My son may never get to taste a banana. Scientists say in the next ten years or so the banana may join the dinosaurs and become extinct. There is a bacterial disease that started in Panama that is attacking bananas and evolving and adapting at a rapid pace. At this point there is no cure for this banana disease and in as little as a decade bananas may be extinct.
I say son because I have always pictured having son. Having a daughter scares me. Girls are more vulnerable than boys. I picture lying awake in bed waiting for my seventeen year old daughter to return home from her first date. Her date will have taken her somewhere nice because I will have instilled in her principles of respect. Her curfew wouldn’t be early because I will remember the asshole dads that I had to deal with in high school relationships, but it wouldn’t be late because I would remember the reasons I crept in to my house at two in the morning hoping not to wake my parents. I will toss and turn with worries. Is she happy? Is he respecting her? Is he using her? Is she being “safe”? Would she tell me if she wasn’t?
My mom got pregnant when she was sixteen and her parents took her out of school. She went to live in a home for seven months of her pregnancy. Her parents made her give the baby up for adoption. I didn’t find out about this until I was thirteen and I have seen the effects it can have on an entire family. My mom said it was the hardest thing she ever had to do, and to this day I sometimes console her as she cries about it forty four years later.
My wife will be fast asleep. Being a girl herself she would be confident in having raised our daughter “the right way.” But not me. My eyes will remain open and red until I hear our front door lock as my daughter tip toes up the stairs and considerately closes her door as to not wake us up. She will be ten minutes early.
With a son I feel like I’d have more control. Being raised by my mom, two older sisters, and my sensitive and sweet father I feel like I understand respect, and I would make sure my son would too. I would teach him what it means to be a man and that sensitivity is not a “girly” trait. I would tell him the mistakes I have made, and I would let him make some of his own. I picture having a conversation with my seventeen year old son before going on his first date. Go inside and introduce yourself to her parents. Shake their hands and look them in the eyes. He will be taking her somewhere nice because I will have instilled in him principles of respect. I will give him some money (that he insists on not taking) so that he can continue saving up for whatever new and exciting technological device is out at that time. Be yourself. Make her happy. Don’t lead her on if you’re not into her. Be “safe.” My son will not have a curfew but I will tell him to take his date home ten minutes before hers.
I will love my son. I will wait up for him until he gets home. When he gets home I will sit with him in the kitchen and talk about his night. We will whisper and muffle our laughs as to not wake my wife. He will try to give me the change from dinner but I’ll tell him to keep it. It will be late but we won’t care. He’s young, and I’ll remember being young. We will talk for hours. About school. About sports. And about bananas.