We've heard them all. The best-of, the worst-of, the hottest, the coolest of 2007. From Britney and Beckham to Obama and Sanjaya, it was certainly a year to remember. That couldn't be more true for me personally. I got a great new job, ran a half-marathon, and won my fantasy football league championship. But those things fall well short of being the most significant, life-altering, amazing event from the past 365 days. Becoming a father blows them all a way.
And just when you thought you've read your last list of the new year, I have complied, for your reading enjoyment, questions I as a new dad whose daughter is fast approaching her first birthday (61 days, but who's counting?), still have. Oh yes, the questions don't end once the baby's arrived. They keep coming, exponentially. But I've whittled them down to 20, because it makes for a clever title:
1. At what age does my smelling and kissing my daughter's feet start being gross and totally unacceptable behavior?
2. Why do some mothers insist on writing Thank You cards and other correspondences as if the baby was the one doing the writing? Listen, ladies, the baby is not glad we came to the party, and has no idea what our gift was. In fact, we didn't give a gift because we think it's insane that you rented a wedding hall and hired a magician for an infant's 6-month birthday party. Stop talking on your child's behalf. Let them have their own voice. When they start speaking themselves, they can tell us what they really think. It's not cute. It's creepy.
3. Were my grandmothers this insane and irrational? (I think I know the answer to that one).
4. A follow-up to that question: Will my wife be this insane and irrational when she's a grandmother?
5. Why is it that without fail, every time I pick my nose, my daughter chooses to look at me at that very instant, and you can just tell she's soaking it all in? Learning from the master? But when I'm cooking a nice meal, or cleaning the bathroom like the wonderful husband I am, she has no interest?
6. This one's not baby-related, except that Penelope was in her stroller when my wife ordered a "White Hot Chocolate" at Dunkin' Donuts the other day. Shouldn't it be called "Hot White Chocolate?" I think yes. If you take chocolate and make it hot, it becomes "hot chocolate." Ergo, what happens, class, when you take white chocolate and make it hot? That's right. "Hot white chocolate." That's what we call a misplaced modifier. The white shouldn't be describing the hot, it should be describing the chocolate. And the nice gentleman behind the counter smiles politely every time I point it out. Now I'm thirsty.
7. If it's educational for babies to watch certain television shows, then why are there commercials? And if you don't think Sesame Street has commercials, then see: Tickle Me Elmo, Ruffle My Feathers Big Bird, and Pull My Finger Bert. They're trying to make money off us, people! And I'm not buying this 'Noggin' Network for babies everyone's hooked on, either. It's a stepping stone for, guess what? Nickelodeon! C'mon! Turn of the TV, and read your baby a book, or sing them some Dean Martin. "That's Amore" can teach my daughter as much Italian and/or Spanish as Dora or Carmen Sandiego or Geraldo Rivera ever will.
8. When do I get to teach her the really cool stuff, like how to swim, how to make a nice pot of gravy, and how to poop in the toilet?
9. No really, how much longer will she be in diapers? She's starting to eat - and really like - cheese now. Cheese stinks at both ends.
10. Remember before she crawled, or hardly moved around at all, when she used to love when I just held her and sang to her? When does she start liking that again?
11. How old will she be when she realizes being naked isn't as great as she currently thinks it is? Then how old will she be when she realizes once again how great being naked (with the right person) actually is?
12. While we're on the subject, when she starts dating, it's OK if these guys think I'm a little scary, right? A high school girlfriend of mine had a dad who was a cop. Nicest guy in the world, but I was scared to death of him. Still am a little. Because I can do scary. I can do Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear "you think he's a nice guy but he's really got a huge tattoo on his back, does lots of chin ups in his jail cell, and will hitch a ride by grabbing on to the undercarriage of the car" scary, if that's what it takes. I can certainly dial it down from that, but if need be, Cape Fear it is.
13. How come she cuddles with and hugs mommy, but I'm the human jungle gym who gets his nose bitten?
14. How come when she's upset, she thinks mommy has all the answers, and I'm just some guy they let in to keep warm?
15. When will she realize that, when you do a side-by-side comparison, mommy only knows a fraction more than daddy knows? That while mommy may have the book smarts, she may be the one asking all the right questions at the doctor's office, and she may know that avocados are really good for babies, Penelope's first word, inevitably, will be "daddy."
16. When is she going to start being nice to the dog? Seriously, it's a little heartbreaking that poor Luna just sits there and takes the abuse. When Penelope gets Luna in her crosshairs, there's no stopping her. I haven't seen such a maniacal, sinister look in a child's eye since The Omen.
17. At what point in time will my car not be adorned with cartoon characters?
18. Why would anyone in their right mind want a second child?
19. Why would anyone in their right mind not want a second child?
20. When I finally conjure enough courage to show Penelope this blog, is she going to throw a fit, stomp upstairs, and slam her bedroom door as she shouts "I hate you, you ruined my life!" Or will she think I'm the coolest, greatest dad ever? Probably, hopefully, somewhere in between.