When I was a new stay at home dad, I had no idea what I was doing. I’ll admit it, I can man up and take the blow. I was ignorant about all things kids. That’s not to good considering that I had one. But I was a fast learner and I was energetic. I dove head first into everything that I could find out about it. I wanted to improve myself. When it came time for my performance evaluation I wanted to be able to sit and look my wife in the eye and say “Give me the raise I deserve and a corner office!” I didn’t get either since I work for free and my corner office is my bathroom (it’s the only door with a lock on it in the house. Sanctuary!)
But I was determined so I jumped on the internet to find out everything I could about how to be a good stay at home dad. I wanted to learn, I was yearning to be taught, I was begging for information.
There was none. Nada. Zip. Zippo. That pretty much sucked, which is one of the reasons why I am so pumped to be part of this site. But I haven’t forgotten my early days and I am very conscious about the noobs coming after me. They are going to ask the same questions that I did. This time however, they are going to find answers.
Starting with one of the simplest. Cooking.
Think you know how to cook? Really stud, think you have it down pat do ya? Sure, it’s not to hard to cook when its just for you and “cooking” means a bowl of cereal or cooking a hotdog. But let me ask you this: Have you ever tried cooking while being screamed at by a 4 year old that wants her hotdog right now while her 2 year old brother thinks it’s funny to whip cars at the dogs head. This isn’t your style of cooking brother, this is a mosh pit in the kitchen. But I’m going to walk you through it a little bit so you won’t have to learn the way I did: with a couple of stitches, a burn mark and an inedible hotdog.
First, pick your hotdog. Pick one that doesn’t look like it will give you a whole lot of attitude. Pick one that perhaps other people would pass over. That’s the one you want, the one with the low self esteem. Next, let the dog take a bite out of it. He is the official “poison tester” of the household. If the dog will eat it, it’s probably ok for the kids. Besides, you never know who wants to do you in. Face it, you’re a badass and you stay home with the kids, people are jealous of awesome.
After you have confirmed that the hot dog is indeed safe to eat, put it down and go attend to your children. After all, they have had 3 minutes of unsupervised time now so something is either broken or thrown in the toilet. I’m currently on my 3rd cellphone in 12 months. Calmly re-roll the toilet paper back onto it’s roll and head back into the kitchen. Pick another hotdog, just like you did with the first one. By the way, the first one is gone now because the dog ate it after getting a taste of the good stuff.
Take your new hotdog and put it in your kungfu grip. Hold it very close to your face. Invade it’s personal space. This is important. Before it can be a good hotdog it has to be broken down and humiliated. You’ll rebuild it later and you’ll have the 6 million dollar man of hotdogs. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.
Now start screaming at the hotdog like his name is Tex and call it a no good hotdog puke. Tell him that you’ve seen better hotdogs fall off the back of the factory truck. Question his loyalty, insult his length. Do whatever you can to break his will because only a broken hotdog can be an awesome hotdog later. Put the hotdog down, this time somewhere the dog can’t get to it. Congratulations, you can be taught. You are now smarter than a monkey. Go to your children and find out who hit who. Listen to them both and then decide that both of them should take the rap and put them in timeout in the same corner. This builds family bonds and also keeps them busy fighting with each other while you attempt to make dinner.
Go back to your hotdog and see if it has done the required 10 push-ups. If it hasn’t, make it eat a donut while you punish the rest of the hotdogs in the pack. This will build peer pressure and they will start to police themselves. This makes your job easier. Wrap it in a paper towel and tell the hotdog that it’s go time. Remind the hotdog of it’s training and tell it that if it’s skin starts to get all bubbly that it’s because it’s a coward. Microwave for 1 minute and 31 seconds.
While it’s microwaving, stand there stoically, like you are evaluating it’s performance. Rub your chin a lot. The minute you turn your back, the game is lost. Plus, you won’t be able to move anyway because both of your children will be trying to climb up your pants to see the microwave in action. Pretty soon, they’ll just pull them off and you’ll be cooking naked. This is why we no longer deep fry in my house. Don’t take your eyes off the hotdog and constantly reassure your children that dinner is almost ready for heaven’s sake so they can finally stop asking. This is called “multi-tasking”. You’ll get good at this.
When the hotdog is done (the machine will beep and the numbers will say O) reach into the microwave and pull the hotdog out with your bare hands. Be sure to show no pain when your hand is being scalded. For one, your kids will be closely watching you to see if you are a wimp. They will catalog this knowledge and use it later against you when they want to date a guy named Chester. You know Chester, he’s in the rock band and enjoys long walks on the beech, quite conversation, and putting his hands on your daughter where he shouldn’t. Chester’s a prick.
If the hotdogs sees you cry then you have to turn back in your Man Card because MEN DON”T CRY! Except at the superbowl or at the end of Beaches. Place the hotdog on the plate and tell it to stand to attention. Begin your inspection. Is it scorched? Is one end all dried out and the other not cooked? Did it split open? Those are the things that you are going to have to ignore if you are going to be a successful cook. If it passes your inspection then proudly proclaim it “Done!” and award it with a citation of ketchup.
Cut it up and take it to your children who have already seated themselves because they are perfect angels. Enjoy the round of applause that they will give you and take a bow. Run off stage to get milk. Come back and give them the milk to even more applause. This is called an Encore. People love them. Now there is nothing to do except to sit back and watch them throw the freshly made hotdog to the dog who is underneath the table.
Do this 4 more times and your meal is complete. You are a better man for it and family harmony awaits you in the Valhalla of the Stay At Home Dad World.