Today, my son is a month and a half old. I feel privileged because, not only am I blessed to be a father, but I’m one of those fortunate males who has knowledge and experience with 0-5 year old children. I’m encouraged that my early childhood experience has given me a head start on parenthood.
My son’s short life has mostly been spent in our apartment. My wife and I are worried about any living or non-living entity that could make our son sick. He’s only been outside a handful of times and none of those times to my Happy Place.
It’s different. As I preschool teacher, I tell children to go run, jump and frolic outside and in nature. I tell parents that their children are safe to touch leaves, branches and dirt without fear of contracting a deadly disease. However, as a father, I constantly think about the germs and unvaccinated San Francisco citizens roaming about.
I’m conflicted. My professional knowledge tell me one thing, yet my fledgling parental instincts urge another. The great outdoors are good for my son to experience, yet I’d be guilt ridden if he gets ill. Seriously. I’d be sick to my stomach to see my son cry uncontrollably due to a fever because I had him touch a pine cone.
I knew my professional knowledge and parental instinct could work together, but I’m more hung up on why they’re in conflict. If a student gets sick, it’s normal and I justify the situation citing literature. If my son gets sick, I’m a horrible father, shamed into a whirlwind of negative thoughts about my ability to parent. I guess I’m discovering a fine line; the line that separates an early childhood educator from a parent. Both have experience with young children, yet may be distinctly different creatures.