Fatherhood Adventures

It finally happened.

I guess it was inevitable. A major kid meltdown led to us having to leave a restaurant early.

While at The Globe last Thursday, Beckett was throwing the fit of all fits, and we had no other choice but to raise the white flag, or the black cloth table napkin in this case. We surrendered to our little one reluctantly because we have never before had to give in to these strange tantrums.

Before finally giving up, we tried walking him around the restaurant a couple times and giving him all his favorite books and toys. Eventually, we knew he had lost his cool and would not be coming back from the dark side while we were there. It comes to a point you want him to learn it’s unacceptable but you can’t ruin everyone else’s evening either.

If we were home, we would have let him cry it out because there was nothing wrong with him. The problem seemed to be that he was being spoon-fed his spaghetti. At least, that’s our conclusion because all was good as soon as we got home and he was able to use his hands to feed himself.

This is one of his new things. He has a burning desire to use his hands and dislikes when we feed him. On the surface, that’s not a bad thing, but his strong will dominates here. He will not in some cases even tolerate being spoon-fed something like applesauce or yogurt. Most of the time we make sure to make something he can pick up with his hands and eat, but when dining out it’s not always convenient, or appropriate, to put food down on the table.

Reflecting on this situation and talking with fellow parents, it’s always interesting to hear of similar incidents with other kids around Beckett’s age (16 months). These horror stories are hilarious to me, but I can tell you I was not laughing one bit when Beckett was pulling the food out of his mouth and tossing it on the floor and all over him at the restaurant.

All in all, most say this age is a wonderful time. I definitely agree. He is a joy to be with most of the time, and we are now starting to communicate, even if it’s at its most primitive. He can answer questions, sometimes audibly and other times just by doing something like touching his nose when you ask him where it is. This is a time when a lot of memories are being made, although not every keepsake image is one I am all that thrilled about remembering.

With this dining-out experience, he was just miserable. It goes without saying that I love and adore my son, but my wife and I can be objective – he was a bad boy on this night. Clearly, Beckett has figured out some stuff. If there’s something he does not like, he basically let’s it be known through either a scream or a glorified cry. Nine times out of 10, it’s completely unmerited and a result of this newfound will that dominates life of late.

Some crazy meltdowns in recent memory have occurred over the most minor things. Here’s a few off the top of my head:

— While standing at the sink washing dishes the other morning, he got between my legs and tried with all his might to force me away from it. When unsuccessful, he screamed his head off, sat down in a corner, pushed his bottom lip out and turned red. However, it’s interesting there were no tears. That’s because it’s not a real cry.

— My wife tried to prevent him from running straight into the street, and he squealed his head off like he has been gravely injured. No tears, though.

— I pulled him out of the bathtub before he was ready the other night.  He had a total meltdown and tried to squirm away, making me feel like I was handling a wet tuna.

— When he was sitting in the refrigerator and we tried to get him out before closing the door, he lost his cool to the point a passerby on the street surely concluded bad things were going on in that house. On one hand, she was correct.

— I grabbed the hot sauce out of his hand that he pulled out of the fridge, and he ran off hollering and started moving around furniture. When I stopped him, he tried to rip my phone off my belt.

To be certain, these are challenging times, but we are working through it, and, like most things, it’s not as bad as I am painting it.

Some days, everything is copasetic. He goes about his daily routine with a smile on his face and seems to be enjoying life. Other days, let’s just say things are a little more challenging and subsequently quite disruptive. He doesn’t want to eat, he prefers not to nap and wants to do what he wants when he wants. If we stand in the way of this strong will, things can get quite perplexing.

For the most part, Beckett remains a happy and fun kid, but mixed in there are a lot of other emotions, some of which border on fits of bizarre and unpredictable hysteria.

I am fairly certain teething has something to do with this odd stage we are currently in. Pam, while not dismissing that notion entirely, thinks it’s a normal transgression toddlers mull through. Surely, we are both right on some levels.

All the while, we do our best to keep Beckett on a routine, the secret to parenting success if you ask me. He wants to deviate at times, but my wife particularly is focused on keeping to a consistent schedule. That’s a good thing because things are improving as the meltdowns have been on the decline over the last few days.

Hopefully, it was just a phase.

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.