1. How has life changed since becoming a parent?
I never thought that I’d go to bed so early and get up so early. I went from being a night owl to being a day person. Plus, I never used to think twice about the things I left laying around the house – from spare change to chapstick to whatever was in my pockets. Now, anything that can possibly be swallowed is under lock and key, seven feet off the ground, behind an electric fence, being guarded by rabid dogs.
2. What’s the best thing about being a parent?
That bad day I had doesn’t matter so much when I hear my daughter laugh. Watching someone experience true joy – on a daily basis – from the little things we long ago took for granted – that is such an amazing thing to see. Every day my daughter discovers something new and is positively mesmerized by it. To watch all of that unfold is incredible. I never understood the saying “To see life through a child’s eyes” before. Now I do, and it’s great to see.
3. How do your non-parent friends now perceive you? Do you still have things in common?
They see me the same way as I saw parents when I was single and didn’t have kids: As the guy who can never show up or has to leave early. “Sorry, not tonight – I’ve got to stay home with the kid” or “Sorry, I’ve got to leave early, got to get home to the kid”. But it’s very true. I find myself less interested in the late nights (because they are followed by early mornings).
4. What is the funniest thing that your toddler has done?
She loves to wear her Halloween costume around the house. It’s a very fluffy, full-body monkey costume, complete with hood with monkey ears and a long tail. The other day, I told her we needed to put on regular clothes before going for a walk, and she responded, “This sucks”. I have no idea where she learned it. No, really. Seriously. No idea.
5. How do you make your toddler laugh? Is it a hard gig?
I do a pretty good Elmo impression. I’ll hold up her Elmo doll and make his voice…or, at least, a reasonable facsimile. If I do the puppeteering just right, she’s thoroughly amused. Mostly, I think she finds it funny her dad is attempting to sound like Elmo. And, truthfully, any time I make her stuffed animals seem to come to life, she’s content.
6. What is your approach to parenting?
To never forget how it felt to be a child. I will never be the “cool parent” or that parent who tries to be friends with their child. That’s a recipe for disaster. But I will try to remember how it felt to be a kid. To remember to hear their side of the story, even when tempers flare and you’re ready to punish first and listen later. And to stop every once in a while, breathe, and remember that we all make mistakes – no matter what age we are – every day, our entire lives. It’s what we learn from them that matters. I hope that I never stop learning that myself as I never stop teaching it to her.
And, every so often, I’ll speak in Elmo’s voice.
7. What’s the best advice you can give to new parents?
You’ll figure it out without my help. And half of what other parents tell you isn’t going to work for your kid anyway.
8. What is your favourite kiddie product?
Baby wipes! I’d wash my car with them if they were big enough.
Ward Anderson is a comedian, author, and talk show host who has performed all over the world and appeared randomly onstage, on TV, and on film. He is co-host of the talk radio program, “Ward & Al”, which is heard weekdays on SiriusXM satellite radio. His articles have appeared in places such as Sharp Magazine, Eligible Magazine, AmongMen.Com, and The Huffington Post . He is also the author of two novels, I’ll Be Here All Week, and All That’s Left, which are available wherever books are sold.