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Finding Julian

Finding Julian

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Published by GoodMenProject
Andrew Cotto loses his son in a museum–and finds a new approach to being a good dad. From The Good Men Project Magazine.
Andrew Cotto loses his son in a museum–and finds a new approach to being a good dad. From The Good Men Project Magazine.

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Published by: GoodMenProject on Sep 17, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/18/2012

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JULIAN
BY ANDREW COTTO
 
Upon hearing that our second child would be a boy, I walked out of the doctors of-
ce, crossed 8th Avenue, and stepped into a Mexican restaurant to drink something
with tequila in it. Then I drank another. 
My wife would have joined in the drinking, but she was far enough along in the preg
-
nancy for a penis to show up on a sonogram. So, I drank, and she inhaled corn chipswith guacamole.
 
We knew that mommies and daddies can make both lile girls and lile boys,but we hadn’t seriously considered the possibility of having a so
n.We already h
ad a girl, Sophia, who was three years old. And she was perfect—dimples, curls, and a sweet lile voice that said sweet lile things.When my wife became pregnant again, neither of us said aloud that we were hav
-
ing a girl. We just gured that we would; by some genec predisposion, we made
girls. It was the house special.
As the father of a lile girl, I’d grown not to care forlile boys. They were loud, needy, and restless. On the sidewalks, they ran wild withno consideraon for other people, unmovable objects, or moving trac. In the park,they ung themselves from dangerous heights, or chased aer balls like dogs. Theypued out their chests and waived sharp scks, then cried to high heaven at the sight
of a scratch.
Socially, they were hopeless: no eye contact, no hellos, no listening, plenty of boogers. Bookstores have enre secons dedicated to tomes on raising boys.The multude of volumes and approaches speaks to the complexity of themaer; boys are just harder to raise.
It would be on me, more than anybody else,to raise him right.
 
Before I knew it, the kid was growing up.
Soon, I was not just his major male inuence, but hisprimary caregiver. When my wife went back to work, we had two choices: drop most of myadjunct-teaching pay on a nanny, or teach night classes while handling mini-me during the day.Actually, we had no choice. The arrangements were made. And, apprehension aside, I was eagerfor the opportunity to help shape my so
n’s growth.I deci
ded to take my knowledge of storytelling and apply it to our scenario.
It would be our story; Julian and I would bethe main characters.
 
Our movaon would be to bond while exploring the city. Nothing would stand in our way. Thethemes would be fatherhood, love, and character. Our roune was set: We’d drop Sophia o inthe schoolyard, then head home to regroup. By regroup, I mean Julian would watch “Dora theExplorer” while I wrote or graded papers. Aer a snack, we’d hit the streets.
We’d be the explorers
.- - - -
At rst, the adventurers had a hard me making it beyond the local playground. Julian insisted: alile bit of climbing, a short swing session, follow a ball, take a toy from somebody else, (eventu
-
ally) give the toy back, cry about it, run into something, nd an out-of-the-way spot to squat and
wreck a diaper. 
Most days, I’d be cranky and red before lunch. Aer a nap (for both of us), it would be me topick up Sophia in the schoolyard, which would lead to more me in the park. Was it possible thatI actually looked forward to going o to teach composion classes each night aer dinner?
Yes, it was.
Eventually, I got the adventuring started. By leaving straight from the schoolyard, we could be ona subway or a bus and o to a desnaon with minimal fuss. I’d done my research. There wereparks, museums, and fantasc sights everywhere. We’d hit every borough, and eventually, we’dboth be connoisseurs of the city. We’d bond, too. Along the way, my son would becomepercepve and hip and expandable—just like I wanted him to be.
- - - -
 

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