LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

OUR FIRST 'FATHER OF THE WEEK': 'SALSA' LARRY DOESN'T MISS A BEAT


Hats off to Larry Borins (seen dancing here with daughter, Lyla, 10-months-old) for schooling all the Mommies in this Salsa Babies class. All those late nights playing Dance Dance Revolution really paid off.

You're a braver man than I. Here's to you, our first Father of the Week. We're all behind you... Every step.

Fodder 4 Fathers

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: THE DO'S AND DON'TS OF NAMING YOUR KIDS

The most important decision you will ever make as a parent isn't what prep school to get your kid into, or how much money to put away each month toward his or her education. It isn't even how much cash to bribe a bantam hockey coach to get your kid on the first line, so he can be seen by scouts... it's choosing a name. And it's the hardest thing you will ever do. If you screw it up, don't worry, you don't have to live with it - but YOUR KID DOES! That's a lot of pressure. So let me help you.

First of all, you can't name a kid the same as you would name a dog. I have two dogs: Cash and Plissken. One is named after the "Man in Black," the other is named after a Kurt Russell cult movie icon. True, I could name a kid Cash, but I had a hard enough time convincing my wife to name a dog Plissken that I could only imagine suggesting it for my kid ("You want to name him WHAT?"). We're guys. We like sports, we like movies, we like porn. That doesn't mean you have to name your kids after your favorite player, or character, or exotic dancer. How many times do people have to name kids after sports heroes named after meat (Kobe?) before you get a clue? What you can acceptably name your dog and name your kid are two entirely separate issues. The same as I wouldn't name a dog "Ralph," because it lacks any thought or originality, I wouldn't name my kid Mookie because I would hope that I loved my kid more than I loved the New York Mets.

Next, stand up for your kids rights. Just like you shouldn't name your kid after Fuzzy Zoeller (it happens more than you know), you shouldn't let your wife name your kid after some fictional girl that can't choose between werewolves and vampires. Oh, she'll want to... millions of women already have... but it's your job to prevent this from happening. First it's Isabella, and the next thing you know you have four more kids named Edward, Jacob, Alice and Jasper. Noooo! It's your job to prevent this. Classic literature? Fine. Name your kid Scout, or Scarlett, or Jane (Eyre). Not Isabella. Why not just name her Princess Leia? It's equally as ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that when your kid finds out who she's named after she's going to take you and your wife to court, and win, with damages! I'm telling you. Protect your kid at all costs from this kind of..."fan"aticism.

Now, I'm not saying you have to choose from biblical names. I'm not saying you have to choose from a list of safe, boring names. All I'm saying is you can't choose a name for stupid reasons that only make sense to you. Your kid's not going to care that you named him Troy because you loved Troy Aikman. He's going to care that you named him Troy because, out of context, it's a horrible name- that you can't even shorten!

Again, it's a lot to consider. But there's more.  

Think about this... You have a short-list of names all ready to go. Then your brother comes along and asks to see your list. You show it to him. He thinks about it for a second and says: "These are horrible. Better go back to the drawing board." But, you picked perfectly acceptable, simple, names. Right? Wrong.

"What's wrong with Betty," you ask?
"Rhymes with sweaty," he says.
And "Annie?"
"Rhymes with fanny." 
"Sue?"
"Rhymes with Glue, or Poo, or Pee-Eww?"

Truth is, unless you go through all the possible nicknames a bully could come up with for your kid, you have no idea what kind of hardship you will be setting them up for. And, although it's almost impossible to choose a name that won't lend itself to some kind of childish mockery, you can surely limit their exposure. I mean, do you really need to name your kid Gary? It's a nice name and all for an adult, but murder if you're a little kid.

Of course, there is also the consideration of how your kid's first name will look or sound with your last name, or last initial even. My Nephew's name is Stone, and it's a cool name. But if there's ever another kid in his class with the same name, and they have to make up name tags using their last initials to differentiate between the two, my Nephews will read : "Stone D.," or "StoneD." Is that really what you want on your kid's name tag? Or how about kids named Richard ("Dick") Dickerson or Lawrence ("Larry") Barry? You know what's going to happen, so why would you do that to a kid?

And middle names are just as important. You don't want your kid to go get a monogram one day, only to realize his initials spell S.A.D. or H.A.G. or worse. This is your kid. The least you can do is spend some solid time fighting it out with your wife, battling it out with your in-laws, and lobbying for your kids right to be accepted by a society that likes conformity, and unoriginality.

I know it's hard. You want a cool name for your kid. One that will serve him (or her) well. But choosing a name that fits is a crap shoot. What's a cool name for one kid is made uncool by another (see Clint Eastwood/Clint Howard).  All you can do is your best.



Here are the top ten boys and girls names of 2010...

Or, if you prefer, here's a database of thousands of baby names to choose from...
http://www.babynames.com/















WHO NEEDS "THE HOFF?": GERMANY LOVES FODDER 4 FATHERS!

