When I was younger, I worked as a landscaper on a golf course. There were these little birds, called Wilson’s Plovers, that would run all over the place. When a person or animal would approach their young, the adult bird would thrash on the ground, twist one of its wings to make it look broken, and squawk to draw the attention of the potential predator away from the young birds. I’ve always admired the willingness of these birds to put themselves in harm’s way to save their young.
As I celebrate my first father’s day, I can’t help but to think about the protective nature of a father. As I hold and look at my son, I realize that there is no limit to what I would do or endure to keep him safe. It sounds cliche, but I have no doubt that if it came down to it, I would die for him. After all, the whole “I would give my life for my kids” sentiment became a cliche because it’s true. What parent wouldn’t?
It doesn’t even have to be a life or death situation — and I hope it never is. I even want to protect him from the little things. When he was having a hard time with his reflux, there were times when it would flare up, and the only thing I could do was hold him and try to soothe him until it passed. Watching him tense up and scream because he was hurting was torture for me. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when he starts walking — and falling down.
Growing up, my brother and I hurt ourselves on a daily basis. I don’t think a day went by that I wasn’t bleeding from somewhere on my body. My wife doesn’t like to hear about the variety of injuries I had or the stupid ideas that led to so many of them because she — having grown up with just an older sister — doesn’t want to think about the possibility — or inevitability — that these things will one day happen to our son. To tell the truth, the thought terrifies me, too.
As a parent, you have to ensure your child’s safety. It takes some time for them to be able to protect themselves, so it’s up to you. One of the most important purchases you’re going to make in terms of safety is a car seat. Car seats go through rigorous safety testing before they can be put on the market, but wear and tear can affect their ability to protect your child. As you use your car seat, or if you have to buy a used one, inspect it thoroughly. Look for signs of damage, tears, or stress to any of the plastic. Also, it’s recommended that a car seat be replaced every six years, so check the manufactured date as well.
Another important purchase is a baby monitor, whether audio or video. As you child lays in his or her crib, it only takes one wrong roll for them to get into trouble, and unless you’re planning to spend all of your time in the nursery, you’re going to want something that will allow you to hear or see what’s going on in there. There have been a number of times that I’ve heard my son scream through the baby monitor and went sprinting toward his room to make sure nothing was wrong. Also, it won’t be long before my little man is mobile and I’ll have to seal up all of the cabinets and doors with latches, fasteners, clips, and whatever other inventions have been developed to keep kids — and a lot of adults — out.
Unless I keep a helmet strapped on his head and the rest of him covered in bubble wrap, I know my son is going to get hurt. And if he’s anything like me, he’s going to get hurt a lot. I’m sure I’m going to feel like I didn’t fulfill my fatherly duty of protecting my son every time I have to dress one of his wounds. But as a dad, there’s only so much I can protect him from. This is a thought that’s going to take some getting used to.
The New Father: My Baby Came With a Price Tag | Date Night’s Not So Spontaneous Anymore | Permanence Is an Intimidating Concept | The Gross Out Factor | Going Places | Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help | Parenting Is a Lesson in Teamwork | Juggling the First Holiday | Baby on Board | Dealing With Baby Heartburn | Father and Son, One on One | Diaper Changing, Learning the Hard Way | He's Crying and I'm Freaking Out | My Baby Smiled at Me | Food Sensitivities and the Breastfeeding Baby
On Mondays, Travis King shares learning experiences he encounters as a new father.
Photo: Travis King