One thing about fatherhood and parenthood that’s surprised me is how much I’ve become interested in what Monkey is thinking and how his little mind works and learns. I guess throughout pregnanthood I never thought about how things would be day-to-day with Monkey. And I never really thought about the feelings I’d feel or the thoughts I’d think as I held him and stared into his deep blue eyes.
Being a parent changes you. It changes the way you think about your spouse. It changes the way you think about yourself. And it changes the way you think about life. All of these changes are good changes, of course. And they surely spark this new thirst for knowing and and a need for understanding that I’ve never felt before. I mean being responsible for a brand new life who is completely dependent on you and your wife is an amazing feeling.
Sure, it’s scary to think about when you’re going through the pregnancy journey. Sometimes you doubt yourself and/or your abilities. Sometimes you wonder if you’ll be a good parent. Sometimes you’ll wonder how you’ll know what to do. And sometimes throughout all those feelings of being lost and confused, you get a sense of knowing that everything is going to be OK and that you’ll be just fine.
Having a baby is a boost of self-worth and in many ways along with a boost of confidence. Heck, because I can now change Monkey’s diaper with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back, I’m feeling more confident than ever – and changing diapers was something I had deeply feared!
Fatherhood has changed me; it’s changed the way that I think about the future. I find during my downtime I often think about our new life with Monkey. The trips to the zoo. The trips to the park. The trips to the ocean. The many, many journeys we’ll take together battling dragons, playing cops and robbers, hide and seek, looking for buried treasures, and a the spellbinding world that creative imagination creates, that I too used to live in, and remember well.
And speaking of imagination, I’ve always known first-hand that creativity is so vitally important to a child’s development. When I was growing up, I was a kid who chose exploring outside over television. I was always building forts, going on safaris, trying to build things, and later, taking apart toys to see how they worked (which was never well received by my parents of course!).
A child’s imagination is an amazing thing and as a parent, the more you nurture and support it, the more it expands. I’m fortunate to have a vivid memory of my childhood stemming all the way back to my first memory before I could talk. I can remember countless times I passed the time playing with toys that forced me to use my creativity to keep me entertained. But then one day, the world of Nintendo entered my life and the magical worlds I had created on my own soon vanished as I was now living in the world of Super Mario Brothers. And for a time, my creativity seemed to vanish with it.
I can recall countless times I’d sit there on the couch and complain how bored I was after getting tired of playing video games. My father would list off countless ideas of things I or we could do, but none of them peaked my interest. Looking back, I’ll go as far as saying that the video games muted my creativity. And like many other adults, it was my creativity that fueled me growing up – something that I didn’t know until later in life. Once I was able to work on getting it back, I felt “normal” again and no longer felt bored.
So what in the heck does all of this have to do with our baby Monkey? Well… everything really. Children are bursting with ideas, questions, thoughts, and creativity. And I suspect the creative juices are beginning to flow even when they are babies and learning about the new world they live in. But, there is a lot to learn here. My thirst for wanting to know the answers to many questions I have about baby and childhood development is driving me to want to learn as much as I can on the subject.
In fact, over the last few days I’ve been doing a little research on how babies learn – and I’ve quickly become incredibly interested in the subject. I mean what parent doesn’t want to have a really smart well-behaved kid who is the talk and envy of all your friends and neighbors? :)
Now I know there is some internal wiring that we cannot change, but I also know there is a lot that we can influence. And the more I’m reading, the more I’m learning how vitally important a lot of things are right now while Monkey is a baby that I had no clue about.
For example, last night I spent a good couple of hours researching many, many baby books on Amazon and Google. I read the reviews, read up on some of the authors, and made sure that what I was buying had some good nuggets that both Jane and I can learn to help our Monkey learn, develop, and play.
Here are the books I ordered last night on Amazon:
Now of course I fully believe in a father’s and mother’s instinct and I believe in going without heart and gut. I believe in a lot of those things. But I also believe in learning all I can about how Monkey learns, develops, and plays so that we can be the best parents we can be. In fact, Jane and I are quickly becoming fascinated about Monkey’s mind and excited to watch/help him learn and develop.
The responsibilities of being a parent are immense, but will not doubt be filled many, many exciting times for Jane, Monkey, and myself. I’ve got a lot to learn, but come to think of it, so does our baby Monkey!
As a side note, be sure to bookmark this page so you can come back to it and refer to the links above and below as needed.
Below are additional early childhood development resources I found for you to check out:
1. CDC - The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has a list of developmental milestones for children from 3 months to 5 years of age on this page.
2. Zero to Three - Zero To Three is a national nonprofit organization that informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. An interesting tid-bit I read on their website, “Neuroscientists have documented that our earliest days, weeks and months of life are a period of unparalleled growth when trillions of brain cell connections are made. Research and clinical experience also demonstrate that health and development are directly influenced by the quality of care and experiences a child has with his parents and other adults.”
3. Sign with your Baby: Baby Sign Language (ASL) Learning Kit – This is something that I’m currently looking into and researching, but from what I see thus far, looks very interesting and there’s a ton of proof out there this works. (I also know someone personally who has used this with their baby a few years ago and had amazing success.)
4. Making Baby Genius – A great article about your baby’s learning power.
5. 50 ways to make your baby smarter - Really great info here on a 4-page PDF that you can print out from work or home and refer back to.
6. Questions about kids – Short article with some good tid-bits of information for you.
If you know of any other great resources into baby learning and development, please share them with us and our readers. Thanks!
You might also want to read:
- Another father-to-be realization: Learning the sex of our baby makes things REAL.
- The BIG question pregnant parents ask each other 1,273 times… at least
- Baby Acne: treatment, causes, and sadly our little Monkey has baby acne
- Part 3: Issues with my parents, past & present
- When does the umbilical cord fall off? Well, baby Monkey gave us the answer to our question this AM!