"A" is for Art: I love my children, but they're young enough that the buildings they draw look like they have balls, the people all look like they have Leprosy, and the pictures generally look like what you'd imagine if a crayon could develop Tourette Syndrome. And no, I don't say these things to my children. I tell them that the pictures look beautiful and amazing, because they really do illustrate an incredible command of fine motor skills for their age. But in a dark place in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "That picture looks like you drew what a love child between Pinhead from Hellraiser and a box of Fruit Loops would look like."
"B" is for Baby Wipes: Not all baby wipes are created equal. Some baby wipes are thick and a bit rugged, and can actually be used to scrape shit off a child's butt with minimal collateral damage. Other baby wipes are paper thin and basically disintegrate when they come in contact with feces. With those, you always end up going through an entire pack of wipes, and you basically end up cupping your hand and using it as a trowel to get the job done. Baby wipes are one of those things where spending the extra dollar may be in your best interest.
"C" is for Circle Time: Circle time is where a person who doesn't have children asks a group of children under the age of 3 to sit down and hold still in a room full of toys or other temptations where all they want to do is run and play. My experience with this was in gymnastics, where the minute that class started, my child morphed into a honey badger that you can only hope to contain. The lady running the class expected everyone to hold still and stretch for 15 minutes, and gave you the shifty eyes if you couldn't reign your kid in. Half the parents in the class looked like they were fighting the urge to throat punch her. And the hell with Cross Fit. If you want a real workout, try holding down a toddler for an hour in that environment.
"D" is for Divorce: You used to look at divorced people and wonder what was wrong with them. Now, after a rough day of fighting with your wife, you occasionally look at divorced people and wonder how much they paid and what kind of deal they got. My wife also likes to occasionally poke at me and say things like, "My next husband will be better at (insert whatever I failed at)." After years of hearing these things, I've concluded that any guy who is a Grade A house cleaner, world-class chef and amazing listener with farts that smell like a bonfire, the ability to read minds and the body of Hugh Jackman who makes about a million dollars a year and is hung like a racehorse, if he exists, is the result of genetic engineering. Hell, if she found him and told me she wanted me to leave me for him, I'd completely understand.
"E" is for Eating: Some kids eat everything right out of the box: they chug breast milk or formula like a champ, and then they move on to fruits, veggies, meats, McDonald's, cat food, everyone else's food, spicy Mexican food, small action figures and spare change; they're like little goats. There's a whole other section of children who suffer from reflux and won't eat anything no matter how many dancing midgets or princesses you put in front of them. Do you know what babies do when they're hungry? They cry. But a baby with reflux doesn't want to eat because it hurts, so she pushes the bottle away and gets angry. Do you know what babies do after crying and being angry for an extended period of time? They start gagging. And do you know what enough gagging leads to? Throwing up. And do you know what comes after throwing up? They violently shit themselves. Have you ever had to change a shitty diaper on a baby who is screaming bloody murder because she's hungry but won't eat because it hurts? I'd rather be thrown into a gunny sack full of honey badgers or be forced to go quail hunting with Dick Cheney. Those nightmares almost make a person want to sign up for another vasectomy to make sure the first one took.
"F" is for Fruit Pouches: Fruit pouches are as important to kids as toilet wine and shanks are to prison inmates. Some kids can go for weeks eating nothing but fruit pouches. If you try to take a fruit pouch away from them, they will create a shank by snapping the leg off of either a Barbie or a Ninja Turtle and then stab you in the eye. I'm convinced each daycare has a toddler who's like Red in Shawshank Redemption who can get you anything. The other toddlers walk up to him and tell him they want him to sneak them two apple/pineapple fruit pouches, and he tells them it will cost them 10% of their Halloween candy.
"G" is for Games: The louder a game is or the more physical discomfort that game brings you, the happier your child will be and the more they'll want you to play it with them. For example, my wife bought a game called Disney Super Stretchy that's like Twister but with Disney characters and a smaller play area. After five minutes of playing I found myself in a position where my head was positioned awkwardly enough near my own ass that I could see my daughter charging at my backside with her Doc McStuffins thermometer ready to "make me feel better." We still play that game, but let's just say I don't try as hard.
"H" is for Hair Washing: One day you'll try washing your kid's hair and they will yell, scream and fight like you ripped the head off their favorite stuffed animal, told them the fish they ate the night before was actually Nemo and his friends, and then told them that both Elsa and Anna from Frozen died in an avalanche that took out Arendelle.
"I" is for Ice Cream Truck: With gas prices rocketing upward, I can't figure out how an owner or driver of an ice cream truck can cover their operating costs, let alone make a profit. I'm pretty sure that part of the way they make the numbers work is by hiring people who aren't US citizens and who couldn't get a job driving a taxi. That being said, the occasional blasting of music through a loudspeaker still draws children like flies to flypaper and rings like the death knell for parents. My wife told a lie at the beginning that still keeps our children from running to that truck to this day. She told them that the ice cream truck is just a truck that drives around playing music for children to dance to. As a result, our kids just start shaking their butts when the truck drives by. It will be a sad and expensive day when that magic wears off.