Click for "Hooked on a Feeling" Video

Okay. So maybe it's just one guy (or girl) checking out my blog, 30 to 40 times. But, hey, I'm not complaining. Apparently, Fodder 4 Fathers is amassing quite a following all over the world- Denmark, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, The Netherlands, The U.K. and even Russia. Who knew?

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for taking the time out of your busy day to check us out, again and again... after all, diapers are expensive and we need the ad revenue.

Thanks for suggesting us to your friends and family, and for your continued support.

More to come. We're just getting warmed up!

Adam

Fodder 4 Fathers


Oil Up Your Catcher's Mitt- Its Go Time!: Childbirth for Dummies (or Daddies, if you prefer)

Over night bag? Check! Pillow? Check! Car Keys? Check! Wife? Oh, crap... Well, you better drive back and get her, because it's go time people. You're about to witness the wonder of life: childbirth. Don't know how to feel about it? Let me give you a clue: panic's a good start. Depending on how far apart the contractions are, you're either in for a short delivery that ends with you delivering your baby on the side of the road or a long delivery that ends with a nurse saying "congratulations, you've been awake for 72 hours... and you better get used to it." And that's if everything goes well. So hold onto your hat- you're in for the emotional roller coaster ride of your life.

No matter how we get to the final outcome (natural childbirth, c-section, induction), the end result is always the same: your life is about to change, big time. And barring emergency situations, the process is pretty much the same. Here's a rundown of what you should come to expect with a healthy hospital delivery:

Scenario: You're sitting at home watching a game seven play-off between your two favorite teams, in the fifth period of overtime.Your pregnant wife walks into the room with the beer and nachos you asked for, only to drop them to the ground as she hunches over and announces "I think my water broke." You make her wait another half hour, but the game is still undecided so you pack her up and drive her to the hospital, complaining the whole time that you can't hear the radio over her moaning...


And... "ACTION":

#1. Get to the Hospital: Spend a half-hour looking for the cheapest parking. Don't worry if your wife has to walk a few blocks- her hatred for you will move those contractions along nicely...

#2. Check-in: Wait half an hour to see an Intake Nurse who doesn't get your sense of humor, gives her condolences to your wife for having such a tool for a husband, and misspells your last name on all the forms... 

# 3.Check in again: Follow your wife as she is wheeled to the Labor and Delivery Unit of the hospital, where you'll have to go through the entire process again... and this time the Intake Nurse won't be as subtle about her hatred for you, and your bad jokes. 

 #4. Sit in the Waiting Room: Quickly learn from other couples that have been waiting there for 12 hours that there are no available delivery rooms because of a record number of births, including 5 sets of twins, and two sets of triplets. Learn to hate the general population and their incessant questions about how far along your wife is and if this is your first? Find a competitive streak in you that will do everything and anything to get a delivery room before anyone else- no matter how long they have been waiting ahead of you and how many centimeters their wife is dilated... (Estimated time: 2 hours)

#5. Wait some more: Pissing off every nurse on the floor as your wife prods you to get up every five minutes and ask the same question every other guy is asking... "Um, how long for a room?" (Estimated time: 2 hours)


#6. Get a Delivery Room: Try to crawl on to the comfortable bed with your wife only to be kicked off by both her and the doctor. Learn quickly that hospital chairs are uncomfortable, and no one cares about your complaining.

#7. Have a party: Watch in quick succession as your wife is visited by an obstetrics nurse, followed by an intern, then an anestisiologist, and then possibly your OB- if you're lucky and he (or she's) not out of town. Wonder why your wife has no problem with everyone else in the world looking at her vagina but she has told you you'll be standing at her shoulder during the birth... much to your relief. 

#8. Wait: Follow the cool video monitor that measures your wife's contractions thinking about how much better it would be if it also let you play video games. 

# 9. Watch Movies:  Move in and out of consciousness as your wife makes you watch "Sleepless in Seattle" on a small portable DVD player on her stomach. Try not to throw up as the motion of your wife's breathing moves the screen and makes you feel more like you're watching the Blair Witch Project.


#10. Fall asleep: Have nightmares about the Chestburster scene from Alien.

#11. Wake up to your wife screaming: ... Apparently, it's normal for  the Anesthesiologist to need a few tries to hit the right spot during an Epidural...

#12. Get your wife some ice chips: Take longer than you said you would as you visit the waiting room again to see what's on T.V.

#13. Get the Nurse: Ask her for a second chair... and to up your wife's meds to knock her out long enough so you can get yourself a coffee and a scone. 

#14. Fall asleep again: This time follow your wife's lead so she doesn't yell at you for falling asleep when she's in "so much pain!" (Nag!)
 
#15. Wake up Screaming:  Nope, not the Chestburster dream again... This time you wake up to see how close your wife's contractions are... and you're about 2 minutes from being a Dad. The Doctor confirms it... contractions have reached "MAXIMUM THRUST!" 

