Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fatherhood Is Not For Wimps

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Today, in case you'd forgotten, is Father's Day.

On such a day, of course, I think of my own dad, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him for all the things he's done and for putting up with me for as long as he has.

Father's Day, however, also makes me reflect on the 17-plus years that I've been a father.

I look back on the births of my son and my daughter, and I can't help but think, "Dear Lord, whatever made me think I was qualified for this?" I was so not ready. But I like to think I've learned a few things over the years. And because I am, at heart, an educator, I'll share some of those lessons with you new fathers out there.

Modern parenting theory requires that the father ­actually be present in the delivery room at the time of birth. It does not, however, allow the father to bring a fifth of whiskey into the room with him. It's unfair, but it's not the most unfair thing you'll experience as a father.

Just keep one thing in mind: If something is going on with your significant other and the doctor tells you "don't look," DON'T LOOK. There are things that go on in a delivery room that make "Kill Bill" look like "Heidi."

A baby can cry at an impressive volume for an even more impressive time. This will cause you, at some point, to consider throwing said child out the window. This desire is normal. I'm not saying it's OK to do it, mind you, but don't think you're a freak for feeling it.

Here's a trick you may want to try: Put the ­little tyke in his or her car seat, then put the car seat on top of the dryer while it's running. It's like taking them for a ride in the car (another thing that always seems to calm the little ­shriekers down), but you don't waste as much gas and you don't run the risk of being pulled over in your pajamas at 3 o'clock in the morning. But be careful and keep your eye on the seat so it doesn't vibrate off the dryer. Those things supposedly can withstand quite an impact, but there's no need to test it out.

If you're asked to go get an infant up in the morning to take him somewhere, such as day care, it's probably best that you not suddenly pick said infant up out of the crib, hold him at arms length and say in a loud voice, "It's time to get up!" It's pretty funny until he starts screaming, which is, unfortunately, almost instantly.

That last piece of advice, by the way, was inserted at the insistence of my wife, who apparently intends to never let me live that particular incident down.

The larger lesson to be learned here is that babies and grownups don't think the same things are funny. I'm only mildly amused by jingling keys; a baby thinks they're funnier than Jay Leno, The Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers combined.

For a toddler, sugar equals crack. Trust me on this. Look at the signs of crack cocaine use: Excitability, rapid speech, agitation, ­aggression, dilated pupils.Then give a 3-year-old a chocolate bar. See if you don't agree. If you wouldn't give a kid a pipe and a rock in a particular situation, you should seriously ­consider not giving him or her candy in the same situation.

There's an old adage that you can determine the collective IQ of a group by taking the IQ of the stupidest member of the group and ­dividing it by the number of people in the group. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a group of boys. But, God, they can be funny.

Which leads us to the No. 1 lesson fatherhood has taught me: Keep your sense of humor. Believe me, you're going to need it.

And enjoy the day.


David Terrenoire said...

Good advice, all.

Happy Father's Day, Dusty.

Fran said...

Happy Father's Day, Dusty!

And that's some great advice, not just for dads either.

Mark Terry said...

All true and I have I'll call a couple of Mark's Corollaries.

1. Yes, the babies scream at an unusual volume and for an unusual length. But it's not as long as you think. A baby's screams are capable of tearing the space-time continuum. Although it does, in fact, feel as if the baby is screaming for two hours in the middle of the night, if you actually time it, it may only be five or ten minutes. It just feels like two hours.

2. Although putting your child in a carseat on top of the dryer is a good idea, putting your child IN the dryer is a bad idea.

3. Although shaken baby syndrome is horrible, any parent who is at all honest will tell you the temptation is real. Resist it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And that becomes even more true over time.

Pogonip said...

It only gets better. I'm remembering the night the doorbell rang and I peeked through the window to see a uniformed police officer standing with my handcuffed son - so I did the logical thing. Elbowed my husband and told him to answer the door.