Shortly before our firstborn came into the world, my wife and I attended those "parenting prep" classes at the hospital. When the nurse in charge wasn't scaring the daylights out of us with THE movie or making a rather disturbing analogy with a soda bottle and a mayonnaise jar (think about the circumference of a soda bottle's opening vs. that of a mayonnaise jar, and you'll get the picture), she was offering practical advice. The most useful, it turned out, was directed toward the potential moms in the room.
She said, "Moms, don't pay attention to the way Dad does things."
Now before I get started, I want to make it very clear that this is NOT going to be one of those "silly fumbling Daddy just can't get the poopy diaper right" deals that seems to pass as high comedy on today's sitcoms. I detest that nonsense and, frankly, find it insulting. However, it is true that my wife and I do certain things differently. For example:
• I have washed my son off with the sprayer in the kitchen sink. I'm pretty sure my wife has not.
• I told Grace that sticking raspberries on the ends of her fingers is "funny." I think "rude" was the word my wife used.
• I've noted that I think it's a riot when Grace's poo-poo "looks like tortellini."
I'm sure you see where this is going.
Anyway, one of the biggies is hair. As I've noted before, I'm not good at doing girl hair. I can pull it up into some semblance of a ponytail, but there are always wispy stragglers waving about her face. I defend my "daddy-do," as it's called, as "natural-looking."
My wife, on the other hand, brushes that mop until it gleams and manages to get all of Grace's hair into the elastic through what I suspect is a miracle. Plus, once up, her hair stays in place all day. It's really something to see.
Dress is another issue. William has a hand-me-down T-shirt that I absolutely love to put on him. It says "For Sale: $75 or best offer." It's a hit at story hour and really shocks the ladies at the grocery store. My preferred outfit for Grace is a New England Patriots jersey and some jeans. My wife likes to, as she puts it, "dress her like a girl." I guess I can see the point, as she is cute in a dress, but does she really need to look like Holly Hobby every day? No.
Finally, let's talk about the nighttime routine. I admit that I'm a sucker. Our routine is, roughly:
• kiss and hug
Grace is extremely skilled at suckering me into "just one more book." She blinks those little Bambi eyes and next thing I know we're on book number seven. I emerge from the room wiped, and my wife is smirking on the couch. "How many books did you read tonight, dear?"
"Three," I say.
"Liar," she says. "You're a sucker."
Yeah, I probably am. But the way I figure it, that makes up for everything else.