#16. Get fitted for a gown:


#17. Make some calls: Call the one person in the world with the ability to spread the word without making it about herself, and tell her that her daughter is only giving her twenty minutes to get down to the hospital if she wants to be present for the birth. 

#18. Comfort your wife: No jokes here. She'll hurt you! And, if you're squeamish, feel faint on your own time...

# 19. Wait for your Mother-in-law: She's never on time, so why should your child be? "Just tell your wife not to push until she gets there"... her exact words.

# 20. When the Doctor says "push": Grab a leg - your wife's, not the hot nurse's- even though it feels like a waterlogged tree trunk. Tell your wife what a good job she is doing, and look far off into the distance... at both your wife's and your future sex life's request. 


# 21. Listen for it: Tune out the pain of your wife crushing your fingers and instead tune into the soothing sounds of your rapid heart beat, and the melodic voice of the doctor when he says: "It's a girl!," even if it's really a boy, just so he can win the office pool and get you to pass out.  

# 22. Remember: Breathe. Follow the baby wherever it goes. And count all appendages again to be sure (if you know what I mean?) Remember the feeling too: It's like no other rush. 

# 23. Find your wife... (still in the stirrups) with your eyes closed, and tell her what a trooper she was. You won't get to say that again until the birth of your next child. Also, try not to get any afterbirth on your shoes...

# 24. Collect your child: Take your baby out of your Mother-in-law's tenacious talons, kick everyone out of the room, and enjoy a quiet moment with your new "family."

# 25. Sneak away and grab a moment to yourself: It will be your last for a long, long time. And, if you're the crying, sensitive type, (which I am not) get it it out of your system. No one wants to see the ugly cry from a grown man... (Except a maybe a murder trial jury?).

Finally, resolve yourself to be the best father that you can be. Love your kid. Love your wife. Love your life... as much as you can now that you'll be changing a lot of diapers. A lot of dirty, disgusting, putrid smelling, stomach curdling diapers...

And, there you have it. Birth 101. An overview of what you can expect on the big day, if all goes right and the stars, and your wife's hips, align.

For more on birthing buy yourself a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and educate yourself as best you can. 


Good luck!

STUPID STUDY OF THE WEEK...


I found this while researching another topic, and it gave me pause:

Marshall University, 2003 Study: Behavioral change in first-time expectant fathers' aggression

Apparently my grade seven Science Fair hypothesis that plants would grow better with apple juice than they would with milk isn't the dumbest science experiment ever done.

But, to the geniuses that came up with this one, I have two questions:

1) Why were they studying the fathers?

and...

2) By "limitations" did they mean the angry pregnant wives who kept calling every five minutes to find out where the hell their husbands were and why they weren't at home at their beckon call?

Maybe they should have studied the occurrence of fear instead? But why start at pregnancy when you can go all the way back to the wedding day; or the nine months leading up to that?

On that note: A quick shout out to my future brother-in-law, Marc: "Congrats on the Engagement! Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy..."

 


Subject to Interpretation: Why You Can Understand What the Heck Your Kid is Saying but Nobody Else Can

Click for Link to Art.com

It's something you just don't get until you have kids of your own. How in the hell do parents understand what their kids are saying, because it all sounds like mumbled, garbled gibberish to you? You try to talk to your two-year-old niece and she speaks so softly, and quickly, that you need a degree in toddler-ese to keep up. She talks and you nod your head as if you understand, but you haven't a clue as to what the heck she's talking about, only to find out that you promised to come to her tea party a week from Thursday. She talks, you listen, but there is an apparent language barrier that you can't overcome. Hell, even Noam Chompsky himself couldn't help you figure out the complex chatter of this child, but somehow her parents hear every word; like it's crystal clear. You play along, as best you can, until you get so lost in the conversation that you finally have to ask: "what did she say?" "She says you're not listening carefully enough," says your brother. And it's a fair assessment, because it's not your kid, and it's not critical for you to comprehend her. But, if you're her parent, it is. If you're the one responsible for her needs it is.

"Use your words," parents say to their kids. "Use your words" so you don't have to scream it, wail it or whine it anymore. You don't have to enunciate and you don't have to string more than two or three words together, but use your words. Use your words so you can tell me if you're hungry, or sick, or in pain, or simply amazed by something new. It's what separates us from the animals... So use your words. They don't have to even be actual words. They can be cute words that Mommy made up, or short forms of real words you can't pronounce, or words with dropped letters that you can't fully say yet but are close enough to be discernible. Use YOUR words parents will say... YOUR WORDS... As made up or ridiculous as they may be.

Hence why you haven't a clue as to what your niece is saying; why you don't follow along when your friend's kids ask you to play; and why you look stupid every time you get conned into tea time. You're not supposed to get it. It's not your language. You're not meant to be down with the lingo. It's syllabic shorthand you're hearing- between the individual parent and child- not comprehensive communication. If you don't have the secret decoder ring, it's not your fault: you're just not a member of the club. You're not an immediate care-giver, so your understanding is not of the utmost importance.

