There has been a major transition taking place of late within my family.
Carson, who turns 2 in November, has assumed top billing as the more challenging child, knocking Beckett, 3, from the spot he has comfortably held for the last 40 months.
In sports terms, this is like the Orioles, a perennial cellar dweller, unseating the Yankees.
Carson has recently had the nerve to begin speaking his mind, cry when agitated and never wanting to sit still.
I am shocked, disappointed and proud all at the same time.
Although it’s just slightly noticeable, and further confirmation things have a way of evening out, the good news is Beckett is starting to calm down a little and seems to be getting better at listening to us.
As luck would have it, Carson has now become the crazy toddler that’s into everything and needs constant protection from himself. He is relentless and aggressive and is starting to wear me out.
Carson is now the child who has no fear, likes to shake the grandfather clock, is always interested in things he should not be, sticks his hands and head in the toilet, runs away from you when calling him, pulls his brother’s hair in a violent manner, resists going to bed and throws his food at the table.
This has all been difficult for Pam and me to accept. We have been trained to expect this kind of misbehavior from Beckett, but now it’s Carson who is being particularly difficult.
This is not to say Beckett is our little angel at this point. He is still prone for challenging moments, but he now tends to be able to entertain himself for extended periods. He is becoming slightly more independent and is so exhausted when he comes home from pre-school that he’s fairly agreeable most of the time.
With Carson, particularly when we are home, we have to always be on guard, as he’s a resourceful little guy.
What I have learned with my youngest son is to fear silence because nothing good ever comes from that.
For example, while making dinner one night, Beckett was entertaining himself with a letter game on the iPad and Carson was basically wrecking the house, knocking over chairs and pulling out trucks and musical instruments one at a time before tossing them aside out of boredom. Before I knew it, there were dozens of toys strewn about the house and not a chair still standing upright.
Before I knew it, he had managed to make his way atop the dinner table with a John Deere truck. How he got there I still do not know, but he soon was standing, making engine sounds and throwing his truck across the room.
The truck landed at Beckett’s feet, leading him to say, “Daddy, put Carson in time out, he’s being crazy.”
For reasons known to parents, I responded instinctively, “Daddy is the one who needs a time out.”
There’s nothing like eating dinner with the kids to make a parent appreciate a meal without them.
The stark contrasts between the experiences of family meals and those with other adults or just my wife and I are amazing. This is the case whether eating in or going out.
Eating with the kids is hectic and often causes me indigestion because I find myself inhaling my food and taking huge bites. All the while, Pam and me are trying to keep the kids in check. That’s not exactly an enjoyable meal.
Fortunately, both my kids are great eaters. They will eat just about anything and neither have aversions to vegetables or trying new things. We are lucky in that regard.
However, they are kids, and they have short attention spans, and it takes some creativity for all of us to get through a meal together without issues arising.
For instance, Beckett has been known to toss aside his plate when he is done, whether it’s clear or not. Consequently, Carson has observed this and now does the same thing. They both find this hilarious.
Both kids love peas, but most of the time I prefer to give them other vegetables because they can’t resist the fact they look like little balls and fly through the air with ease. They also when dropped on the floor often bounce and roll in different directions, and they find that amazing.
When home with the kids alone, meal time is fairly easy. Just plan ahead, have the food ready, accept the fact there will be some hiccups along the way, stand by for cleanup duty and all goes pretty well.
However, it’s not always so smooth when you take the family meal on the road, particularly when there are two kids and neither have a lot of interest in being stationary.
I know that if I do not finish eating while the kids are still at it that the meal is likely over. If the kids finish before we do, they want out of their seats and get cranky, resulting oftentimes in both parents using one hand to eat and the other to pacify a child.
When the kids were babies, we worried about them crying and disturbing other people.
Now, we are concerned Carson will throw his sock and shoe at another patron, and we are hopeful Beckett will not start talking openly about the “grande (large in Spanish) poop” he is going to take when he gets home.
While difficult, challenging and sometimes not worth the fuss at all, eating with the kids has given us new appreciation for quiet meals together.
That’s why if you see us sitting at a table at a local restaurant without the kids not eating, drinking or talking, don’t worry about us.
We are just soaking up the peace and quiet.