Love is, among other things, blind.
All fathers are blind. Ask our wives and they’ll tell you there are things we simply cannot see: dishes, dirty diapers, signals. Ryan Knighton is the only father I know of who has an excuse. He is truly physically blind. He’s been losing his eyesight slowly throughout his adult years thanks to a rare genetic condition. In his memoir, C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the dark, he details his unique experience as a blind father. Or more appropriately as a new father, who just happens to be blind.
They say when you’re blind all other senses are magnified, but Knighton is quick to point out that you simply use your senses differently. It’s not like that horrible Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck. Knighton is not changing diapers through his newfound skill of echolocation. No, he’s feeling his way through the process. Literally.
And that’s what makes his book so identifiable. This is what we all do as new parents. We figure it out. There’s no manual. Parenting is as uniquely different as every child. You do what needs to be done in your circumstances. Sometimes your circumstances entail that if you can’t see your crying daughter’s mouth you simply repeatedly jab the soother in her face until you find it.
Parts of C’mon Papa like parts of parenting are absolutely terrifying. Like the cover hints, Knighton takes his daughter for a stroll down the street in the Baby Bjorn. The very busy downtown street. I can only imagine the looks on the faces of passersby. So can he.
Or there’s the time where he’s listening to his daughter eat but can’t identify the distinct sounds of her eating versus her choking. That is until he recognizes the distinct sound of his wife, Tracy, dislodging food from their daughter’s mouth. James Patterson has nothing on these thrills.
Despite the struggles detailed within, Knighton never uses his blindness as an excuse or a crutch. He adapts, and does so with humor and irreverence. He is after all a new father first and that requires good humor more than anything.