Unlike women, who magically know everything, men have to rely on Google. And yet, men still fumble, especially when they become dads. That's why Genghiz Khan never dealt with diapers. He went out and conquered the world. He knew handling children was tougher than that. But us modern dads think we can do anything. We are also megalomaniacs.
Young dads, first time dads, unfortunate-accident dads, they all need a guide, something that helps them figure things out right away. Well, this is not it. But it will surely make them feel a little less alone. First rule of being a dad: you don't know anything. Most new dads are clueless. So for those new dads always feeling like fools, here's 178 clues on how to go about one of the most complicated jobs in the world.
Let the good times roll
The 9-month period from conception to inception is the last time you have a normal life. It's a practice period where you give in to the wife's whimsical fancies of eating ice cream in the middle of the night. Be glad it's not mud she wants because some women are on record for doing just that. It even has a name: geophagy.
It's also the time to contemplate names. You may want to call your son Awesome Dino Ninja Warrior or Little Monster but let good sense prevail. Listen to the wife. You don't have a choice anyways. Try this trick. Stand outside the door and call the name loudly as if you're mad at your child and you want him in front of you in an instant. If it sounds right then, it will be alright in the years to come.
The water breaks
A dad can have water breaking moments too and it is just as panic inducing for people around a dad. I'm talking about crying. The first time you see your child, your water barrier will break. You will cry. If not, you're Batman (Superman cries too). But the worst comes the day you give your child the first vaccine. They never take it well. That's the first time I saw my son bawl. Non-stop. Nothing would stop him, not the dogs, not the car keys, not even the deed to the car. It's scary. Then there's the first time they trip and fall and cut their lip. You cry because the wife will kill you. They say there's no greater wrath than a mother upset.
The holy grail of sleep
I laugh at people who say they only managed to sleep 4 hours last night. Sleep? I laugh at sleep. I laugh mainly because chronic lack of sleep has made me uncontrollably hysterical. The last time I slept straight for 4 hours was October 11 2010. The next day my boy was born. Other parents say proper sleep will take years to happen. Some mentioned post-college. I laugh. So I sleep in the office pretending I'm thinking hard. I sleep in traffic. But a 4-hour stretch is a faint memory. Newborn babies require feeding every hour. Newborn dads, if not rich, famous or ruler of an autocratic nation, are not getting any sleep.
Money down the drain
As a guy, dads must have spent money on gadgets, women, bad investments and in my case, car upgrades. Money disappeared but nothing is quite like seeing your money going down the drain in the form of a diaper. Stinky sordid mess. And in the winter, a newborn needs so many diapers a day to stay dry, you really don't want to calculate. Suffice to say, I could have bought the engine I wanted. Twice. Advice for new dads, don't calculate. Your job is to keep the baby dry. Which brings us to the next point.
We've come a long way since men would hunt and grunt and scratch their way through society. We still do the same but now we have good perfumes. Yet, a new dad is a walking dumpster. Get used to the wetness. You will be pooped, drenched, spat, burped and thrown up on in regular frequency. Learn to live with it. Remember, we now have good perfume.
You're number two
So by now you realise your world revolves around your kid. I changed a job because sleeplessness was getting in the way of driving to work. Bosses no longer accepted that I was lying under my desk with the excuse of looking for something for over an hour. My beloved car was washed once a….well, it was washed once. Computer games get bought, loaded, yet never finished. My side of the bed is now a foot wide. I'm quite wider.
In an earthquake, the wife bolted with the kid. Then she remembered she was married and sent the dog to call me out. You're lucky if you're number two in everyone's priority. But then the kid will call you out at night calling you Ba, Da, Boo or whatever and suddenly you feel number one again.
It's all a lie
As a parent, new dads start to notice that there are other weird people around them. Other dads and mums. And other parents always have advice and observations. Many will tell you their child is an angel. The kid eats right, she sleeps perfectly, he never fusses and even knows how to set the internet settings on a cell phone before the first birthday.
Statistics show these are almost all lies. Children are little monsters. We love them, but they are monsters. They will cry, wail, nag and like modern cellphones, they will recharge completely in a 5-minute nap and stay up for 2 hours past midnight. And they will smile, beautifully, angelically even. And you will forget all the pain.
The first everything
A newborn comes out of the womb not really wanting to be outside at all. Who can blame them? We've got global warming, no petrol for V8 engines to run freely and people like Justin Beiber 'singing'.
So the first few months babies really don't give a hoot as to who you are. As a dad, it bugged me that all the silly things I did to get others to laugh, my son treated them with utter disdain. Turns out, the first few months babies don't recognise anything other than moving shapes, the sound of their mother's voice and in my son's case, the dog. I was a distant fourth. It was truly humbling.
But then comes a day when you do something and your kid smiles. Somehow that feels like you've just won the lottery.
You're officially a bore
What dads of yesteryears did with photos in wallets, we do it with the power of the internet. Make sure your phone is the most current that can show pictures at the flick of a finger. Facebook is ready and waiting to accept all the 478 shots of your kid on his first birthday. The day he walked, smiled at a girl in the supermarket aisle, pulled the dog's tail, bit the dog, destroyed your 1:18 scale model of a Grabber Orange 1969 Ford Mustang, these are all moments to be shared. And you don't' care what people say. Cause you're a dad.
So that makes it only nine out of the 178 clues I promised. My boy is only one year old so I still have a long way to go. For now I am too busy watching out for all the weird things he does. It's only a short moment before your bundle of joy is too busy with what we call life. Enjoy it, because too soon your kid will ask you the most dreaded question of all: can I have the car? Oh, and also, where do babies come from? That's when the real worrying begins.
By Ehsanur Raza Ronny
Model: Aayan Raza and Ehsanur Raza
Photo: Sadia Islam and Adnan M S Fakir