You Grow Up and You Calm Down

Adrienne and I are expecting another child. This is a late notice; the due date is Oct 3rd, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about it until now. The baby is a girl, and that worries me a bit. I can promise to love her with all of my heart until she is twelve. When she hits thirteen all bets are off.

Few things frighten me more than the thought of being the father of a teenage girl.

I guess I will adjust. Who knows what I’ll be like by the time she is a teenager? I am certainly not the same person now that I was before Reese was born. For one, I own a leaf blower. How the hell did that happen? I never set out to own a leaf blower. In fact, I’m sure at some point in my youth I vowed never to own one. This was probably around the same time I expressed disbelief that anyone could NOT have a six-pack. And yet there is a leaf blower in my garage, and if I still have a six-pack it is hidden under a fat-pack now. But I still have my hair. Oh yes, I still have my hair!

Becoming an old man kind of freaks me out. My sister-in-law Elaine and her friends (all young college students) were hanging out at our house a while back. We were chatting when one of Elaine’s friends mentioned with horror the age of an acquaintance, “She’s OLD! She’s like 31 or something!” I shook my fist at her—I will turn thirty in November.

I would like to attribute some of the changes in me to fatherhood, not just getting “OLD!” When Adrienne was pregnant with Reese it seemed like a couple of dormant parts of my brain were awakened. I had thought I was just not a mushy guy, but the slumbering mushiness control-center kicked in and I could suddenly get teary eyed over a commercial, or spend twenty minutes just watching Reese sleep. I now have absolutely zero tolerance for seeing little kids get hurt or sad.

I have definitely mellowed with age. I used to be so competitive that I couldn’t enjoy a friendly basketball game unless I was dunking on someone. OK, maybe that isn’t a matter of mellowing, it might just be my ever-decreasing vertical leap (Adrienne is looking over my shoulder and saying, “You could write a book just about your former competitiveness!” I don’t know what she is talking about).

But aging and fatherhood haven’t brought pure mellowness. While Adrienne was pregnant some sort of Caveman Brain also emerged. I was ready to kill at a moment’s notice. Adrienne and I were walking to the park one afternoon— well, “walking” is not quite right. Adrienne was eight months pregnant and I was scheduled for fairly serious knee surgery in a couple of days. “Limping to the park” might be more accurate.

Three teenagers in a truck drove by and shot Adrienne with a plastic pellet. I never heard her yelling, “Josh, it didn’t even hurt!” The caveman brain had taken over and the only thing I heard was “KILL KILL KILL!” as I sprinted down the middle of the street. They wisely sped away, though I nearly caught them. I couldn’t walk at all the next day.

If I had caught them and beat the living hell out of them, as was my intention, I would probably have cried afterwards, because, “My little boy will be eighteen some day—will he shoot pregnant ladies with plastic pellets?!” That will be the first rule my teenagers have: “No firing projectiles at pregnant women.” The second rule will be, “Don’t act like a total know-it-all jackass.” That and don’t say “jackass.”

Who am I kidding, I have no idea how to set rules for teenagers. I never had any. OK, that is an exaggeration. I had two rules.

  1. Do not disrupt the power grid of Simi Valley.
  2. Do not leave the country without telling Dad.

I broke one of them.

Even though I broke 50% of my rules I really never got into much trouble as a kid. There were a few times where, if I had been caught, I would have gotten into trouble, but I didn’t get caught. I think most of those times were Corey’s fault. Thanks Corey, high school would have been much more boring without you.

On my own, I probably would have never been much of a risk taker, but parenthood has made me even less of one. Now I have to calculate the Fun Return on Investment on any risk since the consequence could be leaving my family fatherless. I can remember a time when the ROI on leaving my family fatherless was quite high. We were just out of school and dirt poor. I was working for BYU, which offered me a ridiculously enormous life insurance policy. At that point I could have provided much better for my family dead than alive. That’s a different story though.

Maybe by the time our little girl (Anna?) is a teenager I will have become so mellow that her inevitable psychotic teen-girlness wont bother me? The mellowing out and calming down are a small price to pay for being a father. The leaf blower however…

21 responses for You Grow Up and You Calm Down

  1. Chels says:


    You and Adrienne are awesome parents– I can tell just from the way you talk about Reese. I’m so excited for you guys. Again, congratulations!!

    (And yes, tada, I still around. :) Strange how I disappear and reappear. I’m like Houdini, but less cool. And more alive.)

  2. Aaron says:

    Maybe you’re just acting mellow. I mean, I don’t see how it’s possible that the same guy who I engaged in an hour-long full on boomball war, complete with overturned couches and tables, during business hours could possibly have mellowed all that much.

    I mean, by “mellow” do you mean, “Old and boring”, or “slightly less psychotic”? It’s hard to tell with you.

    And don’t worry, you’re giong to be an incredible dad.

    In fact, have more kids. Somebody needs to balance out all the mental cases that are being born every other second.

