Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life of Hardin Vol. IV, No. 21

Paternal Instincts

Before anything else, I should say that I love my niece. She is cute, funny, smart, imaginative, sweet, thoughtful, well-mannered, and for a two-year-old has a minimum of bad behavior. I must say this because I have been her babysitter for three days, and though I love being an uncle, I pray that I never become a father.

It is possible that this comes simply from some character fault on my part. But I doubt it. After this I can understand how people become parents. From the outside looking in it appears to be both fun and fulfilling. It is a natural instinct to want a child. What I cannot understand is how people ever become parents for a second time. After the first one, when do they even find the time to conceive a second child? I haven’t had time for one thing other than watching the one little girl who isn’t even mine. Even the bathroom isn’t sacred. I have locked myself in on more than one occasion, hoping for a respite, only to hear a knock at the door and a still, small voice ask, “Whaya doin’, Dosh?”

How does anyone have time to get anything done at all? I have not had more than one hour total time to myself in the past 72 hours. That includes sleep time. I must sleep now with a stuffed bunny and two feet in my face. If I am absent for five minutes at any point, something will be broken, torn, discolored, missing, or injured. If I make an unexpected move, the still, small voice asks me, “Whereya goin’, Dosh?” And I obediently sit and sing another chorus of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

The more difficult question to answer is not how, but why? Why, after a taste of one, would people have two? Or more? Three days and all thoughts of an outside world are gone. World War III could begin and end, and I would have no inkling of the fact because I was too busy keeping sippy cups refilled with juice. How is anyone capable of any sort of imaginative thought? I have no thoughts in my head except, “Don’t. Stop. Wait. Come here. Go to sleep. One more bite.” Ad infinitum. It is a marvel to me that we as a society have become as technologically advanced as we are while having children at the rate we do.

I have been told before I would make a good father. I believe this theory to be proven as ludicrous as the flatness of the world and the sun’s circling of the earth. I am constantly outsmarted by a two-year-old. Any time I give an order that is not liked, she simply changes the subject and says, “I gotta go pee-pee in the potty.” I cannot ignore that. It may be a lie. I know that it is in all probability a lie. Yet if there is any chance, I must keep the child from wetting her pants. When I take her to the bathroom, I become completely useless. I can get her on the pot, but I cannot get her off the pot and cleaned. I cannot handle it. I am rendered null and void by my inability to wipe another person. NOT father material.

I love my niece. She brings joy to my life and the lives of those around her. I would not trade her for anything in the world. And yet after three days, when she returned to the care of her parents, I looked at my wife through bloodshot eyes and said, “Remember, when they’re ours, we can’t take them back.”