Matt Park Is A Dad.... Uh Oh
By Matt Park
Hello, my name is Matt Park… and I’m a dad. On September 4, 2016, around 5:35 a.m., my wife, Amy gave birth to our daughter, Cassandra Quint Park. It’s been a wild two years. It’s a full-time job that ends when you die. You can’t call out sick and there are no paid vacations. It makes you crazy. Children make you crazy. My daughter is driving me crazy. I sound crazy. I’m reading this as I type and I’m thinking, “Uh oh. I sound crazy.” Despite all the frustration, sleep deprivation, and the going crazy, the first two years of being a dad have been great. And other parents keep telling me that “It gets better.” My daughter is healthy and happy and that’s pretty much all I could ask for.
Halloween is over. Thanksgiving is over. The Christmas propaganda is in full bloom.
My daughter and I were on our way home from the subway and we passed by a Santa decoration hanging up in the window of a Duane Reade. My daughter pointed at it and said, “Who is that?” “Oh… yeah… uh… that’s Santa,” I said. Santa always weirded me out. The thought of some old guy in a red suit sneaking into your house through a chimney at night bothered me. He could get stuck in the chimney. Imagine waking up to a man screaming for help in your chimney.
Anyway, my daughter responded, “Who is Santa?” I really wanted to tell her the truth about Santa; to tell her that Santa isn’t real and that he’s a mish-mosh of gift-giver characters from British and Dutch folklore. I wanted to tell her that the Santa she pointed to, the iconic image of Santa Claus, is a character created by an ad man named Haddon Sundbloom, who was commissioned by Coca-Cola to come up with an image of Santa Claus for an ad campaign. But that would have been a “dick” move.
Also, she’s only 2 and she would have forgotten my Woke Santa Response after 30 seconds. So, I just said, “Santa is just a guy. He’s just a real nice guy.” A fire truck drove by and she pointed to it and screamed, “FIRE TRUCK!” She broke into a song about a fire truck. Probably a song her class was singing in daycare. She didn’t bring up Santa again until we were eating dinner. “Daddy, who is Santa?” I decided I would tell her the myth of Santa. I thought, what harm could it do? We had a little discussion about it. Here’s how it went down:
Cassandra: Daddy, who is Santa?
Matt Park: Santa is a nice man who brings you presents.
Cassandra: He brings Cassandra presents.
Cassandra: He brings Daddy presents?
MP: Uh… yeah.
Cassandra: He brings Mommy presents?
Cassandra: I want presents.
MP: Well, Santa will bring us presents soon. We’ll just have to wait.
Cassandra: We will have to wait for Santa. He will bring us presents soon.
Matt Park: Yeah. He’ll come to our house and we’ll give him cookies and milk and he’ll give us presents.
(At this point in the conversation, my daughter gets a little concerned.)
Cassandra: I don’t want him to come to our house and eat my cookies.
MP: It’s OK. We’ll share some cookies with him.
Cassandra: I don’t want to share cookies with Santa.
MP: It’s OK. He won’t eat all our cookies.
Cassandra: MY COOKIES! MY COOKIES! MINE! I DON’T WANT TO SHARE!
(At this point in the conversation, I’m thinking, “Jesus, my daughter is becoming unhinged.”)
MP: OK, well we don’t have to give him any cookies. But that’s not nice. We should share with our friends. Santa is our friend.
Cassandra: Santa is not my friend. I don’t like Santa.
MP: Well that’s not nice. How do you think he would feel if you told him that?
Cassandra: I’m scared of Santa. I don’t want him to come to my house and eat my cookies. I don’t want to talk about him anymore.
Cassandra: I want to go watch Elmo on TV.
So, yeah. I fucked that one up: Christmas Dad Fail. But on the positive side, she probably won’t even remember it. I was never really into Christmas. I never got excited about the tree. The silly, antiquated songs about chestnuts and tinsel always made me feel a little embarrassed and uncomfortable; mistletoe always bothered me. When I was a kid, I thought it was called a “Missile Toe” which freaked me out. I was born two days before Christmas. I could write a whole online press blog about that. Also, I’m an atheist. The real meaning of Christmas is lost on me. But this isn’t about me. This is about my daughter. Next time she brings up Santa, I’ll do better.
Matt Park is a songwriter, guitarist, poet, and actor. He co-wrote music for Ma-Yi's production of Peer Gynt and the Norwegian HAPA Band at ART/NY in the winter of 2016. He is the guitarist in Diana Oh's My Lingerie Band and performed in My Lingerie Play at The Rattlestick Theater in the fall of 2017. He is currently working on a home recording of songs for an album which will be played live in the Spring of 2018. He sings and plays guitar in his Space Garage band, Katie's Money. He is preparing his apartment for the arrival of two rescue kittens. Love to Amy and Cassandra. Thank you Alex and HAPA Mag!!!