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...


Sometimes I should just learn to keep my mouth shut. Like when my wife told me that she was signing my almost 2-year-old daughter up for gymnastics; maybe I should have just kept my thoughts to myself. Maybe it is okay to pay $350 dollars for 8 weeks of something that your child couldn't possibly master considering she can barely walk without falling down every five steps? Maybe its worthwhile to teach your daughter something that will one day cause her to have the arms of super hero and the chest of an aging Jack Lalanne. Unfortunately, I didn't see it that way. So I opened up my big, fat mouth.

Me: "$350 dollars for gymnastics lessons? For a two-year-old? Why don't we just take her to the park, put her on shit ourselves and let her fall off and hurt herself?"

My wife: "Well, what would you suggest instead?"
Me: "I don't know: swimming? It's a life skill every child should learn?"
My wife: "Okay then. Swimming it is... but you're going in the pool with her."
Me: "Say what?"

And there it was: the ecstasy of being right, and the agony of having to live with that. Now, I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of dunking a baby in a pool for the first (well, actually fifth) time, but it's not so easy. Human beings from birth are hard-wired to flee when they sense imminent danger, and in my daughter's case, all it took was the scent of chlorine and the smell of fear (mine) and she wasn't having any of it. And that's when the wailing began...

I'll give the instructor credit, she tried, but she could have been talking to me in sign language and I wouldn't have been able to pick up a single word she said over my daughter's screaming. They say most of the members of The Who suffered permanent hearing loss due to years of exposure to loud amplifiers, but there's no way their 30+ years of playing to crowds of 50,000 fans each and every night even remotely compares to a half hour in the pool with my wailing daughter. Three weeks later my ears are still ringing.

I don't know what happened. We were in the pool with all the other daddies and their little ones, and everything was fine. We splashed around. We waded. We floated, and everything seemed good. Then my wife said: "dunk her... see how she reacts." And I did. And all hell broke loose.

Now when I said my daughter cried, I mean she cried non-stop for thirty minutes straight (and so did my wife). The class started, and I tried to follow along but between the screaming, and the clutching, and the grabbing for whatever my daughter could cling to for dear life, there was no time to read lips. I would leave the group to calm her down, thinking I did, only to return and have her screech at an even higher pitch than before. I would suck it up and try to copy the actions of my fellow classmates, but that wasn't happening- she just didn't want to have any part of it!

But I hung in there. Oh, you better believe I did. They say that once you take a screaming child away from a pool, you'll never get them back in. So I held on, from the moment that bell (the one that's still going off in my ear) rang until the second it stopped a half hour later. I was frickin' Rocky Balboa taking on Apollo Creed in their first title match, and not only did I go the distance, I almost won. I, for a split second, almost got her to actually swim. But, then the class was over and my wife couldn't wait to grab her from my arms so she could console her.

Her? What about me? I had claw marks on my face, and bite marks on my nose. I was deaf- in both ears. I just went toe-to-toe with a frightened toddler fighting for her very survival as she kicked, punched and clawed her way deeper and deeper in to my skin so she knew there was no possible way I could let her go. I was beaten. I was battered. I was... kind of bummed that my kid was the only one who just didn't want to swim. Not that I didn't get it- it's a scary thing being a tiny toddler in all that water, but I was a little let down that we were the only dad/daughter combo that didn't get to have any fun.

I toweled off. I changed. I met my wife in the outer hallway.

Me: "How's she doing?" I asked.
My wife: "Ask her...."
Me: "D.D. did you like the pool?"
My daughter: "Yeah."
Me: "Did D.D. have fun in the pool with Daddy?"
My daughter: "Yeah."
Me: "Can we come back next week?"
My daughter: "Yes. Please."

Moral of the story: My daughter likes to spend time with her dad whether she thinks he's trying to drown her or not. Me, I'll try ten, twelve more times to help her get the hang of it, but at the end of the day, even if she doesn't learn to swim, I get some quality one-on-one moments with my little girl that will last a lifetime... even if my hearing does not.

It’s what we dads do....Well, that and get together for some synchronized swimming.


  1. Brave brave soul! This sounds like taking Parker to the water park... guess who sat on the sidelines with a screaming baby?
    Yep. Me. And then I tweaked my back.

  2. Well, the things I have to look forward too....Swimming lessons start in a few months for us...

    Send in a prayer for me!!!

  3. Oh, I will... three weeks in and still we have screaming. Eek.