In the fifth grade I had a girlfriend named Alaina, who was very pretty and, being so attractive, deserved a good kissing. I was too scared, though, because she was a take-charge kind of girl who always got what she wanted, so much so that she made me get her pregnant.
Well, sort of.
Alaina called my house one night and said she had some big news. A friend was with her, and they were all worked up about something. I thought she was gonna dump me, but it was just the opposite: Alaina and I were about to start a family.
“I’m pregnant,” she said.
I didn’t know what to say, but it was probably something along the lines of, “Mmmphokducktales.”
I was scared. I thought I was in a lot of trouble because I was only 10 and had miraculously knocked up some chick I’d been dating for, I dunno, nine days. After a few minutes, I hung up the phone and walked to my room. I laid down on my bed, Ferris Bueller style, and — suddenly — pure excitement coursed through my veins.
“I’m gonna be a dad,” I said to myself with a huge grin.
I knew it didn’t make any sense to have impregnated someone without so much as kissing her. But I dismissed all rational thought that night: Nothing was going to separate me from my baby.
It was all a prank, of course, but the story is true. Last week’s story of how I found out my wife is pregnant was far less shocking, primarily because I actually had something to do with it. And the fact that it’s real makes it even more exciting and, mostly, incredibly weird.
The pregnancy was supposed to remain a secret for several weeks longer, but my wife treats a secret like it’s a severed head that just landed in her lap. (“I can’t hold this thing anymore!!!”)
Within 10 minutes of receiving the result of our positive blood test, she posted a photo of a stick she peed on to her Facebook page, and then came a lot of congratulatory comments and phone calls and text messages. It was a great day.
But it was also bizarre. No one in the history of humanity has been more ill-prepared to be a dad than I am. I still feel like an 18-year-old who wants to spend his days drinking Capri Sun, eating frozen chimichangas and watching “Billy Madison.” How am I gonna raise a child to be of any value to society?
If you’ve ever seen me hold a baby, you’ll know that it’s a bad mix. My technique is this:
- Firmly grasp the child with both hands
- Lock your elbows so that no movement can occur
- Stare directly at the child and never divert your eyes for any reason
- At the first sign of the child’s discomfort, awkwardly pass the child to the nearest person
- Exhale and wash hands thoroughly
Hopefully the sheer terror of holding a baby subsides soon because I don’t think one can be a worthwhile father without ever physically touching his kid. But since we’re on this whole holding-the-baby topic, I do have one requirement.
Someone better give my baby a bath before I hold it the first time in the delivery room. All newborns (and I mean ALL of them) look like slimy, heroin-addicted goblins right out of the womb. I’m happy and excited to be in the room for the whole process, but before you hand me the baby, you better at least toss it down a Slip ‘n’ Slide to clean it off.
I’ve seen pictures of the delivery room scene. I might wear a hazmat suit. Mama didn’t raise no fool.
Nonetheless, I’m excited. Freaked out, for sure, but primarily excited. I’ve already told you what the baby’s name will be if it’s a boy, which will make this whole process even more badass. And having a girl would be equally great, no matter how many people tell me that raising a teenage daughter is more grueling than riding in the Tour de France with one leg.
So we’ll see how it goes. Somewhere in the world, Alaina from the fifth grade is weeping at the thought of what might have been…