You know I never turn down an opportunity to thrust myself into a situation. Tonight, I headed to my first “daddy” class. Not entirely sure what I was going to come into with this experience. They typically turn into horribly awkward and unfulfilling experiences where I smack myself on the head wondering what in the hell I was thinking. Figured tonight I’d be doing it in the name of Baby Ellison. I mean, I’m gonna be a daddy. Better get my chops in now before this little one drops down on the earth. Let’s talk. Let’s share. Let’s learn. I’m not opposed to learning. Nah, I wanna learn everything I can so I don’t end up in Paris sometime hanging my little Baby Ellison out of a window to an army of reporters with cameras. I thought it was fitting that I led off with Michael since we’re about to turn over a year since he passed. Is it too soon for that picture?
I was running a little late. When I arrive in the dark “tunnel” level of the hospital, I turn a few corners into a foul-smelling classroom with low ceilings. It smelled horrible. Like something died behind the walls. Oh, that must’ve been the catering pan of sauerkraut. I’m talking about the size that’s close to a foot wide and two feet long and about four inches deep. This was the single greatest portion of sauerkraut that I’ve ever seen. How odd. They also had about fifty hot dogs and what appeared to be considerably less buns than dogs, packets of mayo, mustard and ketchup. Some Doritos and Pepsi. That’s a lot of food for, uh, about fifteen dudes.
Believe it or not, I managed to pass on the bird bath of sauerkraut even with the strong suggestion of the instructor. I opted for a bag of Sun Chips and my water.
I marveled at that portion of sauerkraut for nearly five minutes.
I got adjusted in my seat. Sized up the room a bit. See what my competition for Best New Daddy of the Century looked like. Figured that I might not be able to take all of them in hand-to-hand combat, but I could certainly take them in Jeopardy and long distance runs. Lots of barbed wire tattoos, goatees and Tapout gear. Yeah, I think collectively the rest of the room managed the brain capacity of a squirrel. Yes, it’s true. I can confirm that idiots are still having babies, no matter how we tried.
The most notable numbskull in the room was the comedian. You always have to have a comedian. This one’s name was Travis. He had the perfectly manicured beard that rocked the jawline. The tribal art tattoo. Braces. Looked like’s spent too much time in the sun. The shirt sleeves pulled up slightly to accentuate his biceps. There’s fifteen guys in here, bro. I don’t think anyone’s impressed. My humor was not as accessible as his, but his seemed to be working on the room of halfwits so I just packed up my humor for the night and went into note-taking mode. I started by proofreading and correcting the PowerPoint presentation they handed out which was just riddled with punctuation and grammatical errors. It appeared like it was written by a twelve year old. Have a feeling it was probably written by the instructor. This was getting sadder by the minute.
I pulled out my small book that was just low profile enough for me to sneak in my notes without appearing to float on my cloud of “I’m-gonna-be-a-better-daddy-than-you” snobbery. I just wanted to take notes. Take it in. It really turned into document of quotables from the class because it just turned into such a freakfest. So, what you’re about to read are drawn from my notes.
The pediatrician’s talking. Weird man. Asked him when I could take my daughter out for a jog. He looked confused like “your daughter’s gonna have to be able to walk before she can jog.” I clarify that I’m looking to take her for a stroll around the neighborhood in a stroller. He says three months. Noted.
Now, our guest obigen’s talking. He’s rather normal until he starts talking about women parts. Now I feel completely alienated. A few snickers around the room when he’s start talking about “vaginal dryness.” He also says, “Some of you guys are gonna wanna ‘hit it’ a week after the baby’s arrived.” I almost fainted. He continues, “Others of you are going to be in there when you’re baby’s coming outta there thinking, ‘I’m never going near that again.'” Okay, this is hard to keep a straight face through. I’m not talking about smiling or laughing. I’m talking about the squiggly-line face that Charlie Brown characters used to get when they got sick. He then mentioned that while your wife returns to normal, things take time and likened the first time she has sexual intercourse after having a baby can be as nerve-racking as the first bowel movement. Maybe I’m mis-remembering that. Either way, he said both in the same sentence. Something I don’t care to associate with each other. Otherwise, the obigen got down. He almost started telling us about his own sex life. Some guys around the room were on the edge of their seat. I was about to leave.
They just tossed it back to the main instructor who I missed the introduction of because I was late. He’s an odd one. He’s gotta big belly. Lots of back/neck hair. It’s crawling over his collar. He clears his throat almost two or three times a sentence. No exaggeration. I think it’s nerves. He’s an RN. Don’t know if he’s cool under pressure. He tells us he’s been an RN for thirty years. Has three kids. His oldest is 31. He tries to be funny, but he’s not. He talks with his left hand in his pocket. His right hand holds a cup of Pepsi, presumably at room temperature. No ice. And he rocks back and forth on his back foot with his front foot pitched out a little. He just quoted Jeff Foxworthy. Definitely low point of the evening. Now I’m obsessed with how much he’s trying to sound like Jeff Foxworthy.
He’s already told us twice that you need to just “go down to Wal-Mart and pick up a _____.” I almost protest and walk out at that point.
