Fatherhood Adventures

As a parent, you have to be able to laugh at yourself. I know I sure do, more often than I should probably admit.

A recent case in point was last weekend at the annual Pork in the Park event, which we figured we would try out after years of hearing about it.

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After getting a bite to eat and working our way through the stroller-infested crowds, we came upon the amusement rides. We had heard beforehand there would be some so-called “kiddie rides” on hand, and we were curious what exactly constituted that.

After looking over the offerings, there was one particular ride that my wife thought she and Beckett could ride together but I was not so sure. It was a slow carousel-type ride featuring double-occupancy motorcycles doing slight wheelies along minor inclines. We watched it go around a few times, and she gave me a ‘what do you think?’ look.

I turned to her with a “what are you out of your mind?” look, saying, “that’s way too wild and fast for him.” I went to turn away with the stroller when I realized how dumb and over-protective I was being. We had a good laugh over that amidst all these strangers.

I realized at the time how ridiculous that was, considering the size and scope of this puny ride, but there was not going to be any changing of my mind. I was too scared to let him ride it. I understood it was crazy to think, but at the same time powerless to change how I felt.

It goes without saying that I am having a little bit of a tough time letting my son experience new things, especially things that may or may not cause him harm. I want the world for him and hope he enjoys and embraces everything that comes his way. However, it’s all coming so fast and I am reluctant to jump on board the growing up train, which is already overwhelming me.

A few weeks back, I had a similar moment over that Radio Flyer car that I detailed here. I figured he was way too small to be able to safely ride in it. My wife felt strongly otherwise. I went about putting it together, with the motivation I would be right that there’s no way he was ready for this thing, only to find out I was embarrassingly wrong. He loves the thing and gets extremely excited when we place him in it.

As this parenthood adventure moves from one phase to the next, I am discovering all too well how parents equal each other out, and I am grateful for it. In my mind, it’s a unique blessing because together we provide a much-needed balance. In our case, generally speaking, what I am apprehensive about my wife is not, and what causes her some angst does not bother me.

For example, my wife continues to struggle with what he eats. She is concerned over a macaroni noodle or piece of fruit being too large out of fear our son will choke, but I have no problem offering him a bite of my burger. I think he can handle the food, but my wife is more hesitant.

She is frightened he’s going to hurt himself when he falls on his butt while standing. She loves taking him to the park to swing, but she wants to have a hand on him at all times to make sure he does not lean too far forward or too far back.

Of course, in all fairness, she’s not the only one with the issues when it comes to our son.

While at Dick’s Sporting Goods the other day, I started getting sick to my stomach while we were looking at some enclosed toddler trailers that attach directly to the back of the bike. Fortunately, they do not recommend those for kids under one year of age. The thing is I can only use that excuse for three more weeks.

In general, it seems the mundane things cause my wife’s heartburn, while the unexpected things send me into overprotection mode. The common denominator could be fear of the unknown and is most definitely an overwhelming will to protect.

On the matters my wife can be neurotic about, I am more rational. Conversely, where I am unreasonable and borderline crazy, she keeps me grounded. This balance works well for us, and we find comfort in knowing we can laugh at ourselves.

All this, I feel, is understandable. If we are blessed enough to have another little one in our house some day, it may be a bit different. Everything is so new and unique with the first. That innate sense to shield and shelter dominates everything, and I understand well that I need to relax a little.

Friends who have multiple kids tell us all that apprehension subsides when you expand your family. That “been there, done that” thing takes over, and experience guides your instincts and judgment. We are told what concerned you with the first child would not the second time around because you understand they are not as fragile as originally thought. We hope to see if that rings true for us.

Days later, I still can’t help but feel silly over my exaggeration over that so-called “kiddie ride” (roller coaster of sorts) last weekend. What’s funny and odd is I do not regret it. Although I realize the ride was extremely slow and watched as the kids, all considerably older than Beckett, for the record, seemed more bored than excited, I was powerless to think otherwise. There was no way I was letting my 11-month-old get on that ride, even if it was with his mom. It was not happening, at least on that day. In my mind, he was not ready. Or maybe that’s just my excuse for the truth – I was not ready.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.