First of all, relax. I don't own a shotgun, live in a trailerpark, or fly the Confederate flag from the back of my pick-up. Truth be told, I've never touched a gun, and I couldn't be more in favor of gun control. So why do I call myself a Shotgun Daddy? Here's a quick story.
When my daughter Alison was born five years ago, my life changed forever, but not just because of all the things you usually hear about -- midnight feedings, constant diaper changes, unconditional love, new tax write-off, etc. Sure, we had all that, but within months it quickly became clear that Alison was the most beautiful little girl imaginable.
Whenever we took her out in public -- to the doctor, to visit friends, to a restaurant, even to the mall -- people stopped to tell us how adorable she was. As new parents we were quite flattered, but deep down I wondered, aren't all babies adorable?
At about six months, things started to change. Suddenly these compliments seemed more sincere. "No, really, your daughter is gorgeous." Frequently we heard things like, "You know, people always say that babies are beautiful, but your baby is stunning."
Once we were sitting in a restaurant across from tough-looking biker with a long beard and two massive, tattoo-splashed arms. He kept looking our way throughout the meal, and then finally said, "I'm sorry to interrupt your dinner, but I just have to tell you that your daughter is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen." (It's not just my daughter, by the way. After our son Henry was born two years later, friends of friends referred to us as "the family with the beautiful children.")
All of that is nice -- what father doesn't like to hear good things about his children? -- but soon we started hearing something else. It usually came out the same way. The person, often times a complete stranger, would look at my daughter, then look at me, then look at my daughter again before finally turning back to me with a look of pure pity in his eyes. In time, I'd know what was coming before hearing the words: "You're gonna have to get a shotgun."
I've heard it now dozens of times, and each time I nod my head in somber agreement as I think of the parade of boys who will be calling, instant messaging, and e-mailing in years to come. I think of the sixteen-year-olds who will pull up to the curb in convertible Mustangs, and I begin to rethink my gun control stance. I see eyeliner embargoes, piercing pacts, and tattoo treaties. I get visions of treacherous mini-skirts and flirtatious smiles, and I wonder why my little girl can't be forever five years old.
All of this flashes through my mind in an instant before I respond to the shotgun question.
"You're right, I probably will."
And so it is that I am the Shotgun Daddy. But don't worry. While I plan on writing about the true-to-life adventures of two parents and their three children, I don't plan on boring you with their beauty all the time. That's just the story behind the name. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to make a quick run to WalMart. I'm getting a bit low on shotgun shells.