Chapter One: On Deciding to Become a Father
Unlike marriage, fatherhood is not something to be entered into lightly or unadvisedly. You must understand the full range of responsibilities and duties it entails. Having a baby is a full-time job. You've got to feed it, clothe it, shelter it. I mean, man, that's a lot of hassle.
So before you embark on fatherhood, make a list of reasons why you want to have a child. Compare your reasons with the following list:
GOOD REASONS TO BECOME A DAD
- You and your wife have discussed having a family, and the time just seems "right."
- You love the idea of fatherhood, with all the joys and responsibilities it entails.
- You want to teach, love, and nurture a precious, tiny human.
BAD REASONS TO BECOME A DAD
- You hated your dad, and you want to take it out on someone.
- Just to see if your boys can swim.
- To win a bet.
- You think it will make you look more mature.
- Everybody else is doing it.
Still think you're ready? Many high schools require their sex-ed students to care for a plastic doll for two weeks in order to help illustrate the full-time nature of parenting. Why don't you try it? If your "test" baby looks like this, then maybe you should hold off on having children -- at least for a little while.
If, however, you passed the baby doll test (or, more likely, figured, "Who the hell has time to drag around a stupid plastic doll?" and decided not to bother), you might still want to test your "Fatherhood Aptitude" by taking the following test.Use a number 2 pencil. 30 minutesThe Fatherhood Aptitude Test
1. The best way to calm a crying baby is to:
a. hand him off to mommy.
b. gently rock him up and down.
c. slap him silly.
2. An appropriate baby-sitter is:
a. one of our relatives.
b. a trusted teenage daughter of a friendly neighbor.
c. an English au pair.
3. Which of the following is an acceptable toy for a baby?
a. A large doll with plastic crinkle-paper stuffing.
b. A large, hard, plastic teething ring.
c. A large, plastic dry-cleaning bag.
4. Which of the following best describes your reasons for wanting to become a father?
a. I love kids.
b. I feel the time is right to have a family.
c. I enjoy playing with my Tamogotchi hatch-an-egg video game.
5. Why do you think you'd make a good father?
a. I'm so hopelessly, deliriously in love with my wife, that my happiness can't help but rub off on our child.
b. I look forward to imparting all of my skills to a future generation.
c. I just finished reading Earl Woods' book Training a Tiger.
I'm ready to get started immediately.
6. Your wife wants to start trying to have a baby. She's charted her temperature, and knows that she's been ovulating on a twenty-nine-day cycle. If today is March 10, and her temperature last peaked five days ago, when is the best time to try to conceive?
a. April 4.
b. April 5.
c. Right now. Continue trying until my Viagra runs out.
7. Baby : Beer ::
a. Square Pegs : Round Holes
b. Checks : Stripes
c. Who the hell let the baby near my beer? That's my beer, dammit!
8. You hope that your first child is:
a. a Girl.
b. a Boy.
9. The young father picked up his newborn baby with ______ in his eyes and gently _______.
a. love...sang a lullaby.
b. joy...Cooed nonsense syllables.
c. horror...dropped it.
10. By the end of its second month, a baby should be able to:
b. respond to a bell in some way, such as startling, crying, or quieting.
11. goo goo : ga ga ::
a. boo boo : ba ba
b. Milli : Vanilli
c. Shut : Up
12. Four babies are getting weighed in the maternity ward. Your baby, R, weighs more than V. T weighs less than R. S weighs more than V but less than T. Which of the following is the correct lineup of babies from smallest to biggest?
a. V, S, T, R.
b. Cannot be determined from the information given.
c. Which one is mine, again?
True or False?
1. Babies can eat Doritos.
2. Babies can be left unattended if you are pretty darn sure you will return by the end of the hour.
3. Babies can't scream very loudly since they just have tiny, little baby lungs.
4. Once you have a baby, you will have more free time since there will be extra hands around the house.
5. Baby fat insulates babies from all but the coldest arctic conditions.
6. You will still be able to golf on weekends after the baby is born.
7. Most pregnant women look like Hunter Tylo.
8. I plan on videotaping the birth and then showing it to friends.
9. I was born a rambling man.
10. Someday, I would like to appear on the Jerry Springer Show.
11. Lamaze breathing techniques could also be useful when I'm on the can.
12. Whenever you mention that you'd like to have a large family of, say, five kids, your wife anxiously eyes the bathtub.
What does commitment mean to you?
If you have finished before the time allotted, you may go over any questions in this section. Then place your answer sheet facedown in front of you with your pencil on top. Do not go on to any additional sections. Do not run screaming out the door to a seedy singles bar for casual, anonymous sexual encounters.
If you answered any of the questions, you pass. And if by some miracle of nature you actually tried to write an essay, then you've got definite fatherhood potential (unless you wrote "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over again, in which case don't go on any vacations in the north woods with your family).
Note: If you answered "c" to any of the multiple choice questions, or "True" to any of the True/False questions, then beware! You are a moron. Of course, that alone does not disqualify you from fatherhood in any way.
Text copyright © 2002 by Mason Brown