But, that's not to say that parents always get it either. It took me a week to clue in to why my daughter kept saying "Dee-Dee." It wasn't until my wife clued me in that her friend taught our daughter to refer to herself by her initials (D.D.) that I finally realized she was actually answering me when I was trying to ask her where "Dylan" was. I didn't know? But everything in context, I guess.

So, no, you're not supposed to understand what the hell your friend's kids are saying, and your nieces and nephews only really care that you understand their succinct birthday present requests. It's not embarrassing to admit that you need an interpreter to talk to someone else's kids, and no one should feel embarrassed to ask you to interpret your own kids for them. After all, who would have understood Mush Mouth had it not been for Fat Albert?

Only his mother, I guess. Only his mother.

"WHAT MEAN EXPENDABLE, RAMBO?": PARENTAL PREFERANCE AND THE BATTLE FOR YOUR TODDLER'S AFFECTIONS

click
According to John Rambo, 'expendable' means "...going to a party... and nobody cares." Sounds about right. A bit sad, but a useful analogy, especially for first-time dads. And it begs the question: what's worse than being the be all and end all in your child's life? Answer: Not being the be all and the end all in your child's life. As Jim's Dad (from American Pie) would say, Mommyitis "is a perfectly natural, normal thing," and it's bound to rear its ugly head when you least expect it. One morning you're on equal footing with your wife. The next, you're dog doo.

And it's not so much that your kid wants his Mommy - it's that he emphatically doesn't want you. Case in point, I was changing my daughter's diaper the other day and she made it very clear to me that I was not very high on the list of people she wanted to see. As she struggled to break free, she went down the list of people she would rather have in the room... "Mom-my"... "Zai-dy"... "Bu-bie"... "Na-na"... "Ka-thy" (her daycare provider)..."Lo-Lo" (her aunt)... "Mam-da" (Amanda, another aunt)... "De-De" (herself)... "Baby" (any stuffed animal or doll)... and... "Kla-@#$-&^%*" (?????). It was comical at first, but then the reality set in: she didn't want me. And, to be honest, that kinda sucked. It hurt my feelings, and it wasn't even intentional on her part. It was just how she felt.

I don't know about other people, but I pride myself on being a hands-on Dad. Because my wife leaves the house in the wee hours to go to work, I'm the guy who feeds, dresses, entertains, and drives my daughter to daycare- every single morning. And when I get home from work, I happily take over dinner duty, story time, and putting her to bed. I lay out her clothes. I prepare her snacks. I put on a Hazmat suit and change her freakin' Diaper Genie... and for what? So her mother can get all the credit? No! Where's the fairness in that? I'm not saying my wife and I don't equally share the responsibilities of raising our child. We do. And I think we do it well, so every time I go within two feet of my daughter and she wails "MOMMY," I think I'm getting the short end of the stick... No.... I know I am! And it blows.

I've faced rejection in my life. There were more than a few House League hockey coaches that cringed when they saw me on their roster and traded me... for a two-dollar-and-fifty-cent pack of smokes.  There were numerous blind dates that ended with a handshake. There were a lot of "Don't call us. We'll call yous" in both my personal and professional life....The band teacher who told me I played the clarinet like "a Beaver" (actually, that was a friend of mine- great story). But, this is my daughter. The one person who I could count on to build me up, and (at least until she has friends that can put together a cohesive sentence) look up to me. WTF?

I know, there's a few of you, mostly mothers, reading and saying: "Well, what about your wife? She has to do everything now." Who says? Just because my daughter screams her name, doesn't mean she comes running each and every time. I'm still on morning, dinner and bedtime duty. The only difference is it's under protest... both from me, and my daughter. And, as annoying as it is for my wife to watch me struggle and hear my daughter call out to her, time and again, she loves it at the same time. It's payback for the fact that the first word my daughter ever spoke was "Daddy," and it pisses her off.

I don't know how long this will last? I don't know if it will come and go like Taylor Hick's musical career. All I know is I have one thing going for me, and that is this: girls love their Daddy's more than their Mommy's in the long run. It's a fact! And I can live with that. So, laugh it up Mommy. While your name's being called every five seconds, I'm catching up on the Hockey play-offs... and biding my time until, once again, I'm the favorite (I hope). And the next time you go to pick-up our daughter at daycare, and she doesn't want to leave with you, it will serve you right.

It will serve you right!

