Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and serves as complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I’m not cut out to be a parent. I say that every morning. Rather, I think it as I’m limping out the front door with two reluctant children, a sippy cup, two lunches intricately planned by my wife, and a thermos of coffee, leaking steadily onto the tile floor. Only a few short years ago, I was enjoying the autonomy of a stack of pancakes, not a single parental concern as I mindlessly watched SportsCenter and sipped orange juice without interruption. Of course, life changes drastically when you suddenly have children to raise. I expected that. But what I didn’t expect were the ways in which its intricacies could blindside me without any notice at all.
My two sons, Antonio, 4, and Nate, 2, have taught me more about myself than I actually care to know. For one, they’ve taught me that I’m able to shout much louder than I ever believed I could. They’ve taught me that getting hit in the groin is still intensely painful no matter how underdeveloped the hitter’s muscles are. Mostly they’ve taught me to expect embarrassment. It’s all part of the gig, really.
To fully introduce myself to you, the reader, here are a few of the most memorable embarrassments I’ve faced as a parent.
1. Can you turn that down a little?
On my way to the grocery store, my shuffled iPod playlist yielded the ferociously aggressive Metallica song, “Master of Puppets.” Stressed out, I cranked the volume and serenaded fellow drivers with the deliberately intense chorus. As I peered into my rear view mirror, I noticed I wasn’t alone; both my sons were in the backseat. And yes, they were absolutely horrified. I’m sure it didn’t help that the lyrics included “Obey your master!” They’ve been on a healthy diet of yoga music ever since.
2. The mystery buckle
It was my first time taking care of both my kids solo while my wife, Sonia was out of town. I decided it’d be in my best interest to take them out so they didn’t get bored with me or realize I’d run out of ways to entertain them. Five minutes on the road and I noticed my younger son standing in the back seat. As in, just wandering around on foot. I pulled over into a gas station and was completely perplexed. Was my son that dexterous at 15 months that he could manipulate a car seat buckle? No, he wasn’t. I was just a fool who forgot to buckle him in. I begged my older son not to rat me out to his mother. Naturally, it was the first thing out of his mouth when he saw her.
3. Spell it out for me
Since neither of our sons have the ability to hear an assortment of letters and make a word out of them, my wife and I occasionally spell things out that we want to keep the boys from understanding. So while having his diaper changed, my son Nate was hiding a little bit more than just a bowel movement in his Huggies. I turned to my wife and asked, “Did you see his B-O-N-E-R?” So, of course, our older son began marching around the house, loudly chanting those letters to the tune and tempo of B-I-N-G-O. So, we added a new word to his vocabulary that day…
4. Don’t cry for me in public
The first daycare drop-off is a rite of passage for most parents. And it’s excruciating. It means so many things. It means you’re giving up control, that your newborn is no longer a newborn, and that you’re going to cry like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias . It’s simply going to happen. Even for guys. It certainly did for me the first time I had to drop my then 4-month-old son, Antonio off to be cared for by women whose names I’ve already forgotten. Surely, he was too young to know or care that I was leaving him there for the day, but that made little difference to me as I bolted for the exit, probably pushing a toddler out of the way in the process. By the time I got into my car with the door closed, I was a blubbering mess, a true wreck of a man. Tears started to drip from my face onto my khakis as I glanced to the left, noticing a young boy standing outside my window, with a look on his face like he’d just witnessed an alien abduction. His mother yanked him by the arm and muttered, “Don’t stare!” The lesson to be learned here is to remember when you don’t have tinted windows.
5. Gorilla warfare
This past April, my wife and I hosted my older son’s 4th birthday party. Every minute detail was Jake and the Neverland Pirates-themed, right down to a climactic treasure hunt where the kids would smash a treasure chest piñata and collect candy. But my cousin Brian had an idea to take this idea to another level. For reasons that would likely frighten me to know, he had a gorilla suit stashed in his car. So the two of us hatched what we thought was a brilliant scheme of having him wear it and surprise everyone near the end of the hunt. So, as planned, Brian emerged in the gorilla suit, interrupting my niece mid-swing, stealing the piñata away and raising his arms to wordlessly indicate victory. And the children were absolutely terrified. They screamed, they ran away, it was an epic party foul and failure. Parents had to console their traumatized children while my one aunt pleaded with Brian to abort mission. Ultimately, my wife was much less upset about the scaring of the children, though, than she was with the gorilla suit clashing with the pirate theme.
At the end of the day, though, despite my (generally) isolated failures as a father, I know that simply being present in my kids’ lives is a mark of success. My blog entries will cover everything from annoying baby-naming conventions to the awkwardness of being criticized on your parenting by a complete stranger. I thank Jill Cordes and Sherry Huang for the opportunity to share my stories with you all.
What are your most embarrassing moments as a parent? Feel free to leave them, and any other feedback, in the comments section–which is on facebook!
* Photo of man with bag on head courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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