I look at my son. He flings his arms up and down with a knotted brow. I look at him and wonder who I am. He’s a ninja. He needs not see the world to sense the enemies at hand. I poke him in the gut, and he flashes flayed hands, ready to strike. I don’t know what to do so I just keeping poking and watching.
I know he is another person, but I somehow feel that I am looking down into an enchanted pool staring at my reflection. Who am I? I did not know three weeks ago that I was a father of a son. I did not know this about myself. I did not know my son was named for the veins of the earth. I did not know my son was a ninja, or that his eyebrows furrowed like sand dunes. And now as a result, I feel as though I know myself even less, having learned these bits. Who knows what I might find out next? Who knows but I might do something terrible. If I might be the father of a tiny creature like this, what sorts of other powers might I have?
I stop poking him because I don’t know what I might do. I just stare, silently wondering if I might bore holes into face and make his eye brows slide across his face and sink into oblivion. I wonder who he is because I wonder who I am. I am what my son is and will be. He is who I am and will be. Do I know and live with a mountain climber? Do I change the diapers of an orator? Do the fingers of an artist grip my thumb? He arches his back and looks with wild eyes at me. Don’t you know who I am? He seems to ask. You did this, how can you not know? I can only shake my head.
All I know is that you are some part of me that I did not know existed. I try to explain this in as simple of terms as possible. But he’s looking away. He’s looking at the wall. Of course there is some sense in which everyone I know makes up who I am. But this new person lives with me. His arrival seems more dramatic than even my wife’s. Maybe that’s because I knew my wife for six years before we were married. River only gave me nine months notice. I was changing as fast as he came. I was becoming him as quickly as he was becoming me. I poke him again.
He kicks and flails. His head rolls back and forth on a universal joint. His mouth is open. I try to guess, You’re a bird! He keeps moving. He didn’t even seem to notice my guess. I’m not the father of a bird. I almost feel relieved. He threatens me again with his ninja stance. His eyebrows burry his eyes and his cheeks turn pink. There’s a moment of silence and still, broken immediately by his crackling voice.
I am the father of a crying baby. That’s who I am. I made a helpless ninja creature, who cries when I tell him he’s me.