Inside the bubble of childhood

w: Johnathon E. Briggs

w: Johnathon E. Briggs

Inside the bubble of childhood

— August 5, 2019 —

Editor’s Note: On this blog, I refer to my daughter as “Dear Daughter” (DD) and my wife as “Dear Wife” (DW).  

There she is, my Dear Daughter, under the warm haze of a summer night, chasing flickering fireflies with wild abandon across the expanse of our backyard, pigtails bouncing, sprinkling black girl magic like fairy dust as she giggles and darts about, carefree and innocent.

It’s just past 8:30 on a Saturday evening and I’m caught in an angle of reflection. It’s been five years since DD was born and 10 years since my Dear Wife and I exchanged wedding vows in a garden in Hawaii. Here I am at the intersection of two milestones, sitting on a wooden folding chair in our yard, watching my daughter live in the moment as I think about her future.

She starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks, but I’m already wondering what kind of person she’ll be thirteen years from now, when she’s 18 and on the cusp of college. Will her sense of awe and wonder still be intact? Will she remain strong-willed and fearless? Where will her love of music and performing lead her? How will her resilience manifest when, to borrow from James Baldwin, “the teeth of the world” grow sharp?

Her life is simple now, as it should be, filled with the little things that spark happiness: frilly dresses, Disney cartoons, magic wand bubbles, cuddle time, a pink bicycle with training wheels. She has no awareness of the headlines reflecting the troubled state of the world: mass shootings, white supremacist terrorism, trade wars, climate change, global inequality. Such concerns will inevitably creep into view as she moves through life but, for now, she’s cocooned in the bubble of childhood.

My wife and I began building this bubble in 2013, when we learned we were pregnant. As I once wrote, the process of becoming a parent means you make room for the arrival of a child – room in your home, in your thoughts, in your heart. “That’s what it means to become a parent: You make room.” For us, that room has now become a home. Inside, above our doorway, hangs a plaque that reads: Home is where your story begins.

Perhaps you don’t notice the passage of time because you’re busy raising, working, planning, loving, living.

My daughter is 60 months into her own story. August marks her fifth birthday, but also my anniversary of being a dad. I’m learning to let go a bit more, to let her fall, bump into things, learn from mistakes. I won’t always be there to protect her, but I can teach her to protect herself.

It’s often said that each year of a child’s life is precious, and it seems every parenting book underscores the importance of the first five which lay the foundation for future health and happiness. Lately, instead of “Is my daughter hitting her developmental milestones?” I’ve asked myself, “Where did the time go?”

Perhaps you don’t notice the passage of time because you’re busy raising, working, planning, loving, living.

Busy watching your child explode with excitement at the sight of fireworks lighting up the night sky on the Fourth of July.

Busy seeing her squeal with delight at the dolphins performing tricks at the zoo.

Busy going up and down, ‘round and ‘round as the chaperone on her first carousel ride.

Busy making memories.

Where did the time go? I’m not quite sure. But as I sit here watching my daughter run across the grass under the soft glow of yard lights, I know the days have been well spent.

Father on,

626 words


Johnathon E. BriggsA 40-something father who favors wingtips + statement socks • Husband • Autism Dad • Comic Book Fan • ΑΦΑ

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Six weeks before my 40th birthday, I became a first-time father. This life-changing moment made me think about my own dad, who became a father at 44. As my parenthood journey unfolded, I noticed that most of my friends had become parents earlier in life yet, here I was, changing diapers and battling sleep deprivation at (nearly) 40. I told my wife, “Parenting is definitely a young man’s game.” But is it really?

Where most of my friends were preparing for their children’s middle and high school graduations, I was mastering the art of the swaddle, perfecting the one-hand baby wipe, and learning to decipher my daughter’s gurgles and whimpers. It occurred to me that I had so much more to offer my daughter at the sure-footed age of 40 than I did at, say, 28, when I was still coming into my own.

In this awareness, I gained an appreciation for where I am in life and the idea for Fatherhood@Forty was born. Fatherhood@Forty is a creative outlet to blog about my experiences and inspire other (relatively) late-in-life dads. It’s been said that each child is their own assignment and I believe each parent’s journey is its own destination.

Here are a few factoids about me, Johnathon Briggs, the editor behind this blog:

  • I am a former journalist (Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune).
  • I love exploring Chicago and the Midwest with my family.
  • I remain on a constant quest to stay fit.
  • I support charities that fight HIV, uplift families affected by incarceration, and ensure African American boys graduate from college.
  • I enjoy reading comic books and binge-watching House of Cards.
  • I am a child of the ‘80s, so please expect occasional references to the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.

As a reporter for daily newspapers, I had the opportunity to interview fascinating people and to test out great products and brands for my readers. I hope to do the same for you as I blog about the moments that make up this adventure called fatherhood.

Please email me if you’d like to collaborate or have ideas for a blog post:

Father on,

Disclaimer: Fatherhood@Forty may contain affiliate marketing links, which may result in commission on sales of products or services I write about. My editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Copyright © 2019 — Blank Canvas Studio, LLC | No use without permission