Here's some more information on Mommyitis. I hope it helps when the time comes:


http://www.babycenter.com/400_what-can-i-do-if-my-toddler-prefers-me-to-her-father_500158_0.bc

http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/parents/favoring.html

http://articles.familylobby.com/340-when-children-seem-to-prefer-one-parent-over-.htm

http://www.parentsask.com/expert-round-tables/mommy-over-daddy-when-your-toddler-prefers-one-parent-over-other

http://www.babyzone.com/toddler/toddler_development/whining_tantrums/article/toddler-prefers-one-parent

PUSH IT! PUSH IT REAL GOOD: FIVE GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR THE MOTHER OF YOUR FIRST BORN CHILD


Your wife calls it a "Push Gift." You call it emotional blackmail, but you know better than to fight this particular battle. You can try to look at your significant other with a straight face and say, "but the baby's the only gift we need," but I don't suggest it. In her current state (the pain, the adrenaline, the pain killers) she's liable to chase you out of the delivery room, down the hall, out the front door of the hospital and well into the parking lot where she will catch up to you, knock your dumb ass down, smack your head against the pavement and beat you until you either pass out or come up with a gift worthy of  nine months of agonizing discomfort and several excruciating hours of what she refers to as: "the pain to end all pain" (i.e. labour).My suggestion: Don't argue. Just give her the damn gift. After what she just went through, give her what ever she damn well pleases.

Now, I'm not one to talk. When it comes to gift giving, I have a horrible track record. My wife gives me all the advance warning in the world and I still find a way to screw it up. Mind you, her habit of saying "surprise me" is of no help to me whatsoever, but it's not like I lack creativity. I just can't channel it into a great gift. I mean, I'm the guy who took his wife (girlfriend at the time) to choose her own engagement ring. I'm also the guy who bought his wife bath salts for her first, and so far only, Mother's Day. That's not to say I haven't come through with some great gifts, but my batting average really sucks. The key is to come through with a home run when it really counts. And right now, for you anyway, it's crunch time, and you better be swinging for the fences. So here are some great gift ideas for that special lady, to honour her, and thank her for giving you the best gift you will ever receive- another mouth to feed.

(Don't worry, I was smart enough to ask for help with this one).

1. JEWELRY: 

This is a no-brainer, and it need not break your bank either. All you have to do is find the right combination of sentiment, class, cut, clarity, and carat, and you're home free. Anything heart shaped, or able to hold a tiny picture, or making reference to your child's birth date, or birth stone will work. And, if you're really smart, you'll take her Mom, her sister, or her best friend with you...but make sure to tell them your budget first.

2. SPA TREATMENT:

No matter what you, or anybody else, tells her, after the ordeal of giving birth your wife is going to feel less than pretty. It could be some extra weight, or those granny panties she'll be wearing for the next few months, but it's perfectly normal for her to feel less than herself for many months to come. Add the possibility of a lack of sleep, and postpartum depression and you've got a walking time-bomb on your hands waiting to explode. So why not treat her to a spa day? Let her be pampered, and primped, and prodded by some attractive male masseuse with a foreign accent in serene surroundings while you take care of the baby and give her a well deserved rest from it all. It may not make her relax for long, and it certainly won't get her to ease up on you, but its worth a shot... a long one.

3. TATTOO:

I know, it sounds weird, and permanent, but so is having a child. And your wife's already in pain, so really, what's the difference? I'm not saying you take her out to get it this second, but if your wife has suggested that she wants a tattoo to commemorate this momentous occasion, you can get the ball rolling by having someone come up with a mock-up of the artwork and book an appointment for a few weeks down the road. Just buy a card, put it with the artwork, and write how excited you are about it. And if you suggest matching tattoos, even better. But, remember, this only works if your wife is into this sort of thing. If not, try something else... fast.

4. SHOPPING SPREE:

What else do you get a woman who bitches that she has no clothes that fit her? Drop a couple hundred bucks, get a general coupon from your local mall, and set her free. That only drawback to this plan is that you'll be going along... to watch the baby and carry her bags. Have fun in all those shoe stores!

5. SUV:

Okay, this one takes some planning, but eventually she's going to convince you that you need a bigger car for the baby anyway so why not just get it for her under the guise of a gift and get it over with. Have it ordered for in and around her delivery date, and, if you're lucky, you'll be driving home from the hospital in it. Don't worry, it wont start guzzling gas for at least twelve months... when your wife will really be driving the sh*@ out of it, taking your kid to an assortment of classes, back and forth to daycare, and, hopefully, her full-time job.


Here's some websites that can help you find more great push gift suggestions. I really liked the one that said: "laser therapy." Nothing makes your wife feel more secure than the suggestion that the area she hasn't been able to see for some months might need 'cultivating.' Enjoy!:

lhttp://www.ehow.com/info_7878217_push-gifts-wife.html
http://chrisheatherlilly.com/?p=1349
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,99962,00.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/fashion/06push.html
http://www.lilsugar.com/Whats-Best-Push-Prize-852598
http://www.dadlabs.com/The-Lab/how-to-choose-a-push-present.html

http://www.efashionmom.com/PUSH-GIFT.aspx
http://babyfeetjewelry.wordpress.com/tag/push-gifts/




THE CIRCUMCISION DECISION: PROS AND CONS OF PUTTING YOUR INFANT SON'S 'HEAD' ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK


