The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: Father and Son Bonding

SONY DSCFrom our last adventure of father-son bonding with dinner at Uno, the little monkey and I then headed to Barnes and Noble.

The image in my head before we got there was of me sipping a coffee, while pushing him in the stroller, looking at children’s books and generally enjoying a calm night of books and bonding.

Yeah, no.

When we got out of the car, I realized that I had become so used to pulling the stroller out…of my wife’s car. You know, the car that was with her at the theatre. So, no stroller. Okay, no problem. We’d walk it. But that also meant I couldn’t take his big ol’ bag with me since there was no stroller to put it or him in. So, I took out a diaper and a wipe and shoved them in my coat pocket, just in case.

Heading into the store, we ran into a newspaper reporter I know from my newspaper days and we were chatting for a few moments about a recent article he had written and some slack he was getting from the public about it. It was an interesting conversation, but one that was abruptly cut short, as my little guy’s eye caught some children playing with Nooks in the Nook area of the store and pushed himself off of me, to the ground, and sped over to them as fast as his little feet could take him.

He just loves other little kids. His hand flailing in a non stop wave, he kept smiling ear to ear and saying “Hi! Hi!” in that tiny little voice to this little boy and little girl. Their dad, a hipster-looking guy with beard and a knit cap told me the little boy was just a week younger than our guy. It really made me realize how big our guy is. He was born big (10 pounds, 2 ounces), but I really saw it when he was standing there with a kid just around his age who was so much smaller than he.

Then, my son just opened his arms and hugged this other little boy. It was adorable. Absolutely adorable. But then, he wouldn’t stop. This other little boy would move back and here my son would go, arms out, like a cute little Frankenstein’s Monster, ready to embrace once more. I could see the look of fear on the other child’s face and tried telling my son that we should hold off on more hugs and look around some more. The dad was very nice, saying ‘hey, man, hugs make the world go round,” but I don’t think that did anything for that other little kid’s anxiety, or mine as the father of the kid accosting him.

The little girl, slightly older got a hug from my little man as well, and she just so happened to be wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt. Well that did it for our guy. He kept pointing at Wonder Woman and all over this little girl’s shirt. She was very nice about it, but again, it’s hard to tell when you have little kids, where the line is being crossed from friendliness and cute to overbearing and assault.

I have to admit, I was sort of surprised when Hipster-Dad saw my son falling in love with the little girl’s Wonder Woman t-shirt and said ‘I take it he’s got a sister, huh?”

I explained that no, our guy just likes Wonder Woman. He’s got a Fisher Price Wonder Woman toy and Invisible Jet, along with some other DC Super Friends. Is that weird that I was so caught off guard by that question? If anything, I would have expected a hipster-dad to get the whole no gender slanting of toys thing.  Odd, or maybe I’m just off. Who knows.

With a little prodding, I finally got my son to move down an aisle, but it turned out to be an aisle that was journals and non-fiction books, not to his liking. He started out well, holding my hand, but the minute he realized his place in the store and the destination of the children’s section, he took off, with me chasing him between aisles as he shouted ‘no no no no no!’ when I’d ask him to come back to daddy.

Boy, did I feel like a terrible father.

We got to the children’s section and started looking at books. He found old friends Elephant and Piggie, Daniel Tiger, and some new things that caught his eye. But then, he spotted the staple of the kids section at Barnes and Noble – the Thomas the Tank Engine play-set table. Only this time, unlike past visits, there were other children there using it.

Now, I’m sure we all idealize how our children will act, behave, etc and it’s probably always the same. They’ll calmly walk over and say hi to another child, find something no one else is using, and all will get along swimmingly.

I can fool myself for only so long.

He ran over, and immediately started playing with a train car that was part of the train another child was using. And when I walked over and stopped him, was met with a big ‘no no no no no!’ – his favorite new reaction. The father of these children was kind, much like Hipster-Dad up front, and said they were wrapping up anyway and that ‘we’ve all been there.’ The kids left and my little man played for a bit, but with no children around, he lost interest rather quickly.

