My eyes lit up when the doctor gave us a canvas bag full of goodies at the end of our first appointment.
Surely, somewhere beneath all the samples of vitamins and other baby products would be the book I’d waited for my whole life. You know, the one that tells you everything you’ll need to know as a dad. When I was a kid I always marveled at how my pops seemed to have an answer for everything. It wasn’t until I got a little older and wiser that I realized he’d just been making things up as he went along, and he was correct only about 3 percent of the time.
Now, it’s going to be my turn to have all the answers. The Mrs. got through the first trimester this week and, if the calculations are correct, I’ll be a dad for the first time come New Year’s Eve. (This is the moment when, if we were speaking face-to-face, you’d make a comment about a tax deduction.)
Since we found out the news, I’ve found myself asking, “Am I ready to be a dad?”
I’ve used this column space many times to write about how I don’t really know how to do anything; how I have no man skills. If something needs fixing I call a handyman. And when it comes to working in the yard, my thumb is far from green, the color of my pool the one summer I tried to maintain it myself. A few months back, my father-in-law asked me a question about my car’s radiator. When I froze, he said, “Well, I guess I wouldn’t know how to write a newspaper article.”
It’s safe to say I’m not a so-called man’s man. I’m more like a boy’s man, still holding out hope of one day being a man’s man, which is why I was disappointed there was no dad manual in the doctor’s goodie bag.
Surely, at one of the 11 remaining U.S. bookstores, there’s that perfect book: the one that teaches you how to change a diaper with one hand while hanging a shelf with the other. I’d imagine that book would also dedicate an entire chapter on how to beat your son at various backyard games while simultaneously grilling a steak and drinking a can of cheap beer.
Just like everyone before us, the Mrs. and I find ourselves talking about the baby 99.4 percent of the time these days.
After every meal we talk about how the baby must have loved what we just ate and then we discuss how the baby will enjoy every little thing we perceive as cool. If this baby is anything less than tall, dark and beautiful with Carl Lewis’ speed and an encyclopedic knowledge of independent cinema, it will have failed to live up to the early hype.
The baby talk even extends to our conversations with others. “Yeah, that was a great game, dude. The baby would have loved that game.”
Of course, the good thing about us always talking about our little North — didn’t we come up with the coolest name? No one else will ever think of that — is all the productive talks we’ve had with folks who have been down this road before.
The advice has been tremendously helpful, especially from the friends who told us to never listen to anyone’s advice. I think that carefree style is the attitude we need to adopt. There shall be no more stressing over which type of diapers to use or what to do when the baby’s crying. The nursery will get painted, the crib will be assembled — likely by someone else — and the kid will grow up loved.
There’s still six months to go and I’m refusing to spend the rest of this time worried. I’m confident that when the time comes I’ll have enough of the answers at my fingertips.
What will happen when I don’t know what to do? Like my old man before me, I’ll just make something up.