So I have another kid now.

Frida:Fred1

My daughter, Vera Frida M. Pentland, was born on December 27, 2014. She goes by Frida, as far as we can tell. She barely responds when we say her name, preferring instead to either sleep or eat, basically ignoring everything else. If you threw in an Xbox and a bag of chips, she’s pretty much just like her older siblings.

Her mother took her sweet old time having her too, clocking in at 56 hours of labour, including making me drive her all over town at all hours, from home, to birth centre, to a hospital. Needless to say, things didn’t go according to our birth plan, but everything worked out in the end, and one month later baby and mom are doing great.

So now I officially have three kids. It’s been almost 8 years since the last one was born, and while some things are coming back to me (the quick-change diaper maneuver, opening a bottle of wine with one hand while rocking a baby with the other), some things have definitely changed. For instance, it seems that strollers are actually made to be harder to open as time goes on. When I was a baby, they didn’t fold up at all. When my son was born 11 years ago, it was a flip and a slip and a bang and you were on your way. Now I seem to have missed the classes needed to operate the damn thing at all, and practice does not make perfect in this case. The brake seems to always be on, and the beer holder attachment barely fits a take-out coffee cup.

Not only is the stroller a puzzle to fold and unfold, but it comes with a bassinet that somehow attaches to it, and that my daughter hates, if her screeching is anything to go by. In fact, she doesn’t seem to like travelling at all, unless it’s in my arms and my back is about to give out. With my other two kids, the only time they would nap was if I was driving them around, usually on the highway, at great financial cost given the price of gas at those times. Now gas is crazy cheap, and this one hates being in the car.

My older kids have been great with the new addition, and are constantly eager to hold her. Neither of them are eager to change her, however, just as they both physically gag if I ask them to take the dog out in case she poops and they have to pick it up. I’ve even said they could use a plastic bag on their hands, but still it’s a no-go in both cases.

Nevertheless, the three of them are getting along – or at least the two older kids are getting along with the new one. They are definitely not getting along with each other, but that is a given, and something that we have been trying to figure out. With a new addition comes new rules, or new ways of handling things. Trying to get the older sibs to pitch in a little bit more, but not making it seem like their lives have become so much worse with a new sister, is the goal. It could be very easy for them to see the baby getting all the attention, and their stepmother and I have been trying to make sure that they are involved in things, despite the fact that “things” right now involve a lot of poop and spit-up – from the baby, let’s be clear. For the record, I take care of my own poop and spit-up.

We have allotted them some new chores, simple tasks like making their beds in the morning and picking out clothes the night before. This was met with the expected outrage and venom, as if asking an 11-year-old to feed a dog every morning is tantamount to making him rebuild a car engine blindfolded. Hopefully this new world order will stick. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I ain’t raisin’ no princess.

Carrie-Fisher-Star-Wars-618x400What is up with dads referring to their daughters as princesses? Unless they are, in fact, the fathers of actual princesses. Those guys get a pass, but what about all the hundreds of thousands of other dads who are not royalty, yet use the term? Is this even legal?

I get that your daughter is super-special, someone you feel is precious and are loyal to. I also have a daughter (with another one on the way). I understand that feeling of protection and affection. I also feel it for my son. Yet I have never found the need to use royal terminology to describe either of them.

My daughter’s aesthetic is not very “girly.” She doesn’t like pink, or frilly. Nor is she prone to donning tiaras or succumbing to bouts of the vapours when flustered. This is not to suggest that she is a “tomboy,” because that term is misleading and sexist. I’m also not suggesting that there would be anything wrong if she was “girly” either. She’s just not.

She likes to wear her older brother’s hand-me-downs, and while this has not been actively encouraged, it is economically pleasing to me. But that’s about it. I don’t really care how she dresses, except that, like anyone, I can tell that she is conscious of the image she puts forth. I know that she feels uncomfortable wearing dresses, for instance, because she will never wear one. This doesn’t disappoint me, because I don’t care. But I feel I might be in the minority when it comes to these things, at least if the mass media is the yardstick by which I should be measuring all things in my life.

For instance, when my daughter gets married (if she even does, or if there is marriage at all in the future…on the space station EARTH 2.0), what is up with me “giving” her away? Sure, legally I own her, but only half. Her mother has dibs on the other half, and I’m not sure who ended up with which end. But traditionally the dad gives away the bride in a wedding scenario, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I never want to actually give her away because I always want her to be in my life. And while I recognize that kids grow up and leave the nest, it’s not likely that she would be climbing into her covered wagon and setting out to discover the Wild West. Even if she did, I’m fairly certain they have wifi out there now, or at least spotty cell reception.

