I know, I know. You're a member of our target audience, a young
male in college or recently graduated and sponging off your
folks. You don't have any kids, as far as you know. But you
probably will, and a lot sooner than you mean to! I'm
forty-three, and I'm here to tell you that children, like bad
knees, deteriorating eye sight and wages that lag behind the
cost of living lime that horrible eighty year old living corpse
that finishes the Boston marathon last every year, are just
about inevitable. So put down the Cheetos, pause 'Girls Gone
Wild From Near Lethal Blood Alcohol Levels During Spring Break'
and pay attention.
PREGNANCY: A PREQUEL TO DISASTER
There's a certain pride in knowing your seed is strong, always
assuming it is your seed, but trust me, after that first three
minutes spent planting, the farm goes straight to hell. Think of
your wife getting larger and larger as a metaphorical preview of
the way your wants, needs and drives will shrink to total
insignificance the instant your first child is born. You'll
still feel like you're a whole person worthy of recognition, but
that's pretty much phantom limb pain.
TAKE NO GUFF
Back in your Dad's day it was a lot easier to take no guff,
especially after he went out for cigarettes right before your
eighth birthday party and never returned. Today's society
demands a lot more of Fathers, so it's best to make it known
your 'bullshit meter' is always 'on' right away. I recommend
sternly advising your newborn to 'button that lip!' the instant
their head breeches the birth canal. Anyone who hears you over
your wife's self indulgent screaming will assume you're just
excited. Remember, when you boarded the S.S. Fatherhood, a tidal
wave of guff a minimum of eighteen years tall started rolling
straight for you! If you expect to survive as a distinct entity
it's never too early to say no to guff.
PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN
Similar to 'taking no guff' but proactive instead of reactive,
whatever the hell that means. It's best to start right away. It
will never mean a damn thing to your kids, but before they start
talking, it at least creates the illusion you're in charge of
something. It doesn't matter at all what you put your foot down
about. No pacifiers, no thumb sucking, toilet training at five
months, whatever, you're going to fail anyway. The bluster and
bravado of shouting "This is where I draw the line!" and "When I
say _________ I mean it!" isn't about obedience. It lets the
family know you're still alive and discourages them from sitting
in your favorite chair when you're in it.
DIVISION OF LABOR
Think back. What did your Dad give you? Not hot meals and the
roof over your head, these days you have to do that just to stay
out of jail. I mean the kind of lasting stuff that wouldn't have
even blipped on your radar if you hadn't had hot meals and a
roof over your head. Did he play catch with you once or twice?
Teach you to ride a bike? Whup you for sassing? Well you're
going to be expected to do a whole hell of a lot more. Wake up,
this is the Two Thousands! The only thing you're getting out of
is breast feeding, and don't think woman scientists aren't
working on that one behind our backs right now! You've been born
into a time when if you miss a school pageant, express an
insufficient amount of sympathy when their gerbil dies or leave
the baby on the roof of the car even once, it's called
'neglect'. The best time to make iron clad agreements about what
jobs you'll handle and what jobs are the wife's province is
right after the delivery. Sure it's cruel, but it's best to
bargain from a position of strength. If you're not stronger than
a drugged up woman in severe pain who just pushed a squirming
package the size and temperament of a Woodchuck out her lower
body, you have no business having kids in the first place.
THE FIRST THREE YEARS
Pop Quiz! What's more important to your status as a father?
A.) Changing a lot of diapers.
B.) Playing with your child
C.) Telling people you change a lot of diapers.
If you answered 'A', you might as well chop your Johnson off and
hand it over right now. The only time any kid recalls who
diapered them, it's all mixed up with a recovered memory and it
can land you in jail. So if it doesn't matter to the kid, who
the hell are you doing it for, your wife? What are you, a pussy?
The answer is C. Tell anyone who'll listen you changed your kid
every chance you got and that it strengthened the bond between
you in ways you never imagined. When your wife contradicts you
she's bound to be pretty shrill. Wink over her shoulder and
mouth the words 'post partum depression'. People will think
you're super-dad! Oh, and if you answered C chances are you
never met a baby. Play with them? Hell, they don't even opened
their eyes for the first six months, it's not like they even
know you're there!
