After just four months, Jaime is tired of the advice. Everyone seems to have some for her–from what first names work best with McGuigan to how to properly latch the baby to the nipple. (Keep in mind–this baby is only 17 weeks and about the size of a large avocado.)
I’m not going to name names here since some of you unwanted advisers may also read my blog, but if you’re reading this and thinking about giving my wife baby advice, don’t do it.
I, on the other hand, am perfectly happy to hear your advice, but don’t be surprised if you hear something absolutely ridiculous in response. For example, recently, someone who shall not be named was asking me about my parenting style. At first, I said what I really think: I think Jaime and I will be good parents. We’re both thoughtful, smart people whose strengths and weaknesses are complimentary. Also, we both were scholarship students, which means we’ll produce an even smarter baby, who I’ve come to call “Little Scholarship” while rubbing Jaime’s stomach. (Another thing: not only is unwanted advice not cool, but rubbing a pregnant woman’s stomach without asking isn’t cool either.) I mentioned the scholarship thing to this person half-joking.
What followed was a critique of my still unformed parenting style with the major points being: 1) You cannot control a child and 2) Children need to learn early that they have choices, so they understand how to make better choices later in life.
I desperately wanted to disagree with these two statements in a logical and reasonable fashion (In short: 1) Children are puppies with thumbs and heightened language skills–you need to have some control over them, and 2) Children make the choices that you allow them to make, i.e. “Do you want apple juice or chocolate milk?”), but sometimes you know you can’t reason with someone who really just wants to tell you you’re wrong.
So I didn’t.
Instead, I said, “I look at raising a child kind of like raising a dog.” Then, I called my dog Jelly, who came trotting over to me, her tail wagging like a furry whip (She’s wacked our walls so hard the end of it has bled.), made her sit and gave her a few other commands which she, of course, diligently followed, as she always does.
“If I can create a kid that’s as good as Jelly, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a successful parent.”
The critic bristled, and her eyes rolled.
I went on.
“It’s more than just training though. A crib is basically a dog crate with fewer bars. Crying is a language on par with barking. A Kong is like a nipple for dogs….”
I continued to list other similarities, but it didn’t matter. My point was: I don’t give a shit what you think, but so you don’t automatically think I don’t give a shit what you think, I’m going to say something ridiculous until you either A) accept that I don’t give a shit about what you think or B) believe I’m a lost cause whose child will someday go on to perform at an event called “Fuck Father’s Day: A Toast to Bad Dads.”
I haven’t been talking crazy to just one person either. When asked about what sex I wanted the baby to be, I immediately said I wanted a boy because they can’t get pregnant, which I’ve been told is sexist (Um… how? It’s biology!) because boys can get women pregnant. “Not if you shellack their bodies in condoms and spermicidal lubricant,” I suggested. End of conversation.
In response to my preference of a boy over a girl, another person asked me what I would do if I had a girl, to which I replied simply, “I’d hope my daughter becomes a nun that knows how to wrestle.” When told that I no longer believe in God, I shot back, “The Lord welcomes the return of all his prodigal sons,” and began pushing even further by explaining how a wrestling nun would be virtuous but still know how to kick ass.
In the last few months, when questioned about my parenting style, I’ve explained how we’ll be skipping Winnie the Pooh and heading straight for Marx, Camus and Nietzsche, a summer reading list that may cause depression but will most certainly create a young revolutionary, Baby Che, as I occasionally call the lump in Jaime’s gut. The baby will also follow a strict stretching and calisthenics routine, like Little Hercules minus the steroids, and make Bobby Fischer look like Bristol Palin.
Sometimes I don’t even believe the shit that comes out of my mouth.
But truly, I have no fucking clue what my parenting style will be like until this avocado-sized fetus becomes a shit-spraying baby (I’ve heard some stories…) that Jaime and I have to form into a respectable human being who may or may not also be a nun who can Randy “Macho Man” Savage your face. We’ll make mistakes, to be sure–every parent does–but we’ll do it together, and we’ll have each other to rely on, as well as the advice of every single person in our lives.
Whether we want it or not.