I'll be under the bed

All Things Bryce: Family Life

I'm going to be a dad.

That statement scares the hell out of me. Mainly because I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing. And I'm not just being falsely modest here. I really am lost. I mean, how often do you change them? Where do they sleep? How small do you need to cut up their steak?

Truly, the only solace I seem to be finding these days comes from knowing that Kevin Federline has done this. Twice.

And not helping matters are all the books I've read (OK, seen on the coffee table), instructional videos I've watched and prenatal appointments I've attended. Those just leave me even more overwhelmed.

The baby's supposed to sleep on its back. Not for too long though, or he'll get a flat spot on his head.

Pacifiers can help calm a child when he's upset. Don't give your child a pacifier.

Your baby likes to be touched. You'll want to avoid rubbing them, though, because they hate that.

I'm surrounded by information and yet I'm completely paralyzed. I mean, I don't even know how often I'm supposed to hose him off.

Sure, some of the info has been helpful. For instance, I learned that breast milk doesn't come in chocolate and that "putting a child down" doesn't involve Dr. Kevorkian. But I have no clue what it means when a baby is crying. Is he hungry? Needs changing? Watching "Steel Magnolias"?

Complicating matters is the fact that my wife says I'm not allowed to talk to our doctor because I "distract her." Which is ridiculous. She always gives my wife her full attention, asking her things like, "How often is the baby kicking?" "Are you having any contractions?" and "Ask Bryce if he likes my new scrubs."

Obviously, this is my wife's and my first child -- she's eight months pregnant now -- and it's all we can do to not cry ourselves to sleep. Which I'm told we won't even have the luxury of doing for, like, six years after the little guy finally arrives. Couple that with the advice my dad gave me the other day ("Son, remember to make eye contact with it ... Oh, and change its litter box every few days") and it's enough to make any would-be parent scream.

But if there's a small silver lining to all this, something that your parents never tell you until you finally decide to have kids of your own, it's that nobody knows what they're doing the first time around.

Which kind of puts my mind at ease, because, let's face it, I'm probably going to do my share of screwing up when it comes to raising our son.

Heck, in the first two weeks I'll probably end up rubbing his arm while he's asleep on his stomach, sucking on a pacifier. But no matter how much I do wrong as a first-time parent, I can tell you this much: I will love that kid with all my heart.

And he will always have a clean litter box.

Bryce Donovan also writes a column called "It beats working" every Thursday in Charleston Scene. Reach him at 937-5938 or send parenting advice to bdonovan@postandcourier.com. Check out his blog "The Bryce is Write" or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brycedonovan.