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A tongue-in-cheek peek at modern parenting from a father’s point of view, this spoof is targeted at today’s career-minded mom and dad team. Breezy, irreverent humor escorts dads through basic topics such as home-from-the-hospital adjustments, post-partum dos and don’ts, diaper changing, feeding, difficult infant behavior, child-care choices, and the bustle of the pretoddler stage. Lightening up the serious business of being a 21st-century father, this book teaches dads that they don’t have to be perfect and shows them how to enjoy the different stages of a baby’s life.
|Publisher:||Clearing Skies Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.47(d)|
About the Author
Walter Roark is the author of two award-winning CD-ROMs, Life’s Greatest Mysteries and Nine Month Miracle. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
Keeping the Baby Alive till Your Wife Gets Home
The Tough New 'How-To' for 21st Century Dads
By Walter Roark, Michael Carney, Meghan Roark
Clearing Skies PressCopyright © 2002 Walter Roark
All rights reserved.
Home from the Hospital
(A Star Is Born)
All Quiet on the Set ... a dream beginning:
You're a happy new father with wife and offspring safe and secure on their first magical night home from the hospital. You drift into restful sleep.
Soon you're dreaming you're a world-famous Hollywood director having a dream. In this vivid fantasy, you're on the set of your latest movie and everything is going splendidly. Best of all, it's a very light schedule today and this particular set is the quietest, most peaceful one you can remember. So quiet you begin to feel uneasy. As if you knew some nameless chaos leered menacingly, just on the other side of the calm.
Suddenly, your famous director's dream turns into the world's worst nightmare. You know it's a nightmare except the sound is blasting, special effects stereo and some jerk has punched the treble so high you feel like your eardrums will rip. You must be on location filming a new multi-disaster adventure.
SCENE A: BANG! FLASH! HONK! You hear a fire truck, siren wailing, echoes racing down a dark city street ... horn blasting, red-flashing machine skidding to a stop just outside your bedroom window. You wake, shouting, "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!"
SCENE B: No — it's the roar of a falling 747, nose pointed at your rooftop — the ear-drilling scream engulfing your brain as the jet hurtles closer. You dive under the blanket bracing for the crash ... knowing this is the end. But just in case this really is a movie, you cry (muffled), "Cut! Cut! Cut!"
Wait! This is no dream. YOU ARE AWAKE ... you sit up, blinking, wondering why your ears won't stop throbbing. Finally, your consciousness returns. You're no high-powered Hollywood director; you're just an everyday new Dad. You're lying in bed listening to the desperate, wrenching bleats of your beautiful newborn babe ... a tiny miracle fresh from the womb — a perfectly vulnerable, incredibly innocent three days old.
This means, roughly speaking, you're just 97 or so days away from a good night's sleep. That is, if you're lucky with the colic.
Colic: The Unsolved Mystery
What causes colic in a newborn? Well, the truth is, no one really knows. I realize that seems odd, considering today's deep well of medical-scientific knowledge. Yet this remains a mystery of the first magnitude, a true baffler. When colic was the case, even the greatest father-detectives of all-time didn't have a clue.
Sherlock Holmes? After twins with colic, he retired and took up an addictive drug habit. Charlie Chan? He gave his colicky baby boys numbers instead of names. The word is, before battling infant colic, a well-groomed, articulate Columbo wore designer trench coats and tooled around town in a spit-polished Cadillac coupe.
About all doctors will say is that colic has something to do with Baby's stomach. Thank you. That is certainly enlightening. As a Father, you'll soon discover colic has a lot to do with SCREAMING and UNHAPPINESS and HOWLING and ANGER and BAWLING and SUFFERING and SCREECHING and PAIN and SQUALLING and EXHAUSTION and NOISE and all-around MENTAL ILLNESS.
Oh, and the thing doctors don't say is that approximately 99.6% of all sampled infants have colic. But who knows. Like I said, maybe you'll be unusually lucky.
Getting Your Father Act Together
So we already know you're likely to get at least a taste of this scourge called colic. But overall, what part should you play during this awkward time? How can you best help your wife care for this beautifully fragile being that you helped create — and are now responsible for?
