I’ve been thinking I ought to blog more about being a dad, and share some of the wisdom I’ve collected the last few weeks, or at least set expectations to blog more around those topics. I found a really good dad blog at Single Dad Laughing and my wife likes Thingamababy and Jew Eat Yet? (which is about a lot of things, including fatherhood). Reading blogs like those reminds me that blogging about anything well is at least a part-time job, and I already have two jobs and a baby, so… well, there you go. I probably won’t be able to document all of my joys and hard-won wisdom over the next 20 years.
But here are some things I have learned:
1. Babies fart a lot. Baby books say they are “gassy,” and I somehow thought that meant they burp a lot (which they do). Nothing wrong with babies farting a lot. I just think the books should give it to you straight. Your baby will toot like the Orange Blossom Special chugging into New York City.
2. Babies should wear bibs pretty much all the time when they are awake. I thought it was a “wait until they eat solid food,” thing. I don’t know why we changed spit-upon outfits several times a day before we realized the value of bibs. It doesn’t matter if they’ve eaten that recently. They can go off at any time.
3. Babies are little bundles of need, and they don’t have a dimmer switch. It’s either, “everything is great. I am happy and asleep,” or “ME! ME! ME! ME! ME! NOTICE ME! I NEED! I NEED! I NEED! I NEED!” x 1000. That takes some getting used to. Earplugs help. I don’t mean put in earplugs and ignore the baby, I just mean, while trying to tend to baby, it helps to not have the screeching in your ear the whole time.
4. Babies are not children.
Pending fatherhood, I imagined myself having a child. Reading him stories, taking him to ball games, teaching him (possibly erroneously) why the sky is blue. But babies don’t do any of those things. They do not interact, they just act and you react. Stories and ball-games and pseudo-science lessons are outside their realm of comprehension. They want and need (a) food, (b) burping, (c) diaper changes, and that’s it except for the occasional bath or doctor’s visit.
Girls play with dolls and talk about babies so they’re probably well conditioned to the demands of parenting a baby. At best, boys are prepared for fatherhood through books and movies and TV shows that portray hard-working and diligent (if imperfect) dads doing the best they can with fully comprehending, interactive children. You don’t see much about men with babies, though. For example, Charlie Chaplin’s iconic and gorgeous picture The Kid fades to black after a few charming minutes of him and the baby and picks up when the eponymous kid is old enough to get into trouble with the Tramp. I waited for the tasteful fade to black that would take me blissfully through the endless series of 2 AM feedings and diaper changes, straight to the scene where Byron and I start breaking windows together, but the darned editor never said ‘cut.’
Instead, I am still on the endless sequence of putting stuff into the lad and waiting for it to come out so I can clean him up and start all over. I’m getting better at it, and even having fun with it.
Babies are fun, but not like children are fun. Having a baby is more like building a model airplane fun, when the model airplane is made up of millions of tiny, hard-to-find pieces and you’re in a tree house during a windstorm and you haven’t slept in 20 hours and somebody is screaming in your ear. I mean that it’s very hard and somewhat frustrating and quite tedious and will take forever. But you feel accomplished with every single piece that gets set into place and the model is so cute at every stage that you find it, when you have a chance to take a breath and think about it, lots of fun.
5. Babies are cute. Especially mine.