Parenthood Penalties & Follies

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“Hey Dolphins! If you guys start losing again, I’m available to be your quarterback!”

Welcome back readers!

This Thursday is the start of my favorite season in sports: professional football. There is something that is just perfect about the NFL season. There are equal parts of predictability and uncertainty mixed with the right number of games that makes this an exciting time of the year. This year, however, will be a little different for myself and my football-loving wife, as we do have the little guy in our lives. Sure, he was there for the end of last season and he was also very immobile. This made watching those last few games fairly easy.

But now he is nine months old and a crawling/standing/taking assisted steps machine! He now requires A LOT more attention, time, and energy. In fact, it’s almost as if we have been a part of our own professional sporting event for the last nine months. As with football, parenting has its own drama and excitement. And you know what else these two things have in common? Some crazy penalties that, at times, ruin the moment for both NFL fans and parents. My bundle of joy certainly has been guilty of these infractions. Hell, some of them even share the same names as the ones imposed by the NFL. For instance:

ROUGHING THE PASSER: This is when you are just finishing up feeding your child, effectively passing off food to them. And of course, you attempt to burp them. They respond by passing the food back onto you. My son is a repeat offender. Not as painful as getting hit after completing a pass, but pretty damn close. PENALTY: 15 minute loss of time as you continuously find throw-up to clean and wonder how this kid is such a magician at vomit placement.

NEUTRAL ZONE INFRACTION: That moment when you realize your little one has soiled themselves and it’s time for a change. You get the baby wipes and fresh diaper ready. The filthy garment is being removed. Then…tiny feet move into the space they should not and plop right into the mess. Lovely, eh? PENALTY: This can be an offsetting penalty if both of you were in violation (such as the parent didn’t hold baby’s feet out of the way. I’ve done it before. Just suck it up and realize you were as much to blame). But, if it was all kiddo, then it’s a 5 minute loss as you try to sanitize.

DELAY OF GAME: It’s about 8 PM and you finally get that baby down to sleep. Now, it’s that rare moment for Mommy and Daddy to have some time together. The big decision now comes: “What do we do? Should we….wait, what’s that noise? Dammit! He’s awake already?!” And thus, begins the epic journey of attempting to lull that child back to Dreamland. PENALTY: This one is really on the parents. Should have not taken so long to decide. This has happened to us quite a bit and the penalized time varies, anywhere from five minutes to “what do you mean it’s almost midnight!?”

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT: This hasn’t happened to us yet, but it can only be a matter of time. Picture this: You are out as a family, having a nice meal. Your infant starts to fuss and is only getting worse. Both Daddy and Mommy are trying their best to keep it from getting out of hand, but alas, there is no stopping that train from barreling down the track. PENALTY: This leads to either of two scenarios: a self-imposed penalty of leaving on your own accord, or ejection after getting into an argument with the jerk across the way, rolling his eyes at your situation. This most likely will lead to some sort of fine as you nearly assault said jerk on the way out. See how that one went from detrimental conduct of your child to you taking ownership of it? Children are sneaky, eh?

All joking aside, I’m looking forward to sharing the football experience with my kid, along with all the other Parenthood Penalties that may pop up in the future. And when it comes to football, who knows if he may end up loving or hating it. In the big scheme of things, it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t share my affection. What I do know is if he does end up loving football, he better not become a Patriots fan because that comes with its own penalty: He is out of the will.

-Enjoy the start of the NFL season, football fans. Until next time!

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