Illustration for article titled For Colored Dads Who Have Considered Kindness When French Fries Wasn’t Enuf
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I planned to explain my leave of absence from The Root before it happened. Then, during my wife’s routine doctor’s visit on the last Friday of August, everything went to shit.

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We thought we had a week and a half before she would give birth but she was on the phone telling me that the doctor wanted us in the hospital Monday morning. I don’t even know what was said, I just remember feeling dizzy.

We hadn’t even packed a hospital bag.

The baby is here. She is fine. She was born on Sept. 2. She wakes up happy. She cries like her lungs are on fire. I am now a father of a two-year-old boy whose favorite activity is breaking things and a three-month-old girl that somehow runs the house from her crib.

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I am a father of two. I feel like I should know everything. I don’t know anything.

I know one day at open gym, where we take our son on Saturdays, I wanted to beat the life out of a white dad who was allowing his son (who was probably five but looked 17) to run amok. I watched his son push over a kid’s block castle. I watched his son grab a hula hoop from a little girl and toss it. My son was laying down on the mats. His son walked over and stepped on my son’s stomach. I wanted to rage against these white thugs who attack innocent blacks.

I’m way too vulnerable.

I’m way too in my head.

I hate the news.

The news is my job.

I read stories for a living. I read one about a teen son whose father abandoned him for having gay porn on his phone. I’ve read another about a daughter who was abducted and her body was found later.

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I’ve lived my life minimizing the number of people I care about. It’s a crutch and a shield.

I don’t know how I’ve made it this far. At times I feel like I’m weighed down while trying to swim in the deep end. Other days I feel like I’m floating on top of the water.

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I always hated people who said shit like, “My kids are my life.” I get them now. They are my tribe.

My son is super smart. Way smarter than me. But the world isn’t kind to black boys. The world hates smart black boys.

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This is why the visual of a white boy stepping on my son set me ablaze.

I didn’t fight his father.

I wanted to.

I’m growing up.

Once, my father had to be escorted out of my elementary school because a male teacher pinched my sister’s cheek so hard it turned red. I didn’t get what the big deal was. My dad wanted the man dead. I get it now.

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I see my wife through my daughter’s eyes. I see my wife as a mother. She’s pretty brilliant. Both of them.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • I’m not ready to die. I used to be OK with death. Now I’m running from it.
  • Getting smacked in the face is an acceptable way for my son to wake me up.
  • French fries are not only a decent snack, but they can substitute for dinner.
  • My daughter looks for my face and when she sees it she smiles.
  • My face must always be there.
  • She must see me.
  • All TV isn’t bad. My son has learned that Humpty Dumpty’s poor choices led to his demise and also that Johny is a god damned liar.
  • Both are essential life lessons.
  • Sometimes getting a shower may be the last thing on the list and that’s OK.
  • Moms totally check out other mom’s mom-shit. It’s kind of their thing.
  • Never pick your baby up when you’re angry, they can feel that shit.
  • It’s OK to run for no reason.
  • It’s really OK to dance for no reason.
  • It’s really, really, OK to talk to yourself even if other people can hear you.
  • They probably won’t remember half of this shit so it’s OK to be kind to yourself.
  • They’re totally going to remember all of this shit and use it against you when they are teens, but you can still be kind to yourself.
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I am a too-vulnerable, overthinking, doting father of two who believes in kindness; loves his family more than he ever thought possible; trusts the nutritional value of french fries and may or may not have showered this morning.

That is fine.

And so am I.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

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