow. I can count on one hand the times I played catch, shot baskets or did much of anything with my father.

    My high school coach was one of the kindest and thoughtful men I’ve come across. He loved his job and had a passion for helping us all learn to become better baseball players and men. I’ve used what he taught me many times over the years.

    My suggestion is that you point out the positive traits of some of the men around your son so he does recognize what he should do as he grows into a man. He’s apparently already seen what he shouldn’t be like through his own father’s actions. He might not have a father figure in the house. If you look though, there are going to be plenty of examples that you can point out to him as examples of what he should do as a man and future father.

    Good luck!

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      Mar 01, 2012 @ 09:09:01

      Obviously, I can teach my son decent morals and values. Just seems like sometimes there’s a “male code” that I can’t even begin to understand. And of course I always worry I might feminize him too much.

      Reply

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