Tonawanda News — All of a sudden, I’m getting to feel like a bit of an ol’ pro at this fatherhood thing.
A co-worker recently had a son, and another co-worker is expecting a son of his own any day now.
Seeing and hearing their tales, I can’t get help but get a smidge sentimental. I can still recite with military precision Penny’s and Rigby’s birth weight. I can remember going on two hours of sleep a night for three straight weeks early in Penny’s life. I am able to relay to my colleagues information on those critical early-parenthood queries (they will start sleeping through the night eventually — I promise).
While I am a long, long way from being a parental expert, I have gained five years of information on the subject that a handful of people might find marginally useful. In honor of the newly minted fathers that I know, I shall drop some of this knowledge now.
• Once that child comes, you know nothing. Accept that. Also know that it will come to you.
• There are only a handful of absolutely vital things to do in order to ensure safety. Cradle the back of their heads for a while. Feed them. Change them. Don’t drop them. Don’t leave them in the back of the car when you go in the store. Love them. Don’t dangle them over a balcony. The rest will take care of itself.
• Be the best example you can be. But don’t try to be perfect, because you’re not. They need to see this eventually — and they will love you regardless. They will also love correcting you.
• Every outfit will either become soiled beyond useability or outgrown by your child within six to nine weeks. Clear out storage room in the basement, keep relatives up to date on your child’s current sizes and consider some stock options in Carter’s or Osh Kosh.
• Things will not go as planned. Roll with it. I can remember one random night during which Penny finally fell asleep after two hours, then was wide awake again at midnight. She would not lay down to save her life. So she and I played on the floor until around 3 a.m., and then she nuzzled into my shoulder on the recliner the rest of the night, randomly hugging me and kissing my cheek throughout the night. The best memories can come from what is not supposed to happen.
• Likewise, every so often you’ll reach your hand into the backseat while driving at their request. And instead of getting the expected drinking cup placed in it, you’ll get a giant booger wiped onto your hand. Kids secrete things.
• Keep hand sanitizer everywhere.
• Don’t worry about the timelines that are set for life events. If your child isn’t walking or eating solid foods when society says they’re supposed to, it does not matter in the least. Rigby’s speech was greatly delayed for a while. But we worked at it. Now, he rivals Morgan Freeman in terms of holding listeners captive when he speaks.
• I just ate a Fruit Roll-Up. And do you know what? It was delicious. I’d forgotten about Fruit Roll-Ups until the kids started asking for us to stock them. Don’t forget that there are subtle advantages to parenthood and to exploit them.
• In the past month, I’ve gone to the Buffalo Zoo, Aquarium of Niagara and Strong Museum of Play. I also ate pizza in the back of my van while watching a drive-in movie and bought a “Tom & Jerry” DVD set “for the kids.” I really can’t overstate the importance of exploiting these advantages to parenthood.
• Remember that they absorb everything you do, even when you don’t think so. And when they grin and innocently eek out their first curse word (which was probably learned on that show you watched with them even though you knew you shouldn’t), just TRY to punish them, what with that giant grin of satisfaction they’re wearing.
• Children don’t unlearn the word “no.”
• There’s nary a life event more magical than when you get that phone call summoning you to the hospital. And the timing will probably seem inconvenient for you. I blew off an interview with a local woman when I got the call that Penny was coming. When I found out that Rigby had been conceived, I blew off an interview with Kathy Griffin. And when Rigby was born, I was so sick that I vomited while Mommy had to deal with the labor pains by herself during my periods of intestinal instability.
But none of that will matter. That’s when two decades of sleep deprivation, financial struggles and personality conflicts will begin. You will be tired — like, always. You will find yourself going months at a time without adult conversation. There will be moments where you forget your name or if you put pants on.
It will be the ride of your life.
Congratulations to the new fathers I know and those I don’t. Enjoy the first days of the rest of your lives.
Contact Paul Lane