Should you work quietly behind the scenes, giving support ($) and advice, settling disputes, offering assistance ($) on a regular basis? You know, sort of an "executive producer" type. After all, that's the only significant part you've played so far.
Or should you start setting the stage for a dramatic new approach to the old standards of Father-Infant care?
Should you bounce onto the scene with electrifying energy, innovative ideas and snappy enthusiasm? Saying brightly, "Hey! I'm a co-star in this show, a real up-and-comer (so to speak). Give me credit — let me take charge for the day. I'll be such a hit, I know you'll be proud!"
As an intelligent, devoted new parent (who also happens to be grossly undertalented) what, exactly, do you believe your new role should be? That is, without making a spectacle of yourself, how can you contribute?
The answer is simple:
STAY OUT OF THE PICTURE!
Still a non-believer? Do you still find yourself insisting on taking part at this time? Then let me explain it to you again in cold, cutthroat, Hollywood-studio style.
You've heard of the star system? Good. Pretend you're not a star. In cinematic terms, understand what a genuine hit is — a true blockbuster? Okay. Make believe you're involved in a Grade C horror flick that's going straight to videotape.
No, being a new father is not like being a star and playing a career part in a box office smash. It's more like being a hard-working character actor who gets good reviews but little publicity.
As Dad, you're the guy with the familiar name nobody can seem to remember. You did a fine job in a brief scene a few months ago, but now no one notices you on the set. You still have a few lines to speak, but you're not quite sure when you'll be called. All you know is someone in charge asked you to hang around just in case something comes up. Perhaps an action shot that requires a strong, father-figure type.
You said, "Sure. I'll be happy to help. What do you need?"
The person in charge said, "Well ... nothing right now. Just sort of step over to the side, you know, out of the way for now. Keep your pants on and stand there in case we need you. Or your wallet."
Please understand. There's no pleasure in reviewing this depressing Daddy debut. It's not easy being brutally honest to a fellow father. Especially those of you who dreamed of being sensitive and involved and respected on the postpartum scene.
But be patient. This humbling experience will pass. Sooner than you think, someone in your home will recognize you and call you by your real name. Of course they'll probably just ask you to empty the diaper pail. But that's okay. When the time comes, you'll be glad to do it.
But what about the poor guy who can't ignore his own eagerness to get into the act? If this is you, then at least do your family a favor and have someone ask you the following questions about basic newborn care.
Think of it as a type of screen test designed to weed out bad home-from-the-hospital performances.
If you answer eight out of ten questions correctly, tell your test-giver you demand star treatment — you're brilliant. Between you and me, though, any Dad who gets eight right is either 1) dishonest, 2) a man with a dangerous attitude or 3) too smart to enjoy making a nuisance of himself anyway.
Readers unable to enlist a reliable test-person should consider placing a book marker below questions so that answers are covered. This will help those blindly ambitious souls tempted to peek.
Special Screen Test for Ambitious New Dads
Take 1: One medically approved, proper way for a new father to hold Baby securely is much like a fullback carrying a football.
True or False?
Answer: True. The key word is "securely." Even though you may feel like a fullback cradling a pigskin, the difference is, there are no fumbles allowed on this gridiron — no matter how many carries you make.
Take 2: With dramatic flourish, the clever thing to do is offer to change Baby's diapers within 24 hours of his/her homecoming. (Preferably in the presence of visiting relatives and neighbors.)
True or False?
Answer: False. A shocking display like this is unwise and out of character. You could be stuck in the role of boot-licking sidekick — doing new damage to your old heroic image. Instead be fair and business-like, privately offering to change Baby if your wife will change the oil in the station wagon.
Take 3: Immediately after birth Baby demonstrates the ability to communicate with a number of distinctive "cries."
True or False?
Answer: True. The "distinctive" cries go like this:
a) nerve-grating whine
b) numbing, obnoxious wail
c) full-tilt, brain-piercing shriek
They mean Baby is:
b) awake and unhappy
c) awake, unhappy and hungry
Take 4: After twenty minutes of trying (and failing) to dress your three-week-old in a tie-string nightie, you should give up and call your wife for help.
