Crowdsourcing Our Child’s Future
It has become increasingly clear to me that I am going to be an awful father.
(hold for applause)
I am only marginally capable as a human being. The very few things I am good at are simply not things that will help me raise a kid. Way I see it, I’ve got a 15-minute window daily where Daddy can kick a little ass — I’ll be top of the pops when it comes time for the wee one to lay down and be transfixed by the weird magic of storytime. I’ll probably be good at that. The rest of the time? Eeeesh.
In part, this is why I wanted a girl. Because then Daddy can just be Daddy — he doesn’t have to teach the girl how to be a girl. (I recognize that this is a little myopic and perhaps even mildly sexist. But the father-son and mother-daughter axes are still prevalent, for good or evil.) But a son? Oh. Oh. Oh, shit. Oh, no. One day my son is going to look into my eyes and seek answers. He’s going to want to know something about something, about anything, he’s going to ask me “Why?” or “How do I do this?” or “What do I do now?” and I am likely to stand there, jaw beslackened, my mouth forming words that have no sound.
What the hell am I going to tell him?
“Son, here’s how to write your way out of this problem. Bully at school? Punish him in your fiction!”
“My boy, to fix this problem, you must go, go be snarky on the Internet.”
“Problems at school? Uhhhh. Here’s how to make an omelet. Did that fix anything?”
I don’t have any of my own answers. In fact, as I get older, I am increasingly bewildered. My once rock-solid certainty in things is turning to liver mush.
I’m clumsy. My practical skills are minimal. I’m an idiot. I’m lucky I don’t piss myself in public. I should wear a bucket on my head so I don’t damage the soft fontanelle of my skull.
I don’t expect the child to realize it right away. I mean, I can fake it for a number of years. It’s not like my son is going to be playing with his toy du jour at the age of five and realize Daddy put that shit together wrong. But over time, the reality of my overall incompetence is going to seep into his daily life and there will one day come a kind of illumination for him, a critical moment of revelation where a flashlight clicks suddenly on and highlights a spot on the wall that had before been cloaked in shadow, and on the wall will be written the words: “Daddy is a dipshit. Adults are suspect. Trust nothing.”
You know what I did yesterday? I painted the nursery. It is, quite literally, the color of Winnie the Pooh. The end result? Whoo. Yeah. We should’ve just hired a chimp to paint it. I came out of that room looking like a paint bomb went off. No telling how much paint I actually ingested. (Answer: at least 8 ounces.)
This isn’t going to go well.
Daily the boy shows deeper signs of his existence. He’s punching and kicking like you wouldn’t believe. Weeks back, I’d feel my wife’s belly and the wee one’s movements would be minimal — not more than a muscle twitch here, a nudge-nudge there. But now he’s developing. He’s got room to move. He’s breaking bricks with karate chops in there. He’s an action hero. I put my hand there, it’s like that scene in Jurassic Park where [insert dinosaur here] tries to break through [insert object here] and [dents it, damages it, breaks it]. You can see the flesh move as he pivot-kicks off my wife’s bladder and Ki-yaaaa!
So, we are now receiving daily reminders that this is real.
This is happening.
I’m going to be a Daddy, and I am woefully unprepared.
I figure that, in order to fill in the gaps of my striking lack of knowledge, I’d better turn to you, the brain trust, the hive-mind, the group-think, to figure some shit out.
Today is fairly light, but it’s really time to start hunkering down and procuring the mountain of objects reportedly necessary to have a baby. We have a crib, but we don’t have much else. No high chair, no car seat, no play pen, no nothing. Dipping our toes into the waters, we are learning alarming truths: did you know, for instance, that car seats have expiration dates? As if the car seat were a jug of milk? True fact.
So, what I’d like to know is whether or not you have any advice — anything at all — to share regarding our preparations for the baby’s upcoming existence. It’s a daunting task just trying to buy the objects that the baby will use for like, 10 minutes (“This high-chair is good for ages 3 months to 3 months and 7 days”). It’s just as daunting trying to figure out the items the baby won’t need. You go to a place like Babies R’ Us and it is truly overwhelming. I don’t need that many objects to survive. They have like, 50,000 strollers available. It is awesome, and not in the “Dude, Bro, Awesome” way, but rather in the, “I have seen great Cthulhu rise from the ocean’s depths to consume us all and lo it is awesome.”
Any help is appreciated because, well, as noted earlier, I am doe-eyed and confused. But the truck is coming, and no matter how hypnotized I am by the pretty lights, I have to get cracking.