A Trip to Drama Class: a Trip to Fatherhood

April 9, 2008
By Bill Wheaton, Manasas, VA

I walked up the steps to work, not expecting anything different then the usual, maybe take out some garbage, prepare snack. I entered the front doors and walked to the front office, preparing for another day at the caterpillar clubhouse daycare center. I noticed the director, my boss, and her daughter, my other boss, discussing something, and they looked at me kind of timidly. I just kept doing my thing, if I asked questions, they’ll ask me questions, the kind that aren’t questions but orders in the form of questions. I was about to exit the office when they called me. “Bill, how would you like to do me a favor?” I paused, facing the opposite direction, hoping to god it wasn’t something that would actually make me do work at my job.

“Well, this favor would be on the clock”, said the director, Mrs. Richardson. The director’s daughter, Mrs. Melissa, then said with a smile “how would you feel about taking Dustin to his acting class?” I immediately agreed to it, this is one of those golden moments where I get out of the center while on the clock.

Dustin is a funny little kid. He had the kind of “funny little kid” qualities you would expect from a kindergartener. He has a high pitched voice, he says out of this world things, and he has the ability to be completely occupied with little things adults don’t pay attention to.

When we walked out of the building, I had this odd feeling overwhelm me, one that can only be described as responsibility. The real responsibility, not personal, but protecting something or someone other than yourself. I told Dustin to walk, look both ways before crossing the street, and I asked him patiently whether he wanted to sit in the front or the back seat. He told me he wanted to sit in the front, so I opened the door for him and watched him as he buckled his seat belt.

I sat down in the driver seat, and handed him one of the ‘surprise items’ which can be found on the floor of my back seat. All I did was had him a tennis ball, but he was completely content with that during the car ride. I remember asking him normal questions, like “how was your day?” or “do you like acting class?” which he gave his own kindergartner answers to. He then started asking me his own brand of questions. He asked me how old was I, and when I said 17, he begin telling me how much older his mother and father were then me. He then asked me if I had a kid, which I smiled and said no. He then exclaimed “you don’t have a kid? When you grow up you’re a’supposta have a kid!” I then smiled again and said, I’m not quite a grown up, I’m kind of like a big kid.” He seemed content with my response, and began to play with the window switch. When we arrived at the freedom center, where his class was, he bolted out of the door. I then opened my door and boomed a loud, authoritative “DUSTIN”, and he stopped in his tracks before entering the street. I walked up and stood beside him, not having to explain what he did wrong, because he knew very well. He walked along side me as I told him to look both ways before he crossed the street, and once we got to the sidewalk, there was no stopping him form running around all he liked within the grass. I told him to watch out or wait for me if he was about to bump into someone or getting too far ahead. When we finally got to the door, he explained to me the system of how we “went in one way” and “went out one way” which was separated by ropes. I thanked him for his knowledge, and he guided me further towards his class. As we walked towards his class, I smiled in a semi-proud way at my tour guide as he brought us to our destination. I walked him to the door of his class room, and he tuned out of anything else but the class. He ran in, and after about ten feet I called him to come back, I then took his jacket off for him and let him run off. I smiled and watched him join the other kids within the class, and I hung up the coat. I would say I even felt that same heart sinking feeling that parents feel like when there kids completely forget about them, even if they know they don’t recognize it.

While I felt like a father during my trip with Dustin, I realize that this only a portion of what father hood is really capable of. I just felt like I stepped up to the plate when taking care of another person, and I felt I did a good job acting, well, fatherly. I conversed with Dustin, and I feel like by the end of the day, I had the appropriate mesh of friendly bonding and being a responsible caretaker. While I do know that I’m 17 and an hour trip with a 5 year old doesn’t mean I can be a father, I also know from the brief glimpse of fatherhood I took part in, I can’t wait to experience the real deal.

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