• Parenting from Pop's POV

Bum Feet

They’re grim to behold and worse to touch. They’re an embarrassment to my wife and lower my general esteem in the yoga community. My heel seems to be sprouting another heel. After a thorough washing, I worry the soles may be stained black. We call this condition Bum Foot.

The obvious cure is to wear shoes on a consistent basis, but I view shoe wearing as seasonally optional. The coming winter will surely find my foot softening, and while this will win me some basic hygiene points, I must admit to being partially irked. Poppa wants Bum Foot.

Having tough feet satisfies a primal urge of paternal readiness, my North Star of fatherhood. So much of being a father is a preparing for an apocalypse, engaging a state of keenness, of dispatch, of hustle. Being a father is having a plan of action.

You can witness this in small scale in airports around the country. Or, to be more precise, you would if you were looking. But you’re not looking. You’re looking at the family that’s falling apart. The whole tribe has mutinied, children and parents alike red-faced and hungry for blood. Their shrieks of treachery and wickedness cause the deploy of noise-canceling headphones around the terminal. There may be many factors at play here, but certainly one is the lack of a plan.

Lost in the shadow of this awfulness is a family clicking through their markers, making their way wherever they’re going according to careful preparations. Many use technological props to hurdle along, iPads fully charged and loaded. The daring put their backs into it and will draw, craft and read. Either way, there was anticipation of wild ruin, a thought which inspired a plan. The plan was put into action, and wild ruin was thus avoided. Though both parents participate in this process, A-to-B planning comes conveniently hardwired in the male brain, and so I say any failures here should fall squarely on Poppa’s shoulders.

It’s easy for this need of readiness to become exponential. A first aid kit quickly becomes a 50 gallon tub of emergency supplies, which becomes a basement full of survival gear, replete with pre-cut plywood for the windows, water storage and a cache of munitions. I myself haven’t gone that far, but if I had, I’d brag on it.

What I can and will brag on is my tough feet. And if you think tough feet isn’t part of apocalyptical readiness, please revisit the original Die Hard. I may not ever save my estranged wife from East German terrorists in Nagasaki Plaza, but it’s not impossible to imagine being out with the kids when the Big One hits. The road home is rendered impassable by station wagon, and I’m wearing flip-flops.

Unlikely, but not impossible.

Or how about the simple fact that our 18 month old has figured out the front door and is prone to give me the slip? I’m not proud of the sprinted, panicked laps I ran up and down our concrete street, barefoot, until he was located beneath a neighbor’s shrub, but I was glad that soft feet didn’t hinder my pursuit.

And so it’s with some sadness that the season changes and I watch my Bum Foot transform back into something more socially acceptable. As if fall wasn’t melancholy enough.


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