children, fathers, humor, Jim Chaney, kids, life, lists, parenting, The Wordslinger
I’m not an expert on many things, and by “many things”, I of course mean “anything”. People rarely seek my advice unless they (A) are seeking factually incorrect information, or (B) are really drunk and have confused me with someone they would take advice from, like Oprah or that guy from the Allstate commercials with the deep voice. That guy seems like he’s got it together you know?
In truth, I’ve never been disappointed by the lack of confidence people have in me to deliver sound guidance. I mean I’m rarely to blame for the mistakes of others, and when the stars do align and I magically pull a rabbit of wisdom from my hat, I go out on top like a pinch-hit home run or a low-budget, second-rate movie that actually turns a profit.
In my dangerously close to 31 years, I’ve managed to avoid conflict by keeping my two cents tucked safely between the couch cushions with a handful of Cheerios and several television remotes. After three and half years of parenthood however; and at the risk of exposing myself as a trusted source of fatherly advice, I’ve decided it’s time to bring all you soon-to-be-baby-daddies into the loop about what’s coming your way.
I’m not here to insult your intelligence. You know that there will be diapers to change and I know that you know that there will be diapers to change. But I’m betting there’s a few trade secrets that no one has informed you of and I refuse to let you walk into an ambush completely unarmed. So here are a few arrows to add to your quiver before the big day arrives and you realize you brought a knife to a gunfight.
You can’t save up sleep- You may be thinking that if you start getting 10 hours a night and taking naps during the day, you’ll be topped off prior to the arrival of your little bundle of
screams poop spit up joy. Think again. You are going to be tired no matter what you do now. You are going to be tired like you’ve never been tired before. Like you’ll wake up one day and be all, “Wow, I have never been this tired before.” Then the next day, you’ll be all, “Remember yesterday when I said I had never been this tired before? Neither do I, because I’m so tired I don’t remember yesterday!”
No matter what you say now, your life IS going to change- I remember thinking that becoming a parent would change my life, but that some things I considered important (like watching every sporting event ever televised or going to bathroom in privacy) would remain in tact. This is not the case. Every aspect of your life will be different now, but don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. It will be different in the best way possible. Sure, you might miss a game now and then and you’ll never “do your business” with the door closed ever again, but I promise you won’t miss these things as much as you think. Well, except for the “doing your business” in privacy part. That’ll take awhile to get over.
You will absolutely, positively NEED a calendar- I was never much for keeping track of dates and times and appointments. Probably because I never had many appointments to keep track of. My iPhone told me what day it was and that was good enough for me. But today, the calendar is the only thing that keeps our lives from veering off track and into a roadside ditch. On the plus side, doctors appointments are really the only thing you’ll have to worry about during the infant stage. But as your little one gets older, finding a blank calendar day will be harder than finding a good Kevin Costner movie.
No two kids are alike- So, you think you’ve mastered the art of parenting and are ready to throw another little one into the mix? Let me tell you something friend, this next one will turn everything you think you know about being a parent upside down. The first one slept through the night at 8 weeks? I hope you’ve enjoyed the sleep you’ve been getting then, because this one is an insomniac. Little Suzie loved it when you swung her back and forth in your arms? How sweet. I hate to tell you this, but little Johnny is just going to scream and puke in your mouth when you do that. Sorry buddy, but that’s just the way it is. Hey, God has to have a little fun somehow.
You will cry- You did two tours in the military? Climbed Everest with nothing but a wind breaker and a 5-hour energy? Never even flinched when Forrest Gump finds out he has a son and tearfully asks if he’s smart or stupid? I’m impressed tough guy. But here’s the thing, no matter how tough you think you are, it’s impossible not to shed a tear when the inconsolable screams of your baby cut right to the very depths of your soul. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t hold it back. As parents, we live and die with every breath of our children and that tear rolling down your cheek is as natural as a keg stand at a frat party.
And last but not least…
There’s nothing better than being a Dad!
I like to think my FB post was inspiration for the No 2 kids are alike section, but I’m sure you had that one already. I swear, my FIRST and my LAST are complete opposites. One eats veggies, the other won’t. One is a kind and loving soul and the other is a brute. One looks like me and one looks like the mailman…..uh, maybe I should look into that.
Carl D'Agostino said:
Ah I remember. The first fight in school. The first truancy. The first drunk. The first dope sick. The first arrest. The first runaway. The first drug rehab. The first drive-by. I am not sure if these are the rites of parenting or childhood but they are real esp in a place like Miami. I regret I could find no humor in my single parenthood as I got custody of my son and daughter in mid teens already severely damaged goods. They are 30ish now with their own children and growing responsibly at their own pace. I wish everyone can experience the wholesome humor and warmth in their child rearing as you describe. I was deprived of such innocence.
Great post. There are no books, no classes, no one thing that can prepare you to be a dad.
I love the You Will Cry paragraph! Hilarious. :).
Ms. Vic said:
That whole second child thing is ssssooooo true. I call it “Second Child Syndrome” and so far, it’s lived up to it’s name with all the second children in my family. The stories I could tell you pal…but that’s for another day. Suffice it to say that while they will try your patience to the max and sometimes crack your heart, they will also soothe your soul every time. Enjoy every moment!
John Erickson said:
Boy, you make having a kid actually sound interesting! Maybe I’ll … oh crap, one of the cats just barfed, the washing machine is running off center, and my wife is at work. I’ll get back to you – sometime…… 😉
All true. All funny. Well done!
Oh these are all so true. Also, you will be wearing bodily excretions not your own at some point within the child’s first months. Caroline blew out diapers all over her daddy. On his first day home from the hospital, Sam peed OVER MY HEAD during a diaper change in a little rainbow arc that landed right in Scott’s FACE.
That is so true. I’ve been peed on, pooped on, thrown up on. It’s magical isn’t it?
Awesome. I do still really miss peeing alone, though.
You could put a lock on the door – one that locks from the inside. Problem is, that a kid would probably lock himself in the bathroom. We had one that could be unlocked from the outside by inserting a bobby pin (or was it an unwound paper clip?) into a little hole in the handle. Look for it.