For the New Fathers Out There

I worked with Rick Minerich at Atalasoft. It was great having Rick on our team. I learned a lot from Rick and I hope he learned a lot from us. Rick was on board around the time my second child was born so he got to witness the many mornings that I referred to as “Dawn of the Dad”.

Rick and I were scheduled to go to a conference in Vegas one year and our flight out of Hartford got canceled due to a thunderstorm that came in. Rick and I were put on a flight at the crack of dawn but we stayed up late getting some truly horrific food. We set the alarm for 4:00 and went to sleep at 10ish (IIRC). 6 hours of sleep? What a windfall for me! I woke up before the alarm, showered and got dressed while Rick was still struggling with the coffee maker. He seemed totally shocked that not only was I awake and moving, I was entirely wake and functional without caffeine.

Many parents will talk about sleep deprivation and its effects. I will simply say that the ability of the human body to adjust to what is needed is a remarkable thing.

But parenthood is one of the most challenging journeys in front of you. If you are attending a birth, be in the moment. Take stock of what’s happening. Etch it in your mind. You only become a parent once – afterwards, you are a parent for the rest of your life.

Human development is fascinating. Enjoy the stages of your child’s development. Some are frustrating, but as new things come on line every month will be better than the last. Look for things like raising head, discovering hands, rolling over, means-to-an-end, stacking, dump-and-fill, and so on. Don’t worry about when they happen – they’ll happen in their own time.

Much of marketing towards parents is based on fear. You don’t have to buy into it if you don’t want to. It’s not worth the time. Read up. Ask your pediatrician. Educate yourself. There are a few things that I think are worth doing: take a CPR course. I have performed the Heimlich maneuver on my daughter three times in her life. Also consider sign language for the first few years. Speech is not language. Speech is an expression of language. You can bootstrap communication earlier with sign language than speech. Some people claim that having sign language virtually eliminates the terrible twos. Not in my experience, but still having a picture of what’s going on in your child’s mind is a wonderful thing. We used Signing Time to do that.

The addition of a child in your lives creates a new set of relationship permutations. Make sure you find time to nurture the relationship with your spouse. A good babysitter is worth his/her weight in gold for that very reason. When my kids were young, I took them out on “dates”. It might have been just a simple meal or a trip to the park, but it was one-on-one time.

Write down the shit your kid says in preschool. It is unbelievable and you probably won’t remember it. Here are some examples from my son:

“I want a rat pet, but I need to wait until I grow up and marry someone new.”

“clowns can juggle coats and hats and shoes. And people’s skeletons.”

“Dada, when I eat this [oatmeal], I’m going to be strong like Bumblebee”

“You’re sad because your mommy is dead….daddy? I’m not going to kill you.”

“When I was a little honey bee, I make honey in a honey home and all my bee friends come to visit and they eat chocolate and peanut butter and we have a picnic in my honey home and that’s the end of my story.”

Take all the pictures you can. Make an album annually from the best – paper keeps better than bits and requires no power.

You’re going to be a great dad, Rick.

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