Fatherhood Adventures

A little goof-off time at least once a day does a body good.

More than likely, you will never hear that from a doctor because there’s no scientific proof to confirm. Nonetheless, all I know is I relish using my 18-month-old as a daily excuse to get in touch with that big kid inside me.

An unintended consequence of these playful periods with my boy has come a refined ability to keep all things in their proper perspective when life gets a little hairy.

Let’s face it: these are difficult and serious times we are living in today. Unfortunately, I seem to hear a lot of sad, depressing stories, most related to the “r” word, as a result of my job. Not a day goes by that I do not hear of an account of hard times and the toll these pinches have taken on the personal and professional lives of many.

While harsh realities seem to rule the professional world at just about every turn, spending quality time at home with my kid before heading out to work is akin to taking a heaping dose of positive vibrations. This hour or so represents everything pure and right about the world in my mind and is typically a highlight of my day. There’s nothing quite like some good old-fashioned clowning around with my boy to start the day.

The other morning I discovered a new ability my son had mastered. All of a sudden, I watched as my son went downstairs for the first time, and he did it the right way. He has finally learned to go down the stairs on his stomach, or “ummy” as he knows it, although he does still sometimes forget that he knows how to do it properly.

I was certainly a proud daddy when I saw it for the first time, as my wife and me had worked on this with him numerous times, all to no avail. However, I should point out my laughter at first drowned out those feelings of pride.

When we walked out of his room together (me chasing him from behind), he headed for the stairs and without warning, stopped, dropped to the carpet and rolled over to his “ummy.” I marveled over his excellent form. The only problem, he was at least three feet from the first step and started back crawling his way to the steps. For some reason, this is how he does it now, and I crack up every time.

This was an exciting day around my house. As he has gotten bigger and more agile, Beckett has gotten to be quite the load to carry. In addition, as he stretches his independence, his fondness for being carried has nose-dived. I can still manhandle him, but it’s a competitive battle these days. Understandably so, my wife struggles with carrying him up a flight of stairs, making this new ability big news in my home.

Beckett has long been able to climb up stairs, and this is funny in its own right. He slams his hands down on the stairs, bringing a knee or foot up one at a time and repeating until he’s at the top. Once he’s conquered that, he gives himself a hand and runs to something new.

On this particular day, after we got to the bottom of the steps he sprinted to a cabinet in the kitchen. He sensed I was proud of him, and he felt it deserved a treat, standing and waiting impatiently for me to oblige with a snack of some sort. To stave off a meltdown during my cherished goof-off time, I went along with it.

You never know when a funny thing will happen with a toddler around the house.

A case in point: Beckett recently stopped in mid-dance to a Laurie Berkner song and rolled over on to the floor. I wondered whether he was playing dead, for some reason. That’s a pretty cool, new trick, I thought to myself, if that was the case.

Either way, I had no intention of messing with him. Maybe he just needed some quiet time. There’s a first time for everything, I figured, enjoying the rare sight of him in one place for more than a minute or two. The best part was he was silent, and I was not going to disrupt that.

After a few minutes, seemingly growing annoyed by the lack of attention, he walked over to his diaper bag in the corner of the room and yanked it to the floor. He pulled out the wipe container, proceeded to collapse to the floor and started pulling off his pants.

There was no mistaking what was going on here. He had a dirty diaper and he wanted it off. I was pretty impressed with his antics here. Those feelings were quickly spoiled when others informed that likely meant he was ready to start potty training. Yikes. I’m not sure if I am prepared for that phase quite yet.

It constantly amazes me that it only takes a few seconds before a situation can unfold that allows my son to put himself in harm’s way.

Up until Sunday, I never thought he could do any harm to himself with a remote control. If he played with it, I knew it could cause harm to the clicker or the television, but I never thought he could hurt himself with it. I was wrong.

Somehow, after dropping it repeatedly, a battery got loose from the remote. Being a kid, he immediately picked it up, put it in his mouth and started chewing on it. He was working on trying to swallow it when I swooped him up and got it away from him.

There are countless examples like this that unfold daily. He is into everything and you just never know what he’s going to get a hold of that could hurt him. This is yet another reason why a good, long Beckett nap is such a welcome part of each day.

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.