June 15, 2015

You have both changed me and taught me so much in ways the version of me that existed before you would never be able to understand.

Bronx: before you were born, I had literally never taken care of anything in my life. Whatever the word for the opposite of responsibility—that’s how I would accurately describe my life then. I felt as unprepared for you as the dinosaurs were for the meteor, so I took it upon myself to over prepare. I was the rookie being put in the big game, and I was not gonna screw it up. I was the guy with the diaper bag filled with warmed wet wipes, neon-colored changing mats and other assorted items that baby sites will sell you that are about as necessary as the “rust proofing” a car dealership would have you think you need as you drive off the lot. Spoiler alert: after a few months, you only really need a diaper in your back pocket if you’re going to the park.

During that first diaper change I ever did (which may have been a world record in terms of how long it took), you had that look in your eyes that said, “Come on, you got this, you can do it”—even though I can admit now that, back then, I had no idea if I actually could. You were my constant confidant as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I talked through everything with you in your car seat, and I think it was actually more helpful that you were the one person in my life who didn’t respond with any advice; only tired sighs and joyful gibberish.

Saint: when you came along, I was sure I was prepared . I had my plan. I was the diaper-in-the-back-pocket dad. Spoiler alert: I was not prepared at all. You arrived like a little zen master, but even though I wasn’t the rookie anymore, you let me know there will always be curveballs. Our brand new adventure began on the first pitch: the moment the doctor told me that I was going to deliver you. I nodded and agreed the way us dads do when we know we aren’t really going to be needed, but rather cheering and getting our backs patted from the sideline. Had I known it was actually going to happen right then and there—when the doctor told me to put scrubs and gloves on—I probably would have YouTubed baby-delivery tutorials. We were ready for you at 8 pounds. And when I pulled you into this world, you showed up at nearly ten. (Spoiler alert: newborn babies are very slippery.)

On the first afternoon you crawled, you would go a little bit and then sit back and wait for everyone to clap for you—and then you would clap for yourself. In this moment I truly realized we were related. You attack the world like a hurricane and are the only person that can get a smile out of me before 7 a.m.

Boys: always take the high road, even when the low road seems easier or simpler. Let your kindness radiate and defend those who cannot defend themselves. Be yourself when it is not popular to be. Love your friends not in spite of their flaws but because of them. Bronx, I remember once asking you what your favorite color was and you said, “Red, black and the color of lightning.” Never let the world take away your creativity and divergent thinking. Be the color of lighting, be wild, and always laugh a lot. Never forget who you are. I think the late author and philosopher Albert Camus said this best:

Always find that invincible summer.

Love,
Dad

Wentz is a member of the multiplatinum pop-punk band Fall Out Boy, who are currently on their North American Boys of Zummer tour with Wiz Khalifa.

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