"So," Chelsea simpered to the handsome actor, "you just had a baby."
Chelsea doesn't have children. I could tell this immediately, even before I Wikipedied her to make certain I was correct. No woman who has ever had a baby would say to a man "You just had a baby." Mothers know they are the ones that had the baby. Saying a man had a baby is one of those cutesy, postmodern expressions regarding childbirth, like calling the huge swollen abdomen of a pregnant woman, pulsing with the growing needs of a hungry, parasitic organism, a "baby bump."
Men don't have babies. The entire nine months his mate is pregnant, the faithful male's function is merely to buy her food, and to offer his support to her effort to abstain from forbidden alcohol by not drinking himself. "Oh, well," he thinks as he buys a pint of Ben and Jerry's and a six-pack at the local convenience store, "batting .500 would make me a major baseball star, so what does she have to complain about?"
The only other pre-birth obligation of the male is to attend birthing classes so he can become the "coach" at the delivery of the child. "Coach" in this instance means "the person in the delivery room who will be studiously ignored by everybody present except the woman giving birth, who will curse him and wish him dead."
Even after the infant comes home from the hospital, fatherhood doesn't entail much at first. You can change diapers. You can boast that this unpleasant chore compares to the one of actually pushing a baby out of a hole in your body, if you like to be sneered at, denied sex and have your intelligence rated unfavorably next to that of a bucket of wet sand. If your wife breast-feeds, that lets you off the hook for nourishing the child as well. She still can't have alcohol, so cracking open a coldie and watching her fondly while she does this is not recommended.
After about seven or eight months, the baby wants to start crawling around. This is your first real chance to leap into fatherly action. The house has to be child-proofed. The crawling baby will put anything on the floor in its mouth. Child psychologists offer several explanations for this, the most convincing being that, disillusioned and depressed by its lot in life, its only recreation being firing poop into Pampers, the baby wishes to kill itself.
Most of the stuff on the floor is yours, so you have to pick it up. All of it, not just the hacksaw blades and the rounds of ammunition. Buttons, USB cables, pens, coins, leftover supermarket bags—these are just a few of the items that can be used by the baby in its mission to injure itself. Once you have made your home totally free of sharp or swallow-able objects up to a height of three feet, you can let the crawling baby loose in it. The baby will promptly try to stick its tongue in the electric sockets.
But one day, all of this changes. You roll a ball to your baby. Instead of trying to eat it, he tries to roll it back. Or he throws it at the only decent lamp you own. He starts pulling the cloth off the table and the fur off the dog. This is the precursor to his whole window-breaking, paint-spilling, bug-killing, dirt-digging, puddle-jumping, seemingly endless career as a child.
You no longer have a baby. You have a kid. And while men don't have babies, they definitely do have kids. Kids no longer only try to injure themselves. They try to injure everything and everyone, still including themselves. It is your mission to stop them.
Put down your beer. You'll need both hands for this. The kid's mother, on the other hand, is watching you chasing around frantically after your offspring with a look of both amusement and secret satisfaction on her face.
Contentedly, she pours herself a drink.