How College Trained Me to Be a Dad

When I was in college, I threw up on a guy once.

Mark, a fellow cafeteria worker who checked meal tickets and offered a smart remark for everyone who came through line, ringled a night out. I was friendly, but not quite friends, with Mark and he’d coaxed a good sized group to join him. We were a safety net for Mark, a way he could hang out with a girl he liked without having to ask her out on a ‘real’ date, whatever those were in college.

The massive Dad training facility at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

We ended up at Cochrane’s, the closest thing to dance club mid-state Illinois had to offer, after a long night of tequilla and Long Island iced teas. At some point, the three of us — me, Mark, the girl — were talking.

I was a little wobbly, but not falling and certainly not feeling like I was ready to, as we used to say, bow down to the porcelin gods.

In the middle of a sentence, I was. My sick hit Mark square in the chest.

Mark stepped back. His hands dropped to his sides. He looked as surprised as I felt.

“Dude,” he said, “this isn’t even my shirt.” He and the girl left.

Of all his possible reactions — a punch, a growl, a gentle or not-so-gentle throttle of my neck — he chose that. Acknowledgement. Acceptance. Moving on.

It’s been a long while since I’ve thought about Mark, but that night came back to me this week, as Reid puked on me, explosively, twice in as many days.

There are a lot of gross things about having kids. I won’t bore you with the full list. But I will say this: when your kid barfs on you, you find something out about yourself in a hurry.

Mainly, you find out that these kind of things don’t bother you the way you thought they might have before you had kids.

How does that happen? What mental switch has been thrown? Wiping yourself off just becomes another thing you do, like the bleary, late night feedings or the six stories you have to read to settle your son to sleep.

For most high-hazard jobs, you go through simulations. It’s the only way you’ll know what the job feels like. Soldiers go through war games. Astronauts experience zero gravity. Hell, I’ve media trained clients so they get a feel for an interview with a reporter.

There are no parenting simulations. (And if you think taking care of an egg for a week in high school is one, I’m here to tell you it IS NOT.) One day, you’re making jokes about how you aren’t sure you can take care of yourself all that well, much less another human being, and the next you’re trying to figure out how to give someone small and squirmy a bath in the kitchen sink.

Maybe in your life, you’re ‘lucky’ enough to go through a situation or two that might mentally prepare you for parenthood. A pet. Watching a sister’s kid for a weekend. Having a tapeworm.

It’s still not the same. But maybe it helped.

I like to think it does. And I like to think about Mark now, being a good Dad somewhere far away from Cochrane’s, because he know exactly how to handle himself in the face of a sick child.

  10 comments for “How College Trained Me to Be a Dad

  1. March 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Great post!

    I often think about things I did in my previous lives to prepare me for fatherhood. Working in the service industry as a waiter and working in the visitor industry were two such experiences that really put me through some vicious training to get to parenthood.

    There is one thing that NOBODY can prepare for. It is the power of a smile, a coo, or a “I love you” from a sweet young voice of an offspring. This has created one of the most powerful feelings deep inside me that I have ever experienced!

    Carry on Fathers.

  2. March 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Great anology how you can learn about parenting by doing sports. I have recently become a father myself and used to be an athlete, but I still struggle lol ;)
    Mike Storm recently posted..Ethernet over Copper (EoC) & Ethernet over Fiber Information & Pricing

  3. Lanaya
    March 12, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Amazing post! Parenting really is not that simple.. You must really be ready for it.. You must learn so many right methods and approaches.. Parenting is hard but you must learn to love it.. :)
    Lanaya recently posted..Chinaillon

  4. Samantha
    March 12, 2012 at 8:09 am

    You do not get free tuition to any school plus a monthly allowance in addition to that. This does not cover any room and board or other costs that are not tuition/fees.
    Samantha recently posted..Hot Tub Servicing

  5. Dhana28
    March 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Parenting is really so hard.. I’ve understand the hardship of my parents when I experience it myself.. :)
    Dhana28 recently posted..Live Sports

  6. Ms.Amber
    March 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I really enjoyed visiting you here.. Keep posting more post like this! :)
    Ms.Amber recently posted..What’s Your Number?

  7. March 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    “..Cochrane’s, the closest thing to dance club mid-state Illinois had to offer…” that made me laugh :)…Funny story, but yes, sometimes life teaches us some lessons in the most unexpected settings, isn’t it?
    Debi recently posted..LPN Schools

  8. Jones24
    March 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    There’s nothing more I can wish in my whole is to become a good mother/ parents to my children.. Thanks for this great post…
    Jones24 recently posted..Ways To Find Love

  9. Ms.Amber
    March 17, 2012 at 4:37 am

    I have too agree, parenting is really hard.. But I think if you really know how to handle any of these, you will have a less struggle. lol.
    Ms.Amber recently posted..Movie Streaming

  10. Crosby
    March 26, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Being a parent is totally hard. We should consider things right.
    Crosby recently posted..What Is Tinnitus A Symptom Of

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