By John Basher
There’s no greater joy to me than spending quality time
with my son, Brayden. I’m pleased to admit that fact, given
that I wasn’t so sure about fatherhood back when my wife
and I found out that we were going to be parents. Fatherhood
isn’t like test driving a car. There’s no such thing as renting a
kid for a day just to get a taste of what it’s like to be a dad.
Before Brayden came along I did my homework, hoping that
I had properly prepared for what would be the biggest test of
my life. I supported my darling dear when she wanted to take
the hospital crash course on being a parent. I nodded politely
and actually listened most of the time when my wife talked
about what parenthood would be like. I thought that I was
ready to rule the world. How hard could it be to raise a kid?
Hindsight is 20/20. It turns out that the first months of
Brayden’s life were challenging for me. Looking back, my son
was amazing from the get-go. He hardly cried, slept often
and smiled at me as if to say that everything would be okay.
However, I really wasn’t prepared for fatherhood. Can you
blame me? Before my son arrived I was immature and clueless about being a parent. In the months after Brayden was
born I became slightly more mature. What really changed
was my focus in life; a drastic shift in priorities. That
realization hit me like a tidal wave. I was no longer the center
of my universe.
I’VE BEEN VERY FORTUNATE TO
SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH MY
BOY. MY JOB DUTIES REQUIRE
THAT I POUND AWAY ON A
COMPUTER KEYBOARD WHEN I’M
NOT POUNDING OUT LAPS AT THE
TRACK. IT AFFORDS ME A UNIQUE
I have grown into fatherhood since those early days. Things
like T-ball and swimming lessons can’t come soon enough, but
I don’t want to wish Brayden’s formative years away, either.
Sometimes I miss the days when I would sing Brayden to
sleep while walking through the grocery store (yes, I’m one of
those dads). It’s strange how you’ll do things as a parent that
you would have sworn off otherwise. I’ll gladly tote my wife’s
resplendent Coach diaper bag around in public if it means
that I’m prepared for any mishap that might befall my brood.
I’ll risk embarrassment knowing that Brayden is satisfied.
I’ve been very fortunate to spend a lot of time with my boy.
My job duties require that I pound away on a computer keyboard when I’m not pounding out laps at the track. It affords
me a unique work schedule. Traveling around the country and
covering races is a fair trade-off for getting a few days during
the week with Brayden. And, like most moto-minded fathers, I
revel in introducing my boy to cool and fun new things. We’ve
gone behind the scenes at the zoo, visited every park within
a 20-mile radius of our home, played in the poppy fields and
(naturally) hit many of the local motocross tracks. Brayden
has been exposed to a myriad of sports, cultures, animals
and children. Showing him what’s going on beyond the confines of my house is worth the time, effort and fiscal strain.
My boy needs to understand that the world is his oyster.
I’m always chauffeuring Brayden around in my truck due to
our many adventures. He’s a good traveling companion. What
constitutes an affable co-pilot? My boy likes to chat, but he
doesn’t talk my ear off. He’ll sing when a good song comes
on the radio, even if slightly off-pitch. Brayden is self-suffi-
cient in the fact that he can entertain himself. He also rarely
needs to stop for bathroom breaks. All in all, he’s a good kid,
though today he was giving me fits while we were driving back
from the museum. Typically well-mannered and soft-spoken,
Brayden started taking a rude tone with me. He would not
keep quiet, despite my best efforts to reason with him.
Normally I’m as cool as a cucumber when it comes to
handling stressful situations, but this time was different.
Brayden was pushing my buttons, and he knew it. A sly smile
and idle hands were the only indicators to what was coming—a barrage of screams and toys whizzing by my head. The
yelling was manageable—after all, I spend most of my time
around noise-piercing four-stroke exhausts. Brayden’s roar
sounded like a two-stroke stuck in second gear. It was
actually kind of funny. However, I lost my marbles when he
chucked his rubber duck (replete in a faux bunny suit that he
received for Easter) at my head. My oft-docile kid had crossed
the line from manageable to downright wretched. It was as
if my son turned into a gremlin, only I hadn’t fed him after
midnight. The kid was going bonkers for no reason at all, and
I was the victim!
Anger boiled inside my belly like a bubbling crude, a
tempest that I couldn’t keep bottled up for fear for implosion.
My head spinning like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, I caught
Brayden’s attention despite his tirade. Through clenched teeth
I said the phrase that so many fathers before me uttered,
“Don’t make me stop this car!” My son cackled. He was
calling my bluff. Such disrespect from the young punk! I
couldn’t believe that my own flesh and blood so easily ignored
my grave threat. I was on the verge of nuclear meltdown.
I needed to regroup. My tactics weren’t working. The fear
of failure looming, I reverted back to one of the smartest
lessons that I had learned as a father—going through the
checklist. Was Brayden acting out simply because he was
hungry? No, I fed him right before we got in the truck. Maybe
he was too hot? Nope. The air conditioning was flowing at
a comfortable temperature. Perhaps it was because I had
disagreed with Brayden’s belief that cubism is the superior
form of art (my kid has a thing for “Big Block Sing Song” on
the Disney Channel). No, that wasn’t it, either. That’s when I
remembered to breathe. Just then a putrid smell hit me like
an anvil. My nostrils burned. I fought back an involuntary
gagging sensation. A light bulb flickered in my head. I finally
comprehended the reason behind Brayden’s anger and my
subsequent turmoil. My son had royally soiled himself, and
I had forgotten to change his diaper. Oops. I guess I’m still
learning about fatherhood. So far the ride has been worth
it, even if I had to stick my head out the window on the drive