Fatherhood Adventures

My son loves a bath, so long as he gets to do whatever he wants, when he wants and how he wants.

The honor of giving Beckett a bath usually falls to me each evening. It’s our nightly father-son bonding time, and it’s usually an interesting adventure. Plus, it gives his mother a much needed break from chasing him around all day.

Aside from the handful of tantrums he has thrown, as a result of his dislike for having his face washed and the fact I don’t let him stand up during his bath, it’s mostly fun and games in the tub for him.

Consequently, he loves bath time. One of my favorite moments of every day is when I get him naked and carry him from his room to the bathroom. He squeals, kicks and flails in excitement and looks me in the eyes with a huge smile as soon as we get near the tub.

One of the many things I love about kids is their emotions are obvious. They are an open book and wear whatever they are feeling at any time all over their faces. They keep it simple.

There’s no better time to see Beckett excited than during his nightly bath. With him now at 11 months old, bath time essentially consists of me giving him as many toys as possible to keep him distracted while I go about trying to give him a thorough cleaning without getting myself soaked at the same time. No matter what happens, he always ends up clean, but it’s inaccurate to report I always end up dry.

There’s no question he is a splasher. Whether it’s the arms or the legs, he’s always moving something. One new thing he has developed of late is a disdain for the hand towel. If it’s anywhere near him, he will toss it aside, and I am constantly amazed at the little guy’s strength. On more than one occasion, he has thrown it out of the tub altogether. He gets quite a kick out of that feat and seems to relish in an odd sense of accomplishment when he sends me scrambling to pick something up that he has either thrown, dropped or kicked.

Speaking of new habits, he likes to take at least one toy he is playing with in the tub with him afterwards. That’s how a variety of rubber ducky incarnations end up all over the house. My feeling is whatever keeps him content and lets me get him dried off and changed into his pajamas is fine by me. If chewing on the beak of a yellow rubber duck sporting shades and a visor keeps him content, it’s cool with me.

The bath usually represents Beckett’s final rally of the day as bedtime soon follows. It’s his final bursts of energy and the same usually goes for me.

We are making our way slowly but surely through the self-feeding phase. He has not figured out the entire utensil thing yet, and it seems we are far from him conquering that, but he has no problem putting a cracker, puff or wafer in his mouth on his own.

I love watching him feed himself. He is a picture of concentration when it comes to food. He typically uses his pointer finger and thumb to grab at whatever we place in front of him. While he may not get it in his mouth on the first try, he has developed a safety net of sorts, helping keep his success rate near 100 percent. He has been known to use his wrist or arm or other hand to push the food in that has found itself stuck to maybe a cheek, nose or chin. It’s hilarious to watch this effort, especially that familiar scene of him covering his mouth with his entire hand. It’s like he’s trying to prevent anything from escaping and ensuring whatever was in his hand has made it to its final resting place.

Food has become the ultimate diversion for him. We can take him just about anywhere we want so long as we have some snacks to keep him occupied. Toys help, but it’s food that does the trick without fail. His favorite seems to be the Gerber Graduates starfish puffs, which come in a variety of flavors and dissolve quickly in his mouth.

While we were out to eat last weekend, these puffs were working their magic on him. My wife and I kept wondering if we were overfeeding him, but those concerns were cast aside by his contentment at eating one at a time. Since we were enjoying our dinner with family, we just kept on placing one in front of him until the check came. When we got home, we were curious what a serving size was. To our amazement, it said ‘66’. We knew he didn’t have that many, more like 30 or so. If we had known better, we would have had dessert.

Walking into the house is always an interesting thing with a little one around. You never quite know what you will hear and see. That’s why I often quietly sneak in to see what’s happening when I get home from work.

Depending on the time of day, I can usually predict what he will be up to, but there are other times it’s a complete unknown. One day recently I walked in to find him sporting a diaper, no pants, one sock on, a shirt unbuttoned and a rubber duck hanging from his mouth. Another day he was eating lunch in his high chair with food all over his face and fingers and both shoes kicked to the floor. Another time he was sitting quietly in his playzone watching a video. Another time he was standing, drinking a bottle and reaching out for a dog to touch.

The best thing is no matter what he’s doing he almost always acknowledges me somehow. It may be a strange shriek, a coy smile or just babble that I take to mean ‘da-da’. In the case of this week, it was usually a raspberry or two or three or more.

Something makes me think I should cherish these days because I will surely enough at some point in his life not always get these pleasant reactions.

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.