The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: Making Friends

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. 🙂

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declarationWhile cleaning my desk in our home office, I came across an interesting little item.

When a baby enters the picture, so much of your focus goes into what it takes to be good parents, that it can be easy to forget about what it takes to be good spouses.

Upon our return from our honeymoon a few years ago, my wife and I  grabbed breakfast at a greasy little diner. There, we looked back on the road trip through Vermont in the fall we had just completed to celebrate our marriage and looked to the road that lie ahead.

It was at that moment that we decided to grab hold of those fresh-off-a-wedding-and-honeymoon emotions and make a little reminder for the rest of our lives.

With that, we grabbed a napkin and scrawled down the following, and much like our forefathers jotting down the framework of our soon to be country, we created in those moments our “Declaration of a Happy Marriage”…

10/13/2010

*When it’s time to have kids, take them into our lifestyle, not create a new lifestyle for them.

*Keep eating healthy

*Be happy for what we have, but no excuses not to dream.

*Get out of ruts

*Have friends over.

*Take the time for date nights.

*Appreciate one another.

*When we fight, remember our vows.

*Do/say something kind every day.

*Help with and/or support each other’s dreams and attempts at achieving them.


4212433203_d4e6cb4f74_zOne of my favorite things about this time of year is some of the movies and Christmas specials that are on television.

There’s plenty of good, classic films to talk about, but last night I caught an annual can’t-miss, the 1960s Rankin Bass, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

I love the Rankin Bass stuff, whether it’s Rudolph, any of its sequels, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or even Year Without a Santa Claus (I can often be found singing the Heat Miser/Snow Miser song around the house and out and about, much to the chagrin of my wife.)

One of the things that somehow went over my head as a child was just how mean some of those adults were to poor little Rudolph. Even his own father who tried his best to cover up what made his son different so that he could conform.

Not to mention, Santa Claus, who was a real jerk. From the way he reacted to Rudolph after his birth, to the way he speaks to Rudolph’s father, Donner, when Rudolph’s cover-up nose falls off and his real, red nose is exposed.

“Donner, I’m ashamed of you.”

Wow. Santa, you jolly old elf, are mad that Donner tried to have his son lead a normal life? Wow, I’m surprised the Mrs has stuck around as much as she has.

Nothing like making this poor kid feel even worse about the way he was born. No wonder he ran away from them all. Who would feel loved around that?

rudolph-RankinBass-Productions-Videocraft-InternationalAnd poor Hermie. He hates the job he’s in, yet is being told by everyone around him to conform to making toys even though he’s miserable. Why? Because it’s just the way it is.

At its heart, it’s a message about acceptance, of course and about pursuing your own sense of happiness, whether it be guiding a sleigh, pulling teeth, or whatever.

What a nice feeling inside when Rudolph, Hermie and Yukon Cornelius not only find a friendship founded in their mutual feeling of being outcasts, and the people of Christmas Town eventually realizing that different does not mean bad.

There is a sense of triumph for the little guy when Hermie gets to do something other than make toys and Rudolph gets to lead the sleigh on Christmas Eve.

All this was honestly lost on me as a kid, at least on the surface level. Now, as a father, especially, I look it at a bit differently.

Now when I watch it, I see how important it is to not only let your child now how all right it is to be different, but to encourage it. Be yourself, be different, embrace your individuality.

I hope that I can teach y son to know not to listen to the bullies around you, be they on the schoolyard, in the home, or in the workplace. You are who you are for a reason. You are special for that reason.

We are all different. If only we would all accept those differences, I think we could see what a beautiful place this world can be.


I think my wife thinks I’m too social sometimes.

The other half the time, I’m sure I come off as a recluse or a grumpy old man, but sometimes, just sometimes, I get a little burst of excitement from meeting new people.

We just completed our childbirth class, and in it we’ve come across a multitude of other couples. One of those couples, we’ve had the occasional side joke or chuckle about something, and they just seemed like nice people. They’re due within the next week or so, and with last night being the last class, it’s likely the last time you’ll ever talk to these people.

So, during the class break I decided to ask them to exchange emails and let us know how they make out when the baby’s born in the days ahead.

Okay, sure, so maybe it’s the grown up, internet-age equivalent of that high school yearbook greeting, “Have a great summer! Let’s stay in touch!” but I figure eh, you never know when you’re going to make a new friend or friends. Sometimes the older we get, the harder that can get.



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