Note: If you are a new mom (or expecting), it is medically necessary that you navigate away from this page! Information contained herein may trigger hormonal imbalance, hot flashes and rage.
Much of co-parenting is love and support and openness and sharing. The rest is getting the other person to care for your offspring while you rest. Even before you have kids, people sagely advise you to “catch up on sleep while you can.” As if sleep was the first two seasons of Mad Men.
Unless you were a baby-daddy on 16 & Pregnant, you will never fully escape the less rewarding duties of fatherhood. But you can put your thumb on the scale of parenting justice. Herewith, a few tried and true techniques of scoundrels, rogues, and knaves.
Getting out of bed in the middle of the night for a crying baby. Fortunately, nature favors fathers here. Moms have specially contoured ear canals that amplify a baby’s cry. That’s usually enough for them to spring out of bed like a Pop-Tart from a toaster. What’s more, men are biologically evolved to fake-sleep through crying.
Sometimes, after what feels like pulling back-to-back shifts in a med school residency, a sleep-deprived mom will try and nudge you into action. She may even start throwing elbows. Take the blows. Even though you also heard the baby’s cry, it is crucial that you feign deep, immovable slumber. You might even drool, for effect. More often than not, mom will just mumble something about men being useless [no argument here] and go soothe the baby herself.
Changing Diapers. Oh man. How often are you presented with a Poppin’-Fresh™ poop and the words, “It’s your turn.” Turn? We take turns? How wonderfully equitable! So when is it your turn to assemble IKEA furniture? Or maneuver our luggage into the trunk?
A generation ago, fathers weren’t expected to touch diapers. Ever. It was like we dads were all super-strict vegans. And diapers were turducken. But then Harry Chapin recorded Cat’s In The Cradle and we all had to become super involved.
My fave technique for avoiding a diaper change is to be in the middle of something extremely important – something vital to the uninterrupted operation of domestic life. I usually go with “troubleshooting the wi-fi network.”
The Method: Stare at the computer screen with alternating expressions of desperation and determination. Say something like, “Looks like I’m gonna hafta redirect the DNS servers, junk the VPN, and rebuild the firewall from the ground up. But don’t you worry. You get that diaper – and I’ll have our network back up in a jiffy.”
(If for some reason your wife knows more about broadband internet than you, improvise. Take the grill off the refrigerator and mutter something gritty like, “The compressor is running a little hot. I’d better blow out the radiator, replace this gasket, and recharge the condenser.”)
Getting the kid dressed to go outside. Threading little hands through sleeves requires the kind of dexterity possessed only by 13 year-old Filipino seamstresses. That’s why they make all those clothes for the Gap. Just before excursions is an opportune time to mysteriously disappear into the bathroom. How is this accomplished? Just remember: Anything in italics is possible.
Your first move is to never announce that you’re going to the bathroom. You must instead employ a humorous or ominous metaphor. Say, “I’ve gotta go ride the porcelain Honda,” [humorous] or “I have a 7:45 conference call with the president,” [ominous].
Next, don’t pull some amateur move like grabbing a section of newspaper on your way. This will telegraph your intentions. I keep a Kindle stashed in there for just this purpose. The Wife doesn’t even know it exists.
Finally, by exploiting a few rudimentary principles of quantum physics and string theory, bathrooms can be made to function as time portals. I once read an entire Lee Child book in there, and still emerged in time for a family outing to the park.
Accident prevention. Fathers often get scolded for not spotting the baby when s/he is courting danger. But let’s face it: the kid’s not Evel Knievel. She’s not even Kerri Strug.
You might be in the middle of pouring a precision brewed cup of coffee – or perhaps executing a delicate newspaper fold – when suddenly you’re expected to drop everything and teleport across the room to avert a possible catastrophe?
You can neutralize the situation with rhetorical questions. “How else are they supposed to learn?” Assert that you read in a book the importance of learning by doing. (The book part is important, since nothing on the internet is credible.) Cite important sounding pedagogical precepts like “heuristic learning.”
You should be okay as long as your baby doesn’t get hurt… or if she does, as long as her crying swiftly subsides. (“There-there… she was just scared, poor baby.”)
Okay that should be more than enough to buy you a few hours extra sleep each week. Use this information wisely. Do not share with the ladies.
Bro’s B-4 ho’s. G’s-up ho’s-down. Semper Fi.