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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fatherhood Top Fives

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Photo by Carrie Stroud Photography.

This is our little boy (the cute one on the left without the beard). His name is Cash (we really like money). My wife and I recently celebrated our first year as parents. I was absolutely terrified to become a father, but I find it suits me as much as I had hoped and more than I thought it would. I wasn't expecting the absolute unconditional love I could feel for another human being. Here are some observations and reflections from my rookie year—some superficial, others sentimental. Some with general application, and others are self-indulgent. The format is a jumbled concoction of non sequiturs... much like I have found parenting to be.

Top five songs I sing to him while getting him to sleep:
1. Kathy’s Song - Simon & Garfunkel.
2. The Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine.
3. Ballad for My One True Love - Mason Jennings.
4. The Obvious Child - Paul Simon.
5. While You Were Sleeping - Elvis Perkins.

Top five pieces of fatherly advice to pass on:
1. Empathy is one of the great keys to life. Be understanding. Be kind.
2. The world is not black and white. The world is complex. People are complex. God is complex. Find simple joy in the complexity.
3. Question authority.
4. Read The Little Prince.
5. Don't take advice from a person whose mantra is, “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.”

Top five little victories:
1. Successful transfers (keeping him asleep while getting him into the crib).
2. Diaper changes under 30 seconds.
3. Voluntary kisses.
4. Mastering the swaddle.
5. First word: “Dada!”

Top five little defeats:
1. Unsuccessful transfers.
2. Poop on my hands/poop on his face.
3. The inability to get the puke smell out of the carpet.
4. The inability to put the car seat back together after dismantling it to wash the puke out of it.
5. Conceding to the fact that he has become that kid with perpetual snot coming from his nose.

Top five awesome things he does:
1. The best smile I've ever seen.
2. Looks out the car window with a look that indicates he is deeply contemplating the meaning of life.
3. The overly dramatic way in which he does Sign Language for "sleep."
4. When he first learned how to give us raspberries/zurbers/zerberts (whatever you call them).
5. Sleeps with his arms tucked in and his butt in the air.

Photo by ScottHeff.

Top five films about fatherhood (idea from The Art of Manliness):
1. Father of the Bride.
2. The Royal Tenenbaums.
3. Big Fish.
4. Life is Beautiful.
5. To Kill A Mockingbird.

Top five baby products:
1. The NoseFrida. Gross concept. Super effective. Way better than those bulb syringes.
2. A video monitor. Some people are reluctant because they like this would push them into “helicopter parents” territory. It actually does the opposite. You can casually check on the kid without rushing into his room every time he coughs.
3. The Boon Spoon. Convenient.
4. Food pouches. Even more convenient.
5. BabyLegs. Great for newborns. You don’t have to keep pulling their pants off and on during the hundreds of diaper changes that occur in a day. Be man enough to put your son in leggings.

Top five conflicting feelings of being a dad:
1. Watching him grow up before my very eyes.
2. Feeling guilty for not taking more photos/video.
3. He often prefers his mom. It hurts my feelings, but can also be advantageous at times.
4. Being able to sleep right through his crying, even when he's inches from my face. This makes me feel guilty, but is definitely advantageous.
5. When he's sick and screaming and hysterical and nothing we do seems to make a bit of difference.

Top five incidental perks of being a dad:
1. Strangers are nicer to you when you’re with a baby.
2. Treats in sacrament meeting.
3. Feeling like I'm a good dad makes me more confident and even makes me feel sexy. Yeah, that’s right.
4. Watching Sesame Street.
5. Baby shoes. They are one of the cutest gifts given to us on this Earth.

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