  3. yellow duck says:

    Any kid who has Special Agent Conrad Uno as a dad is pretty lucky. Oh yeah, and just wait for the day some kid, teacher, life force of any kind messes with the off spring in front of mom… it will bring new meaning to the phrase ‘nuclear family’. Moms have a way of annihilating meanies too!

    p.s. people told me all the time how bad ‘teens’ would be… you know what? – they weren’t that bad. If you train them well as little guys they seem o.k. later, at least they were for us. Expect them to be good and they will be. : )

  4. Rex says:

    Just wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog, and only wish you would post more often. I laugh out loud almost every time I read your stuff. To the extent that you think it’s cool to have some guy you’ve never met before learn all about your personal life, you can thank John over at KZION for linking to your blog. Anyway, thanks for the honest but hilarious look at life. Keep up the good work.

  5. Adam says:

    Congratulations on the new kid. May the hairs on your head hold strong against the inevitable creep of gray and white.

  6. Personally I think you’ll look awesome with gray and white hair. Totally awesome.

    Congratulations on the family addition on the way. That’s awesome news. Totally awesome.

  7. dave says:

    One way that I am preparing for age is to have my barber carefully cut my hair so that it looks like it is thinning on the top and front. People say, “are you losing your hair” and I say no, I have a very skilled barber and this is how he cuts it. It’s a complete lie and everyone knows it but it makes me feel better.

    About the drive by incident, did you rehearse in your head what you’d have done had you caught them? If yes, what pray tell did you do?

  8. Porgo says:

    i was just talking with sue and mark, and he mentioned your site. i think i even met you once, way back in 88 or 89 or something at the hole (

    i can totally relate to this, as i am 34 with a soon to be 12 year old daughter (who has three younger brothers). we started drilling rules into her head at about age 4, and she can still recite them all. we’ll see how long they stick…

    1) no dances until 14, and then only church dances (reasonable enough) 2) no dating or boyfriends until 16, and then only group dates (this will be tough to enforce) 3) no one on one dating until 18 (by then, what can we do anyway) 4) smoke em if you got em

    this last one is a trick question, obviously. in our house, its always chewing tobacco….and she knows it. nothing finishes up a family night like a shared piece of chaw and passing the 7up bottle full of spit.

    makes me all warm inside.

  9. yellow duck says:

    when asked about your age ADD five to ten years. i.e. if you are 35 say you are 45 and stand back and let the complements fly about how good you look for your age. It works so much better than trying to compete with the real peers, you know – the ones who actually go to the gym and eat well and secretly dye their hair to make you look bad. If you compete with a generation ahead of you – you’ll ALWAYS win.

  10. Porgo says:

    to ad to mr. duck’s comment…

    does anyone ever tell you “hey, you and your wife look and act so much alike — you’re made for each other.” ??

    it happens to me all the time. so i tell people “that’s because she’s my sister.”

    we don’t have many friends, though.

  11. yellow duck says:

    Porgo- Actually, as high school sweethearts folks who didn’t know us personally always asked if we were brother and sister because we started out looking the same. A little weird, but true. It was fun to freak people out back then, like dancing a little too close and then by the end of the evening actually kiss each other pretty good in front of the ‘curious’! Now we have grown even more so similar with age, but nobody cares who we are or what we do!

  12. Porgo says:

    its no fun if nobody cares. its the shock value that makes me do what i do.

    like the time i stopped wearing clothing.

  13. H. Roark says:

    I am a gulf war vet 1st time around, I have a Black belt in Goshin Jitsu Karate. I used to sky dive, rappel, and pretty much beat up my body. I swore I would never have children!(to darn selfcentered). Its a wonder my wife put up with me. June 5, 2000 The day that changed my life The good lord (and my wife) gave me Madeline Christine. Hang in there, I turned from an andrenaline junky into Ward cleaver. My daughter gave me an oppurtunity to reflect, and live for the things that really are worth living for: Faith, hope, and Love. Life really is grand! Congradulations….

  14. And that is why I never intend on parenting.

    Incidentally, which rule did you break?

  15. josh says:

    I left the country briefly, but felt guilty and turned back after barely crossing the border.

  16. martin says:

    Hurray for the Penrods. Just in case you never got the voice mail I left for you, I am now the proud father of a baby girl – Catelyn Brooke Johnson. She will have rules. She will probably break them. I will still love her.

    It’s going to be fun having a family of four.

  17. For anyone who enjoyed the above and wants another perspective on the changes that follow fatherhood, I give you Cornel Bonca’s Encyclopedia for Future Fathers.

  18. Elyse (Comeau) Russell says:

    Congrats Josh! I check in occasionally to see how you are doing… Sounds pretty good so far!

    I definitely think most of our High School delinquincies can be blamed on Corey! He owned the Suzuki!


  19. Silent Rant says:

    On Fathering a Daughter

    I have no sisters. My father has no sisters. The first grand-child from each of my brothers has been a boy. And to top it off, I have a mother who is more rational than most men. Consequently, I’m terrified of having a daughter, especially the kind th…

  20. Adriaan says:

    Fantastic entry (I really should read your blog more often. Heck why isn’t it in my RSS feeds list). Anyway, totally feel the same things. We’re old, man, and are becoming grumpy and protective. But at least I don’t own a leaf blower…