To Love Your Child

I caught myself being mushy a few nights ago. Mason was just sitting on the floor watching Chuggington on the DVR. He wasn’t doing anyhting in particular, just stuffing his face with Pringles like any other evening.

And I just stood there and stared.

I catch myself doing this from time to time. I stare at Mason doing any old thing that toddlers do, like it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Mason has grown so much, he’s fast approaching his 2nd birthday! It floors me to think that he’s only been walking for 8 months, and yet he runs all over the place, climbs on everything, and tortures us with it like he’s been doing it since day one. It truly is amazing, the growth process.

It all points to the unconditional love for my son. It’s something so common when you think about it, yet to every father, it brings so much joy…and tears in some cases. Sure, there are times when I want to throw myself off the roof of my house into the rose bush (quite a feat, as the rose bush does not sit near the house), but it’s all out of love.

Mushy much? I LOVE MY SON!

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Oh Boy…

Every home needs a bounce house to prevent bed bouncing!

In the past few weeks, Mason has learned that mattresses are springy, and that springs are bouncy. He’s such a sensory-focused little guy! Every morning before leaving for daycare, all he wants to do is get on Mommy & Daddy’s bed and hop, hop hop! Of course, it’s a double-edged sword, bouncing on the bed. No parent wants to condone such raucously negative behavior, but the smile on Mason’s face makes it impossible to deny him. I’m such a bad daddy.

Mason still uses a crib, but he’s starting to bounce there too. I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s bouncing right OUT of the crib. Can someone recommend some good floor padding to prevent skull fracture?

Beach Boy

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We took a family vacation in June, visiting my sister, brother-in-law and their kids from Indiana. We met in Massachusetts with my parents and drove to Maine for an overnight at the ocean.

Mason was t quite sure about the ocean. Maybe it was the waves. Maybe it was the noise. Maybe it was the camera being constantly aimed at him. Either way…not 100% a fan. Nonetheless, this was a half decent shot.

Not Forgotten!

Sure, it’s only been 4 months since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I’m dead to the blogging world. It just means…I’ve been busy, dang it! New job at work makes me want to sleep at night instead of linger awake. Plus, this fatherhood thing doesn’t get any easier (though I think it’s gotten more enjoyable)!

Anywho, I’m still alive, and all is well!

No, this isn’t actually me, but this is how I feel sometimes.

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Wow…it’s been almost three weeks! Sorry! I took on a new role at work, and it’s making me exhausted at night! I’m doing my best to fit it all in. Hmm…good idea…
Anyway, a couple weeks ago I picked Mason up from daycare. His provider said she had trouble buttoning his overalls, so I took the liberty of fixing the issue when I got home. What I created was a clown-pants catastrophe. Mason wouldn’t stop fidgeting and wouldn’t let me take his hat off, either. I flipped on the TV so he could watch some DVR’d Chuggington and stay still. I saw him standing in his client glory and couldn’t resist. Damn you, snap buttons!

You’d think with the number of books that sit on shelves at every bookstore (and iBooks in the iTunes store) detailing ways to be a great father, we’d all have this parenting thing down pat. Yet, every day, new dads continually scratch their heads so often, bald spots develop (that’s my defense, what’s yours?). When Mason was in utero, I had no idea what I was going to do, and I sure as heck didn’t have an idea when he was born, either, despite Armin Brott’s “The Expectant Father.” Some things in life were meant to be learned on the fly. I knew this when I saw Mason had no instruction manual attached to his heinie.

As a new parent, bonding is the most important thing you can do with your child. We all know this. But as fathers, we may be somewhat in the clouds trying to figure out just what it is we do to bond. We can’t breastfeed (thank goodness). We can’t birth the child (another thank goodness). This motherly concept on instant bonding is, well…motherly! Seeing Mason for the first time did bring instant love, but it also brought this.

