License to Parent

Fourth of July weekend in Hermosa Beach, California is the Southern California equivalent of Brazil’s Carnival. From 2002 to 2010, I lived in the heart of the action, and every year that I woke up on July 5th in any place other than jail, I was proud of myself. If I could stand up without vomiting, I’d give myself a gold star. And if I could find my pants in less than sixty seconds, then I’d be automatically nominated as a candidate for the Hermosa Beach’s annual “Mr. Responsibility” award.
On this July Fourth holiday, with Keller, we chose to hit the beach in lieu of beachfront keg parties. Taking an infant to the beach requires more gear than Neil Armstrong needed to go to the moon, and I’m considering the purchase of a Himalayan pack mule to make the process easier. As we strolled down to the beach with our gear stacked on top of a red wagon, scores of women passed by us sporting patriotic red, white, and blue bikinis.
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
“Matt, close your mouth, your tongue is getting sunburned.”
By the time we finally made it to the water, I was hot and tired from dragging all Keller’s crap through the sand, so I swooped Keller up into my arms and headed into the surf. Keller had a great time splashing in the ocean. However, after about ten minutes, he started shivering, so we got out. Lifting him up was like lifting a bag of wet sand. The ocean level dropped at least an inch because Keller’s diaper had absorbed about 25% of the Pacific. His ass looked like it had swallowed Kirstie Alley’s, and he was having a hard time walking around, so I took off the diaper and let him fly his freak flag. After all, it was the Fourth of July.
Patriotism, baby!
As soon as his diaper was off, he ran back into the water. I caught up to him and took him in for another swim. Now, I don’t know many things, but one thing I know for sure is this: if you want to be surrounded by beautiful women in tiny red, white, and blue bikinis, then find a naked baby and take him swimming on the Fourth of July.
Within a minute, Keller and I were surrounded by giddy girls, all of whom were losing their collective sanity. They were smiling, giggling, cooing, pinching, and prodding my naked child. One girl actually took my son’s little baby foot, and began nibbling on his toes. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it, but it happened. I mean, who does that? Who grabs a stranger’s foot and puts it in their mouth? The look on Keller’s face said it all: Listen, lady, I’m a kinky baby, but not that kinky.
One girl asked to hold him, and, of course, I let her. Soon Keller was being passed around like crabs in a frat house (Coincidentally, I just learned that Pthirus pubis—i.e, crabs—are now on the endangered species list, due to, ahem… a loss of natural habitat.)
Anyway, Keller enjoyed the attention so much that he lost control of his bowels—all over the white stars of a girl’s American flag bikini top. The girl screamed and thrust my son into my midsection like he was a bag of medical waste. People love babies when they’re cute and clean and quiet. Once they get pooped on, their perspective tends to change.
Single, childless people, I’m talking to you.
In America, making babies is celebrated like nothing else, except winning the Super Bowl or American Idol. This societal enthusiasm encourages people into baby-making before they’re ready.
After Keller was born, people were congratulating me with such gusto you’d think I’d discovered a cure for cancer. Though their praise made me feel good, making a baby required very little skill on my part. All I did was make love to a sexy woman; this was hardly praise worthy. If my kid completes high school without stabbing any classmates or blowing any perverted old men in public restrooms as a means to support his drug habit, then maybe I’ll deserve a little praise.
Because of the giddy praise new parents receive, some tend to exaggerate how “beautiful” their birth experience was. They’ll make you believe their baby came out of the vagina wearing a flowing white robe while a choir of angels rejoiced as three sandal-clad strangers showed up bearing gifts. These parents tell friends that their birth experience made them realize their entire life, until that moment, had been a vapid waste of time, and unless you’ve had kids “you couldn’t possibly understand.”
This false portrayal of the birth experience contributes to the already overwhelming pressure on girls to procreate. That brings me to the point of this chapter: many people think they want a baby, but have no idea how much this will change their life.
Some young people have unprotected sex with strangers without considering the consequences. This needs to change. Nearly everything we do in life is regulated, either by our parents, our schools, our employers, or our government. Our government alone regulates alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, marriage, fishing, construction, breeding dogs, etc. At the rate things are going, it won’t be long before you’re required to get a permit before going number two. However, making a human doesn’t require any license whatsoever. All you need is a fertile womb, a little sperm, mood music and voila!—you’ve got yourself a brand new, miniature human.
It’s one of the great paradoxes of mankind that it’s illegal for a responsible 20-year-old college student with a 4.0 GPA to tip a few beers on a weekend, but it’s legal for two 28-year-old, glue-sniffing, crystal-meth-cooking, high school dropouts to procreate. Rapists, sociopaths, and crackheads are making humans and spreading their DNA all over Earth every single day. We’re allowing these degenerates to dictate the evolution of our species because they’re out-breeding the rest of us. Other animals refine their genetic code by preventing the weak and diseased of their species from reproducing. However, humans are compassionate beings who believe everyone has the right to reproduce, even pedophiles. As a result, too many damaged and incompetent people end up with babies they won’t properly care for, which creates more damaged incompetent people.
Fortunately, for the sake of the world, I have a solution to this problem. I hereby declare a new world law—
Before having unprotected sex, people are now required to apply for a baby-making license. To get said license, apply to the office of The Decider. I’ve decided that The Decider will be me, not because I’m the most qualified candidate, but because I thought of it and I’d like to have one of those high-paying, cushy government jobs with fantastic benefits and little accountability.
So, if you’re interested in making a baby, you can apply for your baby-making license by snail-mail or email. No license, no unprotected sex, no baby-making license for you.
The first step in applying for your baby-making license is to complete and submit the following test:
• Have you ever spent an entire paycheck on fireworks?
• Are the rims on your car worth more than the rest of it?
• Are you Miss Teen South Carolina, Sarah Palin, or Kim Kardashian?
• Do you have a lithograph of “Dogs Playing Poker” hanging in your home?
• Have you ever lost a tooth while trying to open a can of beer?
• Do you believe that men rode dinosaurs, or that the Earth is only 10,000 years old?
• Does your Mom refer to your Dad as her “Baby-Daddy”?

