Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eddie Haskell Becomes a Dad

The ideal age to have a child is, like most things in life, very much subject to the individual in question.

On the surface, being a young parent sounds great.

When I was young, I thought the earlier you had kids the better. Romantic notions of being a young parent filled my head and, today, there is admittedly still something appealing about being 39 when your son is headed off to college. You know you'll be there for so much of your child's life and that fact alone makes it sound ideal.

My grandfather who just passed away was 85. Sharp as a tack to the end, he lived to see all of his grandchildren enter their mid-20s and even got to know three great-grandchildren. 

Pictured: My friends.
That's a pretty nice precedent. It's also a rarity.

I know plenty of people who had kids young. Some are single moms who found a way to make it work while others are just young married folks who decided not to wait.

But the vast majority of my friends, started having kids in their late 20's to early 30's. And while I can't speak for their wives, I can say without equivocation that the world is a better place for them having waited before assuming the demands of fatherhood.

A friend I've had since I was 11 has always been a responsible sort...on the surface. He was always smart with his money and he knew from a young age that he was going to be a cop, and a member of an elite group of cops at that. 

Yes, he had these things in place, so all our friends' parents loved him. What all the parents didn't know was that this young man drove like an absolute maniac, drank to oblivion and had a sense of humor that, while extremely funny, could send a room full of sailors heading for the exits. 

He maintained this through his mid-20's before finally following through with his goal of becoming a cop. But he didn't become a dad until just a few years ago. He's a wonderful dad and, while he still drives too fast, the kids are never in the car. 

I have another friend, a guy that, again, parents loved. He's a teddy bear of a man whose sole downfall in life is his proclivity for getting blinding drunk once a week. Let me preface this by saying, this guy is as charming and disarming of a fellow you'll ever meet. 

How each of these men avoided prison remains a mystery.
However, for a variety of heretofore unjustified reasons he insists on getting drunk to the point that slurred words become a desirable benchmark. He blames it on his Russian roots. 

He's married with a little boy of his own now and the binge drinking is a less frequent occurrence but, when his wife and baby are out of town, watch out. The rest of the time he's an A+ dad.  

I'll say here that I don't put myself above either of these men. As a teenager, I always enjoyed talking with my friends' parents and if any of us wears the Eddie Haskell crown it's yours truly. Like my friends, I too have vices and my driving isn't as safe as it should be. But I also know that, like them, I'm ready for these things to take a figurative back seat to the precious cargo that will soon be riding in my literal back seat.

With a birthday coming up for me later this week, and my unborn son's birthday TBD, I've been pondering age with greater frequency lately.

And while I'm sure there will be times I wish life had seen my wife and I meet earlier, marry sooner and have kids quicker, I also know that if you're waiting for the perfect time to have kids, you might not ever have them. 

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