They say babies don't come with an instruction manual, but this dad may beg to differ.
Bryan Elliott is a software engineer and father from the Philadelphia area. When Elliott's son Jack was an infant, his first babysitter requested instructions with any information she might need to know about caring for the baby.
The dad responded with an epically detailed email, which he later posted on Reddit. The instructions range from how to use a pacifier ("Shove it in his mouth. Nothing to it.") to dirty diaper identification tactics ("Poop will have a distinct smell; carefully open the back and look for signs.") to what to do if the baby poops through his diaper ("If it's trivial, carefully remove his outfit. If it's a goddamned war zone, carefully cut his outfit off, using blunt-nose scissors.").
Read the full post below:
Elliott told The Huffington Post that his wife, Amy Jackson, recently rediscovered the instructions when she was going through her old archived emails.
"The babysitter was Amy's friend, B, who is a violin teacher who was, at the time, finishing up her Ph.D. in Suzuki violin education," he explained. "She's dealt with 3-year-olds and up, but never an infant, and never had any interest in them, and had been more or less cloistered in school for the last several years."
"I remembered how lost Amy and I were when we brought Jack home on the first day, and figured I should write something detailed and straightforward without being too boring to read," the dad continued.
Elliott said he wanted to apply the "if-then" approach of operating manuals to the many messy surprises that come with raising a baby. "Just the idea of looking at an infant as a device -- sort of a squishy Tamagotchi -- is absurd enough to be funny," he told HuffPost, adding, "And I write a lot of technical documentation for work, so that's the direction I kind of fell into."
Today, Jack is nearly 4 years old and well past those infant stages, but when Elliot saw the old email, he thought it might be helpful -- "tongue-in-cheek as it was" -- to first-time parents. So, he posted it in the Parenting subreddit, where it quickly went viral.
Elliott said he hopes people who see his email get "a laugh and a little peace of mind-- particularly for soon-to-be parents."
"Amy and I were terrified for much of the nine months prior to Jack's arrival," he recalled, noting that parenting guidebooks aren't always especially useful. "I hope that, by giving soon-to-be's something this concrete and a little funny, they'll gain a little more confidence in their ability to deal with the unending nightmare of child-care."