Reluctant Townie: Paying it forward with advice for new dads
Since today is Father's Day, I thought I would share some things I have learned while raising my human daughter child for the last 22 months. This week's column is dedicated to all the new fathers out there, specifically those inducted to the club since August 2011 (over whom I have seniority).
So listen up, Prince William and Kanye West, I'm about to deposit some knowledge in your brain bank.
They say there's a sucker born every minute. But guess what, buddy: All those suckers have dads. Or, at the very least, someone who donated the genetic information required for fertilization.
Don't be a donator; be a dad, and maybe that sucker will grow up with some street smarts and reverse the fate of becoming the bottom block in a pyramid scheme.
How can you be a dad?
FIRST, YOU MUST PROCURE A KID OF SOME SORT
Becoming a dad is not hard, provided all of your medical issues are in order, you can afford the adoption application or you settle down with somebody who already has kids.
However, becoming a good dad is a bit more elusive. Luckily, you will find that pretty much everybody has an opinion that they can share with you on that subject.
But it all starts with the kid. If you want to be a dad, you need to find a kid to be a dad to — it's kind of a prerequisite. Chicken and egg, you know?
It doesn't really matter what kid you end up being a dad to. From my experience of raising one child for less than two years, I can say with absolute certainty that all children are exactly the same — kids just need somebody to hang out with, to get them food and to show them what's what.
FOCUS ON THE BASICS
If you end up becoming a father to a newborn baby (as opposed to a pre-grown adopted, step- or foster child), you will be relieved to discover that infants are dumb and don't remember any of the stupid things you do, so you basically get to screw up for the first 12 months and take as many Mulligans as you like.
But that also means these babies will need to be taught pretty much everything about how to be a human being in our modern world (except for how to use an iPad — that comes by instinct).
It is only when thinking over all the things you will need to teach your offspring in order for it to survive on its own that you begin to realize you've accumulated a fair amount of knowledge during your lifetime. Some dads find the sheer amount of knowledge they have to pass on can be overwhelming. But try not to freak out, dudes, and concentrate on the basics.
What do I mean by the basics? The grass is green, the sky is blue, say please and thank you, aim for the toilet and don't play in the oven.
As much as you want to introduce them to the canonical works of the "Star Wars" universe or bring them up to date on whatev's hip on Pitchfork, that kind of stuff isn't necessary for your child's survival.
Cover your basics, and the rest of the knowledge will fill itself in organically.
DON'T STRESS IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY BUMP YOUR INFANT'S HEAD INTO THE DOORWAY; THE UNIVERSE HAS A PLAN
Nobody wants to be that guy who runs his kid's head into every doorway he walks through, but unfortunate baby-head-to-door contact is all but guaranteed for the new father. For some, it will happen continually.
Of course, you should not aim for the doorway — although babies are built to withstand rolling off tables and other stuff babies are ought to do, brain damage should always remain a concern — but sometimes a collision is unavoidable.
When it happens, don't beat yourself up too much. Whether you know it or not, the universe is punishing that baby for something it's going to do in the future. Also, the baby will be getting its pound of flesh out of you for the next 18 years.
PRIME DIRECTIVE: SHOW NO FEAR, EVEN WHEN YOUR CHILD GETS STRAIGHT-UP SPOOKY
When you have a baby, everybody warns you about the different stages your child will go through — the teething stage, the biting stage, the Terrible Twos — but nobody warns you about the Demonic Possession stage of early childhood.
I was reading a book the other day, and I glanced up to see my daughter standing in the opposite corner of the living room, head bowed into her chest, staring up at me like one of those freaky dead twins from "The Shining."
Chills ran down my spine; true story. After a 30-second stare-off, she cracked a smile and got back to her activity of stuffing all my DVDs under the living room carpet.
Since then, I have not caught my daughter leering at me in a sinister, supernatural manner (which is not to say that she doesn't do it behind my back there's those shivers, again), but in a related development, she has begun talking like Christian Bale's Batman at random (despite having only seen the Michael Keaton films), alternating words between her normal, sweet high-pitched coo and a guttural, demonic growling.
"Dada, I hungry. Help you? Help you ice crumb? HELPP YOUUU ICE CRRUUMMMM!"
(That voice really deserves its own font of fat, all-caps squiggly lines.)
Anyway, if your kid is giving you the wiggins, just Amazon Prime some holy water and ride out that current phase.
It, like your youth, shall soon pass.
Ryan Jackson hopes all you dads out there enjoy your new neckties, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.