A Daddy's Duty...No Pun Intended

I will be the first person to say that I don’t have the whole father thing figured out. You might be inclined to think otherwise, considering the amount of practice I’ve had with my own four kids, my two nephews, and my niece. You might think that. You would be wrong.

Fatherhood is perhaps the most daunting task an engineer (my chosen field) can undertake. There’s no training class for it. You can’t order an instruction manual. And the outdoor channels on digital cable don’t have any 30 minute shows on proper fathering, even though they do air two-hour seasonal specials on settling the great debate regarding the proper way to field dress a water buffalo.

Recognizing the great chasm that exists between what dads-to-be actually know and what dads-to-be should know, I felt it prudent to do my part to bridge this immense knowledge gap. And it was without a moment’s hesitation that I determined the first topic to address.


If you are some sort of weird sadist who derives pleasure from seeing strong, mature, grown men shrinking in retreat out of sheer terror, then carry a ten-month-old with a diaper that’s about a pound and a half overdue into a 24-hour fitness center. It is the polar opposite of opening a box of fresh donuts at a Weight Watchers meeting. One minute, huge hulks of men are throwing iron bars around like recess at a federal penitentiary; the next the same men are darting for the door, fighting for the stalls in the restroom, or squeezing behind the yoga pads.

I believe the aversion to diaper duty on the part of the male gender is instinctive. Just like knowing that the cute puppy that the kids want will one day grow up to be another shaggy cur that chews his favorite shoes, a guy is not fooled by the “decoy” diapers of the first few months of a baby’s life. He realizes that the days of light, odor-free diaper changes are short-lived, and all too soon Junior will be cranking out swollen plastic masses that if dropped from a bomber on a U.N.-member nation would be considered blatant violation of the Geneva Convention.

Alas, the modern father does not have the luxury of leaving such tasks to his lovely bride, lest he be labeled a chauvinistic pig. Or worse. Thus, I have compiled “Jeff’s Diaper Survival Guide for Otherwise Tough Men” specifically for the dad of today.

• Drop a buck or two on the good ones. Guys like me are always looking for a bargain. In most cases, that’s a noble initiative. Uh-uh. Not here. I don’t care if your last name is Scrooge, there is no more humbling experience than escaping through the back door of the church potluck carrying a toddler that looks like she just struck oil, only because you were able to save $2.13. Plus, I’m firmly convinced that the absorbent in the off brands is fabricated from some sort of resin made from fish parts; it’s easy to know when your kid is wet, as it smells a lot like low tide on the opening day of shrimp season.

• Buy stuff that fits. This should go without saying, I know. Yes, diapers for smaller bottoms do cost less per unit. No, it is not acceptable to have your child looking like he is wearing a plastic string bikini.

• Unless you have an extremely strong stomach, do not dispose of any well-soiled diaper in a receptacle inside your house. For that matter, you might want to avoid disposal in the same state.

• When your moment to shine comes, don’t miss it. Right up there with getting a date with the homecoming queen, bagging your first trophy buck, or completing a major bathroom remodel is emerging from a green toxic cloud with a fresh-bummed kid.

I have a plethora of additional points to share, but unfortunately I need to make a prompt exit. There is a strange and putrid smell coming from the general direction of my baby boy’s room, and if my wife sees me here, I might be forced to go in there.


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