So our little lady (April) is six and a half months as I write this and fatherhood has already changed quite a bit in that time. These are some parenting lessons I’ve learned that I’d like to share with the un-initiated.
(1) The Poop Thing Doesn’t Stay Cute For Long – I’ll admit it. I got pooped on the first week that we brought her home. We were in mid-diaper change and April decided to let it fly when I was right in the line of fire. I had to throw the jeans I was wearing in the wash, but it wasn’t a big deal because her poop wasn’t a big deal – it was like bird poop. Harmless, really. Fast forward six months and things are on a whole ‘nother level. When I get home I can tell if there’s been any recent ‘activity’ because the whole house smells. She also has a new found desire to punch and kick the poopy diaper when it’s being changed. Good news is they’re much less frequent. If you play your cards right and are sharing responsibilities with daycare and the wife, you could go four or five days without getting caught with the hot potato.
(2) Everyone Gets Nick-Names – I haven’t been called “John” at home since before the baby arrived. I’m now known as “Dad Guy”. It’s a little non-descript, but it’s hard to argue with its accuracy. Everyone else has names that are a little more more colorful. April goes by “Bean” most of the time, with a “Goose” (short for silly goose) thrown in once in a while. Noa is usually “Waaaaa!” and sometimes “Mom Girl”. Natch.
(3) They Have Their Weak Spots – Sometimes when babies cry it seems like there’s no hope for settling them down. The screams can shake your confidence and make you feel like there’s no getting through that impregnable wall of hysteria. It took a while, but we found a way to break through our little girl’s episodes. I give to you, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. This song was written by angels. Whenever we sing it, April just chills out and stops screaming / crying / screeching at us. Disclaimer: does not work without the associated finger motions. Must include finger motions.
(4) They Really Start to ‘Wake Up’ Around The Three Month Mark – I guess this started happening right around when the poop thing became less fun. Looking back at videos of the first three months, she was just constantly stretching and straining. It’s almost like it takes them three months to wake up from their nine month nap in the big belly. Once that’s done the real fun begins. It felt like she first made eye contact, started laughing, succeeded in rolling over, began trying to talk and learned how to grab things in the same week.
(5) Daycare Can Be Great – The girls at our daycare are just great. When I go to pick up “the bean” after work they are all smiles and are so happy to tell me that April had a great day. After a full day of work, no one has any right to be as bubbly and warm as they are. It’s amazing that they can pull that off so consistently. After a long day of work at the office I’m in much worse shape, and the chance of me pulling off a sincere smile are less than zero. But since they genuinely love the kids I guess it’s not ‘work’ for them. The trick here is finding the right place. Anyone who leaves their kid with other people all day is going to have a strong opinion (good or bad) about them. If this applies to you, make sure that you review your daycare or preschool on our site.
(6) Sleep Training Saves Lives – A friend told me about a ballsy potty training technique: one day you tell the kids that they can only do their biz in the potty and then you take their pants (and underwear) away. For three days straight. It’s scary and extreme, and there’s bound to be a few accidents, but supposedly the kids are much more aware of going to the bathroom like that so they pick it up faster. Like ripping off a band-aid – if band-aids were made of pants and underwear. For sleep training we did something similar, even though the stakes weren’t as high – the Dr. Ferber method. Basically you take away everything (pacifier, swaddle, etc.) when you put them in the crib at night and let them cry it out for increasing intervals (5 minutes, then 10 minutes, etc.). By the third night we had April asleep in minutes and she would stay down for 12 hours. Therefore, God exists.
So those are the lessons I’ve learned so far and my sage advice for the other dads out there. I hope you’re all having as much fun as I am.