Chicago, Illinois

When my wife went into labor, she sent me to run errands. The first one made sense—taking our four-year-old, Callie, to school—and the nurse assured me on the phone that we had time. But since my wife, Lauren, is a teacher at the Montessori school where our daughter is a student, everybody wanted to talk when I showed up with Callie. Are things happening? they asked. I think so, I said, with the wide-eyed look of sheepish excitement and nervousness and papa-pride that I thought was expected of me. Well, you would think that telling people your wife’s at home in labor would be enough to keep the conversations short, but suddenly everybody—the receptionist, my daughter’s teachers, my wife’s colleagues, the parents of kids in my daughter’s class as well as my wife’s—everybody—had a story, a question, an opinion. People I’d seen dozens of times when picking Callie up from school, who normally didn’t have much to say to me, were interrupting one another to get a word in. Yes, we had toured the hospital, I said. No, Lauren’s first delivery was a week late. I’m glad it went so well for you. Yes, our bags were packed. I should probably go now. Did I mention that my wife’s in labor?

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