Fatherhood Adventures

I had a little experience with the “be careful what you wish for” phrase last week.

A year ago, as I held my newborn in my arms, I often wondered how my little boy would grow and change over the months ahead. There were certain early traits that led me to think of him as a tough, laidback kid. I understand you cannot mold your own kid’s persona, but my wife and I often talked about how he seems to have a happy, go-lucky little brute-like personality.

Looking back, all the indicators were there, not the least of which was the fact my son was born with two black eyes, referred to often as “stork bites,” a result supposedly of a rough passage through the birth canal. Fortunately, they only lasted a couple weeks, but they were quite charming while they lasted. The photos of him less than a day old with these little bruised eyelids turned out to have a bit of foreshadowing because he got his first self-imposed black eye last week.

It came about after a little mishap in the living room. He was pushing his car, presumably a little too aggressive and fast, when he ran into a floor threshold, causing him to fall and hit his head on the handlebar he was using. In something straight out of a cartoon, the swelling was instantaneous. Later came the strange rainbow of colors.

As this walking thing has improved, Beckett has now started to increase his speed, something resembling a run. The problem is he has not mastered all aspects of walking yet. For example, he has not figured out he needs to watch below to make sure he is not going to trip over anything. He has not learned that he will trip and fall if something is in the way. I had hoped the shiner would teach him a lesson, but that does not appear to be the case.

Since it was directly below his left eye, it was easy to track the black eye’s progress. It has transformed from red and swollen, to purple and green to black to nothing within a week.

Certainly, these sorts of injuries are harder on the parents than the child. As a matter of fact, after the first few minutes, he seemed to be oblivious, forgetting about anything that may or may not have hurt him in the first place. The same did not go for my wife and I, as we felt like we wearing the scarlet letter for bad parenting because it happened in the first place.

In all actuality, I was proud of the way we handled it. We did not overreact and freak out like we did with his first cold. Instead, we applied some ice, at least as often as a toddler will allow without squirming out of a hold, and took lots of pictures as it transformed. One of the more grisly shots has served as my desktop background this week.

I am not certain if I am proud of it or not, but one thing’s for sure my son is a bit of a brute. What else should I think about a kid who thinks it’s the coolest when you turn him upside down and swing him around in circles? What else can be said about a child who runs full steam into a refrigerator, bounces up and then growls at it before doing it again? He’s a train wreck waiting to happen. He has no fear and is happy to show off his courage at any time.

This new phase of walking and running has my wife and I constantly playing defense. As he moves around the house, he has to have a bodyguard following him around. Whoever that person is basically just needs to sidle him, putting hands in between his head and corners and other hard objects as he walks, which oftentimes turns into reckless mini-sprints as his comfort level surges.

As he becomes more aware of his surroundings, we are finding out his favorite places. The kitchen seems to be it this week. He seems to have the most interest in the trashcan and one particular cabinet where the pots and pans are stored.

He is fascinated with opening and closing things, and the kitchen seems to be his version of heaven for that. He has no interest in what’s inside. It’s the movement he causes that seems to capture his attention. Tossing aside the kid-proof contraption, he opens it, looks up and smiles, and closes it, looks up and smiles. That can go on as long as you allow it. He seems perfectly content. As far as I’m concerned, five minutes of that goes a long way.

He also has a thing for the microwave, which just happens to be at his eye level. He can’t open it (yet), but he has been known to pound away on the glass with his hands for a bit and then kiss his reflection in the glass. It’s clear to me he has had enough time there when he starts banging his head against the glass.

Weeks ago, when all this walking and running stuff was leading progressively more to some nasty falls, my wife joked about buying him a helmet. I laughed at the thought, only to find out later she was more serious than joking. She later showed me one of them online and I am beginning to understand why some parents resort to them.

Unless he continues to pile up the shiners, and other types of injuries, I am against the helmet. My wife agrees that’s a drastic step, but we both do have some concerns about a new habit he has learned. He likes to do mini-handstands, for the lack of a better term. We hope this is a fad that’s on its way out.

This is a strange new development. It looks painful but Beckett seems to really enjoy it. He puts all his weight on his head and looks back up through his legs with his arms off to the side. It’s an odd sight but a pretty impressive feat of dexterity. When he did this recently in the pediatrician’s office, the doctor said, “oh he’s just looking for his sister.” I still have no idea what that means.

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.