Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

A while back, I was lucky enough to get an e-mail out of the blue from Heather Armstrong, inviting me to contribute to an anthology of stories about fatherhood that she was editing. She’d been pointed at me by Jason Kottke, who has been around long enough to remember when I actually used to write things, and that at some point I had managed to become a father.

And so, to celebrate the release of “Things I Learned About My Dad (In Therapy)” and its inclusion of my essay (against all editorial common sense), I managed to get really, really mad at my boys.

The bit is called “Peas and Domestic Tranquility,” and is about paternal anger. Write what you know. I’ve managed to immortalize — between hard covers, in the Library of Congress — the fact that I’m kind of an asshole.

The first conscious parental thought I ever had — cradling my bawling three-week-old son in my arms, and staring out the window at the grey light crawling over the horizon — was, “OK. Don’t kill the baby.”

The previous weeks had been packed with various adoring unconscious parental thoughts, coming in unexpected and upending waves: so this is what pure love is; I have the most amazing wife in the whole world; he smiled, I swear he smiled, not gas, it was a smile, at me; good God, is that tar coming out of his ass?

But this was a very intentional and seriously considered conscious thought, something I had very intentionally and seriously worked at, very intentionally and seriously forced into my head. It was required in the face of the new and ugly unconscious thoughts that were suddenly welling up from some dark corner of my sanity after a series of long and grindingly slow nights spent cajoling, begging and ultimately attempting to bribe the boy to just goddamned go to sleep, sweet holy Christ, just please go to sleep.

OK. Don’t kill the baby. Breathe in, breathe out. No baby killing. OK.

Raising a child is easily the most maddening thing I’ve ever done. It is, of course, also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. The latter gets a lot of attention — frozen in time and assembled neatly in picture albums, scrap-books, family stories — while the former, nearly as significant in the big, day-to-day scheme of things, is the subject of only ominous public service announcements and scolding looks from strangers, your parents and your mate. Everybody gets mad at their kids; nobody likes to talk about it.

You bring an infant home from the hospital, and he seems the smallest, most delicate, most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life. He’s brand new, a brand new person, and you are there to protect him and nurture him and teach him and mold him and help him to become the man that is everything that he might be. And he grows! He grows so fast. And he acquires a personality, and a will of his own, and he has wants and needs and he matures and blossoms in ways that you wouldn’t have dreamt of those first few special weeks. And as much as you love him and cherish him and are proud of him, you simply cannot freakin’ goddamned believe the massive trail of destruction he’s left in his wake. God! Just once, please just once, will you clean up your room? God!

Do not kill the baby.

It goes on from there, documenting everything Child Protective Services is going to need to put me away for a long time.

Reading the book, I’m astonished at the quality of every essay that wasn’t written by me. Some are sweet, some are heartbreaking, most are funny — it’s a wonderful book, and it truly is an honor to be included. I’m now forever squatting squarely next to some of the best writers on the Web, and they can’t do anything about it, ha ha ha ha.

Told you I was kind of an asshole.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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