He let out more energy with a one man show on the stage area of the children’s room, dancing for anybody who came by before heading to a corner to look at Sesame Street books. The night was getting on, and I could see him getting a little tired. I was proud of the fact that we were wrapping up without having bought a single thing. I didn’t want him to come to think of solo time out with daddy as a time to get/buy something. I scooped him up and brought him to the car where we had a pretty calm ride home to the tune of some classical music.

I was feeling like a daddy-failure. I was tired, but you know what? It turned out, he was pretty tired too. And for the first time since Meg rejoined the theatre, he actually fell asleep for me. I read to him, put him to bed and he fell asleep!

Now THAT, that felt like a success, if even a small one. 🙂


uno-deep-dishI took my son out to dinner recently, just he and I.

My wife had the opening night of her recent play and he and I were having a guys’ night out. Partly, I did this as a bit of a test, to see how both he and I did on our own without mommy around. With all the trouble he’s been having falling asleep without my wife being home, I thought it might be a good exercise to try ourselves out and about and see how we do.

I’m glad to say things went relatively well. Well, he did well, anyway.

I took him to Uno because of all the places my wife and I have taken him to, that one seems to be where he does the best. I don’t know if it’s the decor, the coloring, or just the blonde waitress we always seem to run into there who he smiles and giggles at incessantly, like a 14 year old waiting to ask her out on a date. I have no clue. Regardless, it has done us good in the past.

We got a high chair, some crayons, and he and I were set. I ordered myself a mini/single size deep dish pizza and him some mac and cheese. (I know. For a family that tries hard to eat healthy, I really blew it on this venture.) Our waiter was great, very friendly, and when he realized the people around us who arrived after us had gotten their food before we did, he was like lightning into the kitchen to figure it out. Good guy.

Of course, during that wait, the little guy did need a little something to tide him over while we sat. Luckily, we had a box of organic raisins in his bag, so he had a few of those while we alternated between coloring on the place mat, reading his little board books, and me drawing him pictures on the napkin of Santa, The Count, Batman and Robin (now THAT’S a Justice League book I’d read).

I really can’t tell you too much about what was going on around us because, truth be told, I was completely and utterly engrossed in my boy. We talked, we read, we played, we drew, although we did talk to a nice middle-aged couple who were seated next to us and he kept smiling at. They told us seeing him made them want grandchildren, which I thought was very sweet.

So the food came and I moved back and forth between bites of my pizza and serving up small pieces (he probably could handle bigger, but I’m paranoid, so I cut them smaller anyway) of his mac and cheese to him. Suddenly, in the middle of our dinner he starts going, in that tiny little voice “uh-oh…uh-oh…uh-oh…” and grabbing his bum and front. I ask him if he needs a diaper change to which he replies, almost desperately, “uh-huh.”

I scooped him up, grabbed some wipes and a diaper and off to the bathroom we headed. The kind couple next to us was nice enough to watch our things while we were gone.

Here’s where the first snag of our night came about, though. We walked into the men’s room and I could find no changing station. So, there we were amid sinks, urinal, toilet and a floor. The restaurant was packed, so there were no options in there, and my car is tiny and has a car seat taking up a ton of space, so that’s out.

So, I did the only thing I could think of – I grabbed paper towels out of the dispenser, him in my arms, and laid them out on that bathroom floor to create some kind of ‘germ barrier,’ even if such a thing exists only in my mind. I laid him down, very careful with his head against the hard tiles and just began the diaper change, hoping that no one was going to walk in on us there, in the middle of the floor of this tiny bathroom at Uno changing a diaper.

I couldn’t believe how good the little guy was for me while I did this. Maybe he sensed how awful I felt about having to do this there, and what a terrible father I felt like for not having a better solution.

