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March 27, 2006
Father of the Year

I'm in an air museum with all three boys in tow. The two oldest are seated in the replica cockpit of a helicopter. The youngest and most troublesome is strapped to my back in a contraption designed for children less dense than iridium, which he is not.

I am trying to be a good father, though they tax my patience, especially the wee one with his ear-pulling and newfound spitting skills. To that end I am leaning into the cockpit to show my sons how the controls work.


It is the voice of a librarian, a schoolteacher, a junior senator from New York, or some other such female-type killjoy. I am physiologically and ideologically predisposed to ignore such voices. I continue my instruction.


I glance in her direction. It is a woman with her own children in tow. She looks concerned. She is a concerned mother.

"Yes?" I ask this in the terse-yet-polite voice I reserve for people I am not allowed to openly despise. What business could this woman possibly have with me?

"You're whacking your baby's head against the top of the helicopter."

Oh. Well then. I had heard the thumping, but as a parent you grow immune to the minor noises.

Little stinker should sing out if he's hurt, if you ask me. Still, a good reminder that even when we think we are something special, the odds are against it.

Posted by Woodlief on March 27, 2006 at 09:45 PM


At least he'll take after his father...

Posted by: Shawn at March 27, 2006 10:51 PM

Not to lay any more of a guilt trip than you're already on, but MAN, I've missed you!


Posted by: Mark Lenz at March 28, 2006 7:31 AM

I don't know how the hell I found your blog, but this entry made me laugh so hard I cried.

Both of my children's skulls bear dents from my having thumped them into doorframes or other such obstacles.

Posted by: Cordeiro at March 28, 2006 7:31 AM

Ha! That reminds me when I traveled with my son to show him off to my mother, proud daddy that I was. Son was maybe 6 months at the time. I raised him up for all to see and I heard *thump*thump*thump*. I had stuck his head in the ceiling fan. My first thought, though, was, "That can't be my son. My son doesn't make that noise."

Posted by: Michael at March 28, 2006 8:11 AM

Fortunately, (for you) your wife was not present at the time...though how did you explain the marks?

Posted by: Tom at March 28, 2006 8:21 AM

If he wasn't crying, I would guess he wasn't getting whacked too hard. In which case, he probably just thought it was a new game.

Posted by: Jordana at March 28, 2006 8:45 AM

"Still, a good reminder that even when we think we are something special, the odds are against it."

A revelation that only comes with age...

But thank heaven the human head probably *is* only slightly less dense than iridium. Otherwise how would babies live to adulthood faculties intact, given the head-twacking (always by fathers, of course ;) that seems to be a fact of life...

Cute anecdote.

Posted by: mamamiaetc at March 28, 2006 10:00 AM

I'm with Jordana - what kid doesn't like getting whacked on top of the head a few times? ;)

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at March 28, 2006 10:22 AM

"Yes?" I ask this in the terse-yet-polite voice I reserve for people I am not allowed to openly despise."

So true.

Posted by: Josh Harmon at March 28, 2006 11:58 AM

I share in everyone's excitement that you are still alive . . .

I sent you a few emails but heard no response. What has become of the Internet when people who are perfect strangers for all intents and puposes don't return your email because they are busy taking care of their family?!? . . .

Anyway, as the father of a 14 month old daughter I can always use these type of reminders.

Posted by: Kevin Holtsberry at March 28, 2006 2:21 PM

I had a little bout of angina when I saw that your site had been updated! :)

Perfectly quaint entry that I enjoyed enough to read twice.

Posted by: Danielle at March 28, 2006 11:02 PM

In the back of "Fretful Mother" magazine, you can find charming safety helmets for your tots.

Posted by: Tim McNabb at March 29, 2006 9:18 AM

If he were my son, I'd be more worried about the valuable equipment I was hitting that solid object (his head) against. He takes after me.

The male skull is the densest material known to man; at least, that's what women seem to think.

(PS - "Fretful Mother" magazine: ROFLROFLROFL!!! *SO* true. My wife is a lifetime subscriber.)

Posted by: Deoxy at March 30, 2006 9:48 AM

I've nearly poked out my kid's eye, from brushing his teeth too vigorously. Homo sensitivens, no matter how far he evolves, just doesn't have that mother's touch.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at March 30, 2006 2:11 PM

Okay...great story...as a father of five, I can truly relate...

...but TWO MONTHS and not a word? We haved missed you!!!

Posted by: David at March 30, 2006 11:40 PM

Nice to have you back, sir.

Posted by: MMM at April 1, 2006 9:01 AM

Missed you...where have you been, we need details, I am sure a few stories are in there.

Posted by: angela at April 1, 2006 4:54 PM

I've never understood how to do trackbacks, but here's some stuff on my blog about The Incident:


Posted by: Curt at April 2, 2006 11:28 PM

Look, either we do it, or the school bullies will.

Is this why people always duck when getting into helicopters?

Posted by: Jared at April 3, 2006 11:36 AM

Great story!

Posted by: Kev at April 3, 2006 1:02 PM

"It is the voice of a librarian, a schoolteacher, a junior senator from New York, or some other such female-type killjoy."

When I watch daddies supervising the kids, I do wonder how they (the kids) survive. Like the way they put the toddler down in the parking lot to wander around while unstrapping the infant from the car seat; or letting the wee ones run loose in the coffee shop where busy people are walking around with hot coffee. Yes, it does make me speak in my librarian voice.

Posted by: Norma at April 4, 2006 7:09 PM

I and mine were seriously concerned that something awful had happened in the Woodlief household, but I am happy to note that it seems naught but a good skull-thumping. :) Little boys are tough! As an elementary school student, my father once knocked himself cold, pretending to be a bull charging at a matador and running full-tilt into a brick wall. And he still managed to graduate with honors, so there you go.

Posted by: CEP at April 6, 2006 11:34 PM

Norma, they picked up those behaviors by imitating a female. Seriously. Watch baby-whelpers in coffee shops or supermarket parking lots sometime, you'll see plenty of 'em who pay more mind to their cell phone/purse/shopping cart than their brood -- a majority, I'd say.

Not only do children imitate authority figures, e.g., "librarian, a schoolteacher, a junior senator from New York, or some other such female-type killjoy", adults -- of all sexes! -- do too. And females stereotypically insist on being the authorities on anything to do with children.

Posted by: michael i at April 13, 2006 5:16 PM

This was great! I'm sure your little one was fine...just maybe a bit curious as to why you were doing it.

Posted by: kassi at April 14, 2006 2:54 PM