Lately, the Champ seems interested in everything I drink. If I take a sip of water, he’ll lock his eyes on my Imo’s Pizza mug from the counter to my mouth. He does this while I’m carrying him in his BabyBjörn, which requires some impressive neck-craning.
This morning, he reached for my Monster Energy can. Without hesitation, my expertly honed journalist brain recognized an opportunity to take one of the Great Types of Baby Photos: Baby Pretending To Do Something Dad Does.
I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for a month and a half, and I was supposed to be a famous daddy blogger by now. I had the big-picture stuff all planned out: A steady stream of review products and display-ad revenue followed by a huge advance on my bestselling book. Before long, CBS would turn my Twitter account into a sitcom, and morning shows would fly me in for parenting advice. I vaguely remember including some ideas about supporting a working mother and raising a baby boy.
And then, just as I was remembering how awesome I am, “Saturday Night Live” tries to take me down a peg with “You Can Do Anything!” In the sketch, Bill Hader and crew lay some thick sarcasm on YouTube-famous kids, blaming their obnoxious self-esteem on over-encouraging parents:
I guess my success as an energy-drink reviewer makes me part of the “YouTube generation” they’re lampooning. But the wake-up call is too late for me. I just walked away from an eight-year career in online journalism. I spent a lot of that time angry that my immense writing talent wasn’t getting me more public recognition, even though I wasn’t writing most of the time.
In fact, the real reason I’m launching this daddy blog is because I NEED YOU TO TELL ME I’M A HILARIOUS WRITER. You think I’m a good dad? Fine. You think my baby is cute? Whatever. Just tell me I write good. I need your validation to sustain the pie-in-the-sky fantasy outlined above.
Is there any chance my 4-month-old son could grow up with more realistic expectations? I’m starting to worry that I’m coddling him by indulging his near-constant need to be held. He’ll go to school in an era of hypersafety and criminalized bullying, and there’s a good chance he’ll never get punched. Is that really a character-building experience I should want for my boy?
“The world needs more singer-songwriters, and fewer doctors and engineers,” Vanessa Bayer says in the sketch. A New York Times article just told me that what the world’s corporations really need is a precise, nimble workforce of human drones willing to live at the factory and put in 12-hour days six days a week.
I think I might temper my son’s dreams by telling him he should aspire to a meager existence in the Orwellian future factory-cities of Foxconn USA, assembling iPhones for a thriving middle class in China and India.
Who am I kidding? This guy is obviously a star, and nobody will ever tell him any different.