Adventures Of Fatherhood

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What a difference a week makes.
Two weeks ago, the ocean was perfect for little kids. The tide was low, leaving a large and shallow wading area, and the waves were small and weak but fun for our 5- and 3-year-old boys.
Low-tide beach days are easy for parents, or at least for us, because there is plenty of beach for the kids to enjoy and they can also be in the water for the most part without fear of getting pounded by big waves.
Inevitably, we knew the tidal cycles would change and the string of low-tide beach days would end. That came last weekend. The result was the dreaded shore break that routinely comes with high tide around here.
Last Sunday, it only took a few minutes for Beckett, 5, to understand the ocean was going to be a different experience than it had been over the last few weekends.
While I was setting up our camp for the day on Assateague, Pam was keeping an eye on Beckett, who was heading toward the water for some wave jumping action. True to his little assistant self, Carson, 3, stuck behind to instruct me on the proper ways to unload all the beach chairs, sand toys, towels and a cooler. For a little boy who has not yet found his voice, he has a unique way of getting his ideas across.
While taking orders from my youngest son, I noticed Beckett and Pam were walking back and Beckett was soaking wet and had a skinned up elbow. Apparently, he had his feet knocked out from under him from the shore break and was quite shocked by it. It was a valuable lesson, one we reminded him about throughout the day whenever he wanted to wade into the surf.
Later, when we were showering off, he started asking me about the tides and the waves. He seemed to digest some of it, but quickly concluded, “I hope it’s low tide again before Christmas.” I assured him that would happen. He was relieved.
I love the way a 5-year-old’s brain works.

Carson is a floor sleeper.
He wants nothing to do with his bed and pitches a fit when asked to get on it. It’s to the point now we have stopped trying to coax him into bed at nighttime. Instead, Pam has made a makeshift bed on the floor with blankets and a pillow, and he seems to get a kick out of it.
As far as the bed goes, at first we figured maybe it was uncomfortable. I tried it out, hoping I would not break it, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s as comfortable as any bed should be, but it seems he has somehow developed an aversion to it recently.
He prefers mixing it up on the floor with his numerous stuffed animals. In fact, when I walked into his room to wake him up for an early doctor’s appointment we had this week, he was using Tigger the Tiger as a pillow, his legs were wrapped around Winnie the Pooh and a stuffed bear was in one hand.
Where was the blanket and pillow he started the night with? They were in his bed, of course.

For the most part, our sons get along well, but their relationship ebbs and flows.
Born 16 months apart, the kids are generally great together, but it’s the fights that seem to stick out to me more than the quality sentimental moments.
Carson likes to antagonize his big brother and the end result is usually tears.
For instance, I was feeding the dogs the other night and both kids were doing their own thing and content. I live for those moments. All of a sudden, I heard Beckett screaming. I didn’t see it, but apparently Carson had hit him in the face with a wooden toy.
By the time I got to them, Beckett had Carson face down and was slapping on his back. Of course, when I pulled him off, the first thing Beckett said was, “he started it.” Both were disciplined in that case.
Another example would be one that Pam relayed to me. Carson had apparently yanked Beckett’s glasses off his face and ran off with them. As he was getting away with them, he was bending them in all sorts of different directions. The end result was a mangled mess that the folks at Accurate Optical took care of, fortunately.
However, before that, Beckett wanted to get even, adhering to his apparent philosophy that retribution is needed anytime he is wronged by his little brother. Fortunately, Pam was close enough to diffuse the situation and contain Beckett’s full head of steam.
While typically it’s Carson starting trouble, Beckett is not immune from provoking his little brother. That’s why whenever I see Beckett whispering in Carson’s ear I am ready to pounce.
Nothing ever good comes from that and I truly believe it’s Beckett’s way of getting his little brother in trouble. Why else would Carson all of a sudden scale the kitchen table in an attempt to stand on it? Why else would Carson throw his entire plate of food on the floor? Why else would Carson sit on a dog’s head?
Those sorts of actions are always preceded by Beckett whispering in his ear beforehand, and, despite his claims to the contrary, I know he is the cause of it.
Plus, Carson sells him out immediately, making it clear in his non-verbal ways that Beckett told him to do it.

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