Marie Antoinette, guillotined in 1793 for questionable decision-making abilities, said, "Let them eat cake," and that's exactly what I do, every time one of my Jewish friends invites me to a briss; a religious rite of passage; the celebration of the circumcision. Now, I don't know if the spectacle of lopping off the foreskin of a helpless infant should be followed by a buffet (with the tears, the screaming, and the blood) but somehow it doesn't seem to affect any body's appetite- except mine. So while everyone else watches with bated breath as some old Jewish guy (or woman, in some cases) with shaky hands and a few sips of Manischewitz on his lips carves some hapless newborns willy like it was Filet Mignon, I hang out by the sweet table. What can I say, I'm not squeamish but certain things don't need to be witnessed to be supported. And by supported I mean a parent's individual (or collective) choice to risk their child's future happiness (sexual enjoyment) and ability to shower in front of others without being ridiculed for the sake of tradition, or continuity, or health, or whatever else helps them to sleep through the night. It's a choice, plain and simple. But God knows it shouldn't be an easy one. 

As someone who worked for many years in the pet industry, I'm amazed by how many people would never crop a dog's tail, or pin back a puppies ears because they believe it to be barbaric, but these same people have no problem subjecting their infant sons to a similar kind of barbarism in the name of religion, or personal hygiene. It's hypocritical to be against this kind of cruelty towards animals but be accepting of it on the other hand, for 'personal reasons,' to please a need to conform with one's family or peers, or a fear of going against conventional medical practices. Why don't we just take Shirley Jackson's classic short story, The Lottery, to heart and start stoning people... for 'health' reasons? Why don't we just lop off the tip of your pinkie finger and see how it feels? No? But its okay if we do it to kittens when we declaw them, and the equivalent when we emasculate our first born sons, and all our sons thereafter, by shaving a few millimeters off their schmeckles.  

Look, I'm not judging anyone here. We all do what we have to do.  We all make our own beds, and usually have no problem sleeping in them. And, maybe we should? If God made Adam and Eve in his own image, why does the Almighty get to keep his foreskin while all the sons of Israel do not? That hardly seems fair. I know God asks for some strange stuff, but sometimes he strikes me as some weird hoarder that has some odd peculiarities. Again, not judging, I'm just questioning an age-old practice that should probably come under review, possibly over a Bacon Cheeseburger or some Back Bacon and Eggs (that's an inside joke). I'm trying to relate here, but it's hard. I'm just the father of a daughter. I've never had to make such a difficult decision, on the fly, that would affect my child for the rest of her life. The hardest decision I've had to make so far is whether to put her in the black dress or the pink one (I like her to look nice when one of her friends is going under the knife, but I'm not sure if she should be dressed to party or dressed to mourn the loss of innocence). Can't decide. 


Am I mocking tried and true religious practices? No. And I'm not mocking your resolve to do right by your kids either. I'm just a sounding board; the guy who put to paper the internal monologue every father has when the question of circumcision comes into play. It's a tough one to be sure. But I know you'll make the right decision for you and your family. I support your decision, either way. I just wanted you to mull it over, and educate yourself as best you can before the proverbial Sword of Damocles falls. And, hey, if the Mohel misses the mark, and your son becomes a unic, not to worry... there's always gender re-assignment surgery. And, how much could that hurt? 

If you need some dresses, let me know? My daughter has a closet full of them. Until then, here are some links about the pros and cons of circumcision- unless, of course, you've already made up your mind?

http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/surgical/circumcision.html

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Circumcised-Fathers-Intact-Sons/168941726491846

http://www.mothersagainstcirc.org/Like-Son.htm

http://www.catholicsagainstcircumcision.org/

http://mandatorycircumcision.blogspot.com/2009/06/be-good-father-circumcise-your-son.html




Universal Circumcision: Be A Good Father: Circumcise Your Son

Universal Circumcision: Be A Good Father: Circumcise Your Son

"SAY HELLO TO MY LI'L FRIEND": THE SMACKDOWN ON INTRODUCING SOLIDS



I don't know about you, but nothing scares me more than watching my daughter choke on her food. The thought of her gagging for breath actually makes me sick to my stomach. I know, kids can't live on pablum forever, but introducing solids was not an easy thing for me, and I know this is a problem for a lot of parents, but particularly Dads. True, a baby's gag reflex is equally as powerful as a fireman's hose (you only have to get sprayed once to know), but it's still hard to watch your 'baby' struggle to dislodge a morsel of food. It's not like I'm going to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on my daughter, all eighteen pounds of her, so it took a lot of reading up on what to do in case of a choking emergency before I felt comfortable switching from puree to prepared foods.  In the good old days, kids didn't start on solids until a year. Now, many doctors are telling parents to start introducing solids at six months, or sooner, so you don't get much time to get comfortable with the idea. So so long to the ease of opening up a jar of strained bananas and serving it on a spoon. Hello to serving up the real deal, slicing and dicing it yourself until you get just the right size so your kid doesn't choke to death. Woo hoo!

