Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dad's Diary: Beyond the First Five Minutes

By Scott

Way back on August 4, 2005, two months before Jack was born, I said the following to some friends of ours: "You know that five minutes when you hold someone else's baby, then you hand it back? I'm good up to that point, but what do you do after that?"

I was serious. That was the extent of my exposure to babies. And, at the time, that was enough. You get to hold someone else's new baby for a short period of time, remark at how unbelievably cute she is, make silly faces and sounds, and quickly give the little tike up when she starts making sounds of her own.

Ultimately, dads are forced to learn on the job. First-time moms seem to have a natural leg up because of that maternal instinct thing; no one ever talks about a paternal instinct. For us, it's baptism by fire because we, apparently, have no instincts. I will admit to being clueless at the beginning. I had never changed a diaper before Jack came along. But at some point you're forced to do things of which you never thought yourself capable. Like the ribs day. Jack was rarely sick as a baby, but a summer Saturday was just one of those days.

We were headed to lunch at this great place for ribs. Halfway there, out of nowhere, Jack threw up all over himself, the car seat, the backseat of my car, the door and whatever else was within his projectile vomiting range. The scene and the smell were awful. We pulled to the side of the road and quickly evacuated the car that I thought would never be the same. Jennifer immediately went to remove vomit-covered Jack from the vomit-covered car seat, which resembled the aftermath of a gallon of vanilla ice cream left inside a car on a hot day.

When Jennifer started to gag and was rendered useless in the cleanup effort, I had to take over. I picked him up and, remarkably, was oblivious to what was now all over my hands and shirt. And believe me, I have a weak stomach. I handed off Jack to Jennifer and got to work on the car's interior, which I thought was ruined. Luckily I had a towel in the back of the car and there were wipes in the diaper bag. After a 15 minute cleanup and decontamination process on the side of the road in 100 degree heat, we were finally ready to hit the road again.

We went straight home. No ribs. And I learned a lot about what you do after the first five minutes.

:: Dad's Diary appears Sundays on ::

1 comment:

B and G said...

It's great to get the father's point of view. So much focus and attention is (properly) focused on the relationship between the mother and the child that often a new father can feel left out. So much of it seems to be just leaping in and taking an active part. Perhaps it isn't instinctual in the same way it is with mothers, but there's no reason the father can't be just as important. As a soon-to-be dad, I treasure reading posts from the father's point of view. My wife and I have started a "he said, she said" blog on the topic and would gladly welcome any visitors to When it comes to becoming parents, it seems there's no such thing as too much information. Thanks for sharing your point of view!