When my wife traveled through the baby-shower circuit four years ago for Isabelle, and then later on for a second mini-shower tour for Lorelei, she was, to my surprise, irked about the guest list. She felt somebody important was missing: me.
And she had a point. The baby shower is like the kickoff to the parenting game. Not inviting fathers sends a distinct message to dads: The parenting details are for the moms. Dads, don't you worry your pretty little heads about diapers, baby clothes, pacifiers, and complicated things like mobiles and teething rings.
So the next time I learn that one of my friends is going to become a father, I plan on throwing a shower for him. Yes -- a baby shower for dads. It's an idea whose time has come. I wish I could say this was an original concept, but I recently read about a group of men in Washington state who did just that for one of their father friends. So to all the expectant dads out there, consider this column my gift to you. Show it to your male pals and let them throw you a baby shower.
Here's everything they need to know:
Invitations I myself would send out a formal invitation to show the guys I'm serious, but you know your friends better than I do. If you think they'd never attend a baby shower -- even one for dads -- send them an e-mail saying something along the lines of: "FREE BEER. My house. Saturday. 7 p.m. FREE BEER. Bring some diapers or a baby toy. OR NO FREE BEER." Trust me, they'll come.
Decorations Anything goes, as long as it's tastefully done in deep-dish pizza and chicken wings.
A new twist on shower games?
Games Any baby shower worth its salt has to have games. So turn on ESPN. Better yet, play Nintendo.
Okay, okay, there are also some more standard shower games I can recommend. "Guess the Poopy Diaper" is a classic: Traditionally, what you do is buy a dozen or so different types of candy bars and a package of diapers. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and dump each messy candy-bar glob in a diaper. Hilarity ensues as everyone guesses the candy bar in each "dirty" diaper. Here's how I've reworked this game for dads: Skip the diapers and the microwave. Eat the candy bars.
Then there's the game I came up with on my own: "What Happened to My Wallet?" The dad-to-be counts to 100 while guests hide his billfold (after using his debit card to order a few pizzas). The expectant father will be amused as he searches the living room -- and the kitchen, laundry room, and basement -- until he finally finds it crammed into his DVD player. This game gets the dad used to the idea that his money will forevermore be out of his control, and that prying little hands will put valuable items in unexpected places. The game also works well with car keys (which can be handy when picking up pizza) and Rolex watches. (Hint: Dad-to-be will never think of looking at the local pawn shop!)
Gifts Tools are the way to go. Between the crib, the baby swing, and childproofing, there are tons of projects for a dad to do. Think cheap but helpful: Knee pads for all the time he'll spend on the floor searching for missing screws, a magnifying glass for reading minuscule instruction manuals, and a bottle of Advil for the headaches he will have after trying to read said instruction manuals (in Japanese, of course).
Gag gifts are fun, too. Get him a pair of ear plugs and suggest that he slip them in at night so he can honestly tell his wife he didn't hear the baby crying. Or Photoshop a doctor's note detailing the dad's skin allergies to infant urine and feces, absolving him of ever changing diapers.
Stereotypes aside, I really do believe men should be included in the baby-shower tradition. We dads are parents, too, after all. The Associated Press wrote an article about the men in Washington (50 members of a military veterans organization, no less) who threw a baby shower for one John J. Sweeney. "There's no reason why expectant fathers can't be given showers," said one of Sweeney's friends, who then predicted, "This idea should sweep the country."
I hope he didn't hold his breath. Though I recently read the article, the article isn't recent. John J. Sweeney attended his own baby shower in 1935.
Geoff Williams is a Babytalk contributing editor and freelance writer in Loveland, Ohio.