Friday, November 12, 2010

Get a Grip! Cut Out All that Superhero Parent Crap!!!

I just realized that in a few days, my little man will be nine months old. It feels like a time for celebration and reflection. 

I look back on the days and maybe week before he was born and how awkward I was. I mean, I was such a nervous wreck of a person. I had these weird notions that I had to be some sort of super dad, and I was determined to do everything absolutely right. 

Well, so far I screwed that up, but I am not too worried about it because everyone does supposedly. 

So...let's see here...what haven't I screwed up, and what have I taught the little monster in my nine months with him?

Well, I taught him to beat the crap out of me and an inflatable ball when I shout "Bring it the pain." Yeah. I know. That really was not such a good idea. I am just glad there isn't much reason to say those words in that order too often because I haven't quite figured out a way to call him off yet. 

Seriously, I have the only attack baby known to man kind. Yeah, yeah. I know I cannot possibly verify that, and I am sure that there are other, more lethal, attack babies out there, but that is besides the point. The point I am making is that it is sad that in nine months the first thing that I recall during the entire time I have spent with my child is a mistake I have already made. 

I can think of countless others too. 

If you ask me, that is not the best way for the little guy to start out. But, as a parent I don't think I can help it. I don't know what the hell I am doing, and I am constantly worried I am screwing him up for life. More importantly, I don't think I will ever have the cash for his therapy bills after I am done with him. I, at least, owe him that don't I?

So what am I going to?

Here's what I am going to do. I am going to stop this constant worrying. I know...that's bullshit. Parents never stop worrying about their children or screwing up, but I mean it is ridiculous to worry about it all the time. 

I'll give you an example of how bad I am, but before I do that, I want you to think back to the first time you took your little one out into public. 

Now...Here's what happened my first time.  Compare your baby's first public appearance to the first time I took my little man out. 

Hopefully, your experience wasn't as nutty.

Flashback to 7-8 Months ago

My wife just went back to work, and it was the first time I was left alone, I mean really alone, with the little guy. I already started to hyperventilate before she even left the driveway. 

Worse yet, I had to go out and get some things from the supermarket. 

I remember thinking to myself, "How the hell am I going to get through this?" Then a quote from my favorite actor of all time, the Great Woody Harrelson, comes in to my mind. "It's time to nut up, or shut up." 

What else could I do? 

I nutted up, and I am glad I did. I just wish I hadn't take it as far as I did. 

You see, while I was getting my monster size diaper bag and all 40 five ounce bottles ready to go for a 30 minute trip to the supermarket, I envisioned everyone else out there as a possible adversary that I needed to protect my son from. 

I was even singing the rocky theme song to myself as I got dressed, and then, I made sure to pick out the sturdiest, heaviest cane in my arsenal just case I needed to defend my precious baby. 

Oh yeah, I was ready to go Cane-do on someone's ass! 

I was preparing for battle. I even started a brief search for some black shoe polish I had laying around just so I could put some under my eyes. Then I thought better of it because it smelled yucky. 

Anyway, I got my son into the car finally, but only after it was baking hot because I let it warm up for 2 hours to make sure he wouldn't be cold. 

Then I sat down in the drivers seat repeating over and over again, "Time to nut up or shut up. Time to nut up or shut up....," to psych myself up. 

After five minutes of that, there was nothing that could stop me, or so I thought. 

I just had to check the back seat. 

My baby boy was quiet. A little too quiet. 

He was giving me some sort of weird look. The "I think your a nut job" kind of look. I suppose he was right, but I didn't recognize it as that then. I thought something was wrong. 

He wasn't crying or anything, just staring at me like he was seeing what his future held and thinking "Oh god! Please! No!" 

Well, that made me got nervous and I immediately got out of the car to check on him. 

For some reason, I got it in my head that he was sick or something, so I had to check through all 15 layers of clothing to make sure he was alright and warm enough. By the time I was convinced he was fine, I lost all my confidence and had to check him again, which didn't seem to bother him too much thankfully. 

Needless to say, after that frantic episode, my nerves were so shot I had to repeat my mantra again for another five to ten minutes. 

Finally, I managed to "nut up," and we made it to the store. 

I was nervous and jumpy as hell. I saw the parking lot as the most dangerous place on earth. All thirteen cars could come after us with no notice whatsoever, and yes I did count them all. 

My head was like it was on a swivel, just twisting and turning, trying desperately to see everything at once. I even pointed my cane at somebody and told them not to move. 

Amazingly, it worked.  I don't know what I would have done had the guy ignored me. 

Anyway, once I made it into the store, it didn't get much better for me. I went into hyper-super dad mode and made a total ass of myself. 

I went to the customer service desk and demanded sanitation wipes for the cart that my child would not physically touch or even come close to touching. 

Fortunately, the nice young lady at the desk humored me, and provided said sanitation wipes. 

I meticulously wiped the entire cart down. It must have been the cleanest shopping cart ever after I was done with it. Only then, did I feel confident enough to put the car seat in it with my son who was fast asleep. 

