As a physician, one would think I should be pretty smart: using good judgement, calm deliberation and forethought, making the right decisions…that kind of thing. I can assure you that I do these things when taking care of patients, so don’t be alarmed if you happen to run into me in the hospital. But when it came to raising my kids, well—let’s just say these traits don’t always translate so naturally.
It’s not like I was totally unprepared for raising children. In medical school I studied some of the psychology behind children and adolescents. During my pediatric rotations, I watched how experienced pediatricians interacted with their little patients, noted how they got them to laugh and relax so they would cooperate for their physical exam. I also had plenty of opportunities to develop my interactive skills with kids on my own. Surely, I must have picked up some parenting skills from all this. They say nothing can truly prepare one to be a father, but in general, by the time my wife became pregnant when I turned thirty two years old, I felt ready to rear a child of my own. My wife even made sure that I read one of those baby/parenting books that teaches about baby psychology. But alas, none of this came close to preparing me for what was to come in fatherhood.
Growing up, I had always imagined that I would be like a combination of my own dad and Mr. Brady from the ‘70’s television show: responsible, structured, understanding, and fun. I looked forward to the day when I would be head of my own household. While many teenage kids probably look ahead to their college years or their twenties, I couldn’t wait to be a thirty-five-year-old dad with a big house and a big yard in which to play with my kids. As it turns out, I am no Mr. Brady.
Now, as I reflect back on my early parenting days, I see my struggles with a sense of humor, as I suspect many other experienced parents do. While it didn’t always seem so at the time, the stories I tell people are really quite comical and worth sharing. Some of these stories were so outrageously funny and ridiculous even at the time that I actually shared them on emails the next day with my brothers and friends. I saved those emails, and when I went back to read them years later, I thought they might be entertaining enough to arrange into a book or blog format to share with a broader audience.
I get mixed reactions when I tell some of these stories. Many people can relate and empathize to exactly what I was going through, whereas others (usually mothers) simply laugh in disbelief or are incredulous that I could even get myself into such an absurd situation. Don’t worry, this is not a just a collection of self-deprecating tales of parental mistakes, I will include some success stories and heart-warming ones as well.