If you answered yes to any of the above, your test will be returned to you with this letter—
You suck at life. Your application for a baby-making permit has been denied. We’ve decided to protect humanity from the propagation of the genetics that created the disaster that is you. You are hereby required, by the office of The Decider, to report to the nearest doctor to have all your eggs/sperm destroyed.

If you pass the test, the in-person interview, and all subsequent steps, you will be given baby-making privileges by the office of The Decider. However, before procreating, it is advised that you get yourself educated about the responsibilities of parenthood.
So, as a new father, I’d like to share some information about how parenthood will change your life:
First of all, if you have hobbies, having a baby will bring a swift end to them.
I used to have hobbies and interests and personal ambition. Now, the first thing I do when I get home is take off my pants. The time I used to spend on my hobbies is now spent playing Legos and trains with my son or watching Nickelodeon Junior and listening to the Fresh Beat Band sing about vegetables while sporting smiles that can only realistically be achieved by ingesting massive quantities of Xanax.
Another way parenthood will change your life is that it will cause a total shift in your thought process. Once you bring your baby home, your number one responsibility in life becomes keeping that baby alive. This is not as easy as you might think. To demonstrate how easily you can screw this responsibility up, I’ll tell you a story:
During Keller’s very first week home, I took him to my local breakfast spot to show him off to the leggy Bolivian who makes a cup of coffee that tastes like it’s been touched by God. After finishing my coffee and croissant, I got up and left. Halfway out the door, Miss Bolivia yelled, “Hey Matthew!” At first, I was excited because her accent makes my name sound sexy and I thought I was being flirted with. However, this excitement was quickly replaced with embarrassment and shame.
“Forgetting something?” she asked. It took me a beat or two to realize that she was referring to my sleeping son, whom I’d left behind in the booth.
Sadly, I’d momentarily forgotten I even had a child. Had the leggy, Bolivian coffee goddess not pointed it out, I may have left him. This would’ve sucked because I would’ve had to go to the hospital to steal another baby and then find a way to convince The Bride it was hers.
“No baby, you’re wrong, Keller was totally black when he came out of you.”
Though I am ashamed about forgetting Keller, I guarantee that most new parents have done something like this at least once. You were in the living room, watching Ellen, snacking on frozen Snickers bars when suddenly, you were like, Oh shit, I totally have a baby. Where is he?
If you haven’t had that moment, then you’re the greatest parent of all-time… or a liar… or you’re not a parent… or you don’t think you’re a parent but you actually had a child nine years ago and you completely forgot about him so he waddled out of the home one day, and now he’s living with a Chinese couple in Vancouver and he’s addicted to the Adderall his Chinese parents put him on because they think he has ADD; however, he doesn’t have ADD, he’s just really wound up and pissed off because you forgot he exists.
Another life change that parenting will bring is the increased frequency with which you find yourself in a state of boredom. Subsequently, your boredom will lead to morbid obesity because you’re constantly eating to kill the boredom.
I love spending time with Keller, but Keller is a baby and babies have lame hobbies. Keller’s hobbies include: eating Mommy’s face off, playing bongos, smashing Legos, and splashing in the bathtub. After an evening of smashing Legos with Keller, once he finally goes to sleep, our entertainment options don’t get much better because we have to stay home. So, I write, I watch movies, I sexually harass my disinterested wife, I read books, trim my fingernails, surf the web, and so on. After a while, the boredom becomes crushing.
And then I eat—
A lot.
I started out with a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes every night, but soon one bowl wasn’t doing it for me. So, I began eating two bowls. Unfortunately, that required getting off the couch for a refill, so to solve this problem, I bought a bigger bowl. Eventually, I was eating two of the big bowls. Finally, I threw out all pretense of pretending that I was capable of behaving like a human person, and I started using the kind of bowl that salad is tossed in.
