Robin Williams, God rest his soul, told me before you were born that you might not be tolerant of me doing voices. He said, “I’m telling you, they like daddy to be daddy. They don’t like daddy to be all over the place with the voices and the characters.” He said later that you’d like it, and he was so right.
I always wanted to give Horton the Elephant or the Cat in the Hat a voice—it was what came natural to me. You’d say, “No, no, no daddy, do it in your own voice!” But about six months ago, you finally allowed me to cast your bedtime stories with voices. You don’t realize, of course, that most of the voices I’m doing are from The Simpsons. When you’re a teenager, you’re going to say, “Wait a minute, the Tin Man is Moe the Bartender!”
It’s impossible to get fatherhood right or do it perfectly, but I think it’s worth treating it like a job or a creative endeavor that I can learn to do better. So I want to apologize for making you a fan of the Knicks, the Jets and the Mets. I have some guilt over that because they’re such horrible teams, but I need support for them in my old age.
Our days at Citi Field together are some of my favorite because your questions about the game of baseball are hilarious. Trying to explain the difference between running home and a home run, or why it’s a walk when the players always jog, make me realize how arbitrary and silly the rules are. I can see why you asked what spitting has to do with the game.
I came into fatherhood a little older. I was 45 when you were born. And I was worried about being selfish—about how I’d go from being a really set-in-my-ways person to a giving parent. I didn’t understand how that alchemy would happen.
But the glory of fatherhood has been the only antidote to that selfish point in life. I’m so grateful for our relationship, for the nights you sit on my lap while I play poker, for our days having a catch or playing with LEGOs. You’re the only person I can say I really love more than myself.
Azaria is an actor and comedian who voices several major characters on The Simpsons. His docuseries, Fatherhood, airs on AOL.
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