Friday, September 09, 2011
One of the happy surprises that has come with fatherhood has been that, much to my astonishment, I am really beginning to enjoy dressing my daughter each day. I suspect that the main reason for this is that the changing table makes it much easier to interact with her. My hands are free and we're close enough to make eye contact easily. It also helps that I am not on the floor (and uncomfortable) as during playtime, and neither of us is constrained by some kind of contraption or other, like a baby seat or a Bjorn.
The fun began when, a few weeks ago, I noticed upon taking over from Mrs. Van Horn in the early morning, that the baby's onesie often had only two of its three snaps fastened. As it turns out, working in low light while trying to keep the baby quiet during diaper changes would sometimes prompt Momma to take the shortcut.
Since I usually provide some sort of narrative to the baby as I go about my time with her (and I like to give my wife a hard time over things like this), I began having fun with it as I buttoned up the baby's bodysuit. "All three buttons! Accept no substitutes!" After my "competitor" turned up the heat by buttoning them all, I began adding, "and beware of imitators!" to this. Once, for a onesie with additional buttons down the front, I said, "Eight whole buttons! This would have been a disaster if 'Momma two-snaps' had tried to put it on you." Mrs. Van Horn was, of course, within earshot for the ribbing on that one. (For the record, Mrs. Van Horn is a very good mother, and, has a good sense of humor. And Dad will lay off a little when the baby starts picking up English.)
The joking has gradually transformed the task into a game for me, and I began giving "fashion reviews" of whatever I change the baby into some time ago, usually tracing out or lightly tapping whatever I am describing at any given moment, like the fringe of a collar or elements of any decorative patterns. Before we took her to the beach recently, for example, I assured her that her bathing suit -- which looked like a wet suit with broad pink and white horizontal stripes and a bright green zipper down the front -- would instantly evacuate the entire beach of "all the other women" as they scrambled to go out and find more fashionable beachwear.
I get some of the best smiles in the world out of her when I dress her, now, and there's nothing like a smile to a Dad.
Today: Corrected "Mamma two-buttons" to "Momma two-snaps."