Due to popular request, I bring you this month's edition of The MetroDad Mailbag. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, this is where I employ the vast wisdom of my 21 weeks of fatherhood to answer readers' questions. As usual, I offer you only the caveat that I have absolutely no real professional experience in this field. These are just one man's opinions. As always, feel free to agree or disagree. And if you have a specific question you'd like answered, e-mail me and maybe I'll answer it in next month's column. Enjoy...
MD...From your previous installment of the mailbag, it seems that you watched a lot of television during your youth. And from what I can tell, you seem to have turned out ok. So maybe you can help me with my teenage daughter. She's 16 years old and watches more television than any kid I’ve ever seen. In fact, on weekends, she never wants to even leave the house! It drives me crazy! She doesn't go on dates. She doesn't socialize with her friends. She just sits in front of the tv all weekend. Do you think this is normal? Do you think I should intervene?
William...When I was young, my parents forbade me from watching television during the week. So, needless to say, my entire weekends were pretty much spent sitting in front of my family's wooden television set. Friday night was the Dallas/Falcon Crest double header. And Saturday night was reserved for Love Boat/Fantasy Island. Nothing could pull me away from the television during those times. Anyway, this arrangement worked out great until I turned 16 and discovered something even more fun than television...girls and beer. For a brief period of time, I struggled to reprioritize my new interests and forgot about my first love, television. But sometimes, fate and opportunity intervene in ones life. And in 1984, fate, opportunity and NBC intervened to bring me Miami Vice, the single greatest television show of the 1980's. After that, all bets were off. No Friday night dates. No hanging out with the boys. No sneaking out of the house. Nope, Friday night was reserved for Crockett and Tubbs. Up until 1988 when they added Sheena Easton to the cast, everyone knew where I could be found on Fridays at 10:00.
My point here is that you could have worse problems than having your daughter staying home and watching television all weekend. Would you rather she be out hanging with a bad crowd? Would you rather risk her getting into trouble and being a pregnant teen? Would you rather have her snorting crystal meth all weekend? As I always tell the BossLady, be careful what you wish for. I know a guy from high school who spent his entire childhood watching television and never had a girlfriend. He got accepted early to Harvard and ended up dropping out because of his addiction to the boob tube. Now, he makes over $1 million/year, writing for the Simpsons. Just something to think about...
Metrodad…I’ve been dating my girlfriend for almost eight years now. Things have always been great but lately I’ve been getting pressure from people who say that it’s time for the two of us to get married. But even though I love my girlfriend, I’m not entirely sure that she’s “The One!” We don't have a lot in common. So how do I know for sure? Is there some kind of litmus test? Please, MetroDad, I need your help! How did you know BossLady was the one for you? What should I do?
I hear ya, Steve. I love the BossLady. But don’t get me wrong. There were moments where I had my doubts about her. For example, BossLady is allergic to alcohol so she doesn’t understand the beauty in a great glass of Bordeaux or a perfect martini. Not only did this make me feel like a total lush during our early dinner dates but, when she ordered a Shirley Temple, I started feeling like Humbert Humbert. And as much as I love BossLady, she has absolutely no appreciation for classic 70’s rock. She actually thinks it’s hysterical watching me freak out by asking me whether it was Led Zeppelin or Boston who sings “Sweet Home Alabama.” But the only time I seriously considered breaking up with her was when we were watching the movie “Rudy.” She didn’t cry once. Even though I’ve seen the movie 20 times, I practically bawl through the entire film. How do you not cry during that movie? You’ve got to be some sort of Nazi vampire not to cry. (No offense to any Nazi vampires who read this site.)
So what made me propose to the BossLady? Well, I like to compare a great marriage to the Jeffersonian paradigm of a great democracy. Rather than focus on our differences, we should embrace them and thus earn a greater appreciation for our commonalities. And in the BossLady, I’ve got a great woman who enjoys going to baseball games with me on lazy summer afternoons, who shares my love of X-Men comics, who will sing Cure songs with me to the baby and who also believes that Popeyes Spicy Fried Chicken is the 8th natural wonder of the world. As for the litmus test? There actually does happen to be a really simple one. If you can't live without her and your heart literally hurts when you're not with her? Then, she's "the One." Plain and simple, my friend. Good Luck!
