"You will have no time to childproof the house (trust me) between the time the baby is born and the time it is old enough to aim and spray paint remover into its mouth."
There is a moment in every parent’s life when they wish they had someone to talk to about their child’s behavior—and their own response to it. They may not take the advice, but it’s nice to know what other, experienced folk do that seems to work well. Clyde Edgerton has a comfortable way of raising those pesky issues of childrearing and making us laugh about how we solve (or do not solve) them. He makes a great deal of sense, and makes us more comfortable with our sometimes creative solutions. Most of all, he makes us love children for being the baby humans they are—for mimicking, for coming out with the most amazing questions, for learning manipulation early.
This is a small book, the smallness of which any parent can appreciate. New parents quickly find that time is one thing they have less of with a new baby, and Edgerton’s advice on setting up the car seat early is wisely put in the front of the book: Getting Ready. The frustration of installing the seat prepares the new father for what will come…setting up the crib. He helpfully instructs the new father to put it together inside the room where it will be used, since it very likely will not fit through the door when it is finally put together.
Parenting can be hard, especially if we don’t learn early that consistency resolves many daily battles. It’s just figuring out what we want to hold as the standard that may be difficult. Edgerton speaks with the voice of the experienced Dad, one who has figured out many ways to be fair at the same time he is saying “no.” He writes as though he would be a great grandparent—he hasn’t lost the joy of a new baby, or a questioning toddler, or an experimenting teen. The love shows through, which is what each of us hopes for in our families. He is a Considerably Older Dad, or COD, and writes some advice for other CODs separate from the text in little boxes.
I especially loved the short section reminiscent of “Kids say the darndest things,” or Edgerton reminding us that sometimes kids seem to grow up when we aren’t looking. Suddenly one day they will point out, with an adult voice and a complete sentence, they have completely grasped something we thought was beyond them still. We feel foolish and proud and on the verge of laughing at ourselves at the same time.
His advice is sound, and I’m sure new fathers will find much in it to help them to relax into their new life as parent and to be creative in their own individual way: to think of new games, or stories to tell, or fun things to do with their child at the same time one sets reasonable limits and allows for diversity. Parenting is hard, but it can also be fun, and Edgerton helps us with one while reminding us of the other.
This is a book for new fathers, Edgerton points out several times, and so it is. But a mother could do worse than see what advice her husband is reading, to see if her child-rearing techniques mesh with his. Besides, it is much shorter than those for mothers, who have so much more to think about, since her body and the baby’s are so closely entwined. And she might take heart that Edgerton takes some time to tell new fathers to “look after mama.”
If there is going to be a new father in your family, don't wait until the baby is born to share this wonderful little book. It covers preparing for fatherhood, something I am certain is on the minds of fathers-to-be.
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