This is Sophie, my two year old daughter, in a diner in Davie, Florida. I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption, “Go Eagles!” In an act that took me 30 seconds, I enlisted my innocent two year old into my plan to annoy as many Dolphin fans as possible. Raising my three girls has been a pleasure not just because I find ways to express my fundamental obnoxiousness, as important as that is. It’s also a joy for all the reasons everybody talks about—unconditional mutual love, having at your constant disposal little balls of indescribable cuteness, the pride in self-perpetuation, blah blah blah. But there are effects of parenthood that nobody tells you about, effects that you should be warned about before taking the leap into parenthood. So, in the style of Cracked.com (without the sense of humor), here are the secrets babies don’t want you to know:
1. They will always remind you of your mortality;
There will be a time when they will no longer need you, and you may become a bit of a drag. “Dad,” I anticipate hearing from three exasperated voices, “you’re embarrassing me!” Infinitely more important, though, is that if everything goes according to plan, they’ll still be around when your plan-making days are over. My own theory, developed over one particularly long night, is that it has to do with your body’s fatigue-wracked response to those nights when the baby’s up every 4 hours. You realize you’re not as strong as you once were. Your college days, up all night partying (or in my case, up all night watching “Doctor Who” marathons) are gone. Now, “Doctor Who” better wrap it up by 10, because grandpop’s starting to yawn. People talk to you about life insurance, about caring for the children in case you are “out of the picture.” My death was always just a vague, untested scientific theory lacking experimental support to lend it credence. Now, it has so much scientific support, Fox news denies it.
2. They will make you obsess over their safety;
As I type this, my kids are in the next room with my wife watching a cartoon called “Gaspard and Lisa.” If one leaves–to go to the bathroom, say–it becomes a complex system of walkie-talkies and hand signals with my wife. She says into the handset, (crackle), “OK, Carmen’s still in my line of vision. Bobby, what is your location? Over.” Me: “OK, I spotted her. I’m on the move. Meet you back at TV room base at–wait, she’s off course. I need backup!” Teachers, doctors and grandparent drill into our heads that it only takes one second for something dreadful to happen, and that’s a good thing to remember, but activities like blinking, being distracted by sudden movement, sleeping at night, all prevent us from maintaining the required vigilance.
3. They will make you disgustingly sentimental?
I’m currently reading “Father’s Day,” written by one of my favorite authors, Buzz Bissinger. It’s about his attempt to spend time with his mentally disabled son and forge a tighter bond between them. Earlier today, I heard a writer named Emily Rapp on NPR talk about her book, “The Still Point of the Turning World,” about the death of her two year old son, Ronan, from Tay-Sachs. I was dangerously close to tears throughout the 15 minute story. (Hey, what are you looking at? You got a problem with guys who cry? Come over here and let’s talk about it!) Do you ever get weepy during TV commercials? I do. Even the e-trade commercials, although to be honest, I just cry because those commercials suck.
So, to sum up, you spend a considerable amount of time thinking about dying, thinking about keeping your kids alive and sobbing about parent-kid relationships. What happened to you? You used to be fun.
I guess now they have the fun for us.