“Daddy? Daddy?! DAAAADYYYY??!!”
“Hello to you!”
And so goes the majority of my conversations with my nearly-three-year-old. Day-in and day-out, for the past few months now. Morning, noon and night, he calls for me. And he’ll keep right on saying my name until I respond. No matter what it takes, he wants my attention.
I must hear, “Hi daddy” at least 100 times a day. While I’m on the phone? Check. Driving the car? Check. While I’m sitting here, silently on the toilet, pretending to have a reason to be here other than the need for peace and quiet? Definitely check. His shout-out is inescapable. It’s a little like being a rock star, or maybe like being a rock star’s manny.
I should count my blessings. My son loves me and wants me to be a part of his life. I know all too well that when the teen years hit I’ll be yearning for any kind of attention – mean- spirited and angst-ridden attention, perhaps, but attention nonetheless.
Even though I know better, somewhere around the 40th “DADDY!” I catch myself feeling frustrated with his limited vocabulary and
unlimited want of my attention. Where are all those imaginary friends when you need them? Isn’t Mom deserving of a nod here and there? No, it’s the All-daddy Show all the time. Twenty-four-seven. Three-sixty-five. Just. Dad.
On the other hand, I admit I’m kind of nervous that I’m running out of reasons to be genuinely worthy of his time and (nearly oppressive) adoration. I need to learn some magic tricks, or how to juggle, or how to talk like a Minion. Something to wow him and blow his mind. Would it keep him quiet? Or impressed? What if we don’t even make it through the toddler years with our friendship intact? WHO WILL SCREAM MY NAME THEN???
And then, from the other side of the bathroom door, I hear it. “Daddy?” And I figure I’ll just do my best to enjoy it while I can. Even if it means enjoying it through clenched teeth and a fake smile while perpetuating the stereotype of dads spending too much time in the bathroom. Better find a good book.
Shannon Cook is a husband, a father of three and a filmmaker living in Austin.