"J" is for Junk Food: Don't give your kid a lot of candy and junk food to the point where they expect it. Instead, only give it to them on birthdays, holidays and when you need something. For example, let's say you've got a child who you, Jesus and everyone else knows can shit in a bowl, but he flatly refuses. It's amazing what happens when you dangle a sucker or small candy bar in front of him. That kid will suddenly start shitting on command in the potty. He'll turn into a potty prophet, singing the praises of pooping on the potty to other children without being prompted. He will sit on that potty so much that the edges of it will start to look worn down after the first week.
"K" is for Kid TV Shows/Movies: If you ever want to pee in peace, eat, surf the Internet or have a somewhat civil conversation with another human being between the hours of 6 AM and 9 PM for the first four years of your child's life, you'd better embrace the liquid crystal awesomeness that is your TV. Granted, all magic comes with a price, and the trade-off for your children's silence is that a combination of audio from Doc McStuffins, Frozen, The Little Mermaid and Bubble Guppies now serves as the soundtrack for your life. And yes, as your children get older they will gravitate to more advanced programming, but that just means that you'll have the privilege of explaining why Anty in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids dies to a 4-year-old every day for an entire month.
"L" is for Laundry: Even if everyone in your house wears the same clothes for an entire week and you do laundry all day every day, the amount of laundry that still needs to be done will somehow quintuple. You can't win, so don't even try.
"M" is for Musical Instruments: I'm starting a movement to pass a law that nobody other than a child's mother or father can buy them any sort of toy musical instrument -- ever. An unnamed family member bought my oldest a little pan flute thing for a birthday. I told her she was making beautiful music, but in my head I'm thinking that this is what it sounds like when angels die. After the new wears off, find these toys and give them away to someone you hate.
"N" is for Nap Time: This is the time of the day when you can poop or cry in peace; whether you do them separately or independently is up to you. And you can do it without a small person running in and demanding a Danimal, throwing a Disney princess figurine at you or trying to stick their hand in the stream of urine you're producing. Children actually make you question the price of silence. We went to the library recently and I watched our two daughters operate in dead silence while they threw $1.00 worth of pennies into the fountain over the course of two minutes -- and they didn't say a single word while they did it. Armed with that knowledge, I figure I can put a price on silence; it works out to about $0.25 per minute, or $15 per hour. You're welcome.
"O" is for Other People's Kids: Your kids will forever shit magic while everyone else's children will eternally be at best an inconvenience and at worst assholes. This is never more evident than when you take your kids into a play place inside of a fast food restaurant. When I see another kid push one of my little girls, that little butt hair gets one warning. Anything beyond that and I seek out and throat-punch the parent who unleashed that little underwear stain on the universe. Additionally, if anyone bothers one of my daughters and I'm not there to defend them, they have strict orders to "kick them in the Jimmy."
"P" is for Poop: After having kids you morph into a sort of ass-wiping assassin or shit savant. You can clean up the nastiest, hottest, foulest toddler chocolate hot pocket deposit in the world, and then 30 seconds later be eating finger foods and carrying on idle conversation. At some point, your kid's poop will no longer gross you out and you'll start scrutinizing it and grading it the way some people do baseball cards. In the instances where the turd is especially large, you'll consider preserving it and sending it to the Vatican in the off chance the church will declare it a miracle.
"Q" is for Q-Tip Trick: You haven't lived until you've had a constipated baby and the doctor looks you square in the eye and tells you the best way to dislodge the wad of shit is to dip a Q-Tip in Vaseline, stick it in the baby's bum and then swirl around. That's right, just swirl it around until the shit ball comes flying out of the baby's blowhole. From there, everyone resume normal operations and silently agrees to never talk about what just happened for the rest of their lives. It's normal if your baby doesn't make eye contact with your for a week after this happens. I can't even imagine the kind of social brake-check that would occur if I were asked to explain the Q-Tip trick at some sort of social gathering.
"R" is for Reading at Bedtime: If children had their druthers, parents would be required to read the entire The Chronicles of Narnia collection before bedtime -- twice. But that's the starting point every night, and if you don't channel your inner hostage negotiator and morph into Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars, your child will eat you alive and you'll end up reading every one of those books. Under the guise of teaching a lesson, list everything your child did wrong over the course of the day, and then explain that given all that, about two books sounds fair. Is that a dick move? Absolutely. But Darth Toddler gets about a half hour of story time every night, and daddy's no longer held hostage with a Nerf gun to his head every night reading Bernstein Bears for two hours straight.
