Put a Bib on It


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The Captain of Your Own Boat

BoatWe had a friend visit recently from Hawaii who is planning to sail around the world. We shared scouting and sailing stories for a while and as we sat he asked, “What it’s like being a dad?” Two things came to mind right away. First, I communicated that nothing else in my experience has been more rewarding, and being a parent has been such a blessing. Second, I shared the metaphor that being a dad was just like sailing and being the captain of your own boat. He nodded and knew exactly what I meant.

To be a good captain of a boat and to be able to sail around the world without many problems takes experience and practice. You prepare for the journey—not sure exactly how you will get there—but this is what you love and you know you can do it.

  • There are storms that you must face and long nights when you don’t get sleep. You need to budget all of your resources: sleep, money, time, and energy.
  • There are days that are easy when “the wind is strong” and you get a bunch of smiles and hugs. Some days have no wind and you’re stuck.
  • There are days when you feel like the work around the “boat” won’t ever be finished like the dishes or laundry.
  • You learn a lot about working together with the crew of a boat because they are your family. They might fight with you from time to time, but they are learning to really be independent and make their own decisions. Just like their captain has modeled and taught them.
  • The experiences will be so memorable that you could fill a hundred log books with memories.
  • Finally, the journey goes by so fast that you get to where you were going and he’s all grown up and ready to be captain of his own ship.

I don’t know what my parenting journey will bring as we move to the future, but I hope that I can be a good captain for my family. It was good to have a visitor come to our boat and remind me of what a blessing I have and the real responsibility that comes with being a dad. For now, I’m going to do my best to enjoy each day that I have with my crew.


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This Will Hurt Me More Than it Hurts You

dad and son2

My wife and I are blessed with our son. He generally sleeps well, eats well and is getting big and healthy. I enjoy his laughter and smiles as we play. We have begun to understand his “language”—and can usually figure out why he is fussy. He and I share conversations daily, and although I’m not sure we completely understand each other we both often have a smile on our face.

I feel like I am trying to model self-regulation and to learn how to be in control, but I’m not always the best model. Something that I don’t enjoy about fatherhood is watching my son get shots. I believe in the value and importance of getting vaccinated. I also remember that when I was about 7-years-old, I pushed away a nurse and ran from her because I wasn’t going to let her “hurt” me. So when it came time for my son to have his set of shots, I felt it was especially important to help him stay calm. This seemed easy since he had no idea what was going to happen. I soothingly told him that this will hurt a little and will be over quick. I told him that it will help him to stay healthy and that I love him very much.

The nurse instructed me to hold him down on the exam table. I looked down into his eyes and I felt like I had been prodded with a giant needle even though we hadn’t even started yet. I remember hearing the phrase, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” growing up as a child. The look in his eyes when I knew he felt pain did seem to hurt me more than him. He didn’t cry at first but I had visions of being age 7 again, and I wanted to grab him up and run. I could see the pain in his eyes and held him close. He cried a little and I held and hugged him.

This has been a difficult experience. Several times in his first 3 months, Morgan also had to get blood drawn (not just a few drops). This process of feeling pain as I looked into his eyes as I held my son has gotten easier (I still haven’t given in to the urge to grab him up and run, at least.). Even though he is an infant, I like to think that my effort to self-regulate has been a good model and this has been an early step to self-regulation for him. I look forward to the other situations that will connect us as he grows up.


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Be Prepared

Be Prepared

Welcome Archer Thomas, 4C for Children professional development specialist—and new dad—to our blog team!

“Be prepared,” that’s the motto of the Boy Scouts and something I learned that is extremely important in life. My wife and I had talked a lot about having children and we wanted to be prepared to be great parents for our child. I thought about how I might feel and react to when we had the little plus sign. That day came last year, and even though I thought I was prepared, I wasn’t. When my wife came out of the bathroom and tried to fool me her eyes told me that I was going to be a dad. I was so overwhelmed by the feeling that I couldn’t hold in emotion and cried my first tears of joy that I couldn’t hold back.

Then all the questions began. What do we do now? Which doctor should we choose? What foods can’t you eat? How do we tell our parents? On and on we had so many questions. We are rather independent learners so we wanted to research much of this on our own. It didn’t take us long to discover that there are about as many opinions on child rearing as there are stars in the sky. It took some filtering, but what we soon discovered was that we really just needed to be calm, be patient, and be prepared to make our own decisions because ultimately we are going to be the people that are going to care, love and teach this new little person.

Asking questions of people such as doctors, nurses, and like-minded parents helped calibrate the needle on our compass so that we could follow this map of parenthood. My wife and I had to make the decisions on which direction to go so that we could get to that happy place of the healthy birth of our first child. We got turned around and had to rethink our direction a few times.

My wife is petite, and as her belly got larger her appetite grew and what she wanted to eat seemed to change every few minutes. She shared her worry about her weight and I did my best to support her. I was prepared for her belly, I’m a big guy and was a little happy to have someone else around that had a belly—even knowing that it was our child inside preparing to come out. As we progressed with making decisions we decided to learn the gender. The little screen at the office showed us the first pictures of our little boy. We both were happy to see him that first time and knew that we had so much to do to be prepared for him.

As we routinely visited the doctor and the expected date came closer and closer, we discovered some complications. We were scared and worried when the doctor said he would have to arrive early. Did we do something to cause this? Instead of a month left to prepare, we had two weeks. So many things were happening, but none as important as the health of a little boy that we hadn’t yet met. We were on the phone with the doctor’s office almost every day or so and after what seemed to be one hundred changes we met at the doctor’s office prepared. We were prepared for anything. The doctor said, “We need you at the hospital tonight and will deliver the next day.” I had my short list of things to get and had my ”Super Dad” shirt ready. We were off to the hospital and had our team of family and friends prepared for helping where needed.

The moment our son was born, I thought that I was prepared, but had to hand him to his mom. I didn’t want to let him go and can’t really describe how I felt. I wasn’t prepared for this love and blessing. It has been so overwhelming and wonderful.