Luke, I Am Your Father by Scott Pixello
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Published September 4, 2012
ExcerptDan Hughes is an immature, Star Wars-obsessed 16-year-old, not enthusiastic about school or a career but when he discovers that his girlfriend, Emma, is pregnant, he has to grow up quickly. Then a routine scan shows that the baby is also likely to be affected with Down’s Syndrome and Dan and Emma must make the most difficult decision of their lives. Worse still, the timing of the scan means they have just seven days in which to do this. Luckily, Dan’s closest friends, the strangely-named Muppet, Dave the Goth and Flipper, help by planning a series of activities to test Dan’s potential as a father. Unluckily, this idea is made more difficult by heated arguments over a fishing trip to Scotland, who is the best Batman villain and how many children there were in The Waltons.
As practice for coping with the baby that Emma, his girlfriend, is expecting, Dan Hughes, the 16-year-old central character visits Emma’s sister, Nat, who has several children. She does not think Dan is up to the job.
“You wouldn’t last an evening.”
“Dan, you still have model cars in your bedroom, you can recite the credits of action movies and you keep all your CDs in alphabetical order.”
I almost regretted letting Emma see my bedroom if its vital stats were so accurately reported. “I just need practice.”
“Strange you should say that. We need someone to look after Tom. Tonight.”
“Ah, well I’d love to but you see, I’ve got...a thing.”
“A definite...thing. I mean obviously, I’d love to but...”
“You’ve got a thing. I’ll tell you what I think, Dan. I think you’re just afraid.”
“Afraid? Ha, of a thing that size?”
“Yes. Kids aren’t neat and tidy without rough edges. That’s all some kids are. And you have to adapt. Yes you. You know your trouble, Daniel Hughes?”
“Er, no,” I said, wondering what Nat knew about me. It always freaked me out a bit when people used my full name like that- like I was being told off even when I wasn’t.
“You’ve never had to put anyone at the center of your life apart from you, have you? Not friends, partners, family. No-one, just you. Well, here’s the thing. Emma’s baby hasn't got anyone else. If you don’t put her first, then they won’t just be a bit put out, they will starve and die. If she was a giraffe, she’d have to stand up within minutes and look after herself within months but it’s not quite as easy with people. They take years and years, sometimes even a whole lifetime before they can fend for themselves. If you wanted an easy life, you should have got yourself a giraffe.”
I found I was shaking my head slowly from side to side like some kind of robotic doll. “You’re still not going to talk me into this. No way. Nothing you can do or say will persuade me. I am immovable.”
Two hours later I was standing in the hallway, hopping anxiously from one foot to the other and breaking out in a nervous sweat. Rob was out in the car and Nat was standing in the hall, giving me a final run through. “Now you’re sure you’re gonna be OK?”
“Sure. We can have some long talks.”
“Well, it may seem slightly unequal in terms of an intellectual exchange but over time, I’m quite sure, you’ll catch up. Oh, and remember,” she pointed at the bag of peanuts, lying on the coffee table, “small children can choke on nuts.”
I answered without thinking. “Thanks for the tip.”
“No,” she said slowly, “it’s a warning. Tom’s has got a nut allergy. You know the little brown things you eat. If he eats any, he’ll swell up like a balloon.”
“Cool.” Nat’s expression could have frozen molten lava. “I mean, not cool. Not cool at all. I’ll be sure to keep a look-out for them.”
“And he’ll need changing when he wakes up.”
“Great. Just have to drug him to make sure he never does then.” Nat’s stare doubled in strength. “Only joking.” She had shown me the pile of various medicines on the top shelf in the bathroom, all bearing the stamp ‘Keep out of the reach of children’. There was some advice I could follow. “I’ll do my best,” I muttered to myself.
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