Well, thank god for the Slap Chop ! Make fun of the commercials all you want, but there's no way you'll ever find me chopping up baby food with a knife, or pulling out the blender, and it's fifty attachments, anymore. Try chopping a cherry tomato with a steak knife... if you want to lose a finger. But I'll be slapping my screaming kid's food, and frustration away, in one, two, three seconds with the Slap Chop. Pieces still too big? Slap it again! And again! And again! Your kid will never choke on anything! It will be a near impossibility... and all because you can slap the hell out of any food that poses a threat: Apples. Pears. Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower (steam them first to soften). Egg (soft or hard boiled)? Chicken. Steak. Turkey...anything you can think of, it's great! It saves you time, and potentially your infant child's life. Put that in the commercials!

For more information of introducing solids, visit: www.babycenter.com

And, get yourself one of those plastic bibs that actually catches food while you're at it. You'll thank me.




LIFE AFTER PREGNANCY: THE "S.E.X." TALK- WHEN IS IT TOO EARLY?


The S.E.X. talk: No. We're not talking about explaining sex to your kids. We're talking about having intercourse with your wife; the mother of your child; the woman who just passed a watermelon through an opening no bigger than a golf ball (unless you prefer ping pong ball, and I know you do). Needless to say, I'm talking about your relationship, or rather, "relations" with your significant other after the birth of a child. Now, I know you have needs, but suck it up. Don't go and do something stupid... like the nanny. Be reasonable. Be sensible. Be realistic. 

For every guy with the mistaken idea that life returns to normal the day your baby is born, I have two words for you: 'hot dog' and 'hallway'. If you don't get my meaning, look it up! It may be crude (if my Mom, or worse, my wife's mom is reading this, I'm sorry), but it's true. Things stretch, things tear, things look like a cubist's artistic interpretation of the body parts they represent. There's swelling, and bruising, and residue...It's not pretty. Your wife is...and be sure to tell her that, over and over again, but what just went down, that whole labour and birth thing, that was gross. And, guess what, it's not over. Your wife is now a self-cleaning oven, expelling (ectoplasm?) left-overs from nine months of 'baking' (i.e. gestating your unborn child)! The afterbirth was just the beginning. It's the after, after birth that keeps coming, and coming, and coming for at least the first few days, first few weeks, or possibly longer. Keep out, if you know what's good for you! You don't need to see that. Your wife doesn't want to see that, and she has "experience" with these kind of things. Nobody wants to see it. (And for that matter, burn the tape you made of the birth- nobody wants to see that either, especially not at family reunions (my eyes)! Burn it into your memory, not into my retinas! Jeez!). 

Anyway, we were talking about s.e.x., and what I'm trying to tell you is, after the birth of your first child, unless your wife is a nymphomaniac, you gotta be patient. For now, realize that sexual intercourse with your wife is now something foreign to you, like having a meaningful conversation with an eighteen-year-old girl you met in a bar (three other things you no longer do). I know it's hard (stop it), and it's been awhile, but it's not your wife's fault you thought having sex in the last trimester was "icky" or you could no sooner master it than a school yard teeter totter (think about it). Your loss, my friend. There is nothing sexier than a pregnant woman. (unless we're talking about hot lesbian pregnant women). So, fine, it been 3 months? 6 months? 9 months of watching Chilean soft core soap operas late at night after your wife has gone to bed? If it's variety you're looking for, try the Peruvian ones (they have better production value anyway... so I'm told). All I'm saying is you're wife's not interested. I didn't say she wasn't interest in you. I just said she wasn't interested in letting you touch her... anywhere on her body... possibly ever again. 

Stitches dissolve, hemorrhoids shrink, skin sheds and slowly regains its elasticity and form fitting shape. Stretch marks fade (hopefully so does anger after my wife reads this). Swelling subsides, and things slowly return to normal. You take your wife out for a nice dinner, buy her some flowers and a closet full of new clothes, and slowly but surely life returns to normal... but now you have a baby that screams all day and night and you and your wife are way too tired to have sex, or way too scared to even contemplate the idea of waking your sleeping angel with the sounds that set the soundtrack for the night you brought him or her into this world.

Are you crazy?!? Your kid's ten-years-old! Just shut up and do it already! 

Awww....Much better.

And so ends our discussion of post-pregnancy sex  (and my promising writing career). I hope you learned something. Please join us again... 



THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE: A FATHER'S FEAR OF THE INEVITABLE

To quote Elvis Presley (paraphrasing William Shakespeare) "The world's a stage and each of us plays a part" (from "Are You Lonesome Tonight," 1961). In your role as father, you and your child will go through many stages together, and these transitions are fast, and furious. Just when you think you've mastered all aspects of caring for an infant, suddenly you have a toddler and the rules of engagement change. I had this conversation just the other day with another father at a "play date"- for my daughter. We both agreed that although change is good (and inevitable), we had mastered the infant stage but now we were in a whole new ball game, and the predictability we had come to enjoy was now a daily struggle to keep up with what can only be called growing pains, or for lack of a better term, progress. How easy it would be to just take a snap shot of your infant child and stay where you were? We knew what to expect. We mastered the skills of taking care of a "baby." But this toddler thing is hard, and every day it only gets harder.