"Bonus!" I said to myself. "I guess being a super dad is not so hard after all is it?" I thought. 

But, we hadn't actually made it into the store yet. 

When I started moving, I noticed that the cart squeaked, and I was terrified that my little man would wake up. (I didn't notice the squawking PA system naming sale items. Funny isn't it, what people notice?) So, I marched right over to the service desk and demanded an explanation. 

After a few seconds, probably a minute, they sent a guy over to squirt the wheels with wd-40 and that took care of that. "I am the man!" I thought to myself. "Now we're making progress! I am going to conquer this god-forsaken store." 

All the time I was thinking this, there was this little voice in the back of my head screaming "Yeah right!" The little voice was right. For, at that moment, came a vicious gang of elderly ladies straight from the home. 

They were all deaf as posts and shouting their conversations to one another. Then the thing I dreaded most of all happened. They, either by instinct or superior intellect, or whatever, noticed the little man sleeping in the car seat in my shopping cart. 

I swear it was like a freaking stampede! 

They swarmed us so fast I literally dove in front of the cart ready to protect my baby boy from this crowd of unruly, evil elderly. I was ready to fight to the death! In my mind I cried out, "For honor and glory!", while I immediately recognized that I had a strategic weapons advantage. 

My cane was solid oak and at least six inches longer than any of their crappy, lightweight, hollow aluminum canes. "En garde" I shouted. But,all that happened was an uproar of hysterical laughter. 

How dare they laugh at me?! 

Wait, what could possibly be so funny? 

I suavely checked my zipper. I just had to and thankfully it was intact. Then I lost my nerve. I tried to out run these crafty old-folk while pushing the cart backwards. Yet, in the end they outwitted me. They cornered me in the milk isle of all places. 

The only place that is cold in the whole store. 

Oh no! The baby who is tucked snugly in the car seat might get cold despite his fifteen layers of clothing! 

I had no choice. I had to divert my attention from the oncoming danger to my helpless baby. I deftly pulled a blanket from my mammoth sized diaper bag and covered him with it as quickly as I could. I had to work in order to maintain my idea of what "heroic" composure was. 

That's when they pounced. 

Those soulless monsters of the nursing home were still evilly smiling and chuckling at me. 

Oh the horror! 

My mind was racing, quickly I assessed the situation. I came up with a suicide plan as a last ditch effort to protect my son. (It wasn't needed because after all they were just sweet old ladies.) 

Anyway, that'a when the commander of all that is unholy came and put her desiccated hand on my shoulder and squeezed it warmly. I was shocked. 

This sweet little woman then asked if I was a first time father. I told her I was. Then she said the most unexpected thing of all. She said, "Oh relax honey! You look like an ass!" Then, for the first time that whole shopping trip I smiled, laughing alongside these friendly matrons, trying desperately to play it all off like I was joking or something the entire time while feeling like such a failure. 

I couldn't even protect my son from 5 elderly women. I was actually afraid of 5 ELDERLY WOMEN! 

What kind of man am I?! 

Then, the most wonderful thing happened. My son smiled at me for the first time. He of course awoke at some point during our mad attempt at escape. But, anyway, seeing his smile, I thought to myself "Aaahh!! He still loves me! Amazing!" 

That moment with him wasn't even ruined when the sweet old lady said, "Looks like someone's crapping their draws." Which of course, he was. 

Right then and there, I realized my boy will love me no matter what for a while, and then, most assuredly, he will hate me no matter what for a while, and if I am lucky he'll love me again at some point. So, I can cut out all this super hero dad bullshit! 

I am just glad that at six weeks old or so the little man was too young to remember that trip to the store because boy, I really was an ass. A well meaning ass, but still an ass nonetheless. 

P.s. Since then I have relaxed quite a bit. I found that I really enjoy letting other people look at my son in public and hearing them exclaim about his superior looks and disposition and even intellect at times. I realize now that everything is just so much more fun when I am relaxed or chill if you will. I say things like, "Of course he is cute! He's my son." (I don't even feel smarmy and gross afterwards.)  

However, I won't lie to you and say I gave up trying to be a super dad. I just learned that being a super dad, or super parent rather, is all about loving your child and making sure that they know it. 

P.P.s. If you know my wife, please do not tell her this story. I couldn't stand the humiliation of it. That, and I think she would lose all faith in me as a parent too.

P.p.p.s. Every time I say to myself "It's time to nut up or shut up," I also think of a bumper sticker I saw in Pennsylvania that said "Knuckle deep in the lord." Hilarious isn't it? I believe I was near a Camp Tuchahoe or Tuckahoe, I can't remember which, when I saw it.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! You're right, you never stop worrying about kids. You worry about all then mistakes you've made or will make. You worry that he/she will hate you if you screw up and are always surprised to find that maybe they really don't.

    The story about your first excursion out to the supermarket with a newborn brings back the memories of my own. Its so funny because its really typical of new dads when they're on their own for the first time with the little one.