(Copyright 2008 by Valentine J. Brkich. First printed in the June 2008 edition of The Point North magazine, Wexford, Pa.)
So the other day I’m walking down Main Street with my wife and my baby. It’s a beautiful spring day, the sun is out and I feel energized after a long winter indoors.
As we make our way along the sidewalk, my wife is pushing the baby in the stroller; I am walking alongside, just ahead of the stroller, so that I can see the baby. Of course, as we walk, I’m also making goofy, embarrassing faces at her (the baby, not my wife). I do this because it makes my daughter smile, and nothing makes me happier than seeing that big, toothless grin.
Then I walk straight into an iron railing.
Somehow, while making silly faces at my baby, I fail to notice a handicap-entrance ramp and its accompanying metal railing. The top part of the railing hits me right in the sternum; the lower part makes direct, forceful contact with the soft part of my right knee. Thankfully, there is no contact with the middle part of the railing.
The collision stops me dead in my tracks. Suddenly, I’m hopping around in agony, my wife is on the sidewalk, laughing uncontrollably, and my baby is giving me one of those are-you-really-my-daddy looks. This is fatherhood: a land of hidden dangers and deadly, man-eating, handicap-entrance railings.
I’m a clumsy person as it is. Throw an adorable little baby into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I can’t take my eyes off of her. This can be dangerous (as we have seen) when doing things where forward vision is imperative, such as walking towards an immovable iron railing.
The Land of Fatherhood is beset with peril. Take the dreaded Pee Attack, for example, which can strike at any number of times throughout the day. One minute you’re changing a diaper, the next you’re dodging a fountain-like spray of fresh urine. Meanwhile, your baby just lies there, expressionless and unapologetic. At other times, your baby will use her innate cuteness to manipulate you into losing your inhibitions. Suddenly you’re making silly faces and babbling sounds in public places like restaurants, grocery stores and the D.M.V., completely unaware that you’re being watched. By the time you come to your senses, it’s too late and humiliation sets in.
These are just some of the hazards of fatherhood. Some cause physical injury, others leave you mentally scarred and publicly disgraced. And this is just in the first several months. Who knows what terrors lay ahead in the teenage years? (Heaven help me.)
Bruised sternums and egos aside, these hazards are a small price to pay for the immeasurable joy your baby brings you. Just watch out for the pee—it really stings the eyes.
Valentine Brkich is a freelance writer and a hazard to himself. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.