When it’s time for us to be on the move, packing his diaper bag is a meticulous and arduous procedure. And to be clear I use a diaper-backpack: this way I can be both great American dad and serious man. You never know what you’ll need. This reality used to paralyze me. What if I get a flat tire? Or, what if we get caught in a rainstorm and must seek shelter? Or, what if there is such a thing as the great abominable snowman, and he decides to attack Mississippi in June, simply to let the world know how much of a gangster he is, will I have everything I need?
The process goes like this: diapers, wipes, milk; clothes, toys, books; snack, blanket, iPad (which by the way is one of the most genius gadgets ever invented. What did parents do before Mother Goose Club on the go)?
When me and my boy are in the streets, we are a crew, a team, a posse. The temperature outside determines what we do with the windows: 50s, a crack, 60’s, two fingers like a nice scotch pour, 70s, halfway down as to create a fierce gust allowing him to face-box the wind monster. And our destination will determine the music we’ll bang. If we’re off to campus for one of my department or committee meetings, we might be bumping Kanye’s College Dropout. But, if we’re heading to one of his doctor appointments, especially one requiring shots, it’s Justin Timberlake all day (sidebar: I’m not really a JT fan, but Mr. Timberlake does wonders for my child’s emotional state—especially his latest album. And my boy needs to get his Zen on before they go poking him).
The first time I pushed a stroller across campus, I felt strange as hell. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever seen anyone do this during the busy hour. Students were everywhere: some country girls said “aww,” some country boys said “that’s what I’m talking about.” I’m sure I missed other responses, and this is largely due to a strange thing that happened to me once I started taking my boy out in public. I went from being aware of and considerate to the folks around me to not giving a fuck. I went from trying to find the coolest way to sport a diaper-backpack and push a loaded stroller to not giving a flying fuck. I went from apologizing for our presence to…you know. And when me and my boy burst into my department meetings, stroller and all, diaper-backpack and workbag and all, and I prop him on the seat next to me with a bag of cheerios and his favorite book, it is clear to my department chair and colleagues, that while we love all of you, if you think we’re studying how crazy we look right now, come and watch us go through airport security checkpoints, then you’ll see how little fucks we give about our standing out.