I have a son.
Not just a son, but a wonderful, happy, developing-incredibly-fast boy who’s reached one of those inevitable milestones that’s simultaneously exciting and terrifying. On September 27th, Cooper turned one.
The double-sided reaction is still there: I can’t believe he’s already a year old / I can’t believe he’s only a year old. But it’s starting to slide a bit towards the ‘already’ side, which I suppose means I’m (finally) settling in to this whole fatherhood thing.
In lieu of a big to-do, we had nice little get together for his birthday, just the grandparents and uncle David (who we have to thank for the cake photos). There were some presents – including a reunion with a former favorite daycare toy, which was a bit of a showstopper – and of course, the first cake.
If I have my math right, here’s approximately 9,000 words describing the event…
Goodbye, cake. Until next year!
First of all, I’d like to mention that I’m not a particularly emotional moviegoer.
Sure, I get a little (inexplicably) misty at the end of underdog sports movies, when the rag-tag bunch of losers from the wrong side of the tracks beat those uptown snobs in (melo)dramatic fashion.
I’ll also freely admit to having a soft spot for Pixar films, getting a bit choked up at the end of Toy Story 3 when the kid gives away his toys, and of course the first 10 minutes or so of Up, because, well, I’m human. The rest of their oeuvre, however, while great entertainment, never struck me in a particularly meaningful way.
…and now I’m a dad. Things have changed.
Forever, I expect.
Came across Finding Nemo on cable the other day, and with nothing better to do, and Cooper snoozing away, started watching. I couldn’t even say which scene it was, but Marlin says something to the effect of “I have to find my son,” and I got a little lump in my throat.
Huh. That’s weird.
Five minutes later, another reference to rescuing and/or protecting his son, another lump and realize I feel profoundly sad.
What the heck? I’ve seen this movie before, it’s never made me want to cry. Suddenly it’s like I really want him to find Nemo, really want everything to turn out okay, even though I already know the story. I’m infinitely more emotionally invested.
Then Cooper shifts or sighs or does some other little baby thing and I look at him.
Oh, right. I get it now.
Don’t swim out past the reef, Coop.
I expect this list (and its mere existence) speaks volumes about my parenting style. The following are nicknames that I have called Cooper, some obvious and some not so much:
- Cooper the super pooper
- Little man
- J.P. McSquishypants OR Ernest C. Squishypants
Please note that these are names I’ve used repeatedly; one-off names are not included.
Also, some pictures:
I’ve delayed posting this for a little while because I’ve wanted to see if there was actually anything to it, or if it was just a happy coincidence. And after a couple weeks of testing, I’m pretty pleased to find that it’s a real thing. At least mostly.
A little smile… close but not quite it.
So the backstory is that I’ve been given the duty of feeding Cooper a midnight bottle. Chris feeds him around nine, gets him all tucked in, and goes to bed, and then I get him up at midnight for a commando feeding and put him right back in bed, which ideally gives Chris a bigger window of sleep. And it seems to be working, he seems to be sleeping longer and longer. A few times he’s slept through the 3am feeding; hopefully soon it might be eliminated altogether.
In any case, you’ll note I called it a commando feeding, and that’s because I try to do it very tactically. I have the bottle and everything else ready to go before I even pick him up, and I try to get him from sleepy-stretchy to eating as quick as possible. It appears to work best when he doesn’t completely wake up; he sucks down the meal with his eyes half-open, and literally begins to nod off when I’m burping him.
If he’s at all awake after the bottle, I swaddle him back up and hold him for a while, and the pacifier usually finishes him off. During this time I usually have a little music going as well, and sing (horribly) to him a bit. And there’s where I got the secret smile.
The Paul Simon song ‘Born At The Right Time,’ was playing, which seemed very appropriate, and every time I sang the chorus:
Never been lonely
never been lied to
never had to scuffle in fear
nothing denied to
born at the instant
church bells chime
the whole world whispering
born at the right time
Right at the last line he’d make a little happy smile. Three choruses in the song, three smiles.
It was so sweet and ridiculously perfect I almost couldn’t believe it.
So of course I tried it again the next night. Same results, smile at the same line, although we went 2-for-3 because he was sleeping by the third chorus. I tried to not do it every single night, but nearly every time I did, I’d get at least one and usually two or three smiles. If he’s too awake or distracted, it doesn’t work, but if he’s calm and dozing off, it’s pretty regular.
And even though I’m sharing it with everyone here, I still consider it a secret smile just for me.