I’ve started to wonder what kind of father am I going to be. The best hint, of course, is to look at my own father, a man most would agree is a kind and sensitive human, a thinker, and a true gentleman. I hope I’ve internalized a lot of his methods and attitudes; If so, I lucked out. And if he had been a knuckle-dragging moron, I would hope that I could be smart enough to do things differently. Instead I just have to follow his lead, which is a good feeling. It’s also not the norm.
The other day, I went on Americanbaby.com. It’s vaguely exciting, because no man has ever gone on Americanbaby.com, so I feel like I am nosing around in the women’s bathroom, checking to see if they really have couches in there. The site is a bright, happy place with lots of soothing colors and impossibly big-eyed babies, and is a general carnival celebrating the joys of fertility. There were plenty of feelgood multiple choice quizzes; I took one called “What Kind of Dad Will He Be?” The questions were too easy, the answers obvious. Without much effort I was told I would make a well-balanced dad, “a wonderful mix of love, discipline, and fun, a man who will “dole out discipline firmly and fairly,” and be “willing to help out with . . . bathing, feeding, and dealing with a sick child.” Ugh. I hated this guy already.
I tried it again and purposely answered every question wrong. In the end, I got a simple message that said I should take the quiz again. Just as I suspected: Americanbaby.com is not in the business of telling people that they were not qualified to procreate.
I took a crack at “Should I Parent a Boy or Girl?” a quiz that ascertains which gender you’re more suited to raising. In the end, I was told that I honestly didn’t seem to care whether I had a boy or a girl, which seemed passive-aggressive to me. Made me sound like a prick.
Next up was “What is your Pregnancy IQ?” I felt confident about this one. I’ve been reading all of Sarah’s books. But I managed to blow it on a question about morning sickness, then another about placenta previa (an unpleasant-sounding obstetric complication in which a low-lying placenta covers part or all of the inner opening of the cervix). I finished strong, acing most of the rest—including the parts about mucus plugs and folic acid, two of my favorite subjects. So I was dumbfounded when I got this response:
You may still have some thinking to do. Talk to your partner and be sure to bring any anxieties you feel into the open. It may be a good idea to speak with a couples counselor or therapist, as well. But remember: Some of the best moms and dads around were nervous going in.
It was like a slap in the face. Thinking to do? Anxieties? Nervous going in? WTF? I probably got 80 percent of the questions right, and I still needed to see a couples counselor? This was the most brutal grading curve ever.
Then I remembered a crucial fact: I am man. These quizzes aren’t directed at me; they’re for pregnant women, and not just any pregnant women: educated women. Obsessed women. Women who spend their time taking quizzes on Americanbaby.com. I bookmarked the page and vowed to return in a few months.