Q&A with Father Jean Robert Edouard Jr.

Nominated by Reggie Seigler

By Ashley Kang

Q: How did it feel when you became a father?
A. To be honest, I wasn’t nervous. Most men get nervous; they get terrified or scared. I wasn’t afraid of becoming a parent. I always knew one day I would become a father. I just didn’t know when.

Q. What was the moment like when he was born?
A. It still feels sometimes like it hasn’t hit me yet. It comes in spurts. I think it didn’t hit me until now when I see him at this age — time really does speed up when you have kids.

Jean Robert Edouard Jr., 32, artist and father of Messiah Jean, 3, describes himself as “the fun dad.” He says his son enjoys watching him paint and has even helped him create art since he was a toddler. | Provided Photo

Q. What can you share about your son?
A. He likes to paint like me, and I make sure he’s around me when I’m painting or if I go to art shows, galleries or museums. I try to have him be around art to gain skills and interest. He’s a shy kid at first but when he warms up to you, forget about that, he’s all about you. He’s friendly, happy and loves to make friends no matter where he goes. He’s a very loving child.

Q. What was your relationship like with your father?
A. It was good, yet he passed away when I was very young. There’re things I still remember, and I can see that I took. A perfect example is he used to love sleeping on the floor or laying down on the floor — that was his thing. Even to just watch TV. He would rather lay down on the floor because that is where he felt most comfortable. I catch myself doing that. Looking back, our relationship was good. He was there and took me to school, helped with homework and taught me how to dress — the small stuff.

Q. What do you love most about being a father?
A. Just having fun and being a kid again. Getting messy, dirty and having fun. Plus seeing him act goofy, that makes me laugh and makes me happy — watching him be himself.

Q. Is there anything special just you and him share?
A. I guess it’d have to be our handshake. I wanted something just for us. We continuously practice. At an early age, I started with the fist bump and it grew from there. We do it when I see him for the first time maybe on a pick up, if he’s going to go to bed or if he’s feeling sad. I give that handshake and it cheers him up. No one did anything like that with me. I came up with it because I wanted to create something that was only for me and him — it’s our bond.

Q. What has been your biggest challenge?
A. Teaching him how to use the bathroom and become potty trained. When people say that kids watch what you do, that’s a true statement. I tried something different (in teaching him). If I used the bathroom, I made sure he was with me. Then one day, he did it by himself. Now he’s fully potty trained at age 3.

Q. What advice do you have for first-time dads?
A. To have patience. Be patient with your kid and show them you care. It’s hard and stressful to be a parent, but patience is the key. Also, most kids want their parents to be in their world, meaning to play with them. So I would advise to spend as much time as you can with them, travel with them and be patient. Finally, love the experience.

Q. Final thoughts?
A. I know there’s going to be a time that he’s not going to want to be around his parents, so I’m trying to enjoy the moments and the journey. I want to put as much time into parenting as I can.

Ashley Kang is the director of The Stand newspaper

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