I think I could take everyone at my table. And I’d like to take them on in a daddy contest. I’d beat them there too. I’d be willing to put money on it. Dude next to me as a COPS ballcap on. I think it’s kinda cool to own one, but really lame to wear it out in public. Especially to a daddy class. I’m too critical of people. Sometimes, I’m just unfair.
Instructor just told us that “it takes a lot of force to break a baby” and that’s he’s gonna show us how you can definitely do it later. Imagine that’s what Tim was talking about with the egg and Tupperware demonstration. Looking forward to that.
This guy is just one warning after another. I can’t keep up. I kid you not. This was his last two minutes (and if he ever loses you, just listen to when he talks really loud and slows down his speech–that’s when he’s delivering the goods you really need to know…see in all caps below):
“Don’t drive with your baby in your lap. They belong in a car seat. If you drive with a baby in your lap and you get in an accident, guess who is now your air bag. That’s right, that little baby of yours. That baby is what’s breaking the impact between you and the dashboard. NEVER DRIVE WITH THE BABY IN YOUR LAP. IT BELONGS IN THE CAR SEAT. Don’t go to bed with your baby guys. Okay, you’re sitting there watching Sportscenter in bed and drift away with the baby right next to you. You get really tired and fall into a deep sleep and roll over and kill your baby. DO NOT LET YOUR BABY FALL ASLEEP IN YOUR BED. Also, if you’re changing your baby on a changing table and you have to turn your back, never turn your back on a baby. That baby could roll right off and fall onto the floor. NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON A BABY WHEN THEY’RE ON THE CHANGING TABLE. When you’re bathing the baby, never leave the baby alone in the tub. If you have to do something in the other room, pick up the baby and take him (uh, bro, try ‘her’) and go to the other room. A baby can drown in only an inch of water. NEVER LEAVE YOUR BABY IN WATER. Any one have a pool in your backyard? Never leave a baby near a pool. THEY WILL DROWN.”
Now, I gather that a baby can drown if they’re near a pool? Is that correct? The others make sense, but that doesn’t.
He made another recommended purchase at Wal-Mart. That’s getting mad annoying.
Looks like he’s about to demonstrate the “shaken baby.” He’s warned us twice already and says that he really has to “work up to this.” Geez. This might be bigtime. I’m a little fearful.
He’s picked up the demo-baby. He’s says, “Never hold a baby when you’re upset, guys. Just don’t do it. Put the baby back in their bed and walk away. Because what can happen is the baby can sense your frustration and you upset the baby and then it keeps crying and upsets you. Then because you’re upset with the baby, you upset the baby and then you’re just trading that frustration back and forth until what happens? Guys?”
No one answers.
“Until you get pissed off.” Here it comes. Brace for it.
“And when you get pissed off, guys, what do you do? You start shaking that baby more than you normally do.”
Weird gets weirder.
He begins to shake this baby violently and then takes the baby above his head with both arms, locks his elbows and then comes down with col’ force as he piledrives this baby into the table. I gasp. I think I’m the only one that gasped. I heard a laugh on the far side of the room. Some classiness in the room.
He’s calm now. “Pretty sobering, huh guys?”
There’s a few words I’d use to describe it. “You know what happens next, fellas?” The room’s pretty cold at this point. I think asking questions of the room is pretty futile. I’m not talking. I’m thinking he’s gonna do the same to me. “Because you shook that baby and he died, you’re going to prison. Yep, that’s right. And because you’re going to prison as a baby killer, you’re the lowest on the prison totem pole. They’re gonna have their way with you in there.”
WHAT KINDA CLASS IS THIS? Good Lord! We’re shaking babies. Killing babies. Going to prison. Prisoners are having their way with us. I should’ve ate the sauerkraut. It would’ve taken the edge off a little. I need him to reel it in a little here. What am I gonna tell my lovely wife?
We talk a little more about prison and how shaking a baby can ruin lives. He continues with, “NEVER SHAKE A BABY.” Yeah, Lex Luger, I saw the demonstration. Got it.
The class really kinda disintegrated there. A few questions were asked of our instructor before he dismissed us thirty minutes early. We all bolt. We can’t get out of there fast enough. I filled out the questionnaire. I remember writing the words, “Yes, not applicable, the pediatrician, absolutely.” I don’t know what the questions were. I wanted to be fair, but instead opted for “generous” so our instructor didn’t kill anyone on the way home.
I walk in and my lovely wife asks, “Learn anything?”
“I learned how to kill a baby.”
Overall, pretty ineffective class. Still don’t know how to change a diaper. Imagine that’ll be trial by fire.
Daddy Survival Camp was highly overrated and that’s with it coming with very little hype at all. It was just fifteen guys in a room watching a man throw a baby against the table and telling us about the many ways to kill a baby. There’s six million ways to die and apparently twice that in ways to kill a baby. Guess, we’ll learn about how to keep a baby alive in another class. This class, as a product, gets our lowest rating: one half Black Elvis. That might be a little generous.
I would recommend it highly, though, if you’re fourteen and you just knocked up your girlfriend. Definitely take it. Get sonned by an RN. It’ll teach you not to be sneaking around anymore, you little punk.