Thoughts and plans of a pre-parent

I just hope to not have a picky eater.

Holy crap, I’m going to be a parent.

Since when did I become mature enough do to that? I mean, it wasn’t really that long ago that I graduated college, started my job at the Courier-Herald, and got married! It all happened so quickly!

Truth be told, I never thought I’d be a father. I always thought I’d be the fun uncle all my nieces and nephews would want to play with when I visited, because I’d let all the adults do the adult things like make food and drink beer and talk life, whereas I would want to do all the kid things like play hide-and-seek and video games (oh, and drink beer, too).

Then again, I didn’t think I’d get married, either, nor did I ever dream I’d settle down in Enumclaw of all places — but looking back, those were some of the best decisions I ever could have made, and though I’m not normally a gambling man, I’d bet the house that deciding to be a dad is going to be one of the best decisions I’ll ever make as well.

Not right away, of course. I mean, let’s be honest, babies aren’t that fun, and I’m expecting to have a lot of sleepless (and beer-less) nights once the little crotch goblin is born. If I could just go straight to having a toddler — you know, a being that can more-or-less communicate in an effective manner, has moderate control over its bowels, and can basically manage to stuff nutrients into the proper face hole on its own — that would be wonderful.

That’s my favorite age, by the way. Toddlers are just so gosh-darned cute with their little outfits and pacifiers and what can generously be defined as fine motor control. Old enough to have a personality, but still small enough to where I can transport them elsewhere when their personality gets to be a little too much.

(I’m positive more than a few of you will have the privilege of witnessing me exiting the QFC with a screaming child in tow. I simply will not negotiate with terrorists, no matter how abysmally they behave in public.)

Oh, but you probably want to read more about the baby and less about me.

Well, there’s not too much to tell at the moment — Kathryn just passed her 13th week and, despite the ever-present morning sickness (why do we call it morning sickness when it never goes away), cravings for foods I despise (I hate pickles, and peanut butter’ll literally kill me), and the sudden development of a super-human sense of smell, everything seems to be going A-OK!

(There was one heart-stopping moment when we thought we were having twins – what a life changer that would have been. My grandmother had twins, and the first thing she said when she found out — on the delivery table, mind you — was, “Bob, go fetch that 2-for-1 crib coupon I threw away in the trash earlier today.” It’s my goal to be that unflappable when our kid is born.)

One of the most exciting things about this process is the fact that we don’t know the sex of the kid. That’s right, we opted to keep it a surprise for when Kathryn delivers! (So apologies to anyone who was hoping we’d burn down a national forest during our gender reveal party).

Of course, everyone is asking us what we’re hoping for. To that question, I don’t really have an answer — so long as the child is healthy, I won’t mind having a boy or a girl.

Clichéd, I know, but at the end of the day, my parenting experience is going to be so much more defined by the kind of person our child grows up to be, rather than what parts they’re born with. The only superficial thing I’m hoping for is that they get my red hair (and not get whatever genes are responsible for my receding hairline).

Well, that, and not be a picky eater. Because at the end of the day, I think I’m prepared for a lot of things my child is going to be — deliberately contrary, inexcusably disorganized, and unbelievably loud (exactly what age do they develop a sense of volume control?) — but I know I’m going to have a hard time with a kid who just. Won’t. Eat.

My kid and I are going to fight. Some I’ll win, others, I’ll… let them win. But God as my witness, I will stand firm in the Battle of You Will Not Leave This Table Until You’ve Finished Your Plate.

(Of course, now that I’ve admitted this fear to the universe, I’ve pretty much guaranteed my child will be the most fastidious consumer of nutrients on the planet, no matter what I do ­— so watch this space for my eventual column, “Refuse, Repine, Rebellion: The three Rs of a picky eater”.)

I’m also prepared to be as stalwart in the never-ending War Against Bedtime and occasional Skirmish of How Much Screen Time You’re Allowed To Have. It’s important to be prepared.

But weirdly enough, I’m looking forward to those moments. Not just arguing with my mini me, but everything — all the blessings and joy and pain and disappointment and the utter unpredictability that comes with having a child.

Because at the end of the day, I’m going to love the little sucker, no matter what happens.

And I’m starting to think that there’s no better reward life can throw your way than being a parent.

(Well, that, and a nice, cold beer at the end of the day.)