I’ve tried it five times, in fact. Yes, count them: five! The oldest is 15 (going on 18), and the youngest, who I’ve mentioned before, is almost two. I don’t think I’m very good at fatherhood. At least not the part that comes after the child is born. And the part before that, you don’t have to be very good at. Any male with the proper plumbing can do it. (In fact, come to think of it, proper plumbing is no longer a requirement these days.) It’s the next 18-20 years that are the hard part. It’s those years that I don’t think I’m very good at, even though I’ve had more practice than is healthy or reasonable.
You’d think I’d have a handle on it by now and should have some bits of wisdom to pass on to other fathers, but the whole thing is still largely a mystery. I’m just an annoyance to the teenager; the 12-year old is deaf, or seems to be by the amount of attention he pays to what my wife and I tell him. And I’m just not the type to play Power Rangers with the 7-year-old and 3-year-old. The littlest one still thinks I’m the greatest invention since her blanket, but even that can change on a dime, like when I won’t let her have chocolate or play in the toilet bowl. So yeah, I don’t know. I’m making it up as I go along and just hope I don’t do too much damage to them in the process.
But I have learned one secret in my 15 years of fatherhood. An infallible, always-right answer to some of parenting’s biggest questions. Women, mothers primarily, have already figured this out, so I’m spelling it out for the benefit of the guys. Here’s what I know for sure about fatherhood: Always Carry Wipes. You see, babies are moist creatures. And by the time they turn 2, what used to be moisture on them instead immediately becomes crusted and only a long soaking in the tub will take it off. Unless you catch it early and have wipes within reach. And even if the kids aren’t with you, you’ll need wipes because you’ll undoubtedly come in contact with something sticky they have touched, and it will be all over you like flies on poop before you can say “What the hell is this?” They come in all sizes of packaging now, so there’s no excuse for not having some on your person at all times.
So this Father’s Day, guys, do yourself a favor: buy some wipes. Next time you take the little ones to a playland by yourself, whip them out when the 3-yr-old smears ice cream on his little sister. You’ll impress all the hot moms who are there with their children. They might even tell you, “My husband wouldn’t have wipes if I wasn’t with him.” Act all nonchalant about it, like the wipe-wielding in-control father that you are, and tell them you learned all you know about fatherhood here at IveTriedThat.com.