Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Brush With Corleone

Hey there folks,

Yesterday I was asked a question that I have never been asked before, ever. And I couldn't answer it right away on the spot. But it really got me thinking.

You see, recently I have made good friends with another band over here (they are staying in the same house I am staying in), although I should point out, this band isn't actually FROM here, as they come from Washington state. They're just staying here in Nashville for a couple of weeks while they do some shows in town and thereabouts. Anyway, the bass player has his girlfriend and 3 month old son Gunner (the name's Swedish, apparently) in tow, and we have been getting along like the proverbial (not literal - fortunately) house on fire. So well in fact, that last night they asked me to be their little boy's Godfather.

Now, after I sadly realised that this didn't mean wearing a snappy pinstripe suit and fedora and granting any favour asked of me on my daughter's wedding day, you can imagine I was kind of stunned. I mean, I've known them for all of two weeks. But I guess they thought enough of me to want me to have some kind of role in their offspring's life, which is very nice of them (and potentially disastrous for the poor unsuspecting young one). I am very flattered of course, but also very confused. I don't really know what a Godfather actually DOES.

Now I've been to a few baptisms before, where the traditional role of the Godparents is to be the child's religious and spiritual compass, to ensure that the kids grow up to be good god-fearers just like their god-fearing godparents. That and to step in and take over care of the child in the unfortunate event of the parent's passing when the child is still, well, a child. Which is a little silly, really, as I would have thought most couples would normally have their own parents or other close relatives take over the custody and care of any children should that situation arise.

So, I did some research. Seeing as how I didn't know exactly what the duties of a Godparent is (I never had one, to my knowledge), and how my immediate reaction was that I am not obviously qualified to undertake such a thing, I set about to find out what the role of the Godparent is in today's society. I am not especially religious, so for me to be the religious guide for any young human is a little bit of a stretch. Fortunately in this case young Gunner's parents aren't too religious either, so this poses the question of what do Godparents do in a non-religious context? Is it even a valid role, and given that the term is GODparent, should it be called something else in this case?

I guess 'mentor' or 'guide' would be pretty apt, and wouldn't be too bad. You know, like having a cool uncle or aunt to counsel you on stuff you don't want your parents to know about. I could do that. A scary thought, I know, but I possibly could. I can be pretty responsible when I need to be.

As it turns out, according to many web forums on the subject, that's pretty much what people who aren't religious, but still want to fill a kind of 'Godparent' role in their child's life, are doing. I guess it's kind of like having an additional person on board who pledges to do their best to look after the kid's best interests and stuff like that. That would make sense. It's kind of like the whole 'it takes a community to bring up a child' ethos. I can understand and actually identify with that, from personal experience. Ultimately, it's really up to the parents. I don't think kids need 'Godparents' in order to be brought up emotionally stable and well-balanced, though it doesn't necessarily hurt either, and there are countless examples of both. It all depends on the family and their educational and parenting philosophy. Says me, who doesn't really have any practical parenting experience AT ALL, besides looking after my younger siblings as soon I was responsible enough to. And as my mum would point out, that hardly counts.

So, I haven't given an answer yet, as they said I can take my time to think about it (which I need, quite frankly). It may just give them enough time to rethink their offer, which may put my mind at ease. Gunner's still going to turn out great, whether I get to see how he's doing every so often or not. But, you know, if I was his 'backup-parent', that kid would definitely have a good appreciation of soul music...

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