After reading nearly seven books on parenting, two on baby names and a weekly newsletter devoted to everything pregnancy, I can safely say that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Sure, I know better than to name the kid Saddam or let him drink alcohol before he's smart enough to get a fake ID, but I'm not sure I know what to do in the ever-important emergency situation.
And I mean REAL emergency situations.
Any doctor can tell you what to do if you child is running a fever, but he can't save you from leaving the pumpkin seat on top of the car—with the child in it! He can tell you how to properly bandage up a scraped knee, but can't tell you how to cover up the incident (grocery cart race) that caused the scraped knee. And, don't even think about asking him what to do if you leave the kid at the casino.
Seriously, what do we pay doctors for, anyway?
That's why I've decided to turn to the experts in this field: TV Dads. While I know this may sound a bit unorthodox, it's not as absurd as you'd think. "Everybody Loves Raymond," "According to Jim," "Homer"—these guys wrote the book on parenting for the real emergencies that fathers face. So I started studying them all in-depth, learning the ways of the absent-minded father. I took notes. I highlighted those notes. I sniffed the highlighter for several minutes.
Scenario #1: You're enjoying a pleasant afternoon with your child, lounging around the house, doodling in a Spider-man coloring book. You turn your head for two seconds (OK, more like the entire 5th inning) and, when you look back, your child has conveniently shoved a red crayon up his nose. What do you do?
Answer: This is no time to panic. Take another crayon, say the green one, and stick it up the other nostril. Grab two straws and shove them up your nostrils. When your wife returns, tell her that the two of you were pretending to be walruses. This will not only come off as cute, but also will score you bonus points as it will make for an excellent Christmas card.
Scenario #2: Your buddy Roger buys your little girl a permanent marker as a joke. The joke will obviously wear off when your wife, who is taking a nap, eventually wakes up with a wall full of squiggly lines—and a mustache. What do you do?
Answer: Find every empty beer can in the house and strategically place them all around your sleeping wife. If you have to, chug a few cold ones to make sure you have enough. Draw a mustache on yourself then place the marker in her hand. When all the pieces are in place, fake a police siren to wake her up. When she gets up and asks you what happened, just shake your head in disgust and tell her that you can forgive her for drawing on the walls, but it'll take awhile for you to get over her "Mustache Party." [Also, remember this when Roger becomes a parent: "Hey kids, who wants a bucket of paint?"]
Scenario #3: The baby has dumped a load on the carpet because you (dad) were too busy using his diaper as a beer coozie. What do you do?
Answer: Quickly buy a dog, give it to your wife as a present when she gets home from work, and let her hug and kiss you for the generosity of finally giving her the dog she's been begging you to get for years. Moments later, pretend to notice the mess on the floor, scream at the dog, announce that you will not tolerate such behavior and immediately return it to the pet store.
I must have really aced that quiz, because when we finished
In retrospect, I'm not sure if shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" offer the best parenting advice. The dad is always doing something stupid, and I don't want to be a stupid father. I want to raise the bar for dads everywhere. And I promise that I will.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got more highlighters to sniff.