MD...My husband and I have 6 kids. We're done! As much as I love my kids, I don't want anymore. The hubby and I are fine with this decision. There's only one problem. He wants me to get my tubes tied and I want him to get a vasectomy. Short of flipping a coin, can you please help us decide who should have the operation?
-Suzanne, Lubbock, TX
This is a tough one, Suzanne. Personally speaking, I'm very protective of my penis. Not that I go around wearing a cup all day or anything but let's just say that I don't let anything sharp get within a 5 foot radius of my penis. I don't even read the newspaper naked because I'm afraid of possibly getting a paper cut. So needless to say, the thought of getting a vasectomy scares the hell out of me. But that being said, I've always told the BossLady that if I could be the one to get pregnant and endure the trials of labor, childbirth and breastfeeding, I certainly would. Now, we all know that these are pretty empty promises due to the physical impossibilities. But unfortunately, a vasectomy is one place where I could put my money where my mouth is. And though I keep scanning the New England Journal of Medicine to see if a new technology has been invented that would allow me to avoid a vasectomy, it doesn't seem likely that I'll be able to escape the procedure. So like the petty man that I am, I would say to you that I think your husband should definitely have the vasectomy. Because misery loves company and if I have to get one, he has to get one too.
MD…You gotta help me out. I think I’m turning into my father! The other night at dinner, I actually snapped and screamed at my son, “Don’t even think about leaving this table until you finish all the broccoli on that plate, Mister!” Holy Shit, man! What happened to me? I used to be so cool. I drove a motorcycle, hung out with models and played drums in a band. Now, I’m sitting here in suburbia hell and yelling at my kid to eat his broccoli? How the hell did I get here? Am I really destined to be a grumpy old man like my father was? I don't want to be like him. Help!
-Scared in Seattle
Dear Scared in Seattle...Some men feel like parents during childbirth. Others men don’t feel like they’re initiated as parents until their child gets ill for the first time. But for many guys, the cherry of parenthood really gets busted when you yell at your kids to eat his vegetables.
I have an African-American buddy of mine who was a rapper for quite awhile. He wasn’t a hard-core gangsta rapper but more of a free-flowing, hip-hop lyricist. My point is that he wasn’t exactly anyone’s definition of Ward Cleaver. Anyway, the first time he screamed at his son to finish his vegetables, he almost had a total meltdown. He couldn’t believe the words had come out of his mouth. He called me in shock and we talked about it for awhile. I told him that while it was important to lay down ground rules for his kids, he still needed to be himself so his child would get to understand his father's unique personality as being more than just the family authoritarian. I guess the conversation helped because my buddy called me a few months later. He said his young son had finished all his vegetables without being told, politely wiped his mouth with a napkin, turned to him and said, “Hey Kunta Kinte, I finished my vegetables. Now, what’s a young brother gotta do to get some motherfucking cheesecake around here?” My buddy was never prouder.
MetroDad…As a new grandmother, I’m absolutely head over heels in love with my son’s daughter. She’s so cute and adorable that I want to see her every day. All I do is think about her. When I’m not with her, I call her house every single day to see how she’s doing. Sometimes, I even call their home 3 or 4 times a day. It’s like I’ve lost interest in everything else. I'm simply obsessed with her. I know I drive my son and daughter-in-law crazy with all the phone calls but I just can't help it! Can you blame me?
-Granny in Love, Florida
Mom…I don’t know how you found this website but step away from the computer and lose this URL. I just told you five minutes ago that the Peanut is doing fine. And no, she hasn't learned anything new since this morning. We'll call you when she does. Now, go bother your other son. Don't you think it's time HE settled down and got married? I really think you need to talk to him. We're starting to think he might be gay. Have you ever thought about that? What would all your conservative friends think about that? Better start intervening in his life on an hourly basis. I think you need to call him several times a day and speak to him. Ok, gotta go! We'll talk to you later this evening, ok? Buh-bye!