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Upside down and turned around

Upside down and turned around

Our little guy is almost a year old. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen him stretching out and bulking up considerably. As he’s grown, he’s also become more playful. His greater strength and mass have made him more capable of handling some rough-and-tumble play that would have been too strenuous before. This has opened...

Our little guy is almost a year old. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen him stretching out and bulking up considerably. As he’s grown, he’s also become more playful. His greater strength and mass have made him more capable of handling some rough-and-tumble play that would have been too strenuous before. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for how I get to interact with him.
imageNow, we get to play in a more physical way, which is more similar to how boys generally like to play. I hang him upside down, and I spin him around. I can let him free fall a foot or so into the bean bag. He crawls up to me and pounds on my chest while I’m lying down. During all of this infant playtime, he flashes his big cheesy grin and giggles constantly. He also does this hilarious gasping snort sound as he inhales and exhales in rapid succession. I think that’s the sound he makes when he’s excited and having lots of fun.
He’s not the only one giggling. I laugh like crazy when we play, too. It feels really good to play like this with my son. It’s a way we can bond and enjoy each other’s company. I truly and genuinely enjoy it. Fatherhood is not a chore or a burden. It is a joy and a privilege. These fun moments are the stark reminders of this great truth.
I see these times of physical play as a portent of all the other fun stuff to come in the years ahead. In a couple more years, there will be pillow fights and games of hide-and-seek. After that will come the wrestling matches, races to the oak tree, games of tag, tossing a ball, bike rides, etc. I can’t wait. I want to do it all right now. But I must be patient. He has to grow into those things.
I remember a time, before I became a father, when I thought it was undignified for grown men to play like children. I was young, naïve and had no idea what I was talking about. Now, I think it’s sad when a father refuses to get down on the floor and roll around with his children. It’s sad because he’s missing a golden opportunity to connect and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Granted, fathers have many other responsibilities in addition to entertaining children, but that doesn’t mean we should forget the great joy found in making a child smile amid all the other things we carry on our shoulders. We must be able to lay aside life’s cares and burdens for a moment, so that we can play peekaboo and tickle some ribs.
I hope I never get too old to play.

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