Thursday, February 15, 2007

Go Daddy

I have two friends who are going to become fathers for the first time. Any minute now for both of them. As a six-year-veteran of the fatherhood game, it is time for me to regale my vast readership with a few choice drips of wisdom from my infinite font of fatherly knowledge. In other words, here's some stuff I learned from being a dad.

Fatherhood does not change your life.
Now, of course it does change your life, but I swear, when that nurse handed that baby over to me, I expected the heavens to open up and a ray of enlightenment to wash down upon me, reavealing all the secrets and truths of the universe. I expected to be overwhelmed with this "unconditional love" everybody talks about. Didn't happen. I was the same dork I was the day before, except I was holding a baby. You don't change. You just sleep less.

Babies don't do anything for a long, long time.
That's how they wear you down. They really don't do shit, except shit. And cry. You are nothing but a maintenece man. You hold bottles, you wash them and you change their diapers. Then, in six months, when the little booger finally smiles at you, you are so overwhelmed that those months of work finally paid off with a reaction that you want to do something stupid, like call someone like me to tell me your baby smiled at you. Don't. I don't care. Which brings us to . . .

You will tell lots of stories about your kid.
Your best bet is to be sure to tell your story about how junior pissed all over you while you were changing his diaper to another parent. They don't really give a shit, but they all remember what it was like having a little baby around and they will listen patiently and nod at the appropriate times. If you tell stories to childless people, you run the risk of them returning favor with the most insulting resposne possible, a similar story about their pet. When your co-worker follows your story about how cute it is when your little missy learned to blow snot bubbles with his story about how Fido once blew a snot bubble, it will be all you can do to contian yourself from grabbing him around the neck and screaming, "I am talking about an actual human! My human offspring! I don't give a shit about your dog stories, you stupid moron!"

You will stare at your baby.
Next time you see a couple in a restaurant with a baby small enough to sit in a carrier on the table, take a moment to observe them. Both of them will spend the entire time staring at the baby. They can't help it and and you won't be able to either.

Dresses from six months to one year are useless.
Baby clothes are the biggest scam in the world. You are going to spend a lot of money on clothes that are actually sized to expire in a matter of months. If you have a girl, don't fall for those cute little dresses sized from six months to a year. That is when your baby is crawling. Babies can't crawl in dresses. The only time you will put a dress on your baby during that period is to take a picture, and that will only be because your Mother-In-Law sent you that dress and you feel like you should send a picture to give the impression that the baby actually wears the dress. Onesies and PJs. That's all you really need.

Your percieved pre-birth aversion to changing diapers will not last.
Holding a baby that stinks so bad it is making your eyes water and giving you a migraine is far worse than changing the diaper. Changing the diaper will actually be a relief.

You will let your kid watch Teletubbies and Barney
You may have this highbrow vision about only exposing your kid to Coltrane and Haydn and reading Yeats and Hemingway to the little tyke while he eats organic kale, but here's a little reality. They do focus group studies with these shows before they get on the air. Those shows will keep your child's attention for 8-10 minutes at a time. When you haven't had an uninterrupted shower in six weeks, you will plant the the kid in the high chair in front of Elmo, dump a load of cheerios on the tray and enjoy your few blessed moments of peace and hot water.

Most importantly, you will need to be a father.
It will take a while to realize that you are a father, the actual authority figure for this person. You can't be the "best friend." You're the Dad. Don't be pressured to do anything "with" your kid. My dad didn't do shit "with" me. He played catch with me in the yard and helped coach my teams and went to all my games and helped me paint my furniture orange and set up science projects with me and took me to Disney World and to the beach. But he always did it as my Dad. So, be a dad. It's not easy. Fake it.

I know my friends will be good fathers. But many people wind up here searching for odd stuff on google and yahoo (like today's searches: "slutty groupies" and "weird and interesting stories about Walter Cronkite"). So if you are here because you are searching for advice on being a father, those last two words sum it up nicely. Fake it.

Good luck.

2 Comments:

At 5:36 PM , Anonymous Matt said...

As for the baby clothes, I agree. For the first year at least, babies usually just wear onsies and PJ's. We gave away a lot of the baby clothes he didn't even wear!

 
At 8:47 PM , Blogger Ginger said...

Good advice on all counts. I have friends who were vehement about not allowing their child to watch Teletubbies or Barney. Whatever. Amanda loved both and she's a pretty smart little girl...it didn't dumb her up at all. As for me, the Wiggles kind of weirded me out. You should do a post warning the dads about the Wiggles.

 

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