Now that I’m thirty-five, more and more of my friends are married with children. Not having kids of my own, it can be difficult to find anything in common with my guy friends who have settled down. Have they seen the latest season of Stranger Things? Nope, because they can’t get past the first episode without having to run interference on a bloody nose or a toddler trying to run naked into the street. And somehow I’m the deadbeat for having all that sweet, uninterrupted time to binge Netflix cartoon-free on Saturday mornings (I mean, afternoons, I don’t wake up in the morning).
Is it such a crime to have time to myself? It may as well be to parents with young kids. And then it dawned on me, why don’t I avoid all this judgment by just pretending to be a dad and tell them I adopted some kids? I put my plan into motion at a party when I overheard the following exchange at a Chucky Cheese:
Dad #1: “Dylan got his head stuck in the banister for the third time this week. At this point, we’re thinking he may be disabled… Can I still say that word?”
Dad #2: “That’s nothing, Abigail ate a toad yesterday. Didn’t even chew, popped it right in her mouth and swallowed it whole. I told her mom she’s on diaper duty.”
And then I chimed in:
“My little girl Constance has polio!”
This was my first stab at pretending to be a dad and it failed miserably. For one, no child is named Constance. Secondly, nobody’s had polio since FDR. It was at this point I realized I’d have to do a deeper dive into observing dad behavior so I could realistically portray one. This is what I learned.
Delete all the photos on your social media page that indicate you ever had a life before children. Replace them with a solid wall of photos of you with your kids (or fake kids in this case). Caption them with things like “I thought I was alive before but only really started living after I had children. They are my light. They are my oxygen. They are my everything.” For an added touch, comment, “Wait until you have kids,” on anything anyone ever posts.
Use every waking breath to turn the topic of any conversation to the welfare of your children. Talk about researching school districts and how you moved to Essex County in New Jersey (even though you couldn’t afford it) to get the kids into Millburn Township. Do you know what Montessori is? Learn it.
Buy a massive flat-screen TV with surround sound and the latest Roku Ultra, but only use it to watch Bob The Builder and PAW Patrol. Talk about all the movies you started watching but have only seen the first scene of because you’re too tired. “Five minutes in and we’re in Snoresville! Population two. Ha!!”
In the middle of any conversation, suddenly grab your chest and exclaim, “Holy lord! Where is Carrie!? Oh there she is. Phew!”
At the guys’ poker night, bet low and joke that all your savings are going to the kids because you’re such a great dad. Anytime you get up from the table, groan loudly and reference the immense strain your two-year-old has been putting on your lower back. Really sell it. Give ‘em a solid, “AAAAAAH—WHOAA—YEAAAH—THERE—WE—GO—WOOF!”
Wake up at 5 AM every day in order to develop deep rings underneath the eyes. When talking, fall asleep mid-sentence, then wake up and keep going as if nothing happened.
When around people who don’t have kids, make them as uncomfortable as possible by asking how wonderful their lives are. “Oh my God, I bet you guys did so many amazing things this weekend. New York City on a Saturday, no kids, ha, jealous! I bet you’re having soooo much sex. Bill and I haven’t seen each other naked in 42 months. Our lives are about the children now.”
As a dad, your comedic sensibility drops to the level of a 5-year old. So, tone down the cynicism and take the edge (i.e. humor) out of it. Tell really bad jokes. Here are a few for your arsenal:
- Where do sheep get their haircut? At the bah-bah shop.
- I don't trust stairs. They're always up to something.
- I dreamed about drowning in an ocean of orange soda last night. Then I realized it was just a Fanta sea.
When you feel the urge to go beyond the surface in conversation, don’t. Talking about anything substantial may cause other dads to question their life choices and freeze up in existential angst. A few acceptable topics are:
- Baby gate installation
- Hot dogs
- Car seat installation
- The drawings on your fridge
- Baby gate installation again
- How they can use the toilet now
- World peace
If anyone asks why your kids are never around, tell a traumatic story then change the subject. “Sara’s freakishly strong and she’s very big for her age, we only let her out of her kennel on special occasions. So how old’s Julie now?” If you’re in a pinch, drop the name of your hard-to-get-into pediatrician’s office at Columbia Medical Center and talk about how wonderful and attentive they are. Call the doctor “Susan” to show that you have a deep, personal connection with her, all because you care about your kids.
And finally, last but not least, never forget to talk about how special your child is whenever possible.
“Timmy just learned how to use a fork without stabbing himself in the head. Our child therapist says he’s way advanced for his age.”
“Really how old is he?”
Now get out there and pretend to be the best dad of your dreams. You can do it you childless bastard.