Around this time last year, I wrote about some of the more salient highlights from my first year as a father. Now year two has passed, and it was filled with lessons I’ll take with me into years three and four, and beyond. Here are some things I wish someone had told me at the beginning of the year:
- Don’t skip naps. Tired adults will get snippy with you, but tired children get emotional and entirely unpredictable. If Bennett misses his mid-day nap, you better tread lightly because just about anything could set him off. It can be hit or miss with Bennett. Sometimes he gets along just fine without his two-hour siesta, but he’s like Mount Vesuvius: If he happens to erupt, the day as you know it is done.
- Be careful what you give your child to play with; you may be taking it out in public. Case in point: We bought Bennett a toy trumpet. It didn’t look as big online as it is in real life. Make no mistake – it’s a full-size plastic replica trumpet. Bennett hasn’t figured out how to play it yet, but he carries it wherever he goes, like a miniature traveling jazz player. Apologies to anyone whose personal space has been invaded by a toddler wielding a shiny plastic trumpet – he didn’t mean to.
- Kids see everything, and not just the stuff you don’t want them to see. We all know children mimic and repeat things their parents do and say in the heat of the moment. But you should know that they also mimic more mundane things, like their father’s shaving technique. My wife and I learned this firsthand when Bennett came prancing out of our hotel bathroom with his mother’s disposable razor held to his upper lip – it was scary-cute.
- Even though children under 2 can fly free on airlines, it’s better to get them their own seat. It may seem like a waste of money to buy a small child his own seat on a plane, but then you can’t lean over to the huffy lady across the aisle and say, “He paid for his seat. You can ask him to switch, but I doubt he will.” I promise, it’s worth every penny.
- Play is a skill that most of us need to brush up on. Your 2-year-old likely has a lot of the same toys you did as a kid, but that doesn’t mean you’re still good at playing with them. I just figured this out myself; I have forgotten how to really play with toys. Bennett will be 2 in a month’s time and he is starting to really enjoy his toys. I want to be able to play with him, so I need to re-learn how to have fun with colored, lettered and numbered blocks, and toy trains and cars. I also need to brush up on how to play pretend. After all, I don’t want to miss out on the fun.
Here’s to another great year of parenthood in 2015. I’m told the coming year will include such adventures as potty training, drinking from open cups and sleeping in big-boy beds.