By the time Keller was 3-months-old, I was eating half a box of Frosted Flakes per night. In my college days I could get away with this. I’d eat half a jar of peanut butter every day because peanut butter was a cheap, high caloric food that I could afford without selling plasma and semen. However, I never gained weight because I could metabolize an entire peanut farm just by thinking about it. That’s no longer my reality, and I was beginning to pack on a layer of fatty warmth in my mid-section.
I was so addicted to Tony the Tiger’s delicious flakes that I’d sometimes get up in the middle of the night to party with him. One night, The Bride caught me sitting in the kitchen at 3 AM, with the lights off, wolfing down a bowl in my sleep. I realized I needed to make some lifestyle changes.
So, I quit. Kicking Tony’s delicious, sugary flakes was tough, but I did it, cold turkey.
Two weeks into my sobriety, I had a relapse while sleep-walking.
And it was ugly.
The Bride jumped out of bed, “Oh my God, Matt, did you shit the bed!?!”
“What? No,” I replied, half asleep and a bit startled. “I haven’t done that in at least six or seven years!”
“Then what’s all over the bed and walls?”
I put my fingers in some of the brownish-blackish goop on my pillow and brought it to my nose.
“It’s dark chocolate,” I said.
“Thank God,” The Bride said… “Wait, why is there dark chocolate in our bed and on our walls?” she asked.
There wasn’t any chocolate anywhere in our house. I know this because two days after quitting Frosted Flakes, I had withdrawal shakes, so I scoured the apartment in search of something sugary. There was no chocolate, and the best I could do was a bag of brown sugar. I added a little oatmeal to it and dug in. Though it satiated my sugar needs, some dark chocolate would’ve totally hit the spot.
“Where did you get dark chocolate from and why would you smear it all over our walls? I mean, that’s just creepy. This is weirder than that night, on our honeymoon in Belize, when you took too much Lunesta, got in our golf cart, naked, at 3 AM, drove it to the pharmacy, left it there, and walked back to the hotel.”
“That’s not true,” I said. “I wasn’t walking. The security guard said he saw me running.”
“You’re entirely missing the point!”
“I’m sorry, love. You are right and you are awesome and I am wrong and completely unawesome.”
“You’re just so friggin’ weird sometimes.”
“I obviously have issues,” I said.
The dark chocolate was smeared so deeply into the paint that we were unable to wash it out without causing the paint to come off. So, we’ve been sleeping in a room with chocolate spattered walls ever since.
I obviously hadn’t resolved my sugar addiction. If I was going to kick sugar, I had to first get off sleeping pills so that I’d stop sleep-walking and sleep-eating. When a doctor prescribes you sleep medication, he doesn’t tell you all the weird side effects that can result.
After I stopped taking the sleeping pills, I was able to entirely (i.e., mostly) kick all sugary foods (not including my morning breakfast cookie). The next step was to find a calorie burning activity to get my body back into shape. Unfortunately, I’d let myself become so deconditioned that I actually injured myself while playing Wii bowling.
I knew I needed to make a change. So, I decided to take up paddle boarding. I went to the surf shop across the street and rented a board. As I carried the eleven-foot board towards the ocean, it acted like a giant fiberglass kite, catching the wind and knocking me around like one of Chris Brown’s girlfriends. By the time I made it to the water’s edge, I collapsed from exhaustion. I rested for thirty minutes and then carried the board back to the shop without ever doing any actual paddle boarding.
When I got home, I sat down with The Bride for a talk. We were bringing one another down with mutual sloth. My waistline was rapidly expanding, and I knew I was mere days away from having to buy new pants. Everyone knows that once a man buys new pants he never gets back into his old ones. It would’ve been the beginning of a downward spiral of gluttony that would’ve gone on until I could no longer see my dick in the shower.
It happens, guys, you’re a single, lean, mean, fucking machine, you go to bed, and you wake up married with a kid, you weigh six hundred pounds, and you need the fire department to cut you out of your house after you suffer a heart attack in your living room. So, if you and your partner decide that making a human is something you want to do, you better have a plan to fight the boredom, or else put the fire department on speed dial.

If you read all of the above and you’re still thinking about becoming a parent, then you’re a brave soul. Being a parent is a gift and a blessing, but this shit ain’t easy, and if you aren’t ready for it, it will be the death of you.
So, if you’re ready to start the process, send your baby-making application to the Office of The Decider.

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