True or False?
Answer: False. As you will soon discover with infant clothing (dozens of ties and snaps in the strangest places), it often requires twenty squirming minutes to figure out which strings match which.
Take 5: The effective, fatherly way to cope with a newborn's colic-induced screaming is to walk up to your wife with an armful of Maalox, Di-Gel and Pepto-Bismol, saying, "Would any of these be of help, Dearest?"
True or False?
Answer: True. From now until voting age, if your offspring becomes ill, this frightening yet innocent gesture should clear you of any responsibility or involvement.
Take 6: A newborn's favorite sound is its parent's voice.
True or False?
Answer: False. After listening to Baby for a few days, with the aid of fiendish inventions such as the wireless-remote infant audio monitor — you won't have any doubt about whose voice is his/her favorite.
Take 7: A proven method to protect yourself against Baby's frequent spit-ups is to place a cotton diaper or towel over the shoulder.
True or False?
Answer: False. The only way you can live at home and escape the effects of Baby's continuous discharge is to wear a full-length raincoat or plastic shower curtain refashioned as a cape.
Take 8: Upon observing your greedy offspring breast-feeding for the sixth time in one day, you have a sudden compulsion to cry out, snatch Baby away and take his/her place. Is this overreacting?
True or False?
Answer: True. Yes, this is a logical response for any sensitive man in touch with his true feelings. On the other hand, it's not too smart since it would most likely give your wife a heart attack. Repeat one hundred times: "No breast strokes allowed till Baby's old enough to swim. No breast strokes allowed till Baby's old enough to swim."
Take 9: Baby is just four weeks old; your wife comes to you suddenly in an aggressive, romantic mood. You should respond by ripping off your clothes, shouting, "Hallelujah!"
True or False?
Answer: True. This type of behavior is entirely appropriate since, according to surveys on the subject of postpartum depression, you are undoubtedly the luckiest man alive.
Take 10: One weekend you're out trimming the hedges and your wife calls you in the kitchen and asks if you're ready to try your first bath with Baby. Excitedly, you should switch the electric trimmers on and off, answering, "Wow! Sure! Can we play submarine, too?"
True or False?
Answer: True. At once, this response should project lasting impressions about your level of maturity, common sense and mental balance. All of which should keep you out of the bathroom and in the backyard where you belong.
END OF TEST
So how many correct answers did you record? If you scored below 70% (a failing grade), you're probably normal. Don't worry. Posting 70% or above suggests that you may be taking too seriously not only the test itself, but most likely your parental role as well.
I know, parental flunky or not, true flunking's still hard on the delicate psyche of any new sire. Let's just hope our special screen test has answered any questions you might have about your newborn ineptitude. You're probably disappointed, especially if you attended (as I did) one of those decidedly unnatural 'natural childbirth' classes. There they teach you that a father can play a major role straight out of the birthing suite. The instructor feels sorry for you, so she fills your head with pleasant propaganda designed to put you at ease and boost your confidence.
Well, this is merely a myth women create to help prop up our poorly constructed, gullible male egos. So what if they blend vital careers and perfect mother-care competence and still have enough time to sympathize with our trivial ego problems. Who needs that kind of compassion? Is self-esteem all that important?
I say we should take this beating like men. Admit new-age daddying is a hoax and get back to being our old-fashioned selfish selves. Why should we try to hog the scene when, in every direction, we run the risk of stepping on Mommy's lines and crippling the entire production?
Together, we should face the truth. We need to forget about grabbing headlines and being a hero and recognize reality:
Baby is the one and only star on this set.
So just keep to yourself for about three months. Stick to the den. Mow the yard. Go fertilize something like roses, for a change of pace. Work overtime when you can (it won't hurt — whether you're making money or just a good impression.)
Above all, now is the time to learn ... The Art of Being Anonymous.
The Art of Being Anonymous
Chances are, your mother-in-law will be running the household. Unless you have a keen interest in getting to know her more intimately, this is the best reason I can think of for you to take a bow and step out of the way for now.