Kids get sick all the time, and if you don't keep your distance,
you will too. Here's a quick primer.
Perpetual. If your child stops secreting thick, gluey substances
from every opening on its face for more than two days, then you
Want to see the laws of physics defied? I read somewhere a child
weighing eighteen pounds can projectile vomit with enough force
to tear a mans arm clean off.
Sad but true, and pretty much puts to rest the whole argument
over 'intelligent design'.
Modern vaccination programs have taken this irritating disease
we all experienced off the map of early childhood. Which means
those inflamed red spots all over your kid are something much,
It's still not known exactly what causes Colic, but most
pediatricians agree if your baby is diagnosed with it, you
should put a gun to your own head and blow your brain out right
away. I shit you not.
There's nothing more important in your child's life than school.
Without it, they'd be home all the time, or worse yet follow you
to work and find out just how low you sit on the company totem
pole. This being the case, a good father encourages a love of
learning. If your child says they don't like school, gently
remind them that when you were a kid you walked seven miles
uphill to get there and on arrival were beaten soundly by Nuns
with five o'clock shadow. Get involved with the PTO! As the only
guy there, your 'Dad Stock' will be grossly overrated, and
besides, it's a swell place to meet disgruntled, lonely Mothers!
If the kid asks you to come to Career Day, try to see it as an
opportunity. Young children don't know the difference between
truth and horse crap. Tell them you're a lion tamer.
YOUR CHILD'S FRIENDS
If your child is a girl, it's best to make sure all her friends
think you're great. Inside each one of them rests the potential
to become that awesome balance of low self-esteem and hotness
portrayed in "American Beauty" and both versions of "Lolita".
Even the fat one with the overbite.
If your child is a boy, don't bother even learning his friend's
names. They might grow up to think you're the coolest dad in the
neighborhood, but it won't make them any less likely to siphon
the gas out of your tank or beat you unconscious for drug money.
If your child is a girl, this has nothing to do with you. Let
her Mom figure it out. The less you know the better. Besides,
anything you told her could be wrong. If you knew as little
about your car as you do about women's bodies, you'd never open
the hood for fear of destroying it. If your child is a boy,
relax. You used to be one. Remember how easy it was filching
porno mags from Dad's stash? Well, they invented the Internet.
Your son doesn't need even the passive connection you got
stealing stroke books off your old man. Plus, he can pick
whatever kink he likes from a wide selection. Don't you wish
you'd had that chance? Maybe you'd be into something less
If there's one thing I can teach you, it's this. Any time you
spend with your kids is quality time. So when they start whining
about how you never read to them, remind them there are kids in
India who's Dads are Indians, and tell them to stop trying to
make you divorce their Mom. Then turn the sound up and make them
get you something you're perfectly capable of getting yourself.
Remember, if you love something, set it free. Over and over, as
often as possible. Otherwise it will wind up thirty, marginally
employed and living in your basement.
REALLY LISTENING TO YOUR CHILD
I'm just kidding.
Who's to blame for your fear of commitment, your lack of
ambition, your inability to perform even two of the Twelve Steps
and your miserable, lackluster, infrequent performance in bed?
Your parents, that's who. If you're a decent person, you'll do
your damndest to make sure you do a better job of parenting than
your folks did, and it won't make the least little bit of
difference. Your children will blame you for every
disappointment and every horrible thing they do because as a
parent that's the most solid service you provide them. You know
what this means to you? Carte Blanche, baby! Look, they're going
to see a therapist sooner or later. It's up to you to make it
worth every penny their insurance company covers. Why should
they have to make shit up when they could be talking about all
the crazy ass stuff you could be getting up to RIGHT NOW! It's
true that the days of you being the star of your own movie ended
the moment your kids took their first breath, but that doesn't
mean the picture is over! You're the character actor now! The
whacky neighbor, the unrepentant, alcoholic best friend, the
innocent retarded guy who delivers the unexpected pearl of
wisdom! From wearing suit socks and sandals at the beach to
showing their prom date the Mexican Tattoo that can't be seen in
it's entirety without exposing a few pubes and an unexplained
scar, the world is your oyster, Dad!