May 2016

Fatherhood: Now Available Without a Prescription

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Ask your doctor if fatherhood is right for you. If fatherhood lasts longer than nine months, you’re doing it right.

Do you have too much disposable income? Does the sheer weight of all that free time you have bog you down? Is your freedom to come and go as you please cutting into the time you could spend watching Netflix with the volume turned all the way down? Are your prophylactics past their expiration date and you just found out the hard way?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, particularly the last one, then maybe you should try fatherhood. More than any other ’hood, fatherhood represents a unique balancing act: a chance to help mold a young human being’s life in a positive way, a chance to serve as a role model, and a chance to end any and all arguments by threatening to turn this car right around.

Side effects of fatherhood may include a sudden fondness for Crocs, abdominal swelling, chronic farmer tan, decreased tolerance for guff and sassmouth, and an uncontrollable urge to just pop out to the garage for 10 Goddamn minutes of peace and quiet without someone bothering you about something.
When used as directed, fatherhood can be one of the greatest joys known to man. As an example, the other day my son and I invented a game that has no name, but involves firing a ping pong ball at each other with tiny plastic paddles while running around in the backyard. We haven’t named it, because right now it’s the best game ever, and giving it a name is just one step away from ruining it by introducing rules.

In addition to a son, I have two daughters, the youngest of which still actually likes me. (The older one does as well, but as a nine-year-old, she’s obligated to hide it as best she can). The youngest and I have our own special game, in which she pretends to steal my mustache. I always get it back, but not before she tries it on first and assures me it’s “her mustache.”

Being a dad is great, because you get to play silly games like that. You childless guys out there, go ahead and ask your buddies if they want to play the mustache swapping game. Watch how fast your social calendar clears up.

Side effects
Some patients who have tried fatherhood have reported elevated instances of having to be the stick in the mud. The aforementioned youngest, in addition to being a master at coming up with silly games, is also a budding songwriter. Her latest hit goes by the name of “Boobie Butt,” and it goes like this: “Boobie butt boobie butt boobie butt (repeat).” The tune constantly changes, as it’s usually just sung along to whatever music happens to be playing at the time.

The rest of the family finds this hilarious, particularly when a rousing rendition of “Boobie Butt” breaks out around the dinner table. As the dad, it’s usually my job to put the brakes on the whole thing and be Captain Boring. Which sucks, because “Boobie Butt” is empirically hilarious. It’s up there with anything in Weird Al’s catalogue in the pantheon of great comedy parody songs. But as the dad, the onus is on me to assure the entire table that there is nothing funny about this and everyone needs to shut up and eat. That’s not to say my wife won’t step in, but generally it’s only when she sees I’m having difficulty holding in laughter.

And beyond just having to be the fun police, one huge pitfall of fatherhood is that you have to deal with children, a type of person who has somehow survived despite their constant attempts to destroy themselves. To date, spread out among three children, we as a family have experienced four self-sustained blows to the head that swelled to golf ball size, one sizable facial scar caused by trying to eat a strange dog’s food, and a trip to the emergency room directly related to climbing on top of things in the bedroom for the sole purpose of hurling oneself bodily onto the floor from greater height.

Just the other day, I was given assurances that the two youngest were going outside to play. I watched the two of them walk down the stairs; then, confident that in the six paces between the landing and the backyard neither one of them would die, I returned to what I was doing. It wasn’t 20 seconds before I heard the screams.

When I went to investigate, I found that the youngest had locked herself in the garage. Since she can’t reach the light switch, her screams were those of a child with an active imagination shut in a large dark space full of rusty gardening implements. I found her brother, who, mind you, was two paces behind her last I checked, wandering around upstairs with no clue what was going on or how he got up there.
This all happened, again, in the span of 20 seconds without direct paternal supervision.

So yes, it is one of the world’s greatest joys. But it also comes with the burden of being the bad guy, and being the only force standing between your children and their own self-destructive urges.
Fatherhood is not for everyone. Ask your doctor if fatherhood is right for you. You should have plenty of time to speak to him during your children’s many, many emergency room visits. 

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