Fatherhood Adventures

Last week was our first Christmas with our little boy. It’s worth pointing out I intentionally did not word it this way: it was our little boy’s first Christmas. Although that’s technically true, of course, this year’s holiday seemed to be more about us enjoying having him around this time of year than our 7-month-old actually being excited over the festivities.

Beckett was simply too young this year to realize Christmas was any different than any other day in his life. Other than traveling around the shore between family outings, Christmas Day was much of the same for him in the way of feedings, diaper changes, naps, playtime and all the other neat things 7-month-olds do on a normal basis. However, that didn’t mean his parents couldn’t have a little fun with this exciting new “first”.

On Christmas morning, my wife and I were up at 6 a.m., basically waiting for him to wake up so we could capture his first Christmas morning on video. Though we knew the day had no significance as far as he was concerned, we figured we would still have some fun with him. Therefore, we had him decked out in his red-and-white stripe pajamas. Yes dressing him up as a candy cane was a bit corny, but it was an extremely cute and spirited outfit, which just happened to say “Little Elf” across his rear-end.

This year was all about preserving the memory of Beckett’s first Christmas so we can show him what it was like when he’s older. Therefore, my wife took to the video camera and recorded as I carried him downstairs to a slew of toys under the tree. There was no wide-eyed awe at the toys or fascination over the latest and greatest toddler gear, just the usual silly giggles and weird sounds associated with morning time around our house.

Nonetheless, that didn’t stop us from having some fun at his expense. We sat him down on the floor in front of the tree within reach of his gifts, while Pam videotaped him grabbing whatever toy was placed in his lap at any given time. We even put him on this little pony contraption that somehow hooks up to the television as a game of some sort. This hot new item on the toddler market was a little big for him at this time, as his feet did not even touch the ground, but he will soon enough be bouncing on that thing with reckless enthusiasm.

We opened his stocking together and he proceeded to try and eat each and every greeting card and book within. That was how most of the day went for us as we motored to and from family gatherings around the lower shore. Whatever gift he received throughout the day, he tried it out first with a little taste or bite and then moved on to the next thing, which was promptly put in his mouth.

It was the wrapping paper that captured his attention the most. He was not able to open any present completely on his own, but he was good for a yank here and a pull there. Whatever piece of paper he squeezed hard enough to pull off with his own hands went directly to the mouth. As early as a month ago, he would just softly chew on the paper with curiosity. Now, with two teeth in on his bottom row, he can actually bite paper off, putting us on guard all the time. What he doesn’t tear off with those bottom two buckers he tries to shove or suck down his throat with bizarre aggression. He puts it in his mouth, we pull it out and so on – that was the routine of the day.

Besides the fascination with the paper and ribbons and the like, as far as gifts go, all were a hit, particularly the Baby Einstein 20-piece set, the toy tractor full of sounds and lights, the interactive keyboard, some unique chewable keys and the automated drum set.

There’s really no one toy that he is fonder of than another. It’s funny that basically whatever is in front of him at any time is his favorite. There he can be playing on the floor and marveling at a stuffed animal shaped like a “liver”, which he received from his step-brother who happens to be a doctor. If you walk by suddenly with a ball and he gets a glance of it, he will immediately reach out a hand or let out a shriek to let you know he’s interested in whatever you have. Basically the liver, which says “I am a liver not a fighter,” gets thrown aside and a little arm reaches out in a “gimme” fashion. It seems he wants basically whatever he does not have at that point in time. It’s interesting to me how that approach seems to persist throughout life for some, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Consequently, understanding the life is always greener mentality starts as a toddler, we are careful not to give him all his toys at once. His little mind can only handle so much and each little item, such as a plastic key or ring, carries its own amazement for a certain amount of time. However, some do keep his attention longer than others at this stage in his life, especially the stuff that illuminates and plays music at the same time.

So the first Christmas as a father is in the books, and it was a memorable one. It was exciting, but we know the real memories will be made in the coming years as he becomes more aware. On his second Christmas, he will be 19 months old and it will start to become a bigger deal. It will, more than likely, still be some of the same amazement at the wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons and bows, but he will surely have more of an interest in what’s inside than he did this year.

Although I look forward to those future Christmas mornings when he comes down the steps to a world of joy and surprises, there was something special about it this year as well because it’s hard not to think back on previous years when there was no little one. I now understand what people mean when they say the holidays are for the kids. It’s the anticipation of their reactions and the excitement they have for the entire event that has me looking forward to next year already.

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