It never ceases to amaze me how being a parent is like taking a day-long ride on the wildest roller coaster imaginable, featuring dips, turns, drops and highs and lows.
Over the course of the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend, we set out to give the kids a full blown summer weekend extravaganza before school kicked into gear, featuring long beach days, summer foods and a water park day, among other things.
Throughout the weekend, there were many fun, memorable times with our boys as well as plenty of regrettable, frustrating occasions. Here’s a rundown of some of the emotions experienced over the weekend:
With my boys, Beckett and Carson, there are plenty of “Life Is Good” times, and I try and embrace them because parenting is too hard and overwhelming at times not to bask in the glory of the wonderful moments.
For me, introducing my sons to the ocean and sharing my life-long love of it is about as good as it gets. It’s a passion of mine that I have not been able to enjoy with my sons until this summer.
As soon as we get to the beach each day, Beckett, 5, wants me to take him into the ocean or “into the deep” as he puts it. If he had his way, he would be in the ocean the entire time we are there. That makes two of us actually.
This was the first summer Beckett got to truly experience the ocean and the waves, and he has developed that critical respect for it. He has also developed a fascination with it that I identify with and adore.
It was a summer of many firsts for him in the water, including catching his first wave on a body board and several instances when he got tumbled hard by breaking waves. There’s nothing like getting smacked around a bit by some waves to give you an appreciation for the ocean.
With Carson, 3, his personality is a perfect balance to Beckett’s. Carson wants no part of the ocean when we first get out on the beach, but as the day progresses his courage grows and by the end he’s grabbing my hand and pulling me toward the ocean. Once we get to the ocean, he motions in his not-so-subtle, non-verbal way for me to put him on my shoulders. Once firmly in place, he demands I take him out into the ocean. Although I can’t see his face, I can tell from others around that he is all smiles.
Seeing the boys enjoying the ocean and beach makes me incredibly happy because we are going to be going to the ocean as often as we can and it will be a huge help if they enjoy it as much as their parents do.
Of course, there are maddening moments that frustrate me to end with parenting, and nothing does that more presently than when Beckett abuses his little brother.
There are times when Beckett should face criminal charges for what he does to Carson. In his defense, there are times when Carson instigates and seems to be seeking a violent response, but Beckett’s reaction all too often crosses the line.
An example of Carson’s instigative ways would be the other night when I found him pulling the cushion Beckett was sitting on out from underneath him on the couch, causing him to fall to the floor. I told him to stop and he didn’t listen. Beckett told him to stop and he refused, and instead of handling it in an appropriate way, Beckett pushed Carson down to the ground, rolled him over on to his stomach and tried to stand on his back. I was able to intervene and keep that from happening with Beckett alleging, “he deserves to have me jump on his back.”
As Carson ran into the other room, he slapped Beckett atop the head and me in the leg, leading Beckett to tackle him into a wall. I sent them both to their rooms at that point, while I searched in the refrigerator for something cold that might soothe my nerves.
There are days when neither kid can be satisfied, and it’s these confusing times that drive me crazy.
Neither wants to eat what is prepared for them. Neither wants to drink anything we have. Neither wants to go to the beach. Neither wants to swim in the pool. Neither wants to ride their bikes. Neither wants to do anything suggested.
It’s these perplexing sorts of days that also lead me to the fridge looking for something cold to ease my mind.
After the long and exhausting holiday weekend, Beckett woke up first on Tuesday, which was his first day of school.
It was a little after 5 and he made it quite clear he was ready by showing up in our room with his uniform shirt on. It was on backwards, but I couldn’t help feel a tremendous sense of pride in my boy. That was a great way to start the day.
He was anxious to go to school and I do not take that for granted, whether it’s the first day in the fall or in the middle of winter.
Later, as we walked into school for his first day as a kindergartener, it was impossible not to be proud and excited for him. I assume this is how it is for all parents, particularly at the early lower school age.
Last year, leaving school after dropping him off for pre-kindergarten, it was emotional. It was the same this year, but not quite as much. Instead, I was wondering if his shirt was still tucked in or not.