IN LIFE, there are three—and only three—things I do that Tiger Woods does not: 1) frisk myself for a second ball before teeing off on water holes, 2) check the LESS THAN $25 MILLION box when surveys ask for my annual income and 3) scrub vomit off my shirt at least twice a week, as though I were a Tilt-A-Whirl operator or a roadie for the Allman Brothers.
Happily, Tiger will eliminate that third distinction this summer, when he and his wife, Elin, become parents. And while Woods no longer needs stock tips or swing tips or handmade Italian wingtips, any father-to-be can use parenting tips, the most crucial of which Tiger has already heeded: marry an au pair.
Alas, Tiger made an expectant father's rookie mistake last week when he declined to play in the Mercedes-Benz Championship—on Maui, no less—in order to spend more time with his family. Take it from me: When the baby arrives, you'll get plenty of time with your old lady and scarcely a minute with your Gold Ladys. And so a gross of those discount balls just sit in my garage, pink and dimpled and invested with hopes, not unlike my two daughters.
Trust me, Tiger. Though bedeviled by photographers, you will become a trigger-happy paparazzo yourself once the baby is born, stalking her (should you have a girl) at all hours. In two years, when you hand her a tennis ball and she abruptly rifles it into your groin, you will say—after jackknifing in pain, in a voice like a Viennese choirboy's, just before passing out—"Honey, get the camera!"
January 15, 2007
If you take your newborn to an NBA game, bring infant earplugs, so that the angry woman seated behind you doesn't shout above the pounding dance tracks, "I'm a speech pathologist, and I'll be seeing your baby in four years when she's hearing-impaired!" The rest of her sentence—"you irresponsible bastard!"—will go unspoken.
If you can possibly help it, do not allow your toddler to lick the seats reserved for the media at ARCO Arena in Sacramento. (You will call her ensuing mystery ailment "hepatitis Bee," after the Sacramento newspaper whose reporters' posteriors have held down those seats for more than 18 years.)
Should you ever play in the PGA's Buick Championship in Cromwell, Conn., do not—under any circumstances—let your baby watch from atop the steep hill that overlooks 18. To your everlasting disbelief, her teething ring will roll down that precipice like a runaway tire, passing under the ropes and into a greenside bunker before a kindly marshal retrieves it. (Sand-covered, it will look like a battered onion ring ready for the deep fryer.)
Never run out of Pampers. If you do, you may one day be forced to leave a Tigers-Diamondbacks game with one out in the bottom of the seventh even though Arizona pitcher Brandon Webb has a no-hitter going. On the way out of Comerica Park, you will compose the title of your memoirs: The Bases Were Empty, but Her Diaper Was Loaded.
And that's O.K., because no game will ever again be as exciting as any game's mascots. Your child, like mine, will be grief-stricken when Testudo, the Maryland terrapin, disappears for a bathroom break at a college basketball game. When Testudo finally returns, after five frantic minutes, your child—and you—will tremble with relief.
Privacy may be the name of your yacht, Tiger, but privacy itself will soon be a distant memory. By the time she can crawl, your child will insist on following you into the loo. Failing that, she'll try to watch from beneath the bathroom door. Just as your father knew he was raising a golf prodigy, you will be convinced you are raising an Olympic drug-testing monitor. And here's the thing: Maybe you are. Nobody can say what the future holds for your child, a terrifying and exhilarating prospect.
You may sit across from Lou Holtz on an airplane and hear him tell you, "Girls are wonderful until age 10; then they're trouble. Boys are the other way around." But in fact you'll find that all children, from Day One, instill terror and joy, worry and pride, often all in the same instant.
While giving your child a bath, you will leave the room for 15 seconds to answer the telephone. Bad idea. You will return to find her face down, thrashing in the water, and when you pull her from the tub and scream, "What in the name of God were you doing?" she will smile through a white beard of soapsuds and say, "Swimming!"
And you will clutch at your racing heart and shout the only thing that you can think of, which is: "Honey, get the camera!"
If you have a comment for Steve Rushin, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woods no longer needs stock tips or swing tips, but any father-to-be can use parenting tips, the most crucial of which he has already heeded: marry an au pair.