Fatherhood Adventures

He is a beach boy now.

My wife, son and I had the opportunity to play tourists in Ocean City last weekend, including back-to-back days on the beach. What a delight.

Busy schedules and my son’s fondness for the pool have kept us from spending significant time on the beach so far this summer, despite the fact we live less than 10 miles from the coast.

That came to an end last weekend, and Pam and I could not help but marvel at how far we had come and how much we had learned from our previous beach experiences with Beckett. Last summer, when he was only a couple months old, we strategically planned our beach outings. While my wife would stay with the baby, confined to his car seat then, I would make runs back and forth to the truck. It ended up taking about four loaded trips to get all the requisite baby and parent stuff to the beach.

Fortunately, we have refined our approach. It only takes one trip now, thanks largely to something called a wheel master, essentially a cart on four wheels that can carry everything we need for a day on the beach with a 14-month-old.

At some point over the weekend, perhaps it was when we briefly contemplated taking two vehicles to Ocean City from Berlin for the weekend because we had packed so much, my wife and I could not resist laughing at ourselves. We had become the people we had always joked about previously.

At no point was it realized more than when we headed to the beach. It looked like we were camping out rather than spending the day. Previously, I recall observing families doing the hot-sand dance while carrying arms full of toys, coolers, chairs, kids, umbrellas, blankets, towels, boogie boards and the like. I know I was guilty at one point of saying, “all that cannot be necessary.”

Since becoming a parent, it should come as no surprise I have altered my thinking on that. I would rather be safe than sorry and therefore think it’s better to bring more than you need to the beach than make the mistake of under packing.

So there we were on Saturday and Sunday carrying our son and pushing our incredibly cool wheel master, which was loaded down with beach chairs, a cooler, a pack ‘n play, umbrella, towels, blankets and beach bags full of toys for Beckett. The only thing missing was the boogie board, which will certainly make its way in there in time.

With getting to the beach now fairly easy, the thing we were most concerned about was how the little guy would respond to the sand. He loved it and seemed to even get a kick out of the fact it’s difficult to walk on. He has always enjoyed a good fall and there was plenty of that on the beach. The best part was he only tried to eat the sand once and he seemed to get the fact it does not taste good.

As far as the ocean goes, he was cautious. There were no meltdowns, but clearly he understands it’s quite different than the pool and for that he seemed a little uncertain. He got dipped a couple times and seemed to like watching the water rush the shore, but there was no running to the water’s edge on this weekend.

At this point, Beckett is such a joy because he adapts to everything and every place, and he basically loves everything. I certainly understand I am guilty of gloating and being that annoyingly proud parent, but I also understand this happy, go-lucky kid of ours will eventually change and begin to express his likes and dislikes more frequently.

The beginning signs are already there. He’s already fond of saying, “no, no, no” when he doesn’t like something, particularly when he has ate all the food in front of him and there is no more. But, in general, he goes with the flow and has a laidback personality. That will more than likely not always be the case, but in the meantime it’s awesome.

On a side note, one-year ago today this weekly rambling first appeared on these pages. So far it’s been a wonderful experience.

My brother-in-law asked me the other day how long I thought I would be writing this column. The fact is I have no idea, but I will likely stop when it starts to feel like work or, perhaps more likely, when my son pleads with me enough is enough. So far, writing about my family has been easy. That may not always be the case. When it feels like a job to fill this space, I will shut it down.

In the meantime, a surprising consequence of this verbal wandering has been the wonderful feedback from readers. Whether it’s through emails, handwritten notes or random encounters out and about, the response has been overwhelming –some negative (I have been told you don’t know anything about parenting until you have at least two children and accused of using a 10-year-old mug shot), but mostly positive (folks thank me for bringing back memories of what they went through raising their kids). When I decided to start this column, the latter is exactly what I hoped would happen.

As you understand well by now, I love writing about my son, and the adventures my wife and I have share with him. It goes without saying that Beckett has changed me. I presume all parents feel this way about children. It’s not simply because my personal life naturally revolves around him. It’s that he has opened my eyes to so many new experiences and given me a priceless gift – a new perspective on all matters. I view life through him now, resulting in a new appreciation for the matters that may have been banal previously. As he grows so do I as a person. That I never expected from this wonderful experience called parenting.

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