The Big One

My son just had his first birthday, and it came with all of the cake and cupcakes and presents and decorations that a baby could hope for. I’m a lucky father of a very happy baby, and there was nothing as exciting as seeing my son cheer and clap through the festivities.

It was a mid-week birthday, so party time started the weekend before with grandparents and presents to be torn open and a Carvel ice cream cake — baby’s first sweet! Also, baby’s first cold food! OK, maybe the cake was more amazing to us than to him, but he had a few fun bites.

The saturday before Declan's first birthday

There were also a handful of new toys and a couple of books, and we only had to start opening the presents a little for the boy to discover how to tear the paper himself. The big hit of the day was probably the baby’s own TV remote,1 but, over the course of the week, I think the combo xylophone and hammer toy has been the replay value winner2.

Opening his new book -- tearing off the wrapping paper

I’m extraordinarily proud of my baby. He’s come so far in his first year He’s learned to sit and walk, to sleep well and to love to look at a book and turn the pages. He knows how to say mama and dad and dog and says them every day, and even points at things and asks what this and that are. It’s amazing to watch him grow.

At the same time, this blog is supposed to be about continuous improvement, and I’m not sure how I’ve improved as a dad. Sure, my diapering is better, and I’ve done all these amazing new things, like feeding a baby and holding a baby and playing with the baby, and that’s all pretty awesome; but am I, specifically, being a dad who’s not only great but getting better?

A basic lean technique is to set goals and then check in and review progress. Since this blog is about Kaizen, I think it’s time to employ this technique. So, son, another birthday present to you — besides the Barnyard Walker! — is a commitment to continual improvement as a dad. I’m going to do this with a quarterly post that includes:

  • A recap of how you’ve done over the last three months
  • A review of how I did on my past specific commitments to improve
  • A specific commitment from me of a way in which I can be a better dad
  • A promise from me to help you in some specific developmental way

I believe in the check-in as an accountability tool, so let’s put my beliefs to task here! And let’s celebrate my awesome son’s first birthday! May they all be so incredible.


  1. Yes, it’s as loud as they say 
  2. If only for the amazing fact that my son caught on to how to play a xylophone immediately