My life changed rather drastically on the evening of September 5th, 2012; I became a Father. I won’t go into all of the haphazard circumstances that led to the arrival of my firstborn son… there are other parties involved whose business it is not my place to tell, but suffice it to say, his mother and I were not (and are not) together. Just the same, it was made clear from the moment it was confirmed that I would have a child that I would NOT be a “baby daddy”, but a FATHER. It’s important that I make a distinction there; I am an active and involved parent to my son; I do not have ‘visitation rights’, because he lives with me 50% of the time (I refused to settle for anything less). I pay the vast majority of his expenses, including day-care when he was younger, private school tuition during his kindergarten year, after-school care, etc. I am not some sperm-donor who shows up every so often around birthdays and holidays to drop off a couple of gifts and take pictures to post for social media. My son scarcely goes more than two days without seeing me. I help with homework; I take him to the YMCA 90 minutes early for Saturday morning swim lessons so that he and I can get in the pool together for extra practice. I’m on the field with him for soccer practice. I’m at the school assemblies and functions. I’m at the graduations. I’m waking him up in the morning AND tucking him in. I’M HERE, bruh.
Circling back to the beginning, I think it’s the job of every Father to come up with a nickname for his son that isn’t overly “cute and cuddly”; his mother and her family took to calling him “Puddin’-Man” almost immediately, or “Pud” for short. As adorable as that was, he’s going to be a man someday, and I felt he needed something that felt a little… cooler, I guess. Around his first Thanksgiving, I was sitting on the couch watching one of my favorite 90’s movies, A Low Down Dirty Shame; I’ll eventually write a post about how Jada Pinkett-Smith’s character “Peaches” became the blueprint for the kind of woman I wanted to marry, but that can wait for another time. The POINT of this reference is that there’s a scene where the lead character, Shame, jokingly says,”I hear those ladies callin’ my name, ‘Shame, Shame!’ Leave me alone, stop tuggin’ at my silk drawlz… don’t love me like you do!” As this line was delivered, I burst out laughing, and my newborn son did the same. From that day forward, he’s been “Young Shame”, and I’ve been “Shame Senior”.
Fatherhood is an interesting place to have found myself; I wasn’t particularly young as a first-time parent, having managed to make it to age 31 before becoming a Father, and I’d honestly always wanted children. My first son was born out of wedlock, which I wasn’t particularly pleased about, but my mantra has long been to not invest worry into things over which I have limited control. My own Father wasn’t exactly ubiquitous in my upbringing, though I can’t honestly say the fault there lay entirely with him considering how often and distantly my mother moved us around. I didn’t always have a male role model around to show me what manhood was supposed to look like, let alone Fatherhood; as such, I’m kind of figuring it out on my own as I go. That’s not intended to be a disclaimer so much as it is a baseline statement; I fully intend to share my great successes and inevitable small failures along the way as I help mold Young Shame into a bigger, smarter, faster, stronger version of myself. I will obviously not do everything right; I already have in mind a post or two about things I’ve had to correct myself on, but I’m hoping that by sharing those course corrections with you, you’ll be able to avoid a few of the pitfalls along the way of raising children of your own. If I’m lucky, maybe someone with even more experience will respond to one of my posts and teach me something that will help me as well.
Until then, stick around for upcoming installments of the adventures of Young Shame and Shame Senior, as we both try to figure out how to be the best Father and Son duo since Gerald and Eddie Levert. This should be quite the journey.