Fatherhood Adventures

Children’s books have come a long way.

When I was young, I recall most of the books I read being of the Dr. Seuss variety. I certainly had no complaints then from what I can recall, but when I flip through the books on my son’s bookshelf in his room I am amazed by the illustrations and the content, in particular.

His collection grew by one this week, as a friend passed on a book to me that I found incredibly compelling. It was “Day Is Done” by Peter Yarrow of the folk legend group Peter, Paul and Mary.

In the “Afterword”, Yarrow’s words struck a nerve. Of his song, by the same name as the book, he wrote, “Children’s wisdom and goodness of spirit is a powerful force that can inspire us and renew us when, as adults, our hearts become weary or confused. Children can light the path of healing if only we will let them take our hand and lead us when we have lost our way.”

I found these words to be particularly profound and applicable this week as my wife and I were away from our son for the longest period of time yet.

Over the last 18 months (he reached that milestone yesterday, by the way), my wife and I have taken a night or two here and there to take in a show or concert or visit with friends off the shore. However, we had never gone more than two days without our little guy. Last week we were away for five days for a wonderful occasion (more on this in the coming weeks), and it was challenging for both of us.

I found it funny and unexpected to think of my son at the weirdest times, wondering what he was doing, what he had for lunch, if he still had that persistent cough, if “nana” continues to be the first word he utters in the morning and if he was still trying to sneak behind the television.

At one point, there we were eating dinner and looking at pictures of Beckett on my phone, ranging from the day he was born to the day before we left (a lovely one with tomato sauce all over his face and in his hair). It became a bit emotional, leading to some self-mockery.

It’s amazing the feeling of withdrawal that persists and nothing really helps. All you can do is tell yourself he’s doing fine and is in capable, loving hands and keep on keeping on.

Although quality time among parents is so critical, the pre-child advice of “the stronger the couple the better the family” comes to mind, there’s no dismissing the feelings of loss that come to mind and can dominate at certain moments.

When you have a child, thoughts of family seem to dominate just about everything, and when it comes to my kid, I can be quite emotional. There’s nothing like a child to keep you in touch with your deepest feelings.

Call me whatever you want, but I have no trouble confessing to being a softie when it comes to my family. If you are reading this, I presume you are the same way. Otherwise, you would have continued flipping to the next page by now.

It’s not that I need a reminder or confirmation of this (I live it every day), but how emotional I felt during my time away from Beckett even startled me. I wonder whether this longing will continue, as he gets older or if it will become easier to be separated over time.

All I know is when I did finally get my hands on him I felt like my world was right again. Peter Yarrow’s words certainly rang true at that moment.

At this point, other than sitting in his “big boy” chair on the floor, I would have to say the park is Beckett’s favorite place.

It’s probably because he can just run loose and do whatever he wants for the most part. In Berlin, Decatur Park is a short walk from our house and is therefore our spot of choice.

It’s funny what attracts his attention and what does not. He loves swinging and also the large jungle gym and slide, surely his favorite of all the park activities.

I love watching his face as he goes down the slide and admire how it has changed over the months.

At first, and this might say more about the dad than the child, I held his arm as he went down the slide. I don’t know what was actually concerning me. I was just worried he would get hurt, either by falling backwards, forwards or off the slide altogether. Whatever the fear was, it was certainly on my side, not his and seems kind of silly these days in light of his new independence streak.

He now has no problem walking in the park on his own, opening the gate, running to the steps, going up them in a haphazard fashion and getting on his bottom to go down the slide. It’s all too much too fast for this dad, but that’s pretty much what parenting is about I guess. Accept the changes taking place and adapt along the way.

The good news is I have learned to trust him and just enjoy it as much as he does. His face tells the entire story – it’s just absolute fun.

It’s going to be interesting to watch as he grows and moves up to more advanced pieces of equipment. The other day out of curiosity I took him over to a new play set to let him explore. This is supposedly for children 5 years of age and up so I walked along with him, climbing where he climbed, walking where he walked and so on. Basically, just stalking him.

I quickly learned I would not be bringing him over to this advanced jungle gym anytime soon. There were way too many openings and a number of obstacles that could lead to injuries. I actually think I got some fresh bruises, chasing him around and playing prevent defense. All the while I am certain he actually wanted to walk off the enclosure, fall three feet and see what happened.

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