Thursday, September 17, 2009


Whenever I asked my father a question about baseball, he always had an answer.

When I asked him why the sky was blue, he told me to look it up in the encyclopedia.

And when I asked him anything else, he's say, "go ask your mother."

Modern fathers are not allowed to cop out quite so fast. Fathering today means more than the physical act of procreation. It is no longer acceptable for a man to father a child, roll over and go to sleep. Men have to "be there" for their children

So we learn things like how to change diapers, how to stuff screaming two-year-olds into snowsuits, and what to do when the baby eats the carpet sweepings. It's not that difficult. Any man who's ever had a puppy can get the hang of it.

The tricky part comes when, unlike puppies, the kids start talking...and asking tough questions. Most men are totally unprepared. Certainly our fathers never trained us to discuss anything deeper with children than "keep your eye on the ball, son." Or "that's a pretty little dress you have on today, Princess."

Don't despair. A little preparation helps. Here then, are some questions I have fielded from my own kids. As you run through the list you may wonder how old the inquisitive child will be when he or she asks that particular gem. A safe bet is to remember how old you were when that question crossed your own curious little mind.

Then subtract five.

On Divorce

Q. If you and Mommy get divorced, who will I live with?

A. We won't get divorced.

Q. But what if you do?

A. Then you'd live part time with me and part time with Mommy. You'd have your own room and your own toys in each house.

Q. That sound O.K. Do you think you'll ever get divorced?

A. No. We can't afford it.

On Physical Differences

Q. How come you have hair there?

A. All men have hair there. It's the law.

Q. Will I get hair there?

A. Do you want hair there?

Q. No.

A. Then you won't get any.

On Racial Differences

Q. How come some people have black faces and some people have flesh colored faces?

A. I'll tell you when we get out of the elevator.

On Language

Q. What's a bastard?

A. It's a bad word.

Q. I know, but what does it mean?

A. It's a person whose mother and father aren't married.

Q. Are they divorced?

A.'s more like they never got married in the first place.

Q. You mean you can have a baby even if you're not married?

A. Only if you don't eat your vegetables.

On Trust

Q. Is there really a tooth fairy?

A. How do you think the money gets under your pillow?

Q. Gregory said your mother and father put it there.

A. Did he ever actually see his mother and father put money under his pillow?

Q. No.

A. Then there's a tooth fairy.

On Relationships

Q. Guess who I met today?

A. I give up.

Q. Marcy's Mommy's boyfriend's first wife.

On Breast Size

Q. How come that lady has big boobies and Mommy doesn't?

A. What lady?

Q. The one you've been staring at.

A. about if Daddy buys you some ice cream?

On Animals

Q. What are those two dogs doing?

A. They're practicing to be acrobats. If they get three more dogs and they make a pyramid, they'll get a job in the circus.

On Economic Status

Q. Are we rich or poor?

A. We're middle.

Q. What's middle mean?

A. It means we can afford ESPN on cable, but Mommy's gonna have to drive the Toyota for another year.

On Parental Restrictions

Q. How come I can't see that movie?

A. You're too young.

Q. How come Jeffy's father let him see that movie?

A. I told you yesterday, Jeffy's father is totally irresponsible, morally corrupt and has no idea how to raise children in today's world.

Q. I told Jeffy's father you said that, and he said he's coming over to talk to you right after his karate lesson.

On Sex

Q. Did you and Mommy do it before you were married?

A. Never.

Q. Not ever?

A. Absolutely not. Daddy wouldn't lie to you about something like that.

On Idols

Q. When I grow up, can I dress like Amy Winehouse?

A. Over my dead body. Next question.

That was just a small sampling. There are a million and one other questions a father should brace himself for. Some of those include:

What happens to people after they die?

What does God look like?

How come people in Chinese restaurants have crooked eyes?

If smoking is bad for you, how come you do it?

What's a hooker?

If I'm not allowed to pick my nose in public, how come Uncle Phil can?

Do you and Mom still have sex or did you stop after I was born?

How many times a week do you do it?

If you believe in God, how come you never go to church?

Did you ever cheat on your income taxes?

What does S&M stand for?

Did you and Mom ever smoke pot?

The questions will come at you fast and furious. Even when you're tempted to lie, don't try it. Today's kids are much too smart. Better to be prepared with some stock answers, which work for almost all occasions. These include:

Shut up and eat your broccoli.

Have you done your homework tonight?

Daddy's busy now.

Here's twenty dollars. Go to the mall.

I'll tell you when you're older.

And finally, when push comes to shove, there's always Old Reliable.

You're sitting on the sofa watching a football game, and your cherubic little five-year-old climbs onto your lap and says, "Daddy, how do you make a baby?" you can always do what I did.

Reach deep down into your male heritage, and like your father before you and his father before him, turn gently to your child and say, "Go ask your mother."