This is my first week as a (pretty much) full-time stay-at-home-dad, and all I can say is: thank God for the YMCA.
During the anxious and exciting months of Wifey’s pregnancy, by far the healthiest of the habits that I cultivated was that of swimming every day. (We needn’t discuss the others in so much detail). Those last few weeks pre-parenthood she even accompanied me to the pool; seeing that belly under water each time I swam by was pretty epic.
Sadly, though, the best habits are usually the first to go; it’s been a real struggle to get to the gym more than once or twice a week since Little Dude came along. Even 15 minutes underwater has been a blessing… until now. You see, along with the awesome outdoor pool (pictured above), the Mission Valley YMCA offers childcare even for small babies.
You might wonder at my comfort level leaving my (now five-month-old) son in the hands of others while I swim. He’s well out of sight while I’m underwater, and I certainly can’t hear him if he cries. But seriously – what the hell did you think I was there for? Nowhere else that my Prius can take me is nearly as quiet.
Not that it’s quite as relaxing there as it used to be. Where once my swim was entirely therapeutic, now I spend my limited time waiting for the other shoe to drop. Any YMCA employee I spy through my goggles could be the one who is coming to cut short my fun. And it’s occurred to me: if my child has a meltdown, what happens then? Do I run through the gym in my Speedo to save him, dripping with chlorinated water? Am I allowed a quick shower? How does this all work? Sooner or later we are bound to find out.
In the meantime, though, I’m relishing in the silence of my daily swim. I never expected fatherhood to whip me into shape so quickly.
The other day Wifey read me an ominous statistic: “though your baby may not actually start speaking until one or two years old, he may start understanding what you say as early as four or five months.” Our guy is now five months old and we speak to him incessantly – he even makes some ridiculously funny sounds in response. The not-so-good news? Wifey and I both possess (and make constant, public use of) terrible pottymouths. Which raises the real question – one that we’ve been avoiding for months now: how the fuck are we to actually stop swearing in front of our child?
Honestly, the whole “cursing is the sign of a weak mind” argument has never carried much weight with me. Some of the most accomplished swearers I know are also the most highly educated; speaking for myself, those who read this blog regularly – and more importantly my wine writing – are unlikely to accuse me of a having lack of adjectives in my vocabulary. I’m proud to say I have learned to curse with reasonable fluency in several languages, and have rarely if ever felt much shame about it. But that doesn’t mean Little Dude’s first words need to be “Holy shit, Daddy!” (or, “Va a fanculo, Babbo!” although I’m not gonna lie – that would be kind of awesome.)
We’ve been tested recently by nieces and nephews, as well as friends and neighbors with slightly older children. Time and time again, we’ve failed. Some call it laziness, I prefer to name it “enthusiasm.” (Wifey blames her own pottymouth on the years spent in New York City.)
Even when we’re on our best behavior there are inevitable slip-ups. We’re trying harder and harder, I assure you. But some folks were blessed with a higher degree of verbal self control than we. I’m confident, at least, that if we are in the end unable to successfully alter our speech patterns, our son will have our back. I can already hear him in my mind, speaking in gentle baby tones: