Published June 14. 2013 4:00AM
My son Dillon just got engaged on a scuba trip. He proposed underwater with invisible ink and a black light. She shined the light on his "Will you marry me?" sign, and flashed him the "OK" sign.
Aside from being thrilled with Emma, my future daughter-in-law, and the upcoming nuptials, I have decided upon my next big career move: Grandpa. I'm coming right out and saying that I want grandkids as soon as Dillon and Emma are wed.
I think I had barely begun puberty when I got married, but 10 months after I said "si" in San Giorgio's chapel in Padua, Italy, my wife brought Dillon into the world. We had our third child during my second year of med school right before I took and passed a standardized medical board exam. The test was broken down into different sections; in cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology, pediatrics and most other sections, I did reasonably well. In the "reproductive health" section, I did so poorly they didn't even score me. I showed my wife, who said, "You think that's why we keep having these kids?"
Medical school was easy compared to being a parent. I took Dillon to my pediatrics professor for his shots. I knew he needed vaccines and understood the response that his little immune system would mount. He screamed at the needle and looked at me in pain and disbelief, like I had betrayed him. It took a good half an hour to calm Dillon down in the crowded waiting room, and when he settled into crying hiccups as I held him in my arms, he said in a loud, clear voice in front of everyone, "Daddy, I want you to kill him."
I read books about raising children, too. One writer said that when a child acts out, it is important to shake him up to let him know right from wrong. A few days later, I was trying to get Dillon's snow shoes on. He kicked them off and demanded sandals because "snow shoes are stupid!" Reasoning didn't work and, remembering my book, I picked Dillon up, looked him in the eye, and said, "You must not act this way" as I literally shook him. As Dillon's head jerked back and forth like a ragdoll, I thought, "Maybe this is not what the author meant by 'shaking him up.'"
A couple of months later, we attended a lecture on child abuse and "shaken baby syndrome." I felt physically ill and went to the professor at the end of the lecture to confess what I'd inadvertently done to my son. He laughed at me like I was an idiot and said, "Well that's not too smart."
It amazes me that my kids survived my horrible parenting. Grandparenting will be so much easier. I won't have to worry about sugar overload, rotten teeth or teaching right from wrong. They want to wear sandals in the snow? So be it. They want to drive Grandpa's car when they're only 6, no worries. They want to eat ice cream and say no to vegetables: me too. They want to stay up all night and party? Well, come on over to Gram and Gramp's and party, because we'll stay up with you until 9:30 and then, since we're deaf, party as loud as you want, kids!