Paynesville Press - June 11, 2003

Community Perspective

Reflecting on one year of fatherhood

By Steve Venenga

Sunday was my first Father's Day. Not the first one I've ever remembered, but the first one I've ever celebrated as a father.

God blessed us with a son on April 16 of this year (2002), our first. I have never really appreciated the true meaning of Father's Day until this one.

One reason for my Father's Day apathy has been my Dad's attitude about it. His motto regarding the holiday has always been, "That's nice boys, just make sure you don't forget Mother's Day."

And I think the bigger reason is that I did not, and still do not, have a full appreciation for what being a father entails.

Well, that was my opening last year (2002 Father's Day). After reading that article again before writing this one...I don't know how to top it. How can I compete with the joy of newfound fatherhood?

All I can say is that the excitement of being a father has not diminished; just changed as Jacob grows up. I can honestly tell you that being my son's father has been the most fun I've ever had in my life. My chest sticks out two feet when someone walks up to him and says, "No doubt about that one - he's his Dad's boy."

In fact, a lot of people say he is "mini-me." Right now, Jake is cute, but not real bright. He'll do real intelligent things like beat his head on the wall over and over again and rub his face across the living room floor until he gets a carpet burn on his forehead.

People say we have a lot in common, except for he's cute.

I really miss the little guy when I have to leave town. When I'm out and about, I often catch myself humming Veggie-Tale tunes.

This year I thought I'd share a variety of e-mails sent to Jacob's grandparents after our quality father-son time throughout this past year.

Twins Game
"Had tickets to the Twins game yesterday. I had this thing all figured out. Great seats on the first baseline. Had four tickets, so we had plenty of room to spread out. We walked in right as the national anthem was playing.

Perfect. They announce the first batter, and Jacob starts howling. Too much noise, I guess.

You know when you watch a game and they show the few lonely fans sitting up by the roof? That was us. It's the only place we could find where Jacob was happy. We stayed until the seventh inning. The game got exciting, which meant the place got louder, so we had to leave.

Listened to the rest of the game in the car on the way home. Twins won in the bottom of the ninth. Isn't that just great?"

After Iowa loses Orange Bowl
"I'm not sure what his first word will be, but if it's one that I was using frequently during the game, I'm guessing it will be followed by soap. The kid will probably never talk again."

"You won't believe what I did last night. We ran out to the cabin, and I thought I unlocked the doors so I could get him out. I left the keys on the seat and rather than unlocking the doors, I LOCKED THEM!

Thank goodness he was sleeping. I took off for home in a different car to get Kim's keys. She and James (brother) watched him sleep. I told James to do whatever she said while I was gone. If Jake had woken up, I'd have a window to replace. The 20 minutes it took me to get home and back was the longest 20 minutes of my life."

Basketball Game
"Little dude gets chicks. It is unbelievable. And he knows it! I've never seen such a flirt. He had more girls talking to him than I had in four years of high school.

Kimber decided that after last night's performance (that) she is going to home school him."

Pajama Rodeo
"We have a new game in our house. It's called the Pajama Rodeo. Now that Jake can roll over and crawl, he figures why should he just lay there while you change his diaper and put his pajamas on?

Makes sense, I guess. So, we lay the pajamas and fresh diaper on the floor and see who can get him ready for bed the quickest. We trade off each night.

I was doing really well until Kim said I should lose points if he cries. I'm a lot slower with that rule."

"Well, the good news is that somehow I was able to teach Jacob to give me a hug last night. A little bear hug around the neck. It's pretty neat.

The bad news is, after three hugs, he follows with a head-butt. And I laughed.

The worse news is that when Kim came home, I had Jacob show her his new trick; but forgot about the head-butt part. She thought we were both real sweet until he about broke her nose."

Boating on Koronis
"We managed to get the boat out this Memorial Day weekend. We used to spend the entire weekend on the lake. Now we're down to two hours total. And they're not a quiet two hours.

I made a huge mistake. I thought it would be fun for Jacob to honk the horn (rather than the alternative - pulling the keys out of the ignition).

Bad idea. That's all he wants to do. Run to the front - pause - go honk the horn - for five minutes - run to the back - pause - back on the horn. I'm sure we're making a lot of friends with the fishermen."

Another Oops
"Kim just called. Jake got loose after his bath and marked his territory around the living room. Nice."

Kim Goes Shopping
"I had Junior almost all day yesterday while Kim went shopping. What a job. I'm glad I get to go to work everyday. Little bugger gets into everything.

We had stubborn contests over timing of taking naps. (Score tied 1-1.) He was tired when I fed him his lunch, so he had that all over the kitchen.

When Kimber got home I handed her a kid with orange vegetable beef all over his sweatshirt and a brown sock from the diaper change/ wrestling match."

My Mom's Response
"Stubborn contest with sweet, innocent little Jacob! I can't imagine! It is wonderful that you appreciate your wife staying home with him. Some guys get bent out of shape about that.

Your father was OK with it, too. I guess he realized that you guys weren't as 'easy' as going to work either."

Isn't that the truth! I think that's why my Dad always ignored Father's Day but made certain Mother's Day was an event. It makes sense now. So even though he was making it all up as he went along, there was a method to the madness. Keep Mom happy and life is good for everyone. Staying home with a kid is no easy task.

The biggest thing I believed last year that I think will always hold true is this: "I did not, and still do not, have a full appreciation for what being a father entails."

How in the heck does one figure that out? I have no idea. I think my dad knows, but if you ask him I bet he'll say it took him 31 years to get where he's at. I guess I'm one year into the journey.

Happy Father's Day. And if you're out on the lake, we'll be the ones honking.

Steve Venenga first wrote about his newborn son, Jake, in June 2002.

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