Are You Prepared?

Essay by CMDR_DaveCollege, UndergraduateC+, November 2007

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I'm responding to the book "Be Prepared" (Hayden) which is not a boyscout manual, but rather a comical look at fatherhood. This book is as it states on the cover, "A practical handbook for new dads". The author takes the approach of humor to help ease a new dad into the fatherhood mode of his life. I like how the author sees most of the situations involved with becoming a father. I find the book very amusing and comforting too. Some of the suggestions are clearly sarcastic and not meant to be taken seriously. For example, when Dad is playing peek-a-boo with baby, the baby thinks that his head literally disappears and then suddenly reappears when he opens his hands. This book has lots of illustrations for all of us new dads to look at if we can't quite grasp what the text is trying to tell us.

I found a lot of sound suggestions too, such as how to baby-proof a hotel room in four minutes. I've used some of this stuff and it really does work. Whenever my wife and I travel now, I'll sweep the hotel room for hazardous items, move all electronics out of baby's reach, and close the bathroom door. These are only "some" of the ideas on baby-proofing the hotel room quickly. Some other ideas involved tape, lots and lots of tape. You should tape an "X" on the glass doors to show baby he can't climb straight through. I don't know about that one. It seems a little too common-sense like to me. Shouldn't the baby know he can't go through a clear glass door? That's just a lesson they should learn on their own at their own pace in my opinion. How about taping baby socks to the corners of sharp edges like counters or tables at baby's level to prevent any cranium damage? Good idea, but who carries around a roll of tape all the time? I don't remember my parents doing these things. All I can vaguely remember are my parents saying "be careful" or "don't do that" and then, of course, after I did what they warned me not to, I learned not to do that!I really related to how babies are attracted to VCR's. I've found this to be true in my son. For some reason, he always goes straight for the VCR slot with his hand. Even though he's gotten stuck in there before, the fascination is still there. The basically easy suggestion from the book is to always keep a tape in there to keep baby from injecting something that doesn't belong. This would work to an extent, but my son also has figured out that the buttons do stuff on the VCR too. He knows if he pushes the right one, something will happen that he can see. For some reason he finds this very exciting, challenging, and rewarding to know he can do this. I'm not sure how to thwart his interest in pushing buttons.

When talking about tooth development, I think the author is wrong. They say the first two teeth are the front bottoms, the second two are the top fronts, the third two are the next top, and finally the fourth two teeth are the next bottoms. With each occurrence at 6-10, 7-11, 8-12, and 9-13 months respectively. My son had all four of his first teeth at 6 months. Now at 15 months, he has 12 and he's showing signs of getting two more already. I'm sure that probably every baby is different in this area so I shouldn't take this section of the book to heart.

The funniest part is when the author talks about bears and babies and how they don't mix well. They suggest avoiding all bear encounters if possible. There are some simple guidelines to follow if you're camping in bear country. "Don't startle bears, keep food and garbage out of reach, and keep away from dead things." Oh, it also suggests that if you see a bear to make your presence known by waving your arms over your head and talking loudly. Nursery rhymes work too it suggests. It has a funny illustration of a dad with a baby back-pack on as he stands with his arms raised and baby looks on at a bear walking by.

Probably the most interesting part of this read discusses resuming a sex life after baby. It talks about re-greasing the wheels of your relationship by doing some subtle things. One suggestion that I found amusing was writing notes on the baby's diaper when you're sure she'll be the next one to change him. You should try to make sure the mother-in-law doesn't get this next diaper change. You should talk about setting aside at least one night per week for just mom and dad without baby. This is hard for my wife and I because we don't have family here in Ohio and don't really trust anyone. We've tried the movie thing and it worked at first when the baby was small and in an infant carrier because he'd sleep through the whole thing. But now that he's toddling around everywhere, it just doesn't work. We've become regulars at the video store. Even that can be challenging because he's often running around, playing, and making noise while we're trying to watch something. I usually end up on the floor with him missing most of whatever we're watching, but you know, it's worth it!Works CitedHayden, Gary Greenburg and Jeannie. Be Prepared. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2004.