Title:  "In the Beginning There Were No Diapers"
Author:  Tim Bete
Publisher:  Sorin Books

Tim Bete has three children. Tim Bete is a very funny man. Tim Bete can write. Botta bing, botta boom, you've got yourself a successful author.

With four kids of my own, I have discovered all kinds of new ways to be amused, like when my almost-three-year-old decided she would catch a bird in her butterfly net, pet it, then let it go in the house. Thankfully, the birds are fully aware of this scheme and have eluded capture, though Trinity almost eluded us when she went tearing after some birds in downtown Oklahoma City the other day.

Such humorous anecdotes are familiar to all parents, which is part of the reason why Tim Bete's new book, "In the Beginning ... There Were No Diapers" (Sorin Books), will help all parents – especially fathers – realize that their kids aren't the only ones who act like banshees. Oh, and it will also give insight and encouragement while making you laugh out loud in the doctor's waiting room, thus causing strangers to stare at you and wonder why you're laughing when your kid is sucking on a homemade "Popsicle" (ingredients: one rolled-up napkin, two gallons of water) and rolling across the dirty tile floor.

Bete's book is by no means a how-to on parenting, because Bete isn't delusional enough to think he has all the answers (despite the fact that he read several such books as a young parent). He doesn't delve deeply into specific issues, nor does he cite Bible verse upon Bible verse.

What he does is regale the reader with one hilarious tale after another and offer a unique way of looking at certain situations. Take, for example, his breakdown of parental development.

"Stage 1, birth to nine months. Mothers begin to feel like a 24-hour, mobile restaurant with a very limited menu. Fathers learn that baby formula smells awful. ...

"Stage 5, two to three years. As the child learns to toss an Oreo into a sibling's mouth from across the table, parents learn to catch Oreos in mid-air. The child learns to hold a glass. Parents learn not to cry over spilled milk. ...

"Stage 9, age twenty-two+. The child is forced to buy groceries and cook for himself or herself after graduating from college. The parent learns to always set an extra place for 'drop-in' guests."

This next one rings so true for me. Bete incisively dissects the relationship between kids and their toys, and how the presence of other siblings can affect that relationship.

"[Y]our child will have the uncanny ability to sit in a room surrounded by playthings and whine, 'Daaaaaaaaad, I have nothing to plaaaaay with.' ... The solution, of course, is more kids. There is nothing that makes a child more interested in a toy than a sibling who is playing with it. ... In emergencies, simply tell your children that they may not play with the leaves in the yard, and – botta bing, botta boom – they will race outside and happily fight over them for hours."

"Botta bing, botta boom" is one of Bete's favorite phrases, and he uses it to punctuate several points. Such as when he tried to get his little potty-training boy to stop using "potty talk." An excerpt from a typical conversation between Bete and his son:

"Me:  Would you like me to read you a book before bed?

"Paul:  A poopy book?

"Me:  No, not a poopy book.

"Paul:  A poopy book! That's disgusting!"

"After many prayers," wrote Bete, " – botta bing, botta boom – Paul stopped his potty talk." That led Bete to conclude that "God is not only the God of Heaven and Earth, but also of tongues and bladders."

And suddenly – botta bing, botta boom – you've learned something (I hate when that happens!). Bete is sneaky like that. It's so easy to get caught up in his humor and overlook the moral truth underlying his stories, but he makes it a point to gently underscore what he's ultimately getting at.

And what he's ultimately getting at is that the parenting life is full of miracles small and large. He threads this theme throughout by including the word miracle, or some form thereof, in each chapter title.

In Chapter 15, "Finding First Base – The Miracle of Sports," Bete lists the valuable lessons he learned while watching his daughter, Maria, ice skate.

"When you fall, get back up again. Work hard even when the teacher isn't watching. Let others help you up when you're down. And, most important, don't mention how goofy looking that one kid on the ice is – his dad is standing right next to you."

Father's Day is nearing, and this book is so good, I suggest you buy it for a father you know (your own, for example). Plus, Tim could use the money. His son just flushed his wallet down the toilet.


© 2005 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.