But he also held his fists up to his face, and buried his head into the placenta wall so that we couldn’t get a good look at him. He was already avoiding the paparazzi. If he had a cell phone, he’d be using it already and ducking into his Benz. So he’s no ordinary exhibitionist, but a shy one too. Or a famous one. Clearly, he’s in tension. He’s going to need psycho-therapy right when he takes his first breath.
Yes, it’s a boy. But so what? You wouldn’t think that knowing the gender of the six and a half inch blob in Jinhee’s stomach would change much. I mean, it’s either a boy or a girl. Or something in between — that’s been known to happen. Or an alien. He already looks like one, and many people said that he looks like me — then I must, by the transitive property, look just like E.T. Anyways, we’re only 20 weeks in, only half way. So, knowing shouldn’t change much, right?
Oh, but it does. On hearing the news, Jinhee moaned and writhed near the ultrasound machine. She wanted a relationship with her first child to be just like the one she had with her mom, and then have a son afterward. Sons don’t think about their families after they leave, she reasoned: they care more about their own wives and children. But she’s feeling better now. She reminds herself all the good things about having a son: Dad can pick up more of the responsibilities and he’ll be cheaper to raise — boy’s clothes cost less. That’s my wife.
I can’t see him yet. He’s hidden by skin, placenta and amniotic fluid. But it is now a he. In that hospital room, I grinned and my heart started to buzz. It’s the same feeling you get from your first kiss. Or a Starbucks overdose. I wanted a daughter first as well, but had a feeling for the past month or so that it would be a boy. And now that I know, he fills out from the flat, 2-D character that looks like television static. He’s not just an idea. Instead, he starts to take on shape, color and texture.
Now I can see: we’re throwing a baseball to each other. Or we’re racing to the end of the block, and I’m letting him win. Or I’m watching him play lava tag on the jungle gym with the other kids. And he’s running circles around them. (Competitive? Me?) Or I’m cheering him on as he rides his first bike. Or we’re hiking at the Torrey Pines reserve, and talking about the color of the sky or girls or faith or whatever. And if he’s anything like me when I was a kid, I’m really going to have my hands full. As Justin Timberlake sings, “What comes around… goes back around.” My wife will now have to take care of two boys — ah, add another reason for having a daughter instead.
Knowing makes him less an apparition, and more flesh, blood, sinew and bone. The more you know, the more connected you feel. Remember when your friend first told you something she never told anyone else? Or when your father told you story about when he was younger, and you felt that you’d passed some rite of passage from boy to man, girl to woman, from child to friend? In some sense, you can’t even feel connected without knowing — whether by words or in spirit. To love, you need to know.
Then it dawns on me: God’s knows us. And he’s just as excited about us. More so, even, because he loves far better than I can. And as Father, he anticipated the births of his children. He was thrilled at our potential and possibility. He was intoxicated with images of what our relationships could be, with him and with each other. He beamed, and also felt the full, tight swelling in his chest when he thought of each of us. He knows better than any of us can, and that makes me want to worship.
I’m sure heartbreak will also come. But I can’t wait for my little bundle of talk illustrations to claw out and announce his arrival with a shrill yawp.
Then we’ll take him immediately to the therapist.
* * * * * * *
Have any name suggestions for our future son? Post ’em; we’d love to see them. We do have one viable candidate, but we’re not telling yet.