We all remember it, the first day.
Walking into the station, uniform squared away shoes polished, gear under one arm and your bedding under the other. Scared shitless; your only hope is to do everything right.
You want to meet the expectations of the crew awaiting you, you certainly don’t want to let them down. But what are their expectations?
You spend all day doing all that is asked of you and more. You’ve cleaned the bathrooms five times, went over the rig non stop, met with your captain to discuss what he’s expecting from you.
Later that night you get the inevitable… “sit down kid you’re making me nervous” from the senior man sitting over there in the recliner half asleep.
And you think
“you’re nervous? what the hell do you have to be nervous about? I’m just winging it over here guy”.
You’re just so afraid to do the wrong thing, yet as every shift passes and you learn more it gets easier.
You’ve learned what your crew expects of you and what to expect from them. You eventually develop a balance and a rhythm. Next thing you know you’re a year in and getting off probation.
“Man, where did that year go”, you ask yourself.
Without realizing it you have become a better fireman and civil servant all thanks to hard work, listening to lessons from those who came before you and kinda just figuring it out.
Admittedly, this is what I’m expecting the first few days of life to be like with my little girl Kennedy. I have all these thoughts in my head
“How do I change a diaper?”,
“How do I tie a bow for her hair?”,
“What do I do when she’s crying and won’t stop?”.
You better believe I’m just as scared for this as I was my first day on shift. I just want to be the father she deserves. Engaged, loving, respectful, consistent, educational, and fun! I’m going to approach this like i did my first year in the fire service, head first and hands on.
I was told day one by a guy I later came to immensely respect.
“Shut up, Listen up, and STEP UP”.
Some people don’t like that phrase, well I do! While the “shut up” may not work for the baby aspect of this metaphor the other two do.
While I’m sure advice will be coming at me from every direction I’m going to have a few “senior guys” I’m going to listen to. These people have been through this and done this with success. Listen to what they have to say, because they are a wealth of knowledge. Not everything they say is going to work for me but I’m sure I can adjust it and make it work for me and my little girl in some way. These are the people I can call at any time for a little “senior man wisdom”.
I can guarantee you one thing; I’ll be there, hands on, doing all that I can. From diaper changes and midnight feedings, to just making her laugh at my silly faces. (My wife would tell you it’s funny looking all the time, but hey she married me).
The best way to learn is to do. Just like it takes hundreds of times to perfect that hose pull; it takes the same amount of practice to perfect that diaper change or bath routine.
I’ll work to be the best at tying bows or braiding her hair as she gets older. You don’t learn anything sitting in the recliner all day. You have to step up and DO IT!
At the end of the day we just need to be there doing the absolute best we can. That’s what it’s all about right? Putting in the effort to be the best fireman or father we can be. Nerves will pass and one day I’m going to look at her and say “we did it together kiddo”, I can’t wait for that day.
Psalm 127:3-5 NLT
3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.