Babies: Assembly required
by John Norberg, humor columnist s

When it comes to having children, mothers have to carry the baby for nine months. It might seem like the baby work is not evenly distributed between women and men.

But actually that's not true. Fathers bear an equal part of the work. They have to put the baby stuff together.

A woman carries the child for nine months. But our youngest child is almost 31 and I'm still trying to get some of her baby stuff together.

When a man learns he's going to become a father he thinks about a little 7-? pound baby who isn't going to take up too much of his space. But he quickly learns that babies come with more stuff than a traveling three-ring circus. There are cribs, strollers, car seats, travel systems, dressers, changing tables, walkers, jumpers, highchairs, playards, and on and on and on.

By the ninth month of pregnancy with all this stuff filling his house, a man realizes that this might just be a tiny baby, but it's going to take up a lot of space. And if he plans to go anywhere from that point on, he's going to have to trade in his sports car for an 18-wheeler moving van.

The biggest problem with all this baby stuff is that none of it comes assembled. Manufacturers don't actually make baby things. They make baby thing parts, stuff them in boxes with nuts and screws and instructions so simple they can be understood by anyone with a Ph.D. in engineering.

Mothers go to baby showers where female friends and family give them boxes and boxes filled with baby thing parts. Why don't fathers have a shower and invite all their male friends and family over to put the stuff together?

Our newest grandchild is on the "any time now" list. Last weekend we visited our son and daughter-in-law and helped put some baby stuff together. It's a boy and he doesn't have a name yet so I'm calling him after my granddad, Knut Gustav. Our daughter-in-law has indicated this name is not on her final list.

There were seven of us with 10 college degrees between us trying to put all of Knut Gustav's stuff together, so I'm sure you understand it was complete chaos. People were trying to figure out instructions, looking for different kinds of screwdrivers, searching for missing parts.

I took one look at the 300 parts for the stroller/car seat and knew exactly what I needed to do. I went for coffee.

We finally finished with only a few minor injuries and most people still speaking to each other.

Son: "Wait! There's a part left over. What are we supposed to do with it?"

There comes a time when people have to be told the hard, cold truth. I told him I'd been putting baby stuff together for my kids and nephews, and grandchildren for more than 40 years. And when you get a baby thing put together and there's one piece left over, there's only one thing for an honest man to do.

Hide it before the mother sees it and makes you take the whole thing apart and do it over again.

He was relieved to have the baby things put together. I hate to tell him, but this is just the start. There will be birthdays, Christmases and years filled with all kind of events featuring boxes of stuff that have to be put together.

Babies should come with a label: "some assembly required."

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