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the year of parenting dangerously
amina's daddy states his case
by jason gilmore (@JasonGilmore77)
8.18.11
general


It will go so fast.

That’s what everyone tells you when you have a child, when you’re about to have a child, when you think you want to have a child, when you even look at a child -- enjoy each moment because they go fast. I didn’t really believe it. I was a child once, and, for me, those years weren’t fast at all. 4th Grade: Crawling. 7th grade: Sluggish. High school? So ponderous, I thought we were moving backwards on some Benjamin Button ish.

But I felt that way because I was the kid. The one with no job, bills or serious responsibilities. The one whose greatest contribution to the world was that I more or less single handedly introduced N.W.A. and Public Enemy to my junior high school. (You're welcome.) So, of course time felt slothful, elastic, listless... I had nothing to compare it to.

But this little girl, man. She’s like a different person every day. Yes, one who often screams for no apparent reason at the exact moment that whomever I was watching on TV or speaking to on the phone says something important. And yes, one for whom we’re still changing diapers and snatching crayons out of her mouth and the one because of whom, we are forcibly subjected to the ulcer-inducing Upside Down Show. But Amina is still, besides all that, a different person than she was a few weeks ago or a few months ago.

It hasn’t been an easy year for me. I want film. Well, film costs and 2011 is where I pay. Unless you’ve been paying absolutely no attention at all to me this year, you know that I’ve spent the better part of this year doing everything in my power to push my most recent original screenplay, All the Children Are Insane, into production. We’ve written a business plan, scouted locations, (verbally) hired some cast and most of our crew, developed an in-depth marketing plan, gotten the script to the manager of our first choice to play the eldest brother… and then, silence. Well, that’s not all the way true. My producing partner, Will Clevinger, and I, are still courting and meeting with potential investors and more or less living our lives as though we’ll be shooting the film next week. But in terms of the level of physical activity I had, in, say, May, things have slowed a bit. And while this film is far closer to being made than any of my other scripts, I have had my fair share of the doubt and despair common to all filmmakers trying to bring a new vision into a more or less apathetic world. Which I'm sure has not always made it easy to share a house with me.

So I am thankful that Amina brings perspective. Though I’m clearly her second favorite parent by a country mile, it is a fact that she said my name first and kissed me on the lips first. (I'm a dad, that's really all I need.) She doesn’t care where I’ve been all day or whether or not I’m grumpy. She knows who I am and she wants my approval, affection and attention. It’s that simple. And food. She wants a lot of that also. And no matter where my head is when I come through the door, she lifts my spirits without saying a word. (Or at least a word that I can understand.)

Which is not to say that we don’t get on each other’s nerves sometimes. She’s kind of a rough little girl and reacts to any form of discipline like a gangster in 1930s Warner Brothers films. And, once, just once, I would like to wake up on my own. And the approval, affection and attention thing has its limits: The last time that my wife and daughter left me home alone, I was so excited, I couldn’t even settle my brain to figure out what I wanted to do. So, of course, I ended up doing nothing.

Many parenting rules/cliches have been proven true already:

1) I love her more than I love myself. (Which says a lot because I'm on some serious Jasonphilia.)
2) The first time I disciplined her for being defiant, it hurt me more than it hurt her. (I think.)
3) I see the best of myself and my wife in her.
4) Raising a child produces (or unleashes) reservoirs of patience previously undiscovered.
5) Just because it is on the floor does not mean one should try to eat it.
6) Hiding my car keys under the couch is NOT COOL, infant or not.

I am, almost always, in search of the future; unable to assess how far I’ve come because I was ignoring the journey. But with Amina, finally, I’m present day like never before. I’m not looking forward to her being 10 or 16 (God, no) or 26. I recognize these things will happen, Lord willing, but I’m content to see each day and each change, each minor movement in her life.

What I failed to accept from the Holy Bible (Matthew 6:34) or from the parts of my life that were accelerated (Hi Pittsburgh!), Amina has taught me in her own little way: the future will be here faster than you think.

Happy birthday my Mina face.

Love,
Da-da


ABOUT JASON GILMORE

Jason Gilmore is a film director, screenwriter, novelist and unrepentant Detroit Pistons fan. Track him down on Facebook.

more about jason gilmore

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COMMENTS

tracey kelley
8.18.11 @ 8:21a

Mommy love letters are sweet, but Daddy ones are better.

russ carr
8.18.11 @ 1:11p

Yeah, just read a Mommy love letter from another friend to her four year old daughter and it was goopy like melted rainbow sherbet. The dad's gotta keep it real; it's his job. But it's still only like 20% grizzly bear, 80% teddy bear. Probably even more skewed if you've got a daughter; I can only imagine.

And man, it only gets faster.

lucy lediaev
8.18.11 @ 4:49p

Well done. You've drawn a wonderful picture of a little girl's first year of life with her daddy. There's always a TV show that gives parents pain and toddler's entertainment. I could never stand "Mr. Rogers" and my daughter suffered through "Tele Tubbies" when her daughter was very young. But a word of advice from one of the producers of Barney when an adult questioned the value of the program: Barney was made for kids, not for you! So suffer through the TV shows that enchant your daughter and turn your stomach. As you note, she changes every day, so she'll soon outgrow them.



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