Featured, Theory & Essay

Visions Of Pappyhood

It wasn’t always this way.

Last year, I could scroll down my Facebook timeline past the cats-are-assholes videos and the fire-and-brimstone warnings against using people’s public content on a public site and not get tripped up by a video of a dancing, diaper-clad chocolatey wonder.

I could walk down the street and not melt into a puddle of swoons watching adorable Black kids talk, play and laugh with their parents.

Before, I could watch a video of somebody’s kids dancing for their motherfucking lives in a talent show performance of Saint Damita Jo’s “Rhythm Nation” and enjoy its melinated splendor without fantasizing about my own squad (okay, maybe three) of dancing-ass, dish-washing little multilingual kings and queens with great manners and legendary eyelashes.

But now?

Tagging me in a video of somebody’s Black ass child emoting or singing or out-rhyhming their peers is a sure way to send the days’s productivity from 100 to -861, like French Montana to Sanaa Lathan’s likability. I now have to fight the urge to roll on the floor in jubilation when I see a Black chile who’s joyful or innovative or prodigious in this hateful, coleslaw-loving world.

Most days, my wall is a living tribute to Black childhood. (A friend recently wondered why I don’t have any white babies on my pages. My answer: “Because I post what matters to me, and plus, White babies are doing just fine without my advocacy.”)

Since spending five months in New Orleans eating and playing Uncle Alex to the most precious lima bean in the world, my love of little Black humans runneth over. I met Fat Mama about thirty minutes after she entered this world and got to watch her grow from a hella yella poop machine to an emoting, scooting señorita who happily received the gospel of Yo Gabba Gabba. Once I mastered cradling her in my arms and dancing her unruly ass to sleep, which happened right before she began to recognize and smile at me, I was sold and once again open to the idea of going half on a singing group with someone.

Fat Mama allowed me to relive my fascination with watching little lima beans become whole damn people, which I first discovered while watching my nieces grow from poop-launchers to job-having women. (They turned 17 and 18 last week and I felt at once ancient, protective and elated.) I got to enjoy the beautiful part, before she goes out into the world to interact with defenseless mongrels whose parents enjoy Eminem, green bean casserole and incest. If only this sweet spot could last forever.

I’ve had a great fatherly example. My dad is the coolest, most chill motherfucker ever. He is and has always been attentive, honest, level-headed, patient and gracious. He has been the rock, keeping it and us together throughout my mother’s decades-long lupus fight, my year-long lupus fight and my sister’s recent health issues. He’s surprisingly open minded and supportive of my wanderlust and endless curiosity. That dude is the ultra chill Uncle Snoop in a room of frantic, fart-faced Mileys. He and my mom are the best pair of motherfuckers a Black boy could ever have as parents. I long for the day I get to be brilliant and strong and supportive for a nappy headed strong and brilliant chile of my own.

I am giddy at the prospect of educating a young mind on the beauty of travel, the magic of books and the terrors of sugared grits. I look forward to sharing the glory of Anita Baker and Janet Jackson and 70s Aretha and raising releasing one less fruit punch enthusiast unto the world.

Because fruit punch is stupid.

I know that one can never be absolutely READY for parenthood, because you can always have more money, a bigger nursery and more baby Jordans. Plus, how can one truly prepare for their kid’s first crush, first heartbreak or first felony? I am excited about the adventure, though.

Sure, as a full-time HomoThug, I’ll have to find a suitable, rentable womb in which to marinate Young Melanin, but I have a handful of breasted homies who have offered their motherly crockpots for the cause. Upside of ending my career as a fisherman? Zero chance of accidental semen drippity drops, unless you catch me in the mood a full moon on the 13th Sunday in a leap year. Hooray for fewer surprise babies in the world.  I’m in no rush, though; I want to feel like less of a scatterbrained hedonist before giving into this relentless pappyhood itch. I often toss out ages like 33 and 35, projecting an end to my aintshitness.

