Fatherhood Adventures

My son looks beautiful in a white dress.

In my business, we call that a “hook lead,” which is simply a way to grab and retain the readers’ attention to encourage them to proceed to the second paragraph and beyond. Hopefully, it worked.

My son’s dress was not really that. It was a christening gown my wife had picked out a month or so ago for his baptism last Sunday at Stevenson United Methodist Church in Berlin. Ever since, the running joke around the house was how “pretty” my son was going to be in his new dress, which also featured a matching cap, socks, sweater, shoes and blanket. Oh and how could I forget the adorable post-christening outfit, a less formal and equally precious white ensemble for the after-church gathering.

Dress or gown or whatever you want to call it, there he was in the front pew of the church in all his glory. Whatever the adjective, he fit all of these – pretty, beautiful, angelic, adorable and the list goes on. Of them all, handsome is best from my completely biased perspective, of course, and I never thought I would use that to describe my son in a flowing, silk gown.

We do not go to church every Sunday, but that does not mean Pam and I are not spiritual people. We had a long road, featuring some peaks and valleys, leading to parenthood. One memorable piece of advice, proffered along the way, was,  “you just have to give it to God.” We struggled with exactly how to do that, but that guidance comforted us because things do happen for a reason, as difficult as that is to accept at times. It’s important to understand and realize each of us is following a master plan, one not always of our own accord. I think the sooner we realize we are not alone in charting the course of life the better off we will be. That’s why last week’s baptism held a particular significance.

A baptism is a monumental day in a little one’s life. Of course, Beckett, a week shy of seven months, will not remember the details of the ceremony and all the love and support shown by family and friends in the church congregation on that rainy Sunday morning. That’s why we were sure to document the whole thing to show him later in life, courtesy of dozens of photos, 20-plus minutes of video footage and lots of generous gifts.

A little one’s baptism is especially important to the parents because it’s a day they will never forget. It’s just as much about the parents as it is the child. It’s an early gathering of friends and family in his honor and fundamentally a commitment the parents make to a Christian upbringing. Baptism, in my view, is a way for parents to publicly acknowledge their baby as a gift and blessing straight from God, and that’s an important recognition to make when a child is young.

A unique and particularly memorable part of the baptism ceremony led by Rev. Carol Price was when she walked around the church and introduced our little boy to members of the congregation. We had planned accordingly and tried to ensure he was at his most content, meaning basically he needed to have a full stomach. He smiled and giggled his way through that church, making me, arguably, the proudest I have ever been of him. She carried him through the entire congregation, letting everyone get a close-up view and even a quick rub of a cheek, hand or foot if they dared. All the while he was giggling, oblivious to the fact neither parent was close by, and apparently basking in being the center of attention, leaving two beaming parents in the front row.

Shortly after being showed off in church, Beckett fell asleep in my arms through the rest of the service and the photos afterwards. He woke up just in time for the car ride home. He handled it all so well and better than we could have ever hoped.

The baptism capped off a long weekend of “firsts” for the little guy including Thanksgiving. He had a place at the table, albeit a high chair, for the holiday feasting and ate a traditional meal reserved for the last Thursday of each November. It consisted of turkey, sweet potatoes and applesauce. I actually had a lot of all that myself on Thanksgiving, but the big difference was his meal came in a jar. I felt for the poor guy.

All in all, baby food is really not all that bad in my opinion. All the veggies and fruits are pretty good I think, but the meats are altogether different. The starter helpings of turkey, beef, chicken and ham all leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately, the little guy has nothing to compare it to because he takes it down with reckless abandon and seems to love every bite. As a matter of fact, we are lucky because we have found nothing he will not eat yet. He likes it all. Soon enough that will all change. As we introduce more foods to him, he will wise up at some point and realize there’s much more to life than these liquid meats.

The main obstacle with feeding him these days is the mess factor. The occasional raspberries with a full mouth certainly dirty up a bib, high chair and shirt in no time, but the main culprits are the wandering fingers that get into the mouth with most spoonfuls, resulting in some sticky fingers putting food everywhere. Rather than tie his hands down, which seems akin to child abuse, we just do our best to keep them out of his mouth, but it’s a futile effort. They always end up in there and the inevitable mess follows. We think this new habit is a result of his teething (he has one completely in on the bottom row and another next to it just breaking through), but we continue to work on it.

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