Fatherhood Adventures

Our son is a table biter.

This is a strange new hobby he has picked up within the last month, and it’s only when we eat out.

When he’s in his high chair at home, it doesn’t happen. For whatever reason, as soon as we get out to eat, he goes right for the edge of the table. No matter how we position him, he always manages to get a good lock on the table.

More than likely, it’s a teething thing, but it could just be another unexplainable habit he has developed. Sort of in the same category as those rough squeezes of my nose or the abrupt yanks of my wife’s hair. It seems to happen a lot, but we have no understanding as to why.

We have tried many different tacks to prevent him from biting on the table. The only thing that meets success is my wife and I putting our hands in front of him and over the edge of the table. If I need to use both hands to pay the bill, for example, she takes over. If she requires both hands to use her fork and knife, for instance, I take over. This nonsense usually keeps the biting to a minimum as well as the occasional, and equally bizarre, head butts on the table.

Unfortunately, my son’s determined streak wins over from time to time. Rather than resort to his typical attempts to try and pry my hand away with his chubby little mitts, he bit me in a strange spot – the skin on my middle knuckle. It was quite the image to look down and see my skin in between his teeth. Fortunately, he did not do his dog impression where he aggressively twists his head from side to side.

At least in the short term, he was successful in getting my hand off the table and subsequently left behind a few teeth marks on the knuckle. As I was shockingly admiring the impressive bite marks, he showed me his little menace side with some inopportune giggles and strange growls. Only a parent could laugh at that after being bitten.

Getting Beckett dressed has become a daily battle. He basically just hates to be flat on his back for a long period of time unless he is exhausted.

My wife sent me a text picture the other day that said it all. It happened to be on deadline day here at the paper, and I could not help but laugh aloud. Over the caption, “he won the getting dressed war,” was a shot of him rocking the no pants look with his shirt completely unbuttoned. There he was in nothing but a diaper with his shirt open and having a grand old time. Oh yeah, I forgot, he did have a pair of blue socks on, proving he won the battle halfway through.

It was a photo requiring no explanation. I know all too well how strong this little one’s will has become and it often dominates. Every once in a while, it’s no problem at all to get him dressed, and that’s a joy, but most of the time these days he puts up a fight every step of the way.

That’s why a multi-layered outfit is capable of giving me a little heartburn. I will not miss those when the weather warms up for good. There will be no long-sleeve shirts that coordinate with a pair of overalls, a sweater, jacket and hat. Things will be a little easier with a pair of shorts, a T-shirt and sandals.

His mom usually picks out the outfits, and that’s the way I like it. She knows what’s best as far as the color coordinating, and I just take care of getting him in the clothes. I treat the task like someone on an assembly line would. Keep the head down, work efficiently and ignore the distractions of the occasional screams and continuous attempts to sit up or roll over.

For me, the struggle is always the top half. While his legs are usually in perpetual motion and can pose their own issues, the true problem usually arises when it comes to the arms and head. He does not enjoy having his arms moved in any way other than how he wants. He’s equally agitated with having his vision blocked by a shirt going over his head.

I can’t say I really blame him. The fact is I would not enjoy being manhandled either, but it’s the way it’s got to be. He can’t just hang out in his diaper all day or at least that’s what I tell him when he’s giving me a particularly hard time.

After a long walk on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, Pam suggested I put together Beckett’s little Radio Flyer car (thanks Rob and Sheri Conner). The idea being he could try it out after he woke up from a little siesta. My reaction was something along the lines of “there’s no way he is ready for that yet, he’s not big enough.” She thought he was, so with the motivation of proving her wrong this overprotective father got down to business.

Only a few moments of frustration and one bloodied pointer finger later, it was the moment of truth. As soon I placed him in the cherry red car, featuring turning blinkers and a car radio among other neat contraptions, he put his hands on the wheel and started smiling immediately. My wife and I took turns using the handle on the back of the car to push him along the street and it was hilarious.

The best thing of all he never took two hands off the wheel and kept his head straightforward the whole time. He was the perfect motorist. And, oh yeah, I was wrong, she was right. It turns out he was big enough and more than ready.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.