The Grey Chronicles

2009.August.25

Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood



Bill Cosby’s FatherhoodWhen William H. ‘Bill’ Cosby, Jr. wrote his first book, Fatherhood (1986), I was still in my early twenties. Years before that, I was a regular viewer of his TV sit-com, “The Cosby Show” and one of the non-American audience who laughed at the way Bill Cosby dealt with his sit-com children.

Yesterday, I chanced upon this book at BookSale, and at a bargain price I grabbed it immediately. Maybe, I was reconnecting with my youth; but three years ago, my wife and I brought another son to this world and probably hope that by reading a book by one of America’s funniest father, and in the 70s by Filipinos as well, I could re-learn something about fatherhood. We already have two teenager sons, studying in my home province. My parents offered to help when National Steel Corporation [NSC] closed shop in 2000. With text messaging, we keep in touch with their lives, even though its hard to be separated by miles of oceans.

Harvard psychiatrist Alvin F. Poussaint’s introduction and afterword, in which he discusses the changing role of the modern father, add greatly to the book’s value as a parenting guide. Bill Cosby gives hope to all fathers: “The answer, of course, is that no matter how hopeless or copeless a father may be, his role is simply to be there, sharing all the chores with his wife. Let her have the babies; but after that, try t share every job around.”

After reading the introduction, I flipped the pages, and was already smiling at the chapter headings, such as “Are They Evolution’s Missing Link?”, “These Beggars Are Chosers”, “The Fourth R Is Ridiculousness”, or “The Attention Span of a Flea”, and broke a little laugh similarly at the other sub-chapter headings: “Almost as Smart as Neanderthals”, “A Law Newton Missed”, “Who Dressed This Mess?”, “Hail to Thee, Bankruptcy”, among others.

Bill Cosby, himself introduced the book with this words:

“I am not a psychologist or a sociologist. I do have a doctorate in education, but much more important than my doctorate is my delight in kids. I devote a part of my professional life to entertaining and educating them. I like children. Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my five. In between these joys and rewards, of course, has come the natural strife of family life, the little tensions and conflicts that are part of trying to bring civilization to children. The more I have talked about such problems, the more I have found that all other parents had the very same ones and are relieved to hear me turning them into laughter. … Yes, every parent knows the source of this laughter. Come share more of it with me now.”

With that in mind, I know I was in for Bill Cosby’s special brand of humor, wisdom and just a joyous celebration of being a father. He first tackled The Baffling Question of having a child. I was laughing out loud when I read What’s in a Name? where he suggested that “Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell, the name will carry,” then related an anecdote of his father calling him Jesus Christ and his brother Lookdammit.

In “Are They Evolution’s Missing Link?”, a sub-chapter entitled “Dr. Spock Never Promised Us a Rose Garden” immediately announced that “When a man has children, the first thing he has to learn is that he is not boss of the house.” The wife is. But sometimes, the kids are. After my three-year-old son learned to operate the DVD player, for almost three months now, the regular feature in our living room is Power Rangers. He might allow as, once in a while, to watch the evening news; but after dinner, another team of Power Rangers would be on. In Cosby’s “A Law Newton Missed”, he observed: “I am not a physicist, but I’m sure that the theory of conservation of energy was discovered while watching an eight-year-old pretend to work.” I remembered my eldest son when he was three when he would not pick up his spoon but just let his mouth drop to the plate to eat his meal saying that the spoon was too heavy.

Cosby succinctly observed:

“There are no absolutes in raising children. In any stressful situation, fathering is always a roll of the dice. The game may be messy, but I have never found one with more rewards and joys. … You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who’ve never had any.”

Bill Cosby also repeatedly, to comedic effect, highlighted the usual words children would say: “I don’t know!”, or “No problem” [in the dialect “Ambot” or “Walang problema!”]. When my three-year-old son learned that word, Ambot, everything he doesn’t know or want to do were punctuated with that word. No problem is the usual response I get from my second son, an independent boy. Even if I asked him: how was school? He is doing academically all right.

Then I found myself daydreaming of the same things Bill Cosby had written and seemingly recalling what my own sons did when they were still little boys. Happy times, back when I could afford to buy them things I thought they wanted. With my third son, I am probably instilling in him thriftiness, bordering on stinginess, because of the present global economic crises.

Bill Cosby really makes fatherhood come alive. The book is such a perceptive, touching, and hilarious accounts of parenthood, which every parent can relate to. Cosby said:

“Raising children is an incredibly hard and risky business in which no cumulative wisdom is gained: reach generation repeats the mistakes the previous one made. … We parent so often blow the business of raising kids, but not because we violate any philosophy of child raising. I doubt there can be a philosophy about something so difficult, something so downright mystical, as raising kids.”

I just hope that me, being a father, could guide my kids “to the right path”, as my father used to say. At the back of my mind, hoping that I would do a great job, and it’s a full-time job, no overtime or holiday pay, no night-premiums, but the rewards are great!


Notes:

Cosby, William H. Jr. (1986). Fatherhood. New York: Dolphin / Doubleday, 23 April 1986. back to text.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts on this site do not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: