Welcome to the May Mailbag, my friends. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, this is the part of the program where I employ the vast knowledge I've acquired during my 28 weeks of fatherhood and answer your monthly e-mails. As always, we preface the segment by stating that I have absolutely no formal training or professional experience. Furthermore, the answers stated here are of my own personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Johnnie Walker Black Corporation, Phillip Morris or BuyBuyBaby. That being said, let's turn to this month's e-mails...
Dear Metro...My older sister got married two years ago and recently just gave birth to a beautiful little girl. I couldn't be happier for her. We come from a large family and every new arrival is cause for great celebration. My only complaint is that, at all these family gatherings, dozens of relatives keep hounding me and asking me when I'm going to get married and have a baby. It drives me crazy! Although I do want to get married and have kids someday, I'm just not ready at this stage of my life right now. How do I get everyone off my back? Help!!!
-Robin (San Diego, CA)
Hey Robin...I share your pain. Although I was the eldest of all my cousins, many of the younger ones ended up getting married before me. Every time I went to one of their weddings, all my old aunts used to come up to me, poke me hard in the ribs cackling, and tell me, "HaHa! You're next!"
They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.
MD...The missus left me in charge of the twins last week while she went up to Tuscaloosa to see her mammie. Now, I had me a lot of things to do around the house so I plopped the boys in front of the television and let them zone out to their heart's content. I thought I had the tv set on Nascar weekend on TBS. But the dog must have stepped on the remote when I wasn't looking and I saw that the boys were watching Lifetime for the whole weekend. I hates to say it but i think my boys may have been turned into what you New Yorkers call "metrosexuals." I saw something about that on Oprah awhiles back. Now, don't get me wrong. I still love my boys but down here in 'Bama, people don't take a shining to young boys who paint the barn magenta, wear ascots with their denim overalls and paint their toenails. Help me out, man. What can I do to get my boys back? Quick! My wife is coming home in a few days!
-Bobby Joe, Birmingham, AL.
Dear Bobby Joe...As a self-admitted metrosexual, I think there's always a line in the sand that a man should never cross. Although I love getting massages at the spa, it'll be a cold day in hell before you ever see me getting a seaweed wrap or a green tea facial. When men cross this line, we here at MetroDad like to call it Mantropy. The concepts of low-carb beer, lightly tinted glasses and male waxing apall us. Anyway, it seems your boys have clearly crossed the line. That's what a weekend of watching Lifetime can do. Unfortunately, I think you're going to need to use scare tactics. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Friends of mine in NYC have a 7 year-old son Christopher. Recently, Chris has been trying on his sister's makeup and trying on her clothes. This was cute for a little while (especially when he started singing show tunes like a young Barbara Streisand). But lately, Chris had been refusing to sleep in anything other than a pink floral sundress. This was when my buddy lost it. He turned to his son Chris and said, "Ok. You can sleep in your sundress all you want but don't come running to me in the morning." Chris looked at his father and replied, "Huh? Why?" To which my friend stated with a look of extreme seriousness and yelled, "Because if you sleep in that dress, when you wake up, your penis will be gone!!!" Needless to say, Chris immediately ripped off the dress and jumped into his Teletubbies pajamas.
If these kinds of scare tactic don't work with your boys, I'd suggest you resort to re-programming your sons with a massive amount of manly activities for a whole weekend. Try hunting, working on the car, going to a strip joint, watching WWF and dirt-bike riding. If all else fails, seek professional help at mantropy control.
MD...I've been a father for about three weeks now and I think I'm losing my mind. The sleep deprivation is killing me. I feel like a zombie half the time. I'm making mistakes at work. I'm walking into walls. I think last night was the worst. The kid literally cried all night long. My ears are still ringing and I feel nauseated from the lack of sleep. I feel like I’m some sort of CIA guinea pig being experimented on by scientists studying sensory deprivation torture. Please help!
-Marcus, Chicago, IL
Hey, Marcus. Don't worry. The first three months of child-rearing are utter hell. I can't tell you how many nights I woke up staggering because the baby was crying. Oftentimes I was so exhausted, I'd end up putting the diapers on the dog. It got to a point where I even started snorting lines of baby formula to keep me awake (try Similac.) But all kidding aside, I've got some advice for you. The key thing to realize is that you can no longer rely on getting a solid night's sleep. You've got to retrain your body to take cat naps at any opportune moment. One of the best places to catch a few winks is on the toilet. Seriously. Also, try skipping lunch and sleeping under your desk. As long as you're not a snorer, you should be ok. And if all that fails, what can I say? Be a man and suck it up! Stop whining! After all, your wife carried the baby for 9 months and then went through the pain of childbirth. The least you can do for her is have some sleepless nights and let her get some rest (or at least that's what I keep telling myself.) And if that doesn't work, cash out the 401K and hire a 24-hour baby nurse for a few weeks. Just make sure she's ugly as sin so the wifey doesn't get jealous.
MD...Since you're a self-admitted pop culture whore, I was just wondering what you think about television today. My kids have the worst taste in television. I keep telling them about how great tv was when I was growing up as child. I know you've said in the past that Miami Vice, The Dukes of Hazzard, Fantasy Island and The White Shadow were your favorite shows during your formative years. But what's your TIVO recording these days? And are any of them appropriate for kids?
-Papa Smurf (Los Altos, CA)
Dear Papa Smurf...This season, I've been fairly into "Lost" (although I wonder whether Matthew Fox's comeback means that he's too cool to participate in a "Party of Five" reunion, the most underrated show of the 1990's.) The show has terrific action and I love the multi-racial U.N. casting. I'll still include "The West Wing," if only for old-times sake but also because the season finished strongly. For a little while, I was into "Desperate Housewives" but then my testicles dropped and I realized that I'd rather watch reruns of the Devil Rays playing the Royals than watch a bunch of dysfunctional Stepford wives leading their lives of quiet desperation. Besides, for some reason, all the women on the show started to really annoy me as the season went on. They all kind of remind of being single when I was in my early 20's, when you don't really know what you're looking for in a mate so you get all excited at the beginning of a relationship but then a few weeks later, you realize that you made a huge mistake and that the girl you're dating is absolutely bonkers. I know all you guys know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, sorry to digress. As for kid-friendly programming, I think the absolute best show to watch with your kids is "American Idol." Your kids can vote for their favorites on the show, thereby getting their first taste of democracy in action. You can all discuss for whom you're voting and why. A friend of mine with several kids uses the show to teach his kids important moral lessons. For example, he told his kids that he couldn't vote for Scott Savol because the rotund crooner had a history of domestic violence and spousal abuse. And hitting a woman is NEVER excusable. He told them that he voted for Nikko, not because he liked his singing but because Nikko was the son of Ozzie Smith, arguably the greatest shortstop to ever play the game of baseball. He also explains to his kids why Simon is the best judge of the three, noting that life is not a popularity contest but about sticking up for what you believe is right. Great lessons to be learned there. Besides, how exciting would it be for his kids if one of their favorites ended up being a real superstar. After all, Alanis Morisette was discovered on Star Search. Stranger things have happened.
As always, friends, e-mail me your questions or post them in the comments and I'll try to include them in the following month's mailbag. To see previous editions of the Mailbag, here are the ones from February and March.