Until I’m ready to be somebody’s pappy, I get to play Uncle and godfather to a whole heap of fortunate chirrens. In the interim, I have been offering my wonderful childcare services so my offspring-having homies can enjoy a night of unencumbered debauchery and ho-shit, giving me the chance to lay on the floor to build Lego castles and fight Bowser once more…and have a quick reality check when Lil Anfernee won’t stop crying after I spank his ass in Mario Kart for the sixth time.

Watching my dad parent and considering the Fuckshit my sister and I put our folks through, I know that the journey isn’t all Popeye’s biscuits and joy. Still, bring on the angst and the pride and the drama and the nepotism.

And the in-house dishwashers.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • I think all babies should come from accidents. Planning that mess just sounds insane to me. This is coming from the married father of a 2-year old. There is just no way to describe the human tornado in action. That being said, it is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. Don’t rush it, though. We’re men. We can make babies pretty much until we die. Might as well milk that fact.

    You ain’t lying about those facebook posts. I’d hate to see how many baby pictures and videos I’ve ‘liked’ in the last two years.

    • LMNOP

      “Accidents” aren’t really though. Human beings, like all living creatures, are designed to procreate and that is part of something much bigger than our individualistic plans.

      One of my favorite lines on parenting is from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

      • I agree. We over think our humanity far too often. That being said, somebody is going to have to pay to feed and clothe that kid. Unless you trying to go the Maury route, you really have to consider the implications in today’ society. I love Khalil Gibran but this isn’t Lebanon.

        • LMNOP

          Speaking of going the Mary route, it bothers me so much that GOD, of all “people,” left his kid’s mom to give birth in a barn.

        • LMNOP

          I see you said Maury, not Mary lol. Different kinds of single moms.

          • I meant Maury as in “You ARE the father”. Not Mary as in virgin.

            Hey, God keeps it gully. He let some other dude raise that baby.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    Good read. You’ll be rocking your Greatest Uncle sweater real hard for years to come, that’s a great thing.

    The idea of fatherhood is lost on me. I’m sincerely too jaded at this point in my life and I doubt I will change my mind. But I find the embrace that people have towards it to be quite beautiful. I realize nothing melts you to the core of your soul like the gaze of a baby trying to determine what sights and wonders are before their eyes. And the touch of God continues every second you watch them grow into a solidified force of nature.

    I wish you well. I wish you happiness. And I wish you the opportunity to experience something I currently turn my nose up to. Until then, be the best uncle the Fat Mama could ask for.

    and gotdamn she’s got some beautiful squishy cheeks…I wanna pinch them.

    • There is only one way to fix your unwillingness to procreate. Its called tequila.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Bruh…….I’ll put a rubber on a tequila bottle.That’s how messed up I am.

        • Brass Tacks

          lmfao

  • miss t-lee

    The baby is soooo cute.
    Just know that “motherly crockpot” may be stolen.
    Sounds like you’re ready. All in due time.

    • *writes you a receipt for “motherly crockpot”*

  • Naomi Vittore

    Fruit punch IS stupid!

    • Jasmin

      so much bitter sarcasm, i applaud this post lol

  • Dwight Johnson

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only guy to have baby fever and not just in a “I’d hit that raw” type of manner.

    I met my niece for the first time a couple of weeks ago and even though she spent the first couple of hours loving everyone else in the room except me. But after being fed, changed and promised a Mac Book when she’s older (I’m sure she’ll enjoy having a retro 2015 Mac Book in 2021 for her Sweet 16) her falling asleep in my arms was a feeling that incredible and she quickly became my favourite niece (Never mind the fact that she’s my only niece or child from one of my siblings for that matter).

    Fruit punch is NOT stupid.

