Saturday, July 20, 2013

Everything A Guy Fears About Having Kids (And Some Things They Should)

   So you're a dude. You're a dude who is either single, in a relationship, or married without children. And you're stalling. Or you're afraid. Or you just think you don't want kids. Kids will take away your freedom and kill your fun. You're worried about your future because you are enjoying your present, and have enjoyed your past.

   I've seen the future. Let me tell you about it: it's terrifying.

   It was the 4th of July. 13 kids. All of them 8 or under. Two straight-up-babies. 4 nights. Boys and girls. A lake. A lakehouse. Explosives. Incomplete sentences. This is the setting of a dude's horror film.

   Now, luckily, the kids were well-behaved (except for Doug, who was the worst). But this weekend had everything that every future dad fears. In no particular order:

   Diapers. Bed Time. Seatbelts. Sunscreen. Meal Time. Messes. Other People's Kids. THE QUESTIONS. Safety. Clothes. Fussing. Never Sleeping. Let's get into it.

They really aren't that bad. Unless you can't handle the smell, or the idea, it's no big deal. You might have to change eight in one day and then one in eight days, and both of these will stress you out. You'll learn how to feed them food that makes the poo hard and you'll learn how to get your mom to change them when she's over. Diapers are not an issue. Get over it.
Your Fear Level: starts high and quickly plummets.

   Bed Time
This is not hard when your kid is a baby like mine. But wow. When there are several of them, and they "need" to brush their teeth (I say "need" in quotes, because I am pretty sure that brushing teeth is optional, but no dentist will ever tell you this), want a story, want a snack, and want to stall. I don't have kids plural, but I can tell that getting kids to bed will involve lots of threats and a whistle and then some marital counseling.
Your Fear Level: justified and accurate.

   Seat Belts
You know what I'm talking about. Having carseats and buckles and putting kids in and pulling them out. Belt buckles were seriously one of the most frustrating things about being in a van with 4 kids. The kids are always sitting on the part you need, it's always buried under carseats, and it's impossible to match the right buckle with the right strap. Goodness it is frustrating. But there's good news: If you can invent a system that never has the hookups underneath a kid's rump, you'll be a billionaire.
Your Fear Level: justified and accurate.

Ohmygosh run away. It is everywhere. It is sloppy and messy and runny. It doesn't work. You have to apply it every 6 minutes. If you don't someone dies. Make your kids wear the shirt, stay inside, and hope they love reading. Did you know that if a baby gets a bad burn in the first two years of its life, it's risk for cancer greatly increases? My wife told me this, so if I am wrong, as always, blame her. Gah I hate sunscreen.
Your Fear Level: You have no idea. A fear level of "Off the charts" suggests it was ever on the charts, and that would be misleading.

   Meal Time
So, this one. You've seen moms and dads have to prepare food, cut food, serve food, clean up food, and never actually eat any food themselves. Meal time is tiring and it is work, but, it is always preceded by fussiness or some sort of whining, so it is a great alternative. At some level, meal time is the part that is the most rewarding. It is hard and it is work, but it is worth it. So, yeah, be afraid of it, it's the worst, but it's also not that bad. There will be messes, it'll be okay.
Your Fear Level: Too high, calm down.

Do those bother you already? They shouldn't. You're a dude, get over it.
Your Fear Level: it's nothing new.

   Other People's Kids
Hmmm. This one is a tough one. Do you ever punish or reprimand? Do you congratulate them for little things? Do you try to engage with them? What if they are too rough? Or too scared? What if they are annoying or disobedient? I don't know. Feel it out. You're on your own here.
Your Fear Level: It is too low. This is serious. You could screw something up, like, with real people.

There are so many of them. Just so so many questions. So many, poorly phrased, slowly expressed, non-sensical questions. "oh, so, um, do you, do you, so, do you like to, so, um, do you like to go to school? Do you like to go to school?" When your brain eventually learns to tune in to just the last part, after all of the practice stuff, that's when you can begin to heal as a person. You will save your sanity for your later years when you really need it.

I cannot stress enough just how many questions are coming your way in your future. Just, think about putting Socrates on repeat on your walkman and you'll know what it's like. There's nothing to really fear, just know that it's coming and you'll need coping mechanisms. Preferably mechanisms that aren't alcohol-related, because that's a bad combination, coping and alcohol.
Your Fear Level: This is another one that you are accurately fearing. Just know it's coming.

We were at a lake. The kids had to wear lifejackets if they wanted to approach the water. It was fine.
Kids aren't going to be safe. You have to let that go. Last night (this is totally a true story), Wyatt fell through the window. Like he was walking along the window sill, the screen broke off, and he fell through. It. Was. Terrifying. He might have hit his head on the planter box, or landed on his neck, or broken a bone, or had a great time and laughed. I had NO WAY OF KNOWING. Look at this picture I took while he was lying on the ground crying, right before I grabbed him:

Kidding! I'd grabbed him and consoled him and all that stuff first.
They aren't going to be safe all the time. Just do the best you can and relax. Try to train them well, and have the hospital on speed dial. Especially if you have boys.
Your Fear level: probably accurate, but you should still take it down a notch or two, wherever it is.

Not a big deal. Chill out. Once the kid starts putting his arms through the sleeves on his own, you're good.

Seriously? You're worried about this?! No. Sunscreen, man, sunscreen. That's what separates the men from the men.

   Never Sleeping
Do you sleep now? Aren't all you guys out clubbin' and playing video games and drinking and partying until the wee hours anyways? Sleep is overrated. Batman only sleeps like two hours a night on average. Not sleeping is not a big deal. In fact, I found having a baby gave me a great opportunity/excuse to watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games when he was up, by him just laying on me or wanting to be held. The never-sleeping aspect of parenting is hard at times, but it's a great excuse for all the things you normally screw up anyways. Principal: "Grant, why did you just tell your students you don't care if they are late to your class or someone else's?!" Me: "Sorry coach, I haven't been sleeping. You know. The baby."
Your Fear Level: Way, way too high. Use this to your advantage.

   For What It's Worth, everything I listed above isn't a huge deal with just one kid. Especially with just one baby. Sure, I've floated the river less than 5 times in the last three years (and I once floated the river 5 times in three days), and I now watch more Word Girl than New Girl, but all of the above things were the potential cons to a list, with none of the pros. Having a kid is worth it and it's great.
   Did I miss anything? Any thoughts?! Comment and let me know!!

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