So, you might have a few questions on your arrival. Well, probably not right away–it’s a bit of a shock coming into the world, I’d have to imagine. Everything’s nice and quiet and warm and soft and dark and then suddenly bright lights and loud noises. Unpleasant. Then again, maybe by the time it’s time to hit the town, you’re getting a bit claustrophobic. Either way, it’s certainly a significant change, going from there in mom’s belly to out here in the wide world.

Fortunately for you, you’ve got some good friends on the outside looking out for you. We’re already getting stuff ready for your arrival; it’ll be a little while yet, but we’re all really excited, and it’s kind of hard to resist. Your Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Rick have started giving us stuff that belonged to your cousins only a couple months ago–a car seat, some clothes for mom, a few crib sheets. I have to paint your room within the next few months. We’ve started looking at cribs and swings and the like, and I’ve been reading up on what we will need and when. Your mom and I have already talked a lot about the next couple months, and I might have to be out of town for the last three, so there’s a lot to do in the meantime. You probably won’t use much of the stuff we’re getting now at first–I get the impression the transition is easier if you just get a lot of sleep and try to take it easy for a while. We’re gonna try to make that as simple as possible, so we’re getting all our sleep in now.

Once you get settled, though, I think you’ll probably have some questions and concerns. Once you start to think about it, it’s sort of confusing: one minute you’re not here, the next you are. What’s the deal? So.

Who am I?

You’re a fetus, a ball of potential baby. We’ve got plans for you kid, and we’re driving slower and taking action to make sure the world is ready when you get here. You’re not quite a person yet, but as your body is entwining itself together, growing stronger and bigger, the bonds that connect you to people past and future are getting stronger as well.

As I think I mentioned, you either are or are going to be a human being. Whether you already are one or not is not uncontroversial. I’m of the opinion that you’re almost a human being, but not quite. Nonetheless, come August, you’ll be a full-fledged human being by anyone’s standards. In this day and age, that’s a good thing to be. You have a number of attendant rights and priveleges that many people have sworn to protect simply because you are a human being.

Today, it means you can’t legally be the property of someone else in (I think) any country in the world. It still happens in some places, which is to our eternal shame as a species. It’s gotten a lot better in the last 200 years though. Additionally, no one is legally allowed to destroy you with impunity (again, I think in any country). This still happens quite a bit, but again, it’s improved a lot over the course of history.

You’re going to be an American citizen. This affords a number of additional attendant priveleges, especially upon reaching majority (age 18 in the US). You’ll eventually get the right to vote, you have a nominally constrained right to free speech, the right to a fair trial, the right to a free media to keep you informed if you’re interested (which you might should be).

You’re going to be either a boy or a girl. If you’re a girl, there are a lot of people who will underestimate your abilities. If you’re a boy, there are a lot of people who will try to stunt your ability to express your emotions. Either way, you’re in luck, because neither of your parents falls into either of those groups of people. This won’t matter too much in the beginning, although it will matter more later in life, as some of your biological processes will differ pretty drastically from the opposite sex starting around age 13 or so.

Mostly, you’re going to have a lot in common with a dirty, cranky, incontinent old man, at first, in both looks and attitude. Still, we’re all going to be incredibly fascinated, because you’ll be like a dirty, cranky, incontinent old man that has grown from nothing into existence by pretty miraculous means. And plus you’ll be tiny and warm and cute.

Who are you in particular?

We’re not entirely sure yet–no one ever is totally sure. I can give you an idea of your connections on the outside, though. Your mother is Cheryl Treacy-Lenda. She’s very bright and funny and beautiful and tall and quite odd. She likes languages and knitting and cooking and good books and other cultures and making stuff and graphic design and people and the outdoors and animals and babies. She likes to think a lot and talk about what’s going on in the world and in her life. She’s a great traveling companion, her insights are really valuable, she has a natural ability to understand other people’s needs and an aptitude for helping them solve problems. She’s going to be the one sacrificing a lot of sleep in the very beginning. Definitely a good person to have on your side.

I’m your father, Jason James Delaney. I never really felt like that name fit very well, but so be it. That’s often how it goes. It’s more of an existential problem than anything: there’s always a loss of information from the thing in itself to its signifier. I also like language, but I’m not as well-versed in it as your mother. I like math and the philosophy of science, books and sports and games, making stuff, conversation, little kids, intellectual rigor, music, graphic design, the outdoors, thinking, both meditatively and analytically, and more than anything else, probably, arguing. I’m really fascinated by the agonistic interplay of ideas over time. I also really like the idea of living well, of life as an execution of something you can become skilled at. As a result of this, I’m a very grateful person but at times a very introverted one.

There are more close allies than that, but we’re the two who will get to live with you daily. Additionally, understanding who you are will probably require understanding who we are. I talk with your uncle Luke and aunt Serenity occasionally about who I am and who they are, and we all pretty much agree that in some sense we’re combinations of our parents–your paternal grandparents. So just from who we are, I can make a few educated guesses as to who you might be.

If you’re anything like your parents, you’ll be really smart and quite good-looking (bonus!). That’s a huge leg up, and you didn’t have to do anything for it. Whether you decide to do anything with it is up to you. On the flip side, both of your parents are really quite nerdly. And quite odd. And occasionally annoying. Fortunately for you and I, I am nearly impossible to annoy, so I’ll be there to take the brunt of whatever you can dish out.

Your smarts and looks aren’t really who you are, though, and so a lot of it will be determined by forces outside any of our control, just by your passage through life. Some of it your mother and I can try to influence, and it’s probably wise to be up front here: if I can affect who you become, I will. I’m pretty sure that’s standard operating procedure for parents, but my stated goal is the one I’m about to state: I want you to be able to handle anything life throws at you, to have the capacity to comprehend anything you want to, the judgment to determine what you want to happen, the means to achieve those ends (and the means to achieve the means to achieve those ends, ad infinitum), and the strength of character to learn from mistakes and poor decisions.

There’s a song by Aloha, the title of which often occurs to me. I wish no chains upon you. That’s my goal as a father, I guess with the clause “except those you wish upon yourself” tacked on the end. It’s nice to be connected, not so nice to be constrained. A good life is about forging your own chains, good ones, not the ones that Marley wore. It’s nice if you can have the freedom to forge chains of your own choice.

I’m only twenty-six. That’s pretty young; it’s six years older than your Grandma and Grandpa were when I was born. Still, I’m really young, and when you’re my age, you’ll probably do what I do now: wonder how your parents did it when they were this young. You’ll also probably realize that everything in life is really just people making it up as they go along–that’s a powerful realization. It opens up the world to you, in particular to you, Pickle, since you can make up anything as you go along.

More on everything later, kiddo. For now, you’re Pickle, well-loved and much-awaited.