As any new Dad can attest, people use the same tired lines over and over and over. It’s time to end the tyranny of the lame.
My daughter is approaching her sixth month on Earth. So clearly, the novelty has worn off. From what I can tell, she seems to be doing fine raising herself, so I’m winding down my stay-at-home-Dad duties to get back to focusing on what matters most: putting an end to the non-stop barrage of shopworn epigrams family, friends, other parents and total strangers share with those new to the game.
Perhaps, as a writer, I am more hyper-aware to cliches than your typical Mom and Pop newbies. But really I think I’m just more dedicated to spending my ample amounts of underemployed free time ferreting out the everyday irritants that make raising a child that much more unbearable.
In the interest of bettering society for children and parents alike, I present the “Five Things People Should Never Say to New Parents Ever Again. Seriously.”
We can do better, people.
5.) “They Grow Up So Fast.”
Hearing this from a parent whose children have left the nest and become adults in their own right means a lot. They’re always a little wistful and it’s a trenchant reminder that the clock is always moving forward, so don’t waste the time you have now or you’ll end up pulling your car over by the side of the road due to uncontrollable sobbing whenever “Cats in the Cradle” pops up on your FM dial. (The song scares me to death too, Harry...)
But hearing this from someone with a 3-year-old is not like that at all. That’s parental masturbation. And it’s a bold-faced lie. I can’t speak for the fairer sex, but I can speak for those who spend all day with an infant. A mother doing laundry said “it’s the greatest gift.” Ummm, only if you have a lifetime of shitty Christmas presents.
Being a stay-at-home means watching the never-moving clock like a fifth-grader in social studies. I love my daughter like a chunky kid loves fries, and the shrieks and giggles melt me like Cheez on said fries. But c’mon. Raising a baby is slow time. It’s like military time, moments of terror occasionally puncturing the hours of waiting for the next bomb to drop. Is it true that “the days are long and the years are fast?” I’ll get back to you on my daughter’s eighth birthday.
Until then, I’ll bide my time (like the rest of you stay-at-homes), hoping naptime isn’t a Call of Duty battle that I’m destined to lose.
4.) “Well, Isn’t She’s Just God’s Little Miracle?”
I live in the heart of secular white-person gentrified Brooklyn, so I don’t run with the churchiest of crowds.*
The issue here is the “miracle” part of the equation. You see kids, when a Mommy and Daddy love each other very much they have sex. Lots of sex. Even if they hate each other, they have sex. Having sex is not miraculous. It’s simply a fine way to kill 15 minutes. The result is entirely expected. To that end, here’s a quick rundown of where the “miracle of birth” ranks on the “Miraculously Miraculous Miracle Scale”:
A.) Miracle at Cana: Have you ever been to a wedding without booze? Egads. Even a patient, tolerant, fun-loving cat like Jesus knows how excruciating it is getting stuck at a table listening to Uncle Frank’s “truths” about Obama’s birth certificate sober. So presto-changeo, Wine for Everyone! J.C. staved off the incredibly awkward Galilean Bridezilla meltdown. That is a freaking miracle.
B.) “Miracle on Ice”: Yes, Mr. Michaels, 30 years on, we still believe. Hey Myshkin, we got a Eruzione slapshot for your Commie ass. Is it too much to ask to bring back the Cold War?
C.) Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: The chorus on “Tracks of my Tears” just may prove the existence of supernatural powers.
D.) Miracle-Gro: Sure we’re filling the neighborhood air with commercial Agent Orange, but have you seen the hydrangeas this year?
E.) Miracle on 34th Street: It dawns on me that my daughter will never understand the original version. “So those things they brought out to Santa Claus are sacks of…letters?” In the inevitable 21st-century remake, the deck of Tweets read aloud to St. Nick off an iPad will lack full yuletide impact.
F.) “Miracle of Birth”: It is miraculous that any woman survives the birthing process. I was unprepared for the moment the delivery room morphed into a discarded set from the Hostel franchise. Blood, weird mechanical devices, sutures, screaming…let’s move on. I’m having daymares just thinking about it.
G.) Miracle Whip: Nothing otherworldly in this particular sandwich spread. That shit is nasty.
*Just once I’d like to hear, “Isn’t your entirely natural result of the biological necessity to perpetuate the species just the cutest? You’re just Daddy’s adorable little collection of organic matter, aren’t you? A coochie-coochie-coo.”
3. “You think this is tough, wait until you have your second (third, fourth, ninth, seventeenth…)”
Who doesn’t love a good passive-aggressive congratulatory kiss-off? Thanks for letting us know how easy we have it! And double thanks for presuming to have insider information on our future reproductive plans! You see though, the thing is, we didn’t get into the baby-making racket for the competition. And if we did, it’s a scientific fact that only children always grow up to be Nobel Prize-winning geniuses. Or serial killers. Either way, she’ll get her name in the paper!
2. “Your Life Will Never Be the Same!”
You don’t say? Bringing a new life into the world that requires we provide the emotional, physical, financial, psychological and nutritional well-being for our offspring’s next 25 years means our daily routine will be disrupted? Combine that with the fundamental changes in our social, romantic, personal and work lives, and things might play out a bit differently than before? Huh. I never considered any of that before our baby came along.
Good thing, too, because my life hasn’t changed one iota. My daughter simply loves sipping whiskey and eating humus out of the tub while watching Top Gear reruns at 2 a.m.
1. “All Babies Do is Eat, Sleep and Poop.”
I’ve been honestly surprised this little nugget is the most popular go-to for new parent well-wishers. Not because it’s crass (it is), but because it is Just. So. Lame. It’s the “Hang in There, Baby” cat poster. It’s a Pobody’s Nerfect button. It’s an “I Hate Mondays” coffee mug. It’s your Uncle Jerry asking you to pull his finger. It’s the guy in the next cubicle who does Stewie Griffin impressions. It’s your mother-in-law’s chain emails about the price of cheese in 1957. It’s rainbow suspenders. It’s a “This Ain’t A Beer Belly, It’s A Fuel Tank For A Sex Machine!” tee-shirt. It’s your neighbor who quotes Geico commercials. It’s an episode of Outsourced. It’s Rob Schneider. It’s the complete absence of humor, creativity, and originality wrapped up in one tired overworked bon mot.
More importantly, the sentiment is flat-out wrong. Beyond the whole “infant brain developing more now than for the rest of their long lives” thing, babies do so much more. They wriggle, roll, paw, claw, scratch, laugh, coo, giggle, spit-up, spit-up again, spit-up a third time, cry, wail, screech, fight, wrestle, ignore, focus, stare, rub, punch, grab, pull, shed hair, grow hair, kick, hiccup, burp, yawn, stretch, shimmy, sing, gurgle, smile, toot with abandon, and pee.
So much pee…
Now if you’ll excuse me, my daughter needs a bottle and a diaper change before she takes a nap.