Fatherhood Adventures

With each passing day, it seems to be getting progressively noisier around the house.

Those high-pitch shrieks and screams that were once a novelty, and as cute as could be, have become so incessant they have been known to rattle a nerve or two every now and again. Long gone are the cute coo and ooh sounds that used to make my heart melt. Those were his first sounds and were some of the sweetest utterances I have ever heard.

They have now been replaced with a persistent stream of sounds – sometimes seeming like yelling and screaming and other times just a loud, happy babble and gibberish – that can often be heard as soon as I close my car door in the driveway. The good news is it always brings a smile to my face and wipes away any concerns I drove home from work with in an instant.

There’s no mistaking the intent of these fits of loud yelping. There are occasions when it’s just random prattle to himself as he examines a book or two and then tosses it haphazardly aside, but more commonly they are hollers for attention and can make things a little hectic, particularly if you are juggling a few things at once, as most parents I know find themselves doing quite often.

One thing is for sure these loud outbursts certainly have a way of making conversation at the dinner table a little difficult, more like impossible. No matter who is talking, he has no problem bellowing out a big scream if a conversation is taking too long and distracting from the task at hand – eating. No, the table manners are not quite there yet.

There’s no question Beckett is at the age now that he craves (demands) attention. In the event he is not getting the proper amount he feels he deserves, he’s anything but reserved. He will let you know about it immediately and often until he’s satisfied.

For instance, during a rainy weekend day recently, my wife and I hunkered down to watch the movie “Marley and Me” while Beckett took his afternoon siesta, usually a two-hour event. We thought we could squeeze the flick in before he made his presence known. As luck would have it, he could not find his sleeping groove that day and was up soon after we put him down. We let him be for a while, but it was useless – there would be no more sleep at this point.

Rather than put the movie off until later in the night, we decided to try and watch it with him awake. We knew we would be distracted, but we were not watching a movie that required concentration. We took turns entertaining him the best we could to get through the movie. He fared well until the end, which, of course, happened to be the saddest part of the movie. That’s when he started to let go of some bottled-up screams for attention. You know that’s what they are when he screams his head off and then laughs just as hard a moment later. If he could, I just knew he would be jumping and waiving his arms in front of the television to get our attention.

It got to the point that all we needed was a few more minutes so I got desperate and gave him my finger to gnaw on for a while. Anyone with a teething little one understands well this is a dangerous and desperate tactic, but it works. It was enough to get us through the terribly sad movie’s ending, which for some strange reason departed from the book version. Nonetheless, we made it through it and I had only a few minor teeth marks on my finger to show for it.

Yes, the house has become a loud place in recent weeks. It’s to the point these days silence concerns us. Rarely is he completely quiet. There’s always some kind of sound. We have quickly realized he’s up to something if he’s silent. Typically, if he is awake and all is quiet in the house, chances are he is tending to personal business.

On this front, he’s a predictable little guy and maintains a solid routine. Every morning, invariably around 7:30, Mother Nature comes a calling. Again, later in the afternoon after lunch, it’s that time again. It’s fairly easy to figure out when it’s time. The house falls silent and an unmistakable odor fills the room.

Staying on the subject that does not necessitate a lot of further details, it’s amazing to me how Beckett can roll with a dirty diaper. It has no impact on him, for the most part, and that seems crazy to me. I feel certain it would rattle me.

For example, at some point last weekend, a diaper change was necessary after a prolonged silence. Unfortunately, when I picked him up, I found out firsthand (note the word choice) exactly how badly he needed it. Around my house, I have coined my own phrase for this turn of events. It sounds something like catastrophe with the first two letters replaced by three others. This so-called term is reserved for those diaper changes that put my gag reflex to the test and require an entire new wardrobe for him, and maybe even me. Fortunately, they are few and far between these days.

After the hazmat operation, i.e. the diaper change, was completed, I couldn’t help but marvel at my son’s laidback attitude about it. If it weren’t for the smell and the long pause of silence, I would not have even known it. There he was, with the messiest of dirty diapers and some remnants trailing up his back, playing as if he did not have a care in the world. That’s impressive to me.

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