Getting back to the princess thing, I suppose you can call your kid whatever you want, really. Words and labels have power, and the idea of a princess can be different things to different people. Some think of someone special and irreplaceable. Others think of the damsel in distress, waiting for a brave knight to save her. And others think of a feisty, no nonsense, get the job done lady with bagels on either side of her head. Who am I to judge? I just don’t feel comfortable with the connotation that my daughter is anything other than who she is. Sure, she’s as valuable to me as I can imagine, but she’s her; she’s her own person, and I want to encourage that. I’ll always be there for her, but part of watching your kids grow up is watching them become independent, and using nicknames like “princess” or “not you, the other one” can help or hinder that sense of identity and independence. She’s already well on her way at 7, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be running the whole show around here by 17.

It goes without saying, however, that if she (or her soon-to-be-born sister) does some day become an actual, for-real princess, I’m fine with just a little castle somewhere over on the edge of whichever kingdom she marries into. Maybe I’d take a dragon to get around on, and some cool looking armour (think Stormtrooper – Star Wars, not Nazi – but maybe shinier).

Kids cost money…lots.

Money baby

As I have stated in the past, I am approaching fatherhood for the third time, and I’m 45. My currently-existing, already-born kids are only 7 and 10, but given that another one is on the way, I’m basically treating them like they are already grown and out the door.

It’s not like I’m eager to get rid of them at all (and legally I can’t), it’s just that kids cost money, as unromantic as that sounds, but so do babies. Big time. And this is something that I hadn’t really been thinking about when I “agreed” to have another one. Well, I might have mentioned the astronomical cost of raising a child once or twice or every time the subject came up, but that was always shut down by a random combination of facial expressions, emotional cues, or verbal persuasions, sometimes accompanied by minutely implied physical threats.

I’m not suggesting that my (much younger and stronger) wife blackmailed me into having a baby in my almost-twilight years. It’s just that she let it be known that this could, in fact, be my twilight year if I didn’t get with the program.

So, with the cost of camps, and tutors, and clothes, and various candied confections, I am adding cribs, and strollers, and nursing pillows to the list of expenses that no one celebrates in pre-natal classes when they tell you all about the miracle of child birth.

Of course, you don’t need any of these things. Millions of years have passed without the need for a nursing pillow, although the fact that there is almost no evidence of dinosaurs using them, and there are basically no dinosaurs left, could be used in a pro-pillow argument.

The same goes for strollers. I could argue, for instance, that babies don’t really need to be mobile until you salute them as they march out the door to kindergarten. I mean, isn’t that what we have dogs for? I’m already dropping some $150 a month on organic, grain-fed, non-GMO food for a beast that I then shell out some $1000 a year on medication because it can’t stop eating sticks and rotting carcasses every time I’m not looking. Just strap the baby to that thing and make it work for its penicillin.

Ok, maybe a stroller can come in handy. I suppose we need something filling up the trunk so groceries have to be squeezed in the back seat between the two bigger kids and the car seat ($$) for the new one. Which means a bigger car ($$$). Practicality dictates a minivan. My wife dictates “no way.” Of course.

Am I the only one who thinks that babies should be wrapped in paper for the first year of their lives? What’s the point in buying clothes made of actual cloth? They grow constantly, from what I remember. You burn through onesies almost as fast as diapers…which, I’m being told, will be cloth as well. Which means I’m expected to master the twists and turns of the cloth diaper, and the accompanying diaper cover, or whatever it’s called. I’ve been through this before, and needless to say, when I’m on duty (not going for the pun) I’ll be sneaking disposables (non-chlorinated) under the diaper cover. “I seriously have no idea how that got on there…I’m pretty sure the dog might have done it.”

I may be exaggerating a tad with all of this. It’s natural, at least for me, to expect the worst, or bemoan the inevitable. The world is against me, and only I can carry its burden. The truth, of course, is that none of this really matters next to a healthy, happy wife. And baby.

Of course, you can substitute the word “wife” with any number of terms, depending on your situation. No matter what type of partnership, sexual background, race, creed, or age you are, we all want the same thing: a happy, quiet baby that won’t bug us. If that means doling out thousands of dollars, and going without yet another new Xbox, or making do with the last, stupid version of the iPhone, so be it.