Things a Man Should Know: About Fatherhood
1. Don't worry, your dad didn't know what he was doing, either.
2. No, no--not that Spock!
3. Second thought, maybe you should worry.
4. Never tell anybody that you and your wife are "trying."
We really don't need the visual, that's why.
5. Never tell anybody where your child was conceived, how long it took, or what song was playing.
6. Do not name your baby after cities, geographical points of interest, features of the solar system, seasons, plants, animals, or current television stars.
7. Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, and, for the first year, you are only a curiosity.
For a couple of years after that, an amusement-park ride.
Then, a referee.
And finally, a bank.
8. If you want to subject your son to the unkindest cut, insist on a local anesthetic, since many pediatricians don't bother to use one.
The anesthetic is for the kid.
9. Baby gas is lessened with a good nipple connection during feeding, which decreases air intake.
Assuring that his lower lip is flipped out, not pursed, helps.
10. There is nothing wrong with thumb-sucking, which helps ease the pain of teething.
Nonetheless, it probably ought to stop by kindergarten.
11. Diaper-rash remedy: Expose baby's hydraulics to the air until dry. Soak baby's bottom in tepid water with a half cup baking soda. Then, Balmex. Or Lotrimin. Rediaper.
12. You know how they say you'll get used to diapers? You won't.
Unless you wear them a lot.
13. Forcing children to use toilets will make them dislike toilets.
Children begin using toilets when they tire of that not-so-fresh feeling.
Of course, this is long, way long, after you tire of it.
14. The start of crawling: usually begins between six months and twelve months.
Standing: usually between nine and twelve months.
Walking: between twelve and fifteen months.
The onset of the above, as with all developmental skills, is hugely variable among individual children.
15. Avoid walkers, not only because they can be dangerous around stairs but because they don't require a child to balance and thus retard his walking progress.
16. Reason boys are better: They cannot get pregnant.
17. Reason girls are better: They're less likely to get arrested.
18. The threat of an unknown punishment is always more effective than a stated one.
19. Annals of great punishments: Hang dolly from a noose!
That was a joke, Dad, a joke.
Annals of great punishments, for real: making him wash the car, clean the bathroom, and watch The McLaughlin Group.
You see, all great punishments should reduce the number of disagreeable tasks you would otherwise have to perform.
20. Teach by example.
21. Your kids can develop an independent sense of good taste only if they're allowed to make their own mistakes in judgment.
22. Relax: Lots of little boys want a Barbie and a dollhouse.
23. The first time you change your son's diaper and he pees all over you is not an accident. It's foreshadowing.
24. Children of too-strict parents are more likely to develop tics.
25. Let them take reasonable risks: A few scrapes in the long run are nothing compared with the scars left by hovering parents. Or tics.
In preparation for risks: a Red Cross first-aid course.
26. The most common cause of fatal injury among kids between five and nine involves cars, which is to say, hold their hands. And buckle them in.
27. Try to tuck them in every night, too.
28. When changing diapers, avoid baby powder, as it can irritate her lungs.
When changing diapers, definitely don't avoid the Desitin--spread it thick, like Spackle.
29. It never hurts to videotape the baby-sitter.
Especially if she's hot.
30. Never disclose to other parents that you have found a good baby-sitter.
31. Reason boys are better: They cost less, especially their clothes.
32. Reason girls are better: They're less likely to burn, slash, or chew the clothes they have.
33. Overalls are not only cute, they provide a convenient handle.
34. At a certain point, your child will appear to survive exclusively on peanut butter, french fries, Cheerios, and hot dogs.
35. Dropping food on the floor is a new and delightful skill to a one-year-old, not a deliberate attempt to annoy you.
However, as small he or she might be, never underestimate an infant's ability to project chewed food over great distances.
36. The single most important thing a father can possess: Wet-Naps.
37. NOW, more than ever, don't move into a place without laundry facilities.
38. Children's hobbies to nip quickly in the bud: drums, archery, matchbook collecting.
39. Beware your child's uncles, who will teach your kid dirty words, introduce him to liquor, and give him gifts of drums, archery sets, and possibly matches.
40. It is, of course, your natural right to exert the above negative influences on your siblings' offspring.
41. You are under no obligation to tell children the truth.
Lying to children is, in fact, half the fun: "Oh, that tree? That's a yellow-spotted spickle-gruber, of course."
On the other hand, they do remember everything.
42. Sesame Street.
43. Your bedroom door gets a lock. Your teenage son's does not.
44. Lock or no, please knock before entering, as the disruption of a youth who is spanking his monkey will be twice as traumatic for you as it is for him.
45. Other doors to lock: those on the liquor cabinet.
46. There is only one reason for a teenager to burn incense, and we think you remember what it is.
47. Unfortunately, those books that say motherhood makes women desire more sex are referring to women who are not your wife.
48. No matter how wealthy you are, don't buy your kid a car -- offer to match him.
Ditto for other adolescent big-ticket items; teach the little bastard some responsibility!
49. The previous statement proving you are your parents.
Only -- hopefully -- with better fashion sense.
50. Price of a college education for a baby born in 1999: $200,000.
51. If the real response to his question is no, try this instead: "Go ask your mom."
52. DNA tests are 99.9 percent accurate, but check the ears to be absolutely sure.
53. Reason boys are better: Boys start talking later than girls.
54. Reason girls are better: Boys toilet-train later than girls.
55. The twos aren't always terrible.
Even if they are, take heart, as kids aged three to six generally believe their parents are the most amazing beings alive and wish to be exactly like them.
How scary is that?
56. Establishing savings accounts for your kids and requiring them to make regular monthly deposits teaches them how to eventually become J. R Morgan.
The above could prove useful in your dotage.
57. Corny as it sounds, that Harry Chapin guy was right.
Then again, you could argue that W. C. Fields was right, too.
58. It's never too early to begin reading to children.
59. Let them read what they enjoy.
60. Except your porn, which your son will eventually steal unless you hide it really well.
No, you cannot ask for it back.
Furthermore, you cannot steal his.
61. Acceptable reading material: Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Curious George, and any of the following by Roald Dahl -- James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Danny the Champion of the World.
Neither of the following by Roald Dahl: Kiss, kiss or Switch Bitch.
62. Know that by the time your kids are teens, those enormous baggy pants will be long gone, as will tattoos, piercing, and Marilyn Manson.
Of course, by 2015, kids might very well sever arms and legs as fashion statements.
63. Some parents walk around naked in front of their children.
These parents should stop it.
64. Nearly all psychological problems result from feelings of worthlessness, which is to say, every now and then make sure that you tell your kid he's pretty great.
65. And never raise a hand to him. But being a good guy, you probably knew that.
66. The harder they play, the earlier they sleep.
67. Never turn down an invitation to play.
68. No toys that require batteries.
69. They never really outgrow the claw.
"No, Dad, no! Not the claw!" means "Apply the claw, please."
70. All in all, fatherhood is pretty terrific -- filled with joy and triumph, promise and miracles -- particularly other people's fatherhood.
71. You might think you know a lot about fatherhood, but not as much as you will when you're a grandfather.
72. If you're thinking that fatherhood means the end of life as you've known it, you, sir, are, of course, absolutely correct.