The good news is your chances of achieving temporary anonymity get a major lift from the moment of your child's birth. Because — whether you like it or not — you will begin to lose your former identity. The first step seems to be an automatic, irreversible name change. Whereas previously you were known as Bob, Frank, Joe or some reasonable equivalent, for the rest of your life this will become a rarely used professional pseudonym.
Your new name will be something like "Dad," "Da-Da," "Daddy," "Daddy-O," "Daddykums," "Pa," "Pop," "Pops," "Papa," "Poppy" or "Pap-Pap." Much later it will become simply, "Old Man." Don't expect to be called something dignified such as, "Father." For you, the unknown parent, dignity is a quality of the past ... one you'll remember fondly after you slip into obscurity.
But for a few weeks, at least, you can pretend not to understand this bizarre transformation and make it work to your advantage. In other words, at home only answer to your true name when you feel like it. That way when you're hiding out somewhere in the apartment and your mother-in-law is looking for meaningful conversation, you can ignore her calls.
Later just say, "Gee, I'm sorry. I certainly didn't realize you were speaking to me."
Yes, it's a little sad, but so true. All the while Baby is busy developing his/her personality ... you're deeply involved in losing yours. However, this is a change you will learn to welcome with time.
Being a modern parent means being tolerant, loving, sensitive, informed, intelligent and totally confident. Male or female, learning to be perfect won't leave you any time for a personality, anyway.
* * *
Last-minute tips on anonymity and a happy postpartum home life (birth to twelve weeks):
You may want to make a copy of these and tape them to the interior of your briefcase or toolbox. In every case, these critical reminders will steer you right. Trust them.
DO stay late at the office as often as you can. This is always well accepted, considering your new financial burden.
DON'T bore work mates with repeated stories and multiple photo sessions. One presentation each is all that is required (or desired). Put the video in a vault so it won't frighten your offspring when he or she reaches grammar school age.
DO offer to run to the store for diapers, formula, wipes, powder, lotion or (adult) aspirin as soon as you arrive home from work. Monitoring and restocking these essentials on a daily basis can be one of your more dynamic roles.
DON'T question the cost of any baby-related product.
DO compliment your mother-in-law on every meal she is involved in even if it gives you acute gastritis.
DON'T, under any circumstances, ever inquire about the length of your mother-in-law's "visit."
DO tell your wife how beautiful she is at least three times a day because she may be suffering from depression, and so will you if you don't.
DON'T mention sex or the lack of it to anyone for any reason. Better yet, stop thinking about it altogether.
DO start a project in the basement or take up a new hobby to help you pass the time and stay out of the way.
DON'T waste time preparing a financial plan for your child's future or education. Your mother-in-law will present hers to you when she's ready.
DO surrender to mob scene (or obscene) gatherings of overnight relatives, giving them full control of cable/satellite programming without comment.
DON'T read the Entertainment section of the newspaper. Also, avoid Internet sites with critical reviews of stage or film. You will not be seeing theater or first-run movies for a very long time.
DO purchase a small black & white television with rabbit ears. Plan to watch it alone as your wife will be busy and your houseguests will not like sharing the big flat-screen.
DON'T even think about Internet access. If it's urgent, your brother-in-law will let you check your e-mail after 11:00 p.m.
DO smile frequently and happily accept your new role as a non-person.
Excerpted from Keeping the Baby Alive till Your Wife Gets Home by Walter Roark, Michael Carney, Meghan Roark. Copyright © 2002 Walter Roark. Excerpted by permission of Clearing Skies Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: You Poor Mother, You,
Prologue: The Male Misconception After Conception,
Chapter one Home from the Hospital (A Star Is Born),
Chapter two Poopies: a Sticky Situation, Top to Bottom,
Chapter three Feeding a Face Only a Father Could Love,
Chapter four Propagating Toys or Things That Go Hump in the Night,
Chapter five Infant Tyranny — a Devil of a Dilemma,
Chapter six Day Care Litters and Baby Sitter Jitters,
Chapter seven Secrets to Avoiding Infant Abuse,
Chapter eight First Steps/First Words: The Leaning Tower of Babble,
Chapter nine Fun and Games for Fathers and Other Fools,
Bibliography: The Top 20 Pop's Music List,