Posted by: laughs4dads | November 5, 2010

New Cars and Old Jeans

Ask mothers and fathers what the best age for children is, and you’ll get very different answers.

For mothers, a child is like a car; they like them best when they’re new and shiny, with that wonderful new baby smell. If they thought they could get away with it, they’d trade it in every couple of years for a new one. If you doubt me, watch the face of the mother of a three-year-old when someone else in the room has a newborn with her. The toddler’s mom is about one tick of sanity away from leaving her kid by the curb in a bad neighborhood with a pacifier in its mouth so it will get stolen and she can collect the insurance money. Mom will love the child forever, but never as much as she did when she first drove it out of the showroom.

For fathers, on the other hand, a kid is like a pair of jeans, much better after they’re broken in. I’m not saying they don’t love their babies. It’s just that kids are much more enjoyable once they actually start doing stuff. There is, after all, a limit to how long dad can spend trying to have a catch with a being that cannot sit upright.

For mothers, it’s all about dependency. The more the child depends on mom, the better. For fathers, it’s more about activities. The more the child can do, the better.

Communication is also a much bigger deal for fathers. Mom likes all the gurgles, and trying to decode the various types of crying. Dad is more like, “Oh, just tell me what you want already!”

Mom can sit contentedly for hours making little cooing sounds and relishing the softness of her baby’s hair; dad will pace around the house like a dervish with the kid slung over his shoulder so it can burp. But once that kid can, say, go on a fishing trip, man, they’ll just get on a boat with a six pack and both of them will burp an afternoon away.

Mom, meanwhile, will be home looking at baby pictures.

It’s probably all evolutionary stuff, instincts hard-wired into our little primate brains. Thousands of years ago, mom would nurture and protect the child until it was old enough to go out on the hunt with dad. Dad would grunt to his friends about the extra mouth to feed until the kid was old enough to become an asset. And everybody would be wondering if they were the ones who would eventually evolve into humans, or if they were the freakish branch on the tree that would eventually die out, so why the hell were they going through the motions?

It really isn’t a matter of love. I loved Casey from the moment I laid eyes on her. But I enjoyed her more when she got older, when we could play games with rules, and do stuff that we both liked, and share jokes at my wife’s expense. And Barbara’s love for Casey is limitless and everlasting.

But, still, to a mother, there’s nothing like the smell of talcum powder in the morning.

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