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Examiner
  • Jason Offutt: Questions I really don't want to hear

  • One of the most confusing points in a parent’s life is between the birth of their children and the moment when those children are old enough to take care of themselves.

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  • One of the most confusing points in a parent’s life is between the birth of their children and the moment when those children are old enough to take care of themselves.
    Being confused seems like it’s going to take a lot of my time, especially since my youngest children won’t be able to take care of themselves for, oh, about 20 years.
    “Dad,” the Girl, not quite 6, asked while bounding into the room. Bounding is her preferred mode of travel. “Can girl teenagers have babies?”
    Generally when the Girl announces her presence, her questions revolve around what kind of animal she should pretend to be that particular day, not the premise of an MTV reality program.
    “Yes,” I said, somewhat in shock. “Girl teenagers can have babies.”
    “Awesome. I hope when I’m a girl teenager I have a baby,” she said. “That would be so cool.”
    I don’t know where she gets thoughts like this; we don’t even have cable. This was, however, a great example of the Five Stages of a Parent’s Day:
    Stage One: Joy.
    Stage Two: Bewilderment.
    Stage Three: Frustration.
    Stage Four: Tears.
    Stage Five: A stiff drink.
    My day sometimes rockets right from Stage Two to Stage Five, and this was looking like a Stage Five kind of day.
    “Where did you hear that?” her mother asked.
    The Girl shrugged. “I don’t know,” she said, and went to her room. Minutes later she showed us a book and pointed toward a picture of a Jack Russell terrier.
    “I’m this kind of dog,” she said. “Woof.” Then bounded away.
    There are a lot of topics dads don’t want to deal with, like boyfriends, that time of the month and anything involving the topic of a TLC made-for-TV movie. I just thought I had a few more years before I had to deal with any of it. I’m wrong about a lot of stuff.
    Two days later the Girl sat on my lap with a Sharpie and catalog, circling toys she wanted for Christmas. Barbie, My Little Pony, Hello Kitty, everything was fair game. Everything.
    “Do you really want that toy?” I asked as she drew a squiggly mark around a Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy meant for a toddler. “Aren’t you a little old for it?”
    She nodded. “Yeah, I know, but I’m going to save it for when I have a baby.”
    At least she plans ahead.
    I rationally knew this was a normal mommy fascination little girls go through, but dads have an immediate panic mode when it comes to daughters. A son can play with explosives and a dad won’t give it a second thought, but the moment his little girl shows her underwear at the kindergarten program he worries about her reputation.
    Page 2 of 2 - Launching into a full-blown Stage Five, I knew I could handle raising a Jack Russell terrier. I felt kind of shaky about my success with a five-year-old teenager.
    Follow Jason Offutt on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.
     

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