Bad Habits

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

“If Will turns out to be a foul-mouthed deviant it’ll be your fault.”

Those were the words directed at me from my lovely wife this past weekend. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but we were discussing how great a parent’s influence is on his/her kids and how children mimic their parents and try to be just like them. And from there it turned into a laundry list of my bad habits and all the things I need to change for Will’s sake. So without further ado, here are all the terrible things about me that I need to correct in order to become a suitable dad…

My swearing. I can’t really argue with MJ about this one because it’s true. I swear like a drunken sailor on liberty. In particular, I love the F-word. I use it whenever possible and I utilize it in all its forms. I just can’t help it, I love to curse. Ever since George Carlin and his “Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV” routine, I’ve tried to swear at every turn. It makes jokes funnier and it accentuates my points when I’m angry. This topic came up because I was getting frustrated while dealing with all the damn tourists who flooded the Cape this Memorial Day weekend, and who have no idea how to navigate a rotary. I immediately went off on an expletive-laden tirade that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush, until MJ whacked me and pointed to Will in the backseat. You see, I’m still operating under the assumption that he can’t understand what the hell I’m saying, so what’s the difference if I drop a few F-bombs here and there? She asked if I really wanted my young son saying “sh*t” and “@sshole” and honestly, I think that’d be pretty funny. But she sees it differently. And she warned me that if Will’s first word is “f*ck” then she’s going to divorce me.

Second, she wants me to tone down my attitude and anger while watching sports. I can see where she’s coming from. After all, I am certifiable during games. I jump around, scream, swear, throw things and kick furniture when my teams aren’t doing well. If things are going especially poorly, I’m not above slamming my head into walls either. But I’ve been that way all my life and that’s why when I’m lost in a game, I forget that I’m holding Will or he’s sleeping nearby. And when I let out my screams and yells I’ve woken him up a few times, much to MJ’s displeasure. But in my defense, how the hell am I supposed to vent my feelings during a game if I can’t yell? That’s how I was brought up and I really don’t think I’m capable of change here. It’s an automatic reaction…it’s instinct. When Big Papi hits a walkoff homerun I can’t imagine jumping up and performing a few silent fist pumps in celebration. I have to run around the living room, shout at the top of my lungs, wrestle with the dogs and jump up and down on the couch. I don’t think I’m flexible on this one.

And finally, there’s the bad habit that tops them all. The one MJ gets furious just thinking about. The proverbial cherry on my bad habit sundae. And I’m warning you now, most of you women will find this a little gross so stop reading now if you’re easily offended…

You see, in my most natural state I’m a complete neanderthal. Namely, if I’m just relaxing at home watching TV on the couch, I have my hands down my pants. And I know I’m not alone here. I’d say 95 percent of guys, if allowed to answer honestly, would say their idea of a great Saturday afternoon would be chilling out on the couch with a remote control in one hand and their scrotum in the other. It’s just how we are, it’s written into our DNA. And believe it or not, we’re not doing it on purpose or to piss you women off. It’s just automatic. We do it without even thinking about it. Have you ever seen the TV show “Married with Children?” We’re all Al Bundy at heart and after a long day of work we think we have the right to sit on our couch, watch TV and fondle ourselves.

But whenever MJ walks into a room and I’m doing this, she hits the roof. And now that we have a child, she gets even more furious. She thinks that if Will sees me doing this, he’ll do it. And if he starts doing it, well…MJ might tear the aforementioned part of my anatomy right off. I’ve tried to tell her it doesn’t matter if Will ever sees me do this, he’ll figure it out on his own. It’s a rite of passage into manhood. It’s going to happen no matter what.

However, I admit I got myself into more trouble than necessary when she called me a caveman, and I responded by wishing that was true because then I could club her.

Anyways, I’m curious to see if we’re alone in having these arguments. So any guys reading out there, leave some comments and tell me what your wife or girlfriend gets on you about. And ladies, feel free to air your own laundry lists of stuff your man does that drives you nuts.

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7 thoughts on “Bad Habits

  1. It’s similar but a little twisted in my household. For one, I’m the maniacal driver threatening to rain down long and pain riddled deaths to all out of state drivers and he’s the one shaking his head and telling me to calm down. But the flip side is that I have an odd fondness for my guys ‘guy traits’. Hand down his pants, planted in front of the tv with snacks that he literally tossed together. Ahhh. Man. Frankly, testosterone has WAY too many boons for me to complain about anything that goes with it.

  2. My man does have a couple of bad habits, but they’re easily overlooked/tolerated. Why, you ask? Because he’s a super dad who goes out of his way; to provide for a SAHM, to make quality time with his boys outside, he does chores around the house without being asked. He just makes our house a home and teaches his boys how to be a gentleman by loving their mom.

  3. My husband is the same way. I often embarrass him when I walk into the family room, catch him the act and ask ” so…how are things going down there”.

  4. I did this as well with Bobby but I wouldn’t worry so much and just let her know you’re trying.

    When it came down to it, when David understood things and even now that he’s getting older, he tells Daddy to relax in front of the games (especially with the celtics losing at away games). He literally says “Rewax Daddy, i want you to relax.” So not only will he hear you swearing and being offensive but he’ll also hear your wife saying…”Aaron! That’s not cool…” and then some day you’ll be sitting there watching the Red Sox lose a game and you’ll hear “Dad watch your language that’s not cool at the age of 3.”

    Also, you’ll adjust when you know it’s appropriate, but it’s a good idea to get in the habit of it sooner rather than later…

    I think kids can be taught when swearing is appropriate when the age is right…and tehy’ll slip no matter what. As for the hands down the pants, my son caught my husband biting his toe nails…he told him it was gross and handed him a pair of clippers…So maybe you could let MJ know who really is the influence in the family;)

  5. Great read. I think in my house I am the cusser. My dh is always telling me to watch my mouth. Oopses..
    Though he has a enthusiasm for sports. He doesn’t get to out of hands with it. and yes men and there hands in there pants. It goes without saying there. My dh does it but prob doesn’t realize he does it. Mainly while we are laying in bed at night watching tv. It’s a guys comfort zone. Even my 3yr old ds while i change his diaper, grabs himself and compliments on how “big” he is. Than i must wrestle a diaper on him while trying to hold his hands off his member,lol


  6. hey, hes gonna find it eventually and enventhough it doesnt feel good just yet, hes gonna give it a tug or two. Its a baby thing not just a man thing. Vic 3’s found his and takes pleasure in directing urine elsewhere while in the bathtub, yippee..

  7. My boyfriend of two years has his hands in his pants pretty frequently. And it is always while on the couch, watching tv. I’ve realized that it’s one of those gross dude things that will never change. It isn’t like he’s doing it in public, so I can just politely ignore it. (And only yell when he touches me with post-scrotum-fondling-hands.)

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