Have you thought about shaving yet? Start. Stay on top of that because you’re going to be an ape. Hair everywhere. Your grandfather was the same way—not that he ever showed me how to shave, but that’s probably for the best. Christ, he was a mess. Eyebrows like weeping willows. You know what the best advice he never gave me was? Shave in the direction your hair grows. A lot of people are going to tell you different—that you should shave against the grain, you’ll get a closer shave—but unless you want razor bumps that feel like there’s a blizzard of wasps inside your neck stinging their way out, you’re going to want—
Hey, Dad. What’re you doing?
Do you want eggs?
No, all set.
And I’m gonna crack the eggs, Daddy.
No, you’re not, Emma. I’m making breakfast.
No! I’m the cracker!
Just let her crack an egg, Maggie.
Oh, fine. One.
I’m the cracker!
Also, make sure your beard is wet. Did you know that facial hair absorbs up to 30% of its own volume? Your hair gets weak when it’s swollen, gets easier to cut. That’s why you should shave after you shower. Sure, some people shave in the shower, but some people masturbate while they drive, too—doesn’t make it a good idea. You think you’re saving time but you’re not. You just end up a mess.
Dad? Can I use the stove?
Why are you asking me again?
But I didn’t ask you yet.
You’re making eggs. How else were you going to make them?
Daddy, I cracked a egg but it made a mess.
So clean it up.
Can I use the stove?
How else—yes, go ahead. Cook your eggs. Be careful.
Daddy! What word spells L L O N I O N I N R N N?
Jesus, all right. Uh, “Lionheart.” Ok?
What? No. Never. Under no circumstances are you to use an electric razor. Ever. Son, listen to me: that’s not shaving. That’s just mowing your damn face.
Dad? Oh! What smells in here?
Daddy, did you poop? Is that your bum reflection?
She means farts, Dad.
I know what a bum reflection is, Maggie.
You have a bum reflection!
Oh, and look people in the eye, especially when shaking hands. And be sure your grip’s firm but not too aggressive. Otherwise, people will think you’re a dick. You don’t want that. Dicks die alone.
DADDY! DAA! DEE!
Jesus. What? What is it?
Aaaahh! It hurts!
What hurts? Where?
Here. Here. HERE!
Ok, come here. Up here. Let me see. Ok. Where?
Here? Come on, just let me see it.
I won’t touch it. I promise.
Your finger? Did you hurt it?
I thought it hurt?
Then how’d you hurt it?
I didn’t! It just hurts!
Christ. Ok, ok. Let me blow on it. Ok? Is that better?
Can I have a pocksicle?
Sure. Fine. Tell your sister to get you guys popsicles. Ok?
Ouch! Don’t kiss me, Daddy! You’re a prickle face!
Go get your popsicle.
Your face is prickly. Why don’t you shave it?
I’m going to count to three and then you won’t have popsicles for a month. One…two…
And as far as hugs are concerned, opt for the handshake. Yeah, I know: I’m a hugger. Believe me, though, it’s been more trouble than it’s been worth. Not everyone’s a hugger. Goodbyes turn into snack-sized panic attacks when you’re trying to navigate your buddy’s preference. And once you’ve set a precedent of hugging a shaker, you can never go back. You’re stuck. Think about it: for years this guy’s been locking-up and wincing every time you lean in for a squeeze, but it’s what he’s come to expect. You stop now and he’s thinking, “Wait, no hug? Is he pissed at me?” He may even break protocol and initiate an embrace so brain-bustingly awkward that your friendship’ll never recover from it. You’ll just chalk it—
Dad, can we watch a show? Emma wants to watch a show.
Yes, yes. Go for it. Just one, though.
What’s up, Maggie?
Then why are you here?
I’m just watching you.
Why don’t you watch your show instead?
It’s Emma’s show.
Of course it is.
Accelerate into the turn. That’s another thing your grandfather didn’t teach me. Actually, an old girlfriend told me that. Man, she used to drive fast….What? No, not your mother. God, no.
Why aren’t you watching your show?
I told you, it’s not my show. It’s Emma’s show, and it’s over.
Really? Was it super short?
No, it was regular sized.
Dad, are you mad?
No. Yes. No, I’m just frustrated.
You want me to help you?
Where’s your mom?
DADDY! Can I watch a nutter show?
No, Emma! We already watched one of your shows! It’s my turn.
No. It’s. NOT!
GUYS! QUIT IT!
Can we watch—
Yes. Whatever you want. Just go.
I heard this nugget the other day: winning is a trophy, failing is an education. I see what they’re trying to say, but if schools build hallways to show off their trophies, what’s that saying? How’s that—
God DAMN it! STOP FIGHTING IN THERE!
Ok, look, if you’ve got to do laundry, don’t waste what little time you have on earth reading labels on clothes. Throw everything in there together: whites, colors, toddlers, who cares. Whatever doesn’t survive shouldn’t be worn to begin with.
I give up.
Dad, Emma’s going potty in the yard.
Yeah, Dad. I told her she—
Maggie! She’s shitting!
Dad, you used the S word.
EMMA! STOP! Oh, fucking hell…
DAD! You just—you—stop talking like that!
Sorry, I—EMMA! EM! NO! Do NOT touch that! Stop RIGHT NOW!
One word, son: vasectomy.
Illustration by Andrew Lakata