    • Charles Johnson

      THIS. i can’t upvote this more times than one but if i could…

  • MysteryMeat

    Aw yeah I get baby fever too. My lil cousin has THE CUTEST MOST ADORABLE BABIES I love being unclecousin

    And thats where it stops. I could adopt an older child later on in life after I conquer the world an stuff

  • Michelle

    My niece is five years old and just started her first year in “big girl school” as a kindergarten-er. My mom and I had gone with her (and her dad as well. Her lazy, trifling-a$$ mama stay home because she’s a… you know what? I’mma be nice) and I had a moment.

    The ‘moment’ being: I realized that the night before (of her first day) was the last night of her “first stage of innocence”. Now she was going to school and even though it’s kindergarten, she will be learning more and more. And sometimes, with learning the veil of innocence is pulled back a little bit more. And since she is a little black girl, that veil will be yank on, at times.

    Thinking of this notion made me feel… Emotionally uncomfortable. I, at least, waited until I was at work (in the bathroom) to cry.

  • Henry Minton

    I’m the father of a soon to be 8-month old. He’s the greatest thing that has ever happened! Not just in my life, but in your life, too! Yes; I’m talking to you! Even though you’ve never met him. He’s just that adorable and amazing.

    If you don’t believe me you’ll find me standing in your front yard yellin’, “Bring ’em out, bring ’em out!”

  • I think more likely than not, my minime will be an accident. Not cuz I’m getting shots off uncontested but rather if I wait until I’m “ready” I’ll probably never be. Baby blues is real at times, I think about (redacted cuz idk yall ninjas) and (more redacted) but in the interim I’ll just be Uncle Tristan and “Uncle” Tristan

    • LMNOP

      Just don’t be “uncle” Tristan to anybody your sleeping with’s kids. I hear about that a lot and it is so disturbing to me. Don’t do it.

      • I was kidding, I seldom date moms I like attention too much

        • Same. I tried once. It was a valiant try but unless I end up in a situation where I’m dating with my own child(ren) I’ll pass on men with a child(ren)

        • Cleojonz

          It’s definitely a complication. Even though I had a kid young I wouldn’t date men with kids, but mainly because I refused to deal with baby momma drama because I wasn’t bringing any daddy drama with me.

    • LadyIbaka

      Which VSS’s are these that you thinking they baby mama material for thee. Spit it out, oya go.

      • Honestly, none.

        • LadyIbaka

          ?!

          • Siante

            He’s right. None of us are “baby mama” material. Wife & mother material tho? I see plenty VSS’s who are “worthy” :-)

  • Well, I am a father who has played Superman, Kill You and I Am for my daughter. So screw you! LOL

    Fatherhood is a trip. Single fatherhood is trippier. You’ll get a bit off the fastball being gay (and therefore not accused of trying to creep), but as fun as fatherhood is, the f*ckery is real. Just make sure you do your best to have your situation in place and good luck.

    • LMNOP

      You see those gay dads who had videos of them doing their daughters hair and everyone was like “aw, how sweet! Now that’s a good dad! blah, blah, blah” And then they got on a car commercial? Just for doing some normal thing that millions of other parents do?*

      So I think that can be an upside to being a gay dad, people are kind of grading your parenting on a curve (except the bigots, they are judging your parenting with a viciousness that can be dangerous, so you need to watch out for them, and they’re all over the place.)

      *This family actually happens to be exceptionally good-looking. Most gay dads don’t get commercials, of course.

      • miss t-lee

        I read they broke up. ?

        • LMNOP

          Well there goes my inspirational little story. Oh well.

        • cakes_and_pies

          Yup, like regular ole straight folk,minus the car commercial.

        • Cleojonz

          I’m not surprised at this. They were a little on the young side still. I hope they can keep it civil for those girls.

          • miss t-lee

            Until I read the article, for some reason I thought they were a bit older.

      • I always wondered if straight parents resented those dad’s for blowing up like they did over that picture lol Being LGBQT and raising a child is difficult on many front I’d assume, but waking up early to get all bodies out of the house is the LAST thing I would’ve thought they’d be hailed as saints for doing lol

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