Fatherhood Adventures

He wants no part of us.

We do not take it personally, or at least we try our best not to, but Beckett has developed a general distaste for being held. The days of us holding him while he has a cup of milk or has an afternoon treat seem to be gone, at least temporarily. He’s got places to see, items to stick in his mouth, toys to throw and strange things to grab and investigate. It seems he knows us well enough by now that there’s nothing left to figure out and that makes us not so interesting in his book.

The only time he will not squirm and do whatever it takes to wiggle free these days is when I carry him from one place to another. There are moments when he doesn’t even like that and instead wants to walk or run from here to there, but generally he’s good with being carried so long as we are moving at a solid clip. However, stand or sit in one place and you get a competitive wrestling match.

It’s hilarious to me once he does get free how excited he gets. He typically let’s out a good squeal and throws his fists down toward the ground as if to say, “yes I’m free, I’m out of here.” He then proceeds to walk or run off with reckless abandon. Of course, we are close behind because he’s a menace on two feet.

There are plenty of daily examples around the house to illustrate his quest for independence, but some of the more memorable moments take place on unfamiliar turf to him.

Last weekend, while eating with family at the Captains Galley in West Ocean City (the crab cake sandwich is a must, by the way), Beckett was on his best behavior for about two hours. He sat in his high chair, ate his grilled cheese and applesauce, played with his cousins, aunt and uncle, blew raspberries, threw his toys all over the place and all the other entertaining stuff 13-month-olds do. After a while, he did start to lose his cool a bit, and it was understandable. Two hours of sitting combined with the fact he was out past his bedtime led to a burning desire to move around.

Since my friend Tom Tawney and his family were across the restaurant, Beckett and I walked over to say hi. It was more like he did his orangutan walk and I followed in man-to-man coverage mode, waiting and preparing for a fall and shielding his head away from sharp and hard objects. All you parents know about this walk well.

Eventually, he made it over to my friends, laying his chubby little hands and fingers on just about every customer in the place and every surface along the way, only to quickly turn around and head back to his mom across the restaurant.

Clearly, with my boy, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. He doesn’t really care where he’s going, so long as he’s going. That was confirmed when I scooped him up to try and get him out of the way of the staff. Sometimes it’s like trying to pick up a wet fish. He’s a slippery little rascal. He’s got plenty of places to grab and hold, but he’s elusive and pretty strong for someone his size.

Being overly intuitive, I like to think it’s because he’s becoming increasingly independent with age, but I understand he’s just being a typical toddler who likes to explore and get into everything. He’s got places to go and people to see and is learning a lot along the way.

When he’s being held and constrained, he’s bored. In order to avoid a total meltdown, sometimes it’s best just to give in and let him cruise around, all the while concerned he’s going to stick a dirty napkin on the floor in his mouth, fall into a table or grab someone where he shouldn’t. It’s just the way it goes.

Besides this little frisky streak of late, this parenting thing has gotten fairly predictable; making it dare I say relatively easy. There’s no question the main reason is his wonderful sleeping routine.

Currently, he is taking a pair of two-hour naps a day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. When he goes down at night, he sleeps for at least 10 hours, something like 8 p.m.-6 a.m.

As he has become increasingly active and become a perpetual state of motion, a love of sleeping seems to have developed. That’s a beautiful thing, and I think most parents of toddlers would agree.

When he’s awake, he has to be watched and monitored at all times because before you know it he can be into something that could cause him harm. It’s no longer as simple as leaving him in a place and knowing he can’t go anywhere. For example, he has recently learned how to escape from the little play zone we have in our living room. It’s a large enclosure that keeps him contained to an area, which is full of toys, books and his big chair. It’s a wonderland of fun for a toddler. However, there are times when he wants to get free.

My wife knows all about this. When she stepped out to the porch last week to get the mail, she came back in to find the enclosure opened and no Beckett. He had managed to walk into the kitchen with his sippie cup. When she found him, he was standing in the middle of the kitchen, holding his cup of strawberry milk, letting out a loud shriek of pure pride and accomplishment.

The bottom line with our boy is he plays hard and sleeps well. It’s awesome. When I relayed this to a friend the other day, the reaction went something like, “enjoy it while it lasts because it only gets harder as they get older.”

That’s probably true. In the meantime, we will just enjoy this phase.

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