"S" is for Sex: Sayonara sex life. Men, after you're done having kids you may as well wrap your dick in aluminum foil and stick it in an electrical outlet. Your only value to your spouse now is as someone who can watch the kids and give them a break. Think of yourself as coming in one notch above the Praying Mantis, in that you're allowed to live.
"T" is for Toy Assembly: There's a little bit of me in everything I assemble for my children, because I've literally bled on all of it in some capacity. Everything from cribs, beds, tricycles, a bicycle, a swing set, pretend play sets, baby swings, and all manner of other wicked, evil shit manufactured in the bowels of Hell by the Devil himself and his gaggle of mechanical engineers. I suspect the engineers actually responsible for this crap are people who were fired from real engineering jobs because there was a history of bridges, buildings or roads they were associated with collapsing, and the only companies who would give them a job were the likes of Little Tikes, Carter's or Sorelle.
"U" is for Unstructured Free Play: This is where you don't give your kids any guidance on what to play with and you let them do what they want. Sure, you can walk away during unstructured free play, but when you come back don't be surprised to fine one kid in a Doc McStuffins outfit holding the cat's tail up while the other one has Doc's thermometer positioned for entry to administer an anal probe. It was also in an unstructured free play scenario that my wife walked away for five minutes and came back to find our 2-year-old in a Belle princess outfit standing on top of the table and swinging from a chandelier, and her 4-year-old sister in a Wolverine outfit jumping on top of a fairy table in the corner of the kitchen clapping and chanting her sister's name.
"V" is for Vasectomy: Scared to have sex ever again after having children? Get snipped and you can get your dick off the disabled list with a 99.9% chance that you've successfully capped your personal child tax credits and that you'll never have to wrestle a child down at circle time again. And contrary to what other people will tell you, a vasectomy isn't that bad. If your vasectomy goes as smoothly as mine did, the anesthesiologist will load you up so much that you won't remember any of the jokes the bitter 60-year-old woman handling your junk cracks about your penis.
"W" is for Work: Before getting married and having kids, going to work was a chore and you couldn't wait to leave. After you get married and have kids, work is a place you can go where you don't have to clean up poop, break up fights, get verbally abused by toddlers or serve as a short-order cook. You can have lunch with other people, have normal conversations and go to the bathroom in peace. Unless you work at a vet's office, you'll never find yourself saying, "Get that out of the cat's ass." All in all, it's like an 8-hour vacation five days a week.
"X" is for X-Rays and Hospital Visits: If you're one of those people who only gets sick once every twenty years then buckle up, because you're about to get reacquainted with the hospital. Either you or your spouse will panic because your child is sweating, screaming and incapable of being soothed or throwing up. Next thing you know you're crying, angry and tired because you just spent six hours waiting for X-rays that show that everything is fine, and the doctor is having you hold down your child who's crying, angry, tired and shitting everywhere to give him a shot that "may help." After that saga ends, you go home, go to work, come home and right as everyone is getting ready to go to bed the child starts sweating and screaming all over again, which sends you, ever the concerned parent, right back to the hospital where you will wait for more X-rays that will show nothing before getting yelled at and shit on all over again so the doctor can administer a shot that probably won't do anything.
"Y" is for Yelling: Children randomly yell. Female children randomly yell more. Wives also like to randomly yell -- a lot. If you're a married guy with two small female children, you're better off stripping down naked, wrapping yourself in bacon and throwing yourself into the bear pit at the zoo; you'll die faster and people will say, "I bet he smelled amazing when he died." Because you will never win. Also, you're about to spend the rest of your life arguing with your wife why shutters are stupid, farts are funny and why you need a bigger television, and the first 10 years of your children's lives arguing with them about why they can't eat candy for every meal, why they have to shit in a bowl and why they shouldn't stick toys in the cat's ass even though the cat appears to like it. Do you want your lasting legacy to be as the guy who died fighting a bear while wrapped in bacon, or as the guy who's wife abused him his entire life and whose kids stopped talking to him because he wouldn't let them stick toys in the cat's ass? Your choice.
"Z" is for Zoo: In theory, taking your kids to the zoo makes sense. They watch Daniel Tiger every morning, they spend half their day trying to catch the family pets, and half their toys are stuffed animals. I get it. But until your children get around the age of 4, they will be scared to death of most of the animals and scream most of the time. The rest of the time you'll be in the petting zoo where the odds are insanely high that your kid will wind up covered in feces, get headbutted by a goat and bit in the ass by a Zedonk, and end up eating a goat turd after mistaking it for a Milk Dud. Nothing short of a bathtub filled with hand sanitizer and a priest can save you after leaving a petting zoo. It also doesn't help that you often have to park 3 miles away, and once you get inside a hot dog and drink will cost you $15.