Fatherhood Adventures

My five-month-old has a girlfriend.

It seems a love affair, albeit one-sided, has developed between our Beckett and Dora the Explorer. We are not exactly sure how to take it at such a young age, but it seems harmless at this point. He is equally fascinated with Dora’s cousin, Diego, who has his own cartoon “Go Diego Go” and is featured in the “Dora the Explorer” show as well. It appears Beckett loves his Diego, and his infamous rescue pack, as much as his Dora. I prefer to think he favors Dora, but his mother thinks he has more of a fascination with Diego.

Yes, I an fully aware how ridiculous it is that I am writing about cartoon characters, but it all falls under the category of the weekly adventures.

As most parents know all too well, a key to raising an infant and toddler is maintaining a routine. Part of the early-morning ritual around our house is a few minutes here and there with Dora and Diego. It’s during this time our little boy gets his first semblance of exercise because he flails his chubby little arms and kicks his husky legs in absolute excitement. There he sits kicking in his bouncy seat with his arms bopping along like only a little one can. Add a few high-pitch giggles and shrieks and it’s easy to determine he’s enjoying himself.

After watching some of his favorite cartoon, Beckett usually goes down for a nice mid-morning slumber. That’s always welcomed around the house, especially if he was up to no good the night before. For whatever reason, every once in a while, he will wake up at 3 a.m. It’s unexplainable. He’s not hungry, not wet or dirty, just bored of sleeping and wanting to play. It becomes a battle of wills. We always win, but it does not keep the playful one from getting in a few full-body chuckles here and there. Some not-so-gentle tugs on a nice bottom lip, nose or ear keep him entertained for a couple minutes but eventually he gives in after giving up the good fight.

It’s been interesting to observe the role television has played in our little one’s life. It’s not something he watches a lot of at this young of an age, but he does seem to really enjoy colorful cartoons or Baby Einstein videos. It provides a little break while opening the mail, doing a chore around the house or just in need of some peace and quiet. During a recent six-hour road trip to North Carolina (more on this in a future column), a couple Baby Einstein DVDs in the vehicle came in particularly handy and successful in getting us through the frisky, restless times.

Before becoming parents, we always said we would never raise our kids with television. We still feel that way today, but we must admit it does help at times when a respite and two hands are needed. When he was smaller and not so mobile and strong, my wife often used to put Beckett in the Baby Bjorn around the house, allowing for two free hands, but with him now tipping the scales at 16-plus pounds and those active arms and legs, it’s become difficult to get stuff accomplished with him in tow. The weight alone pulls on some rarely used back muscles, but add to that a case of the jimmy legs and curious hands and its usefulness is questionable.

One thing I got to thinking about the other day was what it would be like when my son starts getting into video games. Maybe he will be one of the nature lovers who never wants to be inside and only wants to play sports and wander the great outdoors. Realistically, no matter if this is his preference, there’s going to come a time when video games will be a part of his life. His friends will have them and he will need all the latest and greatest games without a worry in the world for how much they cost. That’s years away, but I have to wonder if we are setting the bar a little too high with him.

You see, a splurge item a couple years ago was a 52-inch Plasma television. Beckett seems to share my affection for it. Imagine this scene: a little boy, measuring all of 25 inches in length, in his swing, decked out in a onesie that reads “iPood”, sitting 12 feet away from the big screen. Too much closer and he stops blinking and that just seems highly inappropriate.

I wonder the other day if the television’s size is spoiling the little boy. Is he going to fuzz if the television malfunctions some day? That would be a really tough day for my wife. She likes the television okay, but the problem she will have to deal with is the constant whining from the two males in the house.

While my wife usually sides with cartoons as the baby’s TV watching time, he and I watch sports together on the weekends. Sure it’s entertainment, but it’s more about brainwashing him at an early age into becoming a fan of my teams so we can cheer them on together in future years.

He even tried his hand at politics the other night. During his last feeding of the night, he watched the presidential debate with his parents for five minutes or so. I think the red carpet kept his attention for a bit, but he soon nodded off and went to bed at peace, something the debate did not inspire in his parents. It was nice to see him go down because he will have plenty of time to be frustrated by politics in the years ahead.

In the meantime, the love affair with Dora, and Diego continues and seems to be deepening. All the while we understand what this means. Today, it’s a short television program. Tomorrow it will be Dora the Explorer sheets and pillow cases and Diego stuffed animals and posters. The adventure continues.

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