This post is dedicated to Mazzy's Uncle Eric in honor of his birthday. Since Eric is new to "unclehood", I enlisted Mike's best friend, Brian— a comedy writer from LA and Uncle to twins Robby and Danny (pictured below)— to give some expert advice (with accompanying illustrations by yours truly).
Editor's Note: Brian's mustache was grown to surprise me at my wedding in which he was the Best Man. Thankfully, the joke was over before anybody got hurt.
As a single childless man in my VERY early 40’s, I have come up with a few philosophies on life, including parenthood. I won't pretend I know what it’s like to get two hours of sleep a night or change endless diapers but I do have an analogy that I think is somewhat accurate: BEING A PARENT IS A LOT LIKE SKIING.
Wait, hear me out.
Skiing is expensive, you have to get up at an ungodly hour, it takes forever to get out of the house, you have to summon all your energy to schlep up the mountain, deal with endless lines and carry ridiculously cumbersome equipment. BUT, once you hop off the chairlift— the exhilarating ride down the slopes is WELL worth it.
You with me? Ok.
If you take the analogy above and strip away all the annoying aspects associated with skiing, and only experience the sheer elation of what it’s like to cruise down the slopes— that's what it’s like to be an UNCLE.
All the awesomeness, none of the crap. Literally.
But in case awesomeness does not come easily to you, I'll elaborate.
THE SINGLE GUY'S GUIDE TO BEING AN AWESOME UNCLE
1) Redefine uncle. In the dictionary, being an UNCLE is defined as "one who helps, advises, or encourages". That sounds more like a guidance counselor. I propose redefining the word to reflect— what else? AWESOMENESS.
2) Avoid association with any activity less than awesome. When you find yourself playing with one of your nieces or nephews and he/she suddenly breaks out into a tantrum? Boom, hand that kid right over to their parents. Oh, look, the little tike needs a diaper change. Guess who’s “doodie” this ain’t? The Uncle! “Hey, Uncle, I need help with my homework…” "Sorry dude, go ask mom and dad, I retired from homework back in the 90s."
3) Be awesome. Kids love nonsense. Parents have no time for nonsense. Therefore— learn some nonsense. Coin tricks, card tricks, shadow puppets, impressive monkey impersonations, etc. You have no idea how great it is when you visit your niece or nephew and they say— "Hey Uncle! I want to see this newpaper turn into a glass of milk followed by the applause of 1000 monkeys!" And you can say— "Sure thing kid!"
5) Capture the awesomeness. Kids grow up quickly and you want your niece or nephew to remember all the awesome times you had together. You can take a picture that will be one of a thousand pictures taking up space on your sister/sister-in-law's computer OR you can take the kinds of pictures that get printed and framed for posterity. I suggest having fake mustaches on hand at all times. Nothing says "upload me to facebook" like kids with mustaches. (Photo note: my mom’s comment when she saw me take the picture up top— “I hope the tape on their mustaches doesn’t hurt their upper lip.” Grandma clearly needs to take some UNCLE LESSONS.)
In conclusion, "unclehood" is AWESOME while parenthood is a ton of work (just READING Mommy Shorts is exhausting).
Eric— I'd postpone the parenting thing for as long as possible and stick with your current gig.