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Designated Father

15 Mar

When I lived in Boston and NYC, this weekend’s St. Paddy’s celebration was a big deal. But now, I live in the south – I’m not sure they’ve even heard of the Irish – AND I have a two-year-old. Day-drinking my way through St. Patrick’s Day is a lot harder with a toddler.

Even one who has got some Irish in him. (And has been there!)

Day-drinking is one of the joys of life, and now that I live in North Carolina, what with its warmer weather and countless breweries, you’d expect my opportunities for such sun-drenched inebriation to increase, starting with this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. And they would.

Except for the fact that I have a son.
baseball, drinking, parenting, fatherhood, irish, st. patrick's day, family, responsibility, drinking

It’s not the South’s fault – not this time.

Drinking just gets harder once you have children, and each stage of their development brings different issues. Babies wake up too much to be able to sleep it off; toddlers act up too much to take them out; older kids ask too many questions about Daddy’s constant drinking and teenagers steal your booze.

But you always find your moments. I’m still in the sweet-spot of being able to put my kid to bed early enough that I can have a few hours left to have some drinks before I hit the sack. But I’m also old enough that even just a few drinks can give me a hangover far out of proportion to how drunk I’d gotten – or even if I hadn’t gotten drunk at all – which makes the next morning, when I have to feed and bathe and dress and play with what is often a loud, energetic sociopath, hard. A lot harder than it was when I was 22, and the only loud, energetic sociopaths I had to deal with were my roommates.

You’d think this would make day-drinking even more inviting. It doesn’t.

In order to do it, you have two options – get someone else to watch your kid, or bring him along.

Mom and Buried and I are big proponents of bringing our kid along as we live our lives, rather than serve as chaperones and valets as he lives his. But while occasionally taking a toddler to a liquid lunch at a pub is more than doable, wandering around a closed-off avenue or a small stadium that’s overloaded with inebriated college kids and their balance-deprived, Solo-cup-teetering torsos, or slightly older people who inexplicably get belligerent about minor league baseball, can make for a sticky situation. That’s literally sticky for my son, whose entire existence takes place in the splash zone.

fatherhood, parenting, drinking, hangover, irish, st. patrick's day, family, partyingSo maybe you leave the kid at home with a babysitter. Sounds great, except eventually you still have to go back and get him, and you may well be drunk when you do. Dealing with your kid when you’re drunk is a far worse proposition than dealing with him when you’re hungover.

If it’s not just plain irresponsible to be drunk around your kid, then it’s at least inappropriate. The few times I’ve had to interact with my son when I’ve been drunk – once or twice when I’ve gotten home from a night out, sent the babysitter off and had to tend to him when he woke during the night – I’ve felt embarrassed. I don’t want him to see me drunk, even when he’s barely awake, even when he doesn’t know what “drunk” means.

He’s still young enough that my raising a beer or two doesn’t signify anything besides thirst, but he’s getting to the point where pretty soon he’ll be able to notice a difference in my behavior when I drink, especially if I can’t speak without slurring and/or inexplicably paint my face blue.

I like to drink. I love beer; I’m constantly trying new ones and always have some in my fridge. But I get drunk far less than I used to; blame my increasing age, decreasing opportunity and the intensified aftermath. But I do still have some opportunities – weekends away without my son, nights when we get a babysitter, the occasional evening when I go out without my wife and she watches him – and if I’m inclined to, I’ll take them. And I’ll get a little drunk. But while I may have a beer or two if he’s around, I’m never drunk in front of him, and I’m never drunk when I’m alone with him, even if he’s sleeping. Which makes day-drinking a difficult proposition.Ireland, The Simpsons, parenting, fatherhood, drinking, alcohol, family

So I’m definitely excited for my first Southern spring, and a variety of outdoor activities, including St. Patrick’s Day, it won’t be quite the same as it was when I was living in Southie, starting my morning with a car-bomb or three and coercing the guy playing the bagpipes off the parade route and into my house party. This year, I might actually have to take a break from drinking and watch a St. Paddy’s parade sober! Shudder.

Then again, my sister-in-law is coming to stay for the weekend and spend some time with her nephew…

I call that the luck of the Irish. Slainte!

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