Thursday, March 18, 2004

How to be a Dad
Part 38,231 in a Continuing Series

(1) Wake up. Your son cries because he is awake and wants to be liberated from his crib. It is 6:27 AM. You don't even have to look because what you brought home from the hospital fifteen months ago is the world's most expensive -- and most precise -- alarm clock. Shannon is still immobile. She has a higher tolerance for this sort of thing, so there's still a chance she can get some more sleep. So, get up, stumble into the nursery and get the day's first jolt of energy when your son gets a big, broad smile when he sees you.

Special tip: I know you're tired, but don't step on the cat during the above tasks or you'll get a very different jolt of energy.

(2) Put out the fires. Diaper? No noxious fumes, so it's better to do breakfast first and diaper later. If you do the diaper first, he'll put up such a fight that Shannon will wake up. The kid doesn't know from patience yet. Instead, take the kid into the kitchen (watch out for the cat!) and pour him a sippy cup full of milk. That will satisfy him enough for you to set him down so that you can make his breakfast.

(3) Make breakfast. Breakfast will consist of a scrambled egg eaten ravenously and something else that will probably be ignored as a deep personal insult. Focus on the egg first, because that's a sure thing. Show your son the egg. Hand him the egg. He enjoys playing with the egg. Take the egg from him, which will involve a deep personal insult. Give him his favorite pair of pajama bottoms -- insult forgiven, as he tries to suck his sippy cup, his thumb, and his pajamas all at the same time.

You're pretty much on autopilot in making the egg, which is good because it will be another hour before you get any coffee. Realize that your son is -- for the first time -- fascinated by the process of scrambling the egg. It's probably because no one ever introduced him to the egg before. Pick him up and let him take a look. He is dismayed that you have cracked his egg, but fascinated by all the stuff that came out of it. Give him the shell to examine. He enjoys playing with it and examining it, but he only has about three seconds before you realize that you have just handed a orally-fixated toddler something that is crawling with salmonella. Ditch the egg, clean your son's hands. Don't let the egg burn! Apologize to the cat for stepping on her.

Arrange events so that there is a confluence of kid, egg and high chair.

(4) Find something else to feed the kid. Now you've got the fire out, and it's time to contemplate what else to feed the kid. All past successes have now been rejected as deep personal insults, so you know that you can't serve him pancakes, waffles, toast, toast with cream cheese, toast with jelly, toast with cream cheese and jelly, grapes, carrots, goldfish crackers or leftover beef stew.

Open the fridge and stare inside. Think about how you will probably blog about this morning. That will make you think about someone you had a crush on in college, who is now a successful writer with her own blog. This will necessarily lead to a "where are they now" about your past girlfriends. Answer: happily married, with children. There aren't that many past girlfriends, so you wonder "where are they now" about all the women you had a crush on but never had the guts to pursue. Crush. Weak.


It works. No deep personal insult felt.

(5) Compare yourself to Julius Caesar. It's a bad habit, and a weird one, and you need to break that bad, weird habit, but you do it anyway.

HIM: By the time he was your age, Caesar had conquered Gaul and enshrined himself in human history.
ME: You visited Gaul once and didn't care much for it. But, you made breakfast for your little guy.

 9:35 AM

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