From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

My Three Sons

I was eight when My Three Sons first appeared on TV. I watched it a few times, but I was more of a Combat! kind of kid. By the time I was eighteen, I’d seen it enough times to say out loud, many times, “Never. Not me, man.”

I was convinced I’d have no kids. Good plan, I thought. The world is overpopulated, kids take up your whole life, I’d be a lousy father . . . (At eighteen I didn’t have the all-time best relationship with my father, which certainly colored my view of the world of parenting.)

Ever hear the joke, “How do you make God laugh?” (Answer: Make a plan.) Before I was nineteen, I was in love with the woman who is still my wife more than thirty years later. I knew then it was true love and time has proven me right. But . . . she came fully equipped with a son. A package deal; all or nothing. Do I give up the love of my life? “Daddy” didn’t sound too bad.

I actually liked the little rug rat, and I slipped by the first milestone in my now-compromised plan. In fact, at our wedding, when little Jody got restless, my wife-to-be-in-five-minutes and I held him between us during the ceremony.

There are women who will have a child and feel done and then there are women who are mothers eternally. My darling was of the later genus. She was dead set on having another child. In fact she was set on having one with me. And over a few years, she, of course, won. (Anybody surprised?) When my first child, a daughter, was born, I cried for the first time since I was a young boy. “I can do this. She’s a girl. They gotta be easy, right?”

We were actually content to have our two children, one of each gender. Perfect, I thought. I don’t understand women, but about five years after our daughter was born, when we should have been putting money into a retirement account, my wife sidled up to me and said, “Don’t you want a little boy? A little Teddy Bear?” which was her pet nickname for me.

“Ah . . . no, thank you, dear,” I exclaimed loudly and clearly while running out of the house on some nonexistent errand.

Saying something like that to a dyed-in-the-wool, certified mother is about as effective as explaining to the dog what part of the yard to use for the bathroom. True to (her) plan, our son was born two years later. I didn’t cry this time, but Tom was born in distress and ended up in Boston Children’s Hospital. But after a good scare, which turned out to be a minor problem, he was a healthy baby.

Yep, he was fine, and surprisingly, so was I. I even ended up being the househusband for a few years when I was laid off. I loved that kid. I loved all three of them.

Many years later, I happened to think of that old TV show, for no particular reason, and thought to myself, At least I don’t have three sons!

Hah! Me and my big mouth. A month later, my then twenty-five-year-old daughter introduced me to my next son—her soon-to-be husband, Chris.

I walked her down the aisle, but I didn’t give her away. I let her give me my third son. And, yeah, I love him, too.

Ted Slawski

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