The nice thing about being a stay at home dad is that most of the population is polite and understanding enough not to mention how bad I smell. Children themselves produce staggering amounts of funk, and dads… well, dads are just big kids. Even with The Child out of diapers we still manage to rustle up a stench between the two of us. Still, it’s better than my last job.
I grew and tested bacterial spores in a lab. Imagine a simple science experiment that ended, for good or bad, with the faint smell of hot bowling shoes repeated 2000 times a day. Also it was staggeringly boring*. One year The Spouse gave me a music playing device and introduced me to the wonders of audiobooks in the hopes that it would help speed me through those long days and that I might listen to a book about personal hygiene.
The end result of all of this is that I devour audiobooks. DadisthenewMom is a man who gets excited and passionate about whatever he just heard about and damned if he doesn’t want you to feel the same. I want people to be as thrilled and awestruck by some author as I was. The problem with this is that a half-dozen books a week can give a man a wide and varied literary experience but it can also make him incoherent.
I would try to relate a particular P. G. Wodehouse gem that really got to me but also really needed most of the book as a setup to work. This is the time when a rambling anecdote makes you sound like a crazy person. Younger Brother turned me on to Patrick O’Brien and I listened straight through all twenty-some Aubrey/Maturin books in just under a month. Twenty books of intricate, technical Napoleonic Era tall ship sailing jargon can put a strain on any relationship. Over coffee one day I remarked to The Spouse how odd it was that, “a hawser was cable-laid but a cable wasn’t cable-laid, that the names come from thickness and length rather than construction.” With a great deal of love, she looked me in the eyes and said, “I have no idea what you are talking about, nor have I for the past several weeks,” and went back to her coffee.
Ever since then I’ve learned to express my geeky obsessiveness to the lowest common denominator by summing up, in simple easy to understand packets (“Did you know that many english colloquialisms come from sailing terms?”), what would have taken most of a dinner conversation to express (“The saying ‘parted brass rags’ comes from a practice of…”). I had to learn to speak like a child again.
My daughter shares this urge to impart her newfound knowledge of the world. As it turns out, The Child is already actually very good at speaking like a child. She has a vast vocabulary and loves to be specific but when she is talking about her passions and desires she goes straight for the simplest terms. She is still a child through, and at times her excited ramblings remind me of a person speaking Pidgeon english. Today she told me that for Christmas, she wanted:
- “Floppers” for doing with the water, and
- Hot and Cold air for her back.
She is either going to be very happy or very confused come the end of December.