Remember when you yourself were a child and you were given your first bike? At first it was scary, but the combination of training wheels and your Dad's steady hand holding the seat instantly made you feel at ease. But the time came to take off the training wheels, and your Dad, against your will, suddenly let go and you were in charge of your own fate, going ten miles down the road toward a succession of trees and shrubs and fire hydrants. You survived, sure. You probably fell, even scraped a knee or two, but you were still determined to get right back up and try it again. And after awhile, you mastered the balancing act of riding your bike, and even liked the idea that you may run into a tree every now and then. But, that doesn't mean it was easy for you to take that giant leap, and, as a father, that's the issue I have with watching my little girl go from a helpless little infant that relied on me for all her needs to a growing concern with a mind of her own and a penchant for the dangerously dramatic. Change is good. Growth is necessary. But just like it's hard for a child to give up their training wheels, it's even harder for a father to let go.

People say it to you all the time, but it doesn't hit you until you experience it for yourself: kids do indeed grow up so fast. One minute you're cradling your daughter in your arms, watching her with amazement as she sleeps the day away. The next you're going insane because she won't sit still for a second and has your whole house in shambles. Moving forward is hard, moving backwards is easy, but we forge ahead none-the-less. I will miss that feeling of having everything under control, even though it only lasted for what seemed to be a split second. We have progressed to a new stage, my daughter and I, and you can't fight progress. But, if there is a god, and he's listening, I'll stay in Candyland as long as possible as I've looked three steps ahead, and well, I'm not ready for that either... stupid dating!

SIT DOWN YOU'RE ROCKING THE BOAT: YOUR BABY'S FIRST STEPS AND WHY YOU SHOULDN'T BE IN SUCH A RUSH OVER IT

When my wife took my daughter in for her yearly check-up, her first, I figured it wouldn't be such a big deal. I knew there were shots involved, and the weigh-in, and a basic check of motor skills, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear my daughter needed an occupational therapist. For what? Because she doesn't "cruise" like the rest of her friends, or run around terrorizing my helpless dogs? Should I be upset that I haven't had to turn my kitchen into Fort Knox, or lock down the living room? Hell no! If my daughter isn't ready to walk at one year of age, I'm not rushing to make it happen any sooner than she wants to. I'm rejoicing in her choice to sit on her butt and con me into getting her every little thing her screaming heart desires. Walking is the turning point every parent should dread. If your kid can walk, you'd better be running, that's all I have to say. Everything in your house, your garden, your bathroom, the room where you keep your samurai sword collection is a hazard, and your fumbling kid, on her wobbly knees, is going to get her grubby little hands on it or stuck in it when you're not looking. Gee, that sounds like fun.

Now, I'm not against progress. My daughter is actually freakishly advanced for her age in many other ways. At the age of one she has a vocabulary of 10 to 15 words; mostly food related. She can hold up her index finger when you ask her how old she is, and she mouths along with you as you sing to her. She has mastered the Tiny Tike bike, both forward and backwards, and she can mimic most words you try to get her to say. But, she's lazy. She's in no rush to go anywhere, and if she is, crawling is her preferred option. She's doing things in her own time, on her own schedule, and I'm supportive of that. It's not like she's going to need to walk to school anytime soon, or ever considering how paranoid parents are these days. It's not like she's going to need her legs for gym class or after school programmes- they've all been cancelled. Ninety-percent of her life will be spent either on her butt in a school classroom, or in front of a computer, or television, or behind the wheel of a car, or in some dark cubicle. But, I'd like to give her the option of walking. She's just not ready for it yet - SO WHY ARE WE FORCING HER!!!

I know the pediatrician was only doing her job, and milestones are important, but according to "What to Expect When You're Expecting: The First Year," I'm not supposed to worry about this until my daughter's at least fifteen months, and since she only started crawling the week before her first birthday, I don't think she's in a rush. She stands holding onto things (mostly my pant legs). She looks at things on tables that are out of her grasp and thinks about standing to reach them, but she stops herself. Why? Because she doesn't want it that badly! Let all her friend's stand, and cruise and walk and run and crash into sharp things and things with no give. I'm happy for them and their parents who don't get a moment's peace from sun up til sundown. I'm not worried. My daughter knows how old she is, and she can tell you where her nose is, and even sing along to Justin Beiber. She just doesn't want to walk on your stupid schedule... and when she does walk, it's not going to be because I coaxed her, or forced her, or even followed all the suggestions given to me by occupational therapists or well-meaning friends or family members, it's going to be because she wants something and walking will be the only way to get it. That's how it worked for Homo Erectus in the early days, and that's how things still get done today.

To walk or not to walk, that is the question? Only time will tell. But don't tell me my daughter needs an occupational therapist at one year of age, unless you want me to teach her to show you how old she is with her middle finger. All good things in time, and my daughter still has plenty of it. So there!

I told her.