The Truth, Mainly - 03/09/1992

Say it isn't so: Boy at a baby shower?
by Leon Satterfield

Eat this column after you read it. I don't want it to get back to the boys in my hometown. It's about going to a baby shower.

It wasn't my fault. My daughter made me go. She's going to have a baby and she said I had to come to the baby shower.

"I can't," I said. "I'm a boy. Boys don't go to baby showers. Boys mess with John Deeres."

"You don't have a John Deere," she said. "You haven't messed with a John Deere since you were 19 years old. You have to come to the baby shower."

I was about to tell her that a man's gotta refuse to do what a man's gotta refuse to do, but she played hardball. If I didn't come to the baby shower, she said, I couldn't chuck her baby under the chin and say "Hey. Hey, there."

So I went. I was glad that none of the boys from my hometown were there.

When I was growing up back in the forties and fifties, boys in my hometown were afraid the same things would happen if they went to baby showers that would happen if they rode girls' bicycles: first they'd get interested in silk underwear, then they'd put on lipstick, and finally they'd no longer be anatomically correct.

But my wife tells me that the Baby Game has, thank God, changed. Now, she says, boys do lots of things they didn't used to do.

She reminds me that when our first grandbaby, Lovely Little Leslie Jo the Wonder Child, was born four months ago, our son was right there in the birthing room. That's what they're called now instead of delivery rooms, and fathers are invited to come on in.

Not only was our son in the birthing room, he was participating in the process, coaching our daughter-in-law in her breathing and pushing, and taking pictures of everything including Lovely Little Leslie Jo when she was about ten seconds old and still needing a bath pretty bad.

Fathers didn't do anything like that when our kids were born back in the late fifties and early sixties.

I'd be a pretty good husband early in the labor. I'd sit by my wife's bed and when she'd have a contraction I'd say comforting things like "Uh oh" and "Look out" and "I'm feeling a little queasy now." When she'd go into the delivery room to deliver, I'd go into the waiting room to wait. I'd smoke cigarettes, look at my watch, and read Life magazine.

Boys in my hometown were brought up to believe this division of labor had been pretty clearly laid out in Genesis when God came down to sentence Adam and Eve for eating the apple. The deal was, you remember, that Eve had to bring forth children in sorrow and let her husband rule her. Adam had to put up with thorns and thistles, and eat bread while he had sweat on his face.

If a girl back in my hometown had asked a boy for a little help in bringing forth this child in sorrow, he'd probably have said he had to go mess with his John Deere so he could plow under those thorns and thistles and work up a sweat before lunch.

Most of us boys had the notion that God, being a Boy Himself, knew that we were too sensitive to be inside the delivery room while our children were being born. We liked to talk about the miracle of birth, but only after the baby had been washed off and wrapped up in a little pink or blue blanket and handed to us so we could chuck it under the chin and say "Hey there. Hey."

And we knew that even though Genesis was a little vague about baby showers, they were clearly a part of the sorrow of bringing forth children and hence not in our department. We were also too sensitive to withstand goofy baby shower games and watery coffee and jello salads and little lace doilies.

So I was surprised—this doesn't get back to my hometown, right?—when I had a good time at my daughter's baby shower. There were lots of other boys and there weren't any lace doilies or jello salads. We had beer and crackers and cheese and dip and chips and hot salsa and brownies, and we didn't play any games. One girl said we were going to play Pin the Diaper on the Grandpa, but it was just a joke. I laughed a little myself, but I stayed alert. Still, I was glad to be there.

My son tells me he was also glad to be in the birthing room when Lovely Little Leslie Jo was born. It's all pretty perplexing to someone with my background, but my wife tells me if my brain cells hold out I can get over knowing the things I knew while I was growing up. If I don't, she says, I can take my patriarchal notions of Divine Intent and stick them in the exhaust pipe of the John Deere I'll be messing with after she puts me out to pasture in the middle of a whole lot of thorns and thistles.


Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.

©Copyright Lincoln Journal Star