Have no fear, new daddies. There are several ways you can bond with your new bundles of joy, and it’s all via everyday activities. These activities aren’t just for newborns, either! Mason is 16 months old, and all seven of the activities I’m about to mention still apply. Make time every day for some of these, and you’ll soon find your children to be as enamored with you as you are with them.

1. Talk To Your Kids

This is by far the easiest thing you can do to bond with your kids. It doesn’t matter if they are asleep or awake, whether they can talk or not. Tell them what you’re doing. Tell them what they’re doing. Tell them what you think of the local sports team (keep it clean)! The sound of Mommy’s and Daddy’s voice is soothing for wee ones. Eventually, talking will become habit. You’ll know you’re doing a good job if this happens.

2. Snuggle Your Buggle

Physical bonding calms both child and parent. In the first days and weeks after birth, skin-to-skin contact helps relieve everything from sleeplessness to colic to discomfort…all because of your warm skin and heartbeat! Plus, it makes for super naps! Without physical affection, you’re missing out of half of the love you can show your child. Take note, dads of little boys: it’s not just for the girls. gender makes no difference this early on. Snuggle like the dryer sheet bear!

3. Fill Their Tummies

Just because Mommy is breastfeeding doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Most breastfeeding moms pump and store milk for future consumption, and your hands hold the bottle just fine. Feeding and burping an infant helps you know how much food is enough, and whether or not your child is gassy. With infants, even the tiniest amount of gas is extremely discomforting to them. Don’t make them suffer.

For older infants/toddlers, spoon feeding builds trust and helps kids learn where their mouths are so they can feed themselves. At some point, children will lead by your example. That’s right, Daddy…eat the peas.

4. Freshen Your Baby Up

Before I got used to the stench of Mason's poop, every diaper change used two diapers.

Diaper changing is by far the most annoying task a parent can be charged with. Nonetheless, there’s no negotiation on doing it. Admittedly, I get into funks when I seem to avoid it. It’s something I need to work on. Poop happens.
Diaper changing is a very volatile time for little ones, so it’s a great bonding activity. Trust is earned, and there’s a sense of satisfaction and gratitude from babies when a fresh diaper is fastened. Toddlers, on the other hand…not so much, at least from my experience!

5. Enjoy Tubby Time

Early on, baths are quick and tedious. Newborns and early infants don’t do much in the tub/sink. As they grow, however, they learn to splash, spill and play with toys! This is a great time to be imaginative and have an ocean adventure! Get some squirt toys for added fun! Of course, make sure all the nooks and crannies are cleaned in the process. Your little one will thank you as they learn good hygiene!

6. Be A Bookworm

I’ve posted on this previously. While early attempts at reading can be frustrating, it’s pretty much cemented that reading to kids early on makes a huge impact on learning for a lifetime. Thanks to unrealistic advertisements, we all have this mental picture of perfect snuggles with a book and a bottle. In most cases, not gonna happen. Still, read to your kids, every chance you get. If they pay attention, great! If not, keep reading. Their learning depends on it, and they’ll always remember story time with Daddy.

7. Stay And Play

When infants become mobile, chasing them and keeping them safe can get very stressful. Suddenly, there’s no time to sit and relax, or even to be productive and get things done. Little ones can become engaged with something that allows you to let your guard down and do something else…but it’s not always best (but boy is it hard to resist)! Sit on the floor and build a Mega Blok tower, or play with dolls. Bounce a ball around, or put on a puppet show (they won’t care about your acting skills). Sing songs and give them a visit from the “Tickle Monster!” When you become a part of your child’s imagination, there’s some serious bonding going on. Housework can wait.

There’s so many more opportunities for bonding out there. Start with these seven, but look for more. Your children will never get younger, and the older they get, the more you’ll treasure these early years…maybe even the diaper changes! I’ll get back to you on that.

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I still don’t know what it was, but Mason found/made it and put it on the toilet for me to find. This I know: it’s not a raisin, but I don’t think it’s what everyone thinks it is, either. I threw it away, so I guess we’ll never know!

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