As I’m sure you all know, I am a deeply religious man. I am constantly prostrating myself before the idol of irony, often involuntarily. I would like to offer up the Commandments by which I attempt to live and parent. I hope that they will be useful to you in your own spiritual journey through parenthood.
I will also state that I don’t follow these nearly as often as I would like because I am a hypocrite and controlled by my emotions.
But I do try.
So, without further ado:
The Ten Commandments of Fatherhood
1 – Thou Shall Suspend Thy Sense of Shame
You don’t have to do this. Really. It’s totally cool if your child grows up without imagination and thinking that you think everything they do is stupid. It’s important for kids to learn early that there is no tea in the toy tea pot and that Mr. Huggles doesn’t walk around the house, crying, waiting anxiously for the child to get home from day care so that they can play together. To this end, make sure that you never let your kid watch any animated movies, or really anything that isn’t a documentary. Even then, nothing from the History Channel. You don’t want them thinking about alien contact, or Stonehenge.
Wait…I think I have that backwards.
DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS! Creativity and imagination stimulate the brain and will give you smarter, more amazing children! You spent your life up to this point building up your street cred for the sole purpose of blowing it all to make your kids feel good and be happy!
Why do you care if the 70-year-old in the sporting goods section of WalMart thinks that you’re crazy because you’re making the peanut butter beg your toddler not to eat it?
So what if you’re wearing mismatched socks, one sandal, one rain boot, a fishing hat, a flannel shirt and biking shorts to return some books to the library? It made your kid happy to pick out your clothes and, to be honest, I’ve seen your reading list. When you take those books back, your wardrobe will be the least of your concerns. (Side note: Checking out Fifty Shades of Gray at the same time as A Brief History of the Whip and anything by Mercer Meyer will get you funny looks no matter what you’re wearing.)
2 – Thou Shall Abandon All Plans
They won’t get done. Kids don’t care about your schedule. They are no respecters of quartz-run, Swedish time pieces, or atomic clocks. They REALLY don’t care what time the movie starts or when your reservations are for. On the contrary! They will save a massive diaper bomb all day in anticipation of your running just slightly late. They know that your wife will spend an extra three minutes chatting with the babysitter and they plan for it.
At the 2:37 mark, they will unleash a torrent of unpleasantness that would have Andy Dufresne crawling back into his cell. They also know that your wife will feel terrible leaving this crotch-strapped sack of unholy passive-aggression for the babysitter to deal with (even though that’s part of what you pay them for…)
You are left with two options at this point:
1) Lie to everyone! If the movie starts at 8, tell them it starts at 7:30. If the reservations are at 7, tell them that the kitchen closes at 6. Build a buffer into your plans. A buffer of lies and deceit.
2) Resign yourself to the fact that your carefully planned evening, the first one with your spouse in 4 months, will end up with you eating take out in your car, parked outside the house of a neighbor who happens to have a particularly large TV near a window.
3 – Thou Shall Let It Go
Author’s Note: I profoundly suck at following this one.
Things can be repaired, messes can be cleaned, clothes can be refolded. Pillows can be put back on the sofa and beds can be remade. Toys can be put back in the toy box. Flour can be cleaned off of the kitchen floor and Vaseline can be cleaned off of the TV stand (eventually).
Kids make messes and those can be cleaned up. Accidents happen. Deal with it. If you can’t, perhaps you should find a new line of work, like building hermetically-sealed boxes.
This leads directly into…