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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Babysitter Survival Kit: Holy Water, Crucifixes and Tranquilizer-Laced Candy

Up until yesterday I was a bit nervous about becoming a dad, but not any more. Now I can report that things are different. That edge of fear and that nervous chill in the back of my mind have changed. Not gone exactly, just that they’ve merged like some horrible science experiment and morphed into full blown TERROR.  I still have a few weeks left before I officially become a father (3 weeks if the baby keeps on schedule). But I feel a bit like I’m strapped in a space shuttle while NASA Command runs through the final pre-launch countdown. Only I suddenly realize I missed all the classes that taught me how to be an astronaut.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to start this next stage of my life. I’ve always wanted a family. But the anticipation isn’t like how you might feel in the days leading up to, say, the new Harry Potter movie. Rather, it’s more like the thrill of anticipation you’d get in the moments before you go sky diving for the first time, you know, as you wonder if the chute was packed properly.

I honestly didn’t expect to feel so nervous. And it’s not the actual caring for the child that worries me. I mean, I wouldn’t call myself a complete novice in the children department.  I’ve changed hundreds of diapers, fed dozens of babies, and babysat more nieces and nephews than I knew I had. And it’s not like they’ve always been little lovelies to dear old Uncle Steve, oh no. In fact, it would be a fair statement if I said my nieces and nephews are monsters forged from pure evil. Every last one of them (FYI: they range in age from a few months to seventeen and they are a ruthless mob 26 strong!). To this day I don’t go near the youngest and weakest among them without a pocket full of crucifixes and four litre jug of holy water.

When I really think about it, I’m reasonably certain that my unease at being a dad comes from the weight of influence I’m about to have over a new life. I am going to have to be a role model and I don’t think I’ve ever been that before.

Is that something you can fake?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to dismantle the crib for the twentieth time because I suddenly had a thought that I might have used size “C” bolts where I should have used size “D” bolts. The last time I took it apart it was because I found an extra screw and three extra washers, little did I know those pieces were just extras, put there to mess with new parents stressing about crib construction.

Darn you IKEA! You and your Swedish practical jokes.


Jeff King said...

As a father of two (a 16 year old daughter and a 10 year old boy) the best advice I can give you is: consistency! No-means-NO, don’t ever give in once you say no. It teaches them to manipulate you and gives them the power (over time)
Love unconditionally; be consistent in your punishment and give chores.

Marty said...

You're posts always make me laugh. But do you really have 26 nieces and nephews??? Whoa. Three weeks means it could be here any day. I'm excited for you.

Nina Powers said...

Good Luck Steve. I'm not a parent, and biologically, I will never be one. I've been a parental figure a couple of times in my life though, and I have to agree with Jeff - No means NO, no matter how much they pout and think of you as the bad guy.
My other piece of advice, from having the best parents ever... Never let your child go to bed without a kiss goodnight - not until they get old enough to tell you it's lame. When they grow out of the "It's lame dad" period, they will start kissing YOU good night.
Oh and one more, read to your child every night.
You'll be awesome!

Jen said...

lol! Every new parent feels this way before (and after the child is born.) It takes a least a year to adjust.(with each child) Just know these feelings are totally normal and every new parent is a crazy as you are. Good luck!

JeffO said...

Congratulations, Steve, and good luck. I can tell you I think the most terrifying moment in my life was when my wife and I brought our first daughter home from the hospital. We got in, got settled, looked at each other, and said, "Now what?"

It's also been absolutely amazing and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

And now, to add to the good advice you've already gotten from Nina and Jeff: Never, ever undermine your wife, and never let her undermine you. The kids need to learn early on that they can not play one off against the other.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!

LynNerd said...

Aw, I can tell you're going to be an awesome father. If you're already reflecting on the responsibility you're taking on, then you're ready for the best role of your life. And to redo the crib because of some extra pieces, well, that goes to show how much you care. Safety is good. Too bad Ikea threw you a monkey wrench. With or without kids, the monkey wrenches never stop. Buy lots of bananas!
You've received great advice here. I agree that reading every day is important, starting now if you haven't already. Nursery rhymes are great, and babies love the rhythm and language. Store up some zzzz's. You'll need 'em!

Steven Whibley said...

@Jeff – Great advice. Thank you. I have to say, though, 16 is the age I fear the most. I was a brat at that age and I fear Karma has some payback in store.

@Marty – yeah, I have 26 (at last count), it’s actually really fun and they’re not nearly as evil as I make them out to be … except when they are :\

@Nina – That’s great advice. Thank you. I can’t wait to read bedtime stories.

@Jen – I’m glad I’m not alone, and if I’m acclimatized after only a year, I’ll consider it a success!

@JeffO – I do find myself wondering just what you’re supposed to do with the baby when you get home. I suspect I’ll spend my time trying to make it laugh ... and changing diapers. Thanks for the advice.

@Alisha – :) I did have it together, but I took it apart, then reassembled it, then took it apart … argh. Sweden is officially off my "places to travel” list! Oh, and as for child having a tantrum, I was planning on employing the “Limb restraints and gag” method to deal with that. Does anyone know if that’s illegal? :)

@LynNerd – Thank you! My wife is surprisingly on top of building a library of children’s books. Strange given that I’m the book lover. But I really can’t wait to read bedtime stories to my son or daughter.

Carrie said...

Good luck, Steven! I suggest you sleep for the next three weeks to prepare yourself. ;)

linda said...

TWENTY-SIX?! Wow. You certainly sound like you have plenty of experience with kids. I don't know anything about parenting - just wanted to offer my best wishes. I'm sure you'll make an amazing dad. :)

lee said...

No kiddos here, but I agree with everything the people above said, especially the 'no means no' bit. I was a difficult child (but since reformed in adulthood), and there were many times when my parents saved me from myself with that N-O word. The TerribleOnes..erm..little angelic darlings will get mad at you for a while, but much later, once they get out into the real world, they'll appreciate the trouble you didn't let them find/make. Best of luck, I'm sure you'll do just fine!

Paul Joseph said...

This post was quite hysterical, Steve. I'm not exactly a baby person at the moment, so if I had 26 nieces and nephews, I might be crazy enough to turn myself into a writer. Oh, that.

Seriously though, I'm excited for you. I'm willing to bet the kid is getting one awesome dad.

Steven Whibley said...

@Paul - I often wonder if writers aren't all just a little bit on the edge. Not as crazy as painters, no, not that crazy. You don't hear about authors cutting off their own ears because they have a bad draft. Still...

Steven Whibley said...

@Carrie - thanks for the tip, I wish I could store up sleep ... maybe there's a pill for that ... hmmmmm

@Linda - thanks :) I just hope I make a better dad than I do an uncle. I think using limb restraints is only okay on nieces and nephews.

@Lee - That's something I'll have to get used to saying. Whenever I babysat for my siblings I'd just give the kids whatever they wanted. Kids: "we want ice cream as a bed time snack"
Me: "Okay. don't forget the chocolate syrup."

Lauren F. Boyd said...

Congrats, Steven, on your forthcoming little one!

Thanks for becoming a follower on my blog! It's always great to meet a fellow writer. I'm enjoying your sense of humor on your blog, too. I'm following you as well and will be back soon!

Thanks again!

Thanks again!

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