A four-year-old relative of mine upon learning her mother was pregnant stated in no uncertain terms, “Well, if it’s a boy, we’re not keeping it.”

I was as shocked to hear that as you probably are. Rarely do such sage words of wisdom issue from the lips of one so young. I can say from personal experience, had we simply given our boy away early on, we would have lived a much more tranquil existence.

I am reminded of this, because a fellow blogger acquaintance of mine, The Misfit Farmer (Check him out he is funny: https://misfitfarmer.com/), and his wife just had their first child. In their naivete they started off with a boy rather than use the more advisable approach of starting with two girls then graduate up to a boy like I did. Despite this oversite, my guess is they plan to keep him, so I am passing on the two most important pieces of advice I can offer a new father based on personal experience.

  1. Don’t Open the Cooler

Eventually, your boy will insist on going fishing without you. Your wife will climb the walls worrying about him out there in the wilderness, but the truly dangerous part happens when he gets home. That is when he forgets about all the fish he put in your $100 cooler and takes off with his friends to engage in activities that would upset his mother much more than the goings on of a fishing expedition if she only knew about them. After a few days in the heat the forgotten fish dissolve into a liquified sludge of sorts with an occasional floating eyeball or two mixed in just to keep things interesting.

At some point, the inexperienced father notices the cooler after it has been sitting out in the sun for a while. He innocently opens the lid whereupon his nasal passages are assaulted by a full dose of fish sludge aromatics. After the paramedics leave and the father can form consonants again, he inquires as to the exact whereabouts of his son and would those whereabout happen to be within strangling distance? He is informed his son is off on another fishing trip with the brand-new cooler he talked his grandmother into buying him. After a while, the father calms down enough to abandon his plans to terminate his offspring’s existence in lieu of a light maiming. This is, of course, provided his vision clears up enough to actual see his son and some of the feeling returns to his extremities.

The takeaway here is to never open a cooler your son leaves out. If you see one, the best solution is to simply sell your house and let the next owner deal with it. Afterward, if you get a heated phone call from someone who can’t formulate consonants, you’ll know he opened it.

2. How to Deal with Borrowing

“Dad, can I borrow …” is hands down the most dreaded phrase a boy can utter to the knowing father.

It always means something you own will either never be seen again or it will be returned in a condition that is only marginally recognizable as the object he carried off.

I am actually thinking of filming a horror movie for fathers of sons called “Day of the Borrowed.” It will be chiefly comprised of the before and after pictures of stuff sons borrowed from their dads interspersed with the kid explaining why things are not his fault. By the time we get to fishing tackle scenes many of the audience will be openly cringing in terror, if not sobbing. Call me cruel, but I plan to end the movie with my true-life brand-new bass boat story, though I fear it may have audience members leaving the theater, too stricken to watch further. (Spoiler alert: It starts with the boy in black relief, ominous music playing in the background and him saying, “Honestly, Dad. I wasn’t going all that fast when I hit that sandbar.”

I have lost so many tools to borrowing that I actually believe some other-worldly process is behind it. No thinking person, even one equipped with only a sixteen-year-old mind, can routinely have their life threatened in the event they don’t return a tool and still manage lose that tool. Negligence alone doesn’t explain it. Paranormal forces have to be at work. Hence the old, “I don’t know what happened to the <whatever>, Dad. I put it right next to the <whatever> and now it’s gone.”

My son used to routinely beg his way into driving off in one of my muscle cars. They never came back unchanged. He broke so many things in and on my vehicles, I eventually quit asking what happened for fear of getting an answer. Had he driven off with my 6.4 Hemi Challenger Super B and come home with a four-cylinder Mercury Zephyr, I would have celebrated the fact that it came back at all and it more or less ran.

The only mature, rational solution to son-based borrowing is to find a deep cave, put all your stuff in it and chain a large grizzly bear next to the opening. This should keep your stuff safe until the boy borrows the grizzly bear chain to hook to your new truck he borrowed so he can hook it to the front bumper of your vintage 1957 Chevy truck that he borrowed that morning to go dove hunting and got stuck in a field. This, of course, bends the bumper of your vintage Chevy and, after all that, the chain goes missing by some unexplainable circumstance as does the grizzly bear who wanders off never to be seen again.

When dealing with the mashed and the missing, I suggest you keep a picture on hand of your boy when he was small and cute and innocent. Refer to it often while he explains how all the stuff that happened to your property occurred out of no fault of his own. Especially, when he mentions something you didn’t even know was missing or damaged.

As the saying goes, “Boys will be boys” and the truth is you are going to have put up with all the frustrations that come along with him. Just keep reminding yourself that you actually love the little so and so and stay the course. You don’t really have a choice. It is too late to give him away.