Guest Post: The Vicarious Life

Darren Pecoraro gives us another glimpse into fatherhood this week. It's a little touching - or I'm just hormonal. 


  It has been pointed out to me by some, who shall remain anonymous, (Adele, Grandpa), that many of my recent stories have focused solely on the negative behavior of my children. Some have felt, (Adele, Grandpa), that I may have been a little harsh in my lampooning of some of the events I have experienced as a parent. This story will tell the other side, a side I may have been neglectful to tell until now. So sit back and get ready, because I’m going to brag a little bit, while I take you through a highlight reel of being a prideful parent, living the vicarious life.       
  When I talk about living life through my children, I don’t mean the life or death, win at all cost vicarity that some parents think is the proper way to raise a child. I’m talking about empathy. Feeling what your child feels, understanding those feelings based on experience. Be it joy or sorrow, elation or disappointment, the feelings that a parent shares with a child, will for me at least, last a lifetime.      Not long ago, my family and I attended the First Holy Communion party of a close family friend. Well into the party, the DJ had the kids set up for musical chairs. The game commenced and not long into it a little girl was squeezed out by older, bigger children. My son Andrew witnessed this and rose from his seat and placed the little girl in it. He did this without suggestion as I don’t even think he knew I was watching him. He glanced over and discovered me looking at him. I gave him a look of supreme approval, and nodded my head, as he smiled and understood just what my expression was trying to convey. Not two or three rounds later. My other son Christian had seen an eliminated young boy on the verge of tears. He immediately relinquished his seat to the boy, who was overjoyed at his new-found opportunity. These events happened independently of one another merely two minutes apart. There was no prompting of any kind by me; neither of them even knew I was watching. It was just two random, unsolicited acts of kindness, and compassion. I gave Christian a knowing look as the pride was written all over my face. It was just then that I overhead two women behind me talking. “Did you see what those two boys just did?” they gave up their seats for those little children, they are so adorable, I think they are brothers”. It was all I could do to compose myself as I turned to them, and said with honor, “they are indeed”. One woman said to me,”and you must be their father, (anyone who knows us, knows that it isn’t hard to tell that those two chips came from this block), well whatever you are doing as a father, it is working, you must be so proud of them.” Choking back tears, I replied, “Ma’am, you have no idea”. Then I raced over to them and squeezed them so hard I thought they might break. “I love you two, you are everything a father could ever want in a son, and more.” They gave me the cursory”thanks dad” and were on their way. I doubt if they even recall the events of that evening, an evening that will live with me forever and a day.       Every summer, my wife and I take the boys to Point Pleasant, New Jersey. We ride the rides, eat some treats, and play the games. I always find it amazing at just how important those crappy prizes are to the kids (they weren’t to us?). Without fail, there are always a few disgruntled and miserable children who fail to win anything. One trip, Christian was hell-bent on winning a mini-basketball, with NBA team logos on them. After about ten dollars and several tries, he was finally successful. He was just about to begin celebrating his triumph when he noticed a little boy next to him who hadn’t had his good fortune. Without hesitation, Christian handed the boy the ball as I felt my eyes well up with tears.”Here you can have it” he said. The boys face lit up like it was Christmas. His parents were so thankful, and highly complimentary of my first born son. Who wouldn’t include that while writing a perfect script of your sons’ life? But this isn’t fiction, and my wife and I still talk about that act to this day, several years later.         Recently, my son Christian had a minor surgical procedure to correct an anatomical anomaly.  Although the procedure was minor in scale, the pain and discomfort it caused was not. Upon our return home, Andrew was waiting nervously to see how his big brother was faring. After seeing the pain on his brothers’ face, and realizing how much discomfort he was in, he burst into a fit of tears, and was practically inconsolable.  AGAIN, one of my children filled me with more emotion than my body could handle, and the pride began to leak out in the form of tears. Eventually, after a few days, the pain abated, and Andrew was relieved that his role model was once again at full strength (Andrew confirmed his relief by actually punching Christian in his injured area.) That’s when I knew all was back to normal.          Are my children perfect? Absolutely not. Do my children misbehave? Absolutely. Do they bicker, and fight with each other just like every other set of brothers in history? Yes they do. But I am not being immodest in saying that my two boys are extraordinary. They each possess a sense of humor that has me laughing out loud on a daily basis. They have an unbiased, unabashed friendliness to all. They show kindness to complete strangers, and compassion to all. That is what is most gratifying as a parent, watching my children put others before themselves. There is nothing on earth I am more proud of, or love more, than Christian Joseph, and Andrew Richard, named after their maternal and fraternal grandfathers respectively. And make no mistake about it, those are very large shoes to fill. So far, each of them seems to have what it takes to be up to the task.
Darren Pecoraro is a 45 year old retired stay-at-home dad from Englishtown NJ. He enjoys all sports, especially golf, music, and writing. His greatest love is his wife, Adele, and their two boys, Christian, and Andrew.