Neurotic Dad

The journey to parenthood. And irrational fears.

Posts tagged fathering

Nov 13

On Updike

Picked up one of his later collections at the Borders fire sale. I had almost forgotten about his marvelous sentences. He’s like the Ted Williams of prose. 

One thing that I hadn’t really noticed before: his observations about children. They’re all a little damaged, too needy or too whiny or too independent. 

And how could they be otherwise, when Updike’s great themes are adultery and divorce?

Another thing: his protagonists—generally aging, divorced, adulterous males—observe these children, are touched, and move on. In other words, the children elicit pathos, as does the particular sexual habits of someone else’s wife, as does, I don’t know, the change of seasons.

Updike’s writing is almost ridiculously sharp. But it seldom seems to get beneath the authorial self-regard. 

Oct 19

No I Will Not Contribute to Your Kickstarter Fund

Dear Friend,

Yes, you are very talented, and yes I am very fond of you. However, you will not see a dime out of me for your project. Here is why:

  1. You own a house.
  2. You have thousands of dollars—if not tens of thousands—of equipment.
  3. You have a teaching job.
  4. You have no dependents.

In other words, you have equity and income; and instead of, say, taking a second job and saving, you are instead soliciting funds from friends and fans. 

That’s you. Here is my situation:

  1. Debt
  2. Two jobs 
  3. A family
  4. The frustration—at times bordering on desperation—that comes from sneaking my own creative project in between the above obligations. 

There you have it! No money from me! Instead I’d rather send that $50 to Visa or buy my wife some sushi.

Again, I respect your work and you are delightful to spend time with.

Love (sincerely!)

Neurotic Dad

Aug 25

Question for the People

Can someone explain to an old person why so many people in their 20s smell these days? Is bathing passé, like bikes with gears and irony? Seriously, I want to know.

Aug 20

Why Tumblr Needs Some More Options

I follow the National Archives Tumblr. Every day it shows some really interesting stuff: a rendering of a clipper ship, Elvis shaking hands with Nixon, etc.

Yesterday it was aerial photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Over 40 people “liked” it.

Aug 10


Yesterday at my therapist’s office I filled her ears with my frustration and anger and the battle for a sense of self-worth.

Today I finished an important part of my novel. Then I wrote half of a piece about the Middle East. Then I went food shopping. Then I read a book to the boy and gave him a bath.

I am celebrating today with a glass of Jameson, boon to fathers and writers. But I’m wondering about yesterday—what’s the relationship between the emotion-dump and productivity?

Damn it!

I slept through Morning Cuteness Time (MCT). This is the interval between waking and his first nap, when the boy is at maximum sweetness. 

Aug 9

We Are Home, Thank God

For the time being, no more of the following:

• Stories from my wife’s grandmother in which she knew something that someone else did not, which led to the person who didn’t know the thing getting sick and dying

• Stories from my wife’s grandmother about her ailments, including what the doctor said about the ailments, what she told the doctor about the ailments, and which medications she is taking for said ailments and how often

• Friends and relations of my wife’s grandmother prodding, stroking, and generally putting their hands all over my son 

• Mild guilt at feeling irritation towards my wife’s grandmother, who after all is in her 90s 

Aug 4

Being a Part-Time College Teacher Means:

That they can ask you to do many, many things without having to pay you for it.

However, I did subtly ask an editor to pay me for photography: “P.S. Story and photos attached. Hey, how much do you pay for photography?”

Aug 3

The Pediatrician Calls

The lovely, good-natured, science-y pediatrician finally called me back to talk about my boy’s head flatness. My guess is that the practice has a no-call policy but after we spoke three times to the nurse they gave in.

When I spoke to her I got angry again. I did try to be polite. I even put my criticisms in the passive voice: “Clearly mistakes were made.” “The ball was dropped.”

I think the doctor considered me an irrational parent—a father looking for someone to blame when his kid has a problem. Which is possible. But I can’t escape the feeling that they fucked up.

We mentioned the boy looked a little flat in the head at four months and were told that he was fine; a month later another doc in the same practice gave us a few ideas to keep him off his back when awake. Then suddenly we’re being told he needs a helmet.

"It’s cumulative," the doctor said. Meaning they couldn’t predict at four months how bad it might be at seven. And yet she also said that we could have done "aggressive positioning." A bit of mushiness there—she implies nobody could have done more and yet there was more we could have done.

She also did a lot of mirroring: “I can hear your frustration.” “I understand why you’re angry.”

In the end there wasn’t much more to say. The boy is a little flat in the head but it’s symmetrical, will cause him no harm, and the specialist said it will be less noticeable as he grows.

"Nobody will make fun of him, he’ll have no trouble finding a partner," he said. 

I can understand why other parents do it, especially if the flatness is really noticeable. No judgment here. But we think our little guy’s OK.

So now the question arises about the pediatrician—for one reason or another, we’ve seen four doctors in the practice and I’m not crazy about any of them. So do we switch doctors? I think not. If we stay with nice science lady, she is going to be really careful from now on.

Before I sign off I will admit two things:

First, that I have become one of those boring people who blather with extreme specificity about his kid.

Second, I acknowledge the possibility that the above may even make me seem like a crazy person.

Neurotic Dad is now going to have a gigantic glass of wine.

Aug 1


The sitter has the day off, so the wife and I are tag-teaming.

For his entire nap hour the boy hung out in his crib, babbling softly and playing with his lovey. A minute before I was going to pick him up, he fell asleep for forty minutes.

When he woke up there was a massive poop in his diaper, but it was Mom’s turn. I snuck off to the studio.

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