I know I haven’t yet lived in your shoes parents of the world. I know that I haven’t yet spent one sleepless night punching myself in the face because I can’t make the screaming in the other room subside. I know that I haven’t yet gotten peed on by a little critter who points his penis skyward when I’m changing his diaper. I haven’t had to stare death in the face as you peel away a diaper that is overflowing with baby feces. I know that I haven’t yet had to explain to my friends, family, civil servant, church leader and/or co-worker how, once again, I will let them down because I have bigger priorities. I haven’t been puked on. Ever. I haven’t even held a baby for more than my arm can take. By the time my arm tires, I’m passing it off to someone else. I’ve never had to entertain a baby who is screaming at me at point blank range like Sam Kinison. I realize that I also have never had to do meticulous and painfully detailed jobs like trimming the toenails on a small little human like some freaky game of Operation! where one false move and you’re drawing blood. I haven’t had to go through the daily operation of putting a kid in a car seat, taking them out, putting them in, taking them out, putting them in, taking them out (always remember to take them out…pretty elementary, but some people have forgotten that). I’ve never had a dog take a chunk out of my kid’s face. I’ve never taken a whiffle ball directly in the testicles because, well, I don’t put my testicles in the in the line of flying whiffle balls or other missiles. I’ve never had my kid beat up at school. I’ve never even sent a kid to school. I’ve never had my kid get an F. I’ve never had someone tell me my kid is as dumb as a cinder block. I’ve never had a kid in trouble with the law. I’ve never had a kid get in an accident and not know for hours whether or not they’re gonna live. I’ve never even been in an accident. I’ve never had to explain to my kid why no one wants to go to prom with them.
I’ve never done any of these things.
There’re things you’ve done that I have not and things I have done that you have not. But just because I ain’t a dad yet, doesn’t mean you can stand over me like you’re more of a man than I. You can keep your “just wait until you…” or “you’ll understand when…” I don’t particularly care. If you wanna stay off my bad side, please refrain from the “just wait until” commentary. I have hardly a morsel of tolerance for people out to prove something. I have no doubt that I’ll have some questions along the way. Trust that I’ll ask them. But I have no desire in being the butt of your jokes or the “perfect example” to your masterwork, your daddy handbook that you’re writing. This is not pride or arrogance. Hear me out: I know I’m bound to make many mistakes. I’m gonna cry. I’m gonna pout. I’m gonna sing with glee. I have no problem rolling with punches or “taking it like a man”…whatever that means. I will go through the same hardships. Trust me in that. Maybe one day, we can sit down and have a beer on the back porch waxing about fatherhood. But my fatherhood will not be a pissing contest. Nothing I do is a pissing contest. I’m not interested in impressing you. And, equally, I am rarely impressed by what you do. I might act impressed in your face, but behind you, I’m saying, “I don’t give a good damn.” When I need your advice, I’ll ask. I’ll ask plenty of questions because, believe me, it’s in my nature. I’m curious. I’m not prideful or cocky. There are things that are far from my capabilities. I’m mortal. I’m broken. I’m fallible. Some days, I’m col’ stupid and can’t get anything right. I’m socially unacceptable. Sometimes, I’m not even sociable. I’m shy. Clammy in front of crowds. I shake when I’m not sure. I cry when I give toasts at wedding. Seriously, I’ve only done it twice and both times, I was sobbing by the twentieth word. Sometimes I spend hours in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling locked in a circular monologue asking myself whether or not I’m good enough. I’m concerned whether or not I’m doing the right thing with my life. So, understand that I have absolutely no illusion of fatherly knowledge. It’s clear I don’t know what I’m doing. I just don’t need you to remind me.