I love being a dad.
I need to start off with that, because this post might make you think otherwise. Starting with a title that asserts that parenthood is where bachelors go when their wicked days are over doesn't help either, I'm sure.
Raising a toddler is like living with a super-villain from a really bad, cliched comic-book. You start out with an origin story whose popularity is directly related to a gory and outlandish event. In this case, it's the
You put him behind bars, which is a big mistake.
In comic books, imprisoned super-villains fall into two categories: those who brood and wait to be broken out, and those who become more powerful and dastardly, crafting terrible plans and developing new strategies, and eventually break themselves out.
Toddlers are like that villain when he's figured out the guards' patrols and has lined up his heroic nemesis' weakness. They learn the combination of the cute d-bag and exploit it without mercy. You try to establish a routine or interrupt their plans, and they devastate you with an impromptu red-faced hissy fit, tossing and turning on the floor. This will often happen in public, because toddlers--like burgeoning super-villains--love to have an audience of
"Raising a toddler is like living with a super-villain from a really bad, cliched comic-book."
And every good super-villain prides himself on ruining the hero's most special moments. Killing their romantic interests is usually a safe bet for the comic book antagonist, and a savvy toddler will try to do the same between mommy and daddy. The constant assault on the daddy's literal progenitor is usually a great and easily repeated way of doing it, especially when coupled with the NRBB--No Reason Bedtime Bonk. That's when you're in bed, and your loving wife innocently invites the toddler in just so he can smack your junk before bed. Or better yet: to start your day. It's a real Folger's moment: "The best part of waking up is drop-heel to your nuts."
But the thing that is most precious to the father of a toddler: Saturday morning. The chance--or rather, the illusion of a chance--to sleep in is one of the most dizzyingly sweet rewards you can get after a long week of working, daddying, and nerding. And the boy envies that most of all. He sets his sights on your Saturday morning, puts wheels in motion, and without fail your precious sack-time is twisted into a morass of growling threats and red-faced mortal combat.
"...toddlers--like burgeoning super-villains--love to have an audience of
idiot innocent bystanders."
A few months ago, I was
"Daddy. Up. Up Daddy."
Ugh. I rolled over and flopped a stubbornly-still-sleeping hand towards my cell-phone-cum-alarm-clock. I only wanted to sleep until eight. Just an hour more... I rolled over an glared a twilight-myopic Telltale Heart eye at the door and the imagined baby assaulting my sleep, saying:
"B'cky! Jus' gimm 'ther m'nut sleep!" My face was still buried in the pillow, and my mind still trying to latch back onto my recurring Terminator dream.
"Up. Up. Daddy. Up." He said insistently, but without variation.
I shut my eyes. If he wasn't going to raise his voice, cry, or start doing damage, I was just going to phone it in, too. My eyelids shuttered and rolled me back into the skull-infested future where only I could save the girl from the endless hordes of stupidly slow zombie-machines. Du-dut-dut...du-DUT! Du-dut-dut...du-DUT!
My eyes snapped open. I sucked in breath and felt my chest seize in Dad-panic.
I don't hear anything.
"No, no, no, no," I babble as I flop out of bed and tilt on unsteady legs to the bedroom door, without glasses or any clothing other than socks and my Captain America boxer-briefs. (Yes, I have a pair, and yes you can see them.) I swing it open: oh good--his door's still closed. But there's plenty of danger in his own room for The Boy to find, and I needed to check on him.
"Comic book wisdom: not getting any recent reports of activity from your arch-nemesis is always a bad sign."
I open the door and see my son. Naked.
"Pshew!" The Boy says, throwing both his hands forward in an Iron Man dual-repulsor blast.
A gullible and sleep-derived lunatic, I fall into the trap and smile at my cute, R-rated Marvel fan. Then I go to the side of his crib to scoop him up and put some decency on him. I step into a puddle of pee on the carpet beside his crib. Pretty fresh, too (I'm ashamed to say I know), because it was still a puddle and sitting more or less on top of the carpet--all the better to soak into my socks. Then, as I overcame the urine-shock and went to pick up my son, I noticed a brown smudge on his crib sheet. And blanket. And an overturned, wadded up diaper.
I trembled in horror as my nose testified to the chilling truth. My son, who was now sweetly cuddling against me, with both arms wrapped around me and his head on my shoulder, was covered in excrement. From his jaw to his pudgy toes, he was a giggling smear of poo. And there were chunks that were big enough to rub off on me. Now, I couldn't very well let him go--I wasn't going to have him Cat in the Hat Comes Back his pestilence all over the house--so I had to hold him tightly against me with one arm while the other stripped off the crib bedding and tried to clean his mess as best as I could. And meanwhile, my suddenly affectionate son decided to rub my hair.
Oh yes. Mine is a truly diabolical son.
So we hopped into the shower together and shared a good cry while I tried to put to rest this insidious dream of a nice Saturday morning.
What's more, later investigation revealed that the pee had not gotten within the confines of the crib at all. The pint-sized mastermind must have pooped, stripped his diaper, rolled around, and then stuck his winky through the crib bars to deliberately pee onto the floor where the dreaded Daddy would stand.
Super-villainy most foul.