I emailed Uno about it via their website. I made sure to tell them that at our particular Uno, the service and food is always great. We’ve never had any service or product issues there, and I didn’t want it to seem otherwise. I was just concerned about other dads who may have been in a similar situation.

Well, within a day, they emailed me back, and boy did I feel like an idiot.

There WAS a changing table in there, it was just in the handicapped stall, where I never even thought to look. I replied, apologizing for my lack of investigating during the actual incident. They wrote back and told me there was no need to, and said maybe better signage might be needed.

I feel like such an idiot. It was there all the time and here I was, frantically changing my son on a bathroom floor.

Oy.

All cleaned and changed, I wiped his hands, arms and anything else that might have also touched the bathroom floor, and back to dinner we went. Before we knew it, we were all done, him handing me back his plate and putting his arms up in the air – his own little sign language he came up with himself for ‘i’m done’ ever since he was a little tiny guy.

We paid the bill (well, I did. I don’t think they’d take cuteness as currency. maybe. who knows?) and we were on our way, with him waving to every waitress and hostess at the front desk that he could manage before we made our way out the doors and into the car.

Still, the night was young and I knew the curtain wasn’t even going up on my wife’s play for another half an hour or so, meaning it would be hours before she came home. I needed a little more to tire the little guy out.

“Whattaya say, buddy?” I asked. “You wanta go look at books at Barnes and Noble?”

“Uh-huh” that tiny voice said back to me from the back seat.

And we were off to our next great guys night adventure and the misadventures that came with it.

But that’s another post.


It’s no secret that I absolutely love reading to my son.

I don’t know if, at just a few weeks old, his mind absorbs anything of what I’m actually saying so much as just listening to his father’s voice, but either way, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. I try very much to make sure that at some point in the evening before bed, we get some father-son time, holding him, and reading him a story.

Needless to say, that makes children’s books my Achilles’ Heel. My wife will attest that I could spend the entire day in the Children’s Section of a bookstore, fascinated by all the offerings, both classic and modern. It can be a dangerous thing, I admit.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of my most recent finds to add to the little man’s bookshelf.

We’re in a Book by Mo Willems

I had never heard of Mo Willems before, but apparently Elephant and Piggie are a series of books, which is great to hear, because I really loved this one. Sat down and read it last night, once to the kid and once to myself because I got such a chuckle out of it.

With cute color drawings of Elephant and Piggie set against stark white backgrounds, the fourth wall is broken as the duo learn someone is watching them and that someone is the reader. They jump for joy that they’re “in a book” and then go into a panic when they realize that at some point, the book has to end. I really, really loved this and think it would be hard for any parent to resist.

Mr. Daydream by Roger Hargreaves

Being the open book that I am (all pun intended), it will come as no surprise how much I adore the Mr Men and Little Miss books. I went off on my Roger Hargreaves lovefest in an earlier post, and jumped at the chance when I found this one mixed in with some Berenstain Bears at our local Barnes and Noble, especially since they aren’t carrying the Mr Men series anymore.

So when I came across the last one remaining in the store, I snatched it up quickly. The 13th book in the Mr. Men series, it tells the story of a little boy named Jack, who lets his thoughts run wild when he looks out the window at school one day and suddenly sees Mr Daydream, who teaches him the power of imagination.

I Wish that I had Duck Feet by Dr. Seuss

We haven’t read this one yet, but I love the message of it. Published in 1965, it is the story of a young boy who wishes he could have different animal body parts (like a tiger tail) or mechanical body parts (like a water spout on his head). As he thinks about what life could be like with these wishes granted, he also realizes what problems might arise from them, and, in the end, realizes that the best thing to be, is just himself. What can I say, I love a good “be who you are” story. 🙂

So, those are the latest additions to the bookshelf that I’m sure we’ll be pulling off time and time again in the years ahead.

Whether he understands them or not right now doesn’t matter. He’s still developing. What’s nice is that we get to spend time together, as father and son, and that’s a story that I never want to end. 🙂



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