Fatherhood Adventures

Laughing at myself is always entertaining, but sometimes it’s a little embarrassing, too.

After a few dining out experiences of late, I sat down at my trusty Dell intending to detail the differences between taking two kids out to eat compared to one, and I have to admit I got bored with what was coming out.

In the midst of my yawns, I came across one of these columns dating back to August of 2008 when I discussed how difficult it was to eat out with my son Beckett, who was about 3 months old at that time.

“Whether it’s eating out or eating in, it’s a game of roulette with a little one. All you can do is hope you time it well and plan ahead so you give yourself the best odds against the house,” I wrote.

Those sentences are silly to me today. At the time, my wife and I never knew how easy it was to go out to eat with one child. Now, with two kids under 2 years old, I truly know it’s a betting game.

The thing here is it’s not my little guy Carson that we have to worry about. The odds are he will sleep through the meal, so long as he’s not due to eat anytime soon and it’s not terribly loud. The challenge comes from the toddler in the family.

Objectivity is not an issue when it comes to my oldest son. I am well aware he can be rotten at times. There are occasions when he’s just a mess and his dark side rules. It’s not a pleasure to be around him during these moments, particularly when it’s out of the house. If he’s upset or frustrated about something, he will scream at the top of his lungs, throw things, hit, kick and all the while turn tomato red. He’s got a temper and it’s ugly.

This has been on display a few times while we have been out to eat. Fortunately, we have only had to leave one restaurant early (The Globe in Berlin after a monster meltdown over not being able to use his hands to eat spaghetti, which has not been ordered out since). We waived the flag that night and boxed up the food shortly after arriving.

A couple weeks ago, Pam and I approached throwing in the towel at the Greene Turtle West because Beckett was becoming incorrigible. It just happened to be an hour or so after his first haircut, leading us to wonder whether we triggered an alter ego of some sort with the new look.

On this particular day, it got to the point he nearly knocked over a passing server’s tray out of her hands. He was out of his head over something (later figured to be the fact his mom was holding Carson at the table). After what seemed like 100 French fries, he settled down and found his groove (it helped that Carson was back in his car seat).

However, out of the page of a true doting dad, I must say the dark times are far outweighed by the wonderful moments. He is a joy typically, but there are tests of patience. He can be aggravating because he’s old enough to know right from wrong and likes to test the limits.

All the while, throughout the ups and downs of our toddler, Carson just sits back, dozes in out and out of sleep, lives out a wonderful routine and is as content as can be. He’s a comforting constant and can always be counted on for a hilariously goofy no-teeth smile, no matter how crazy his older brother may be at the time.

Pure chaos is the best way to describe the team photo Beckett was involved with at his Lil Kickers soccer program last weekend at Crown in Fruitland.

All of this commotion led to 10 parents trying desperately to convince seven toddlers, ranging in age from 18 to 24 months, to sit down next to the coach and actually smile for the camera.

As individual parents called out their kids names and made ridiculous sounds to try and captivate their attention, one kid would inevitably make a jail break and head for a nearby soccer ball, calling out “bubbles,” for some strange reason.

The photographer was, of course, making a fool of himself, resorting to all sorts of silly antics to get the kids’ attention on him. I admired the effort, however futile it may have been.

I have to give Beckett credit. He did really well – at first. He sat there and was patient, a trait he normally doesn’t exhibit too often. While others ran around and toward their parents, he was content sitting next to the coach pointing out a “boo boo” on her knee. As luck would have it, just as all the kids were settled, Beckett ran off toward me, and there was no way to get him back and in the patient mode.

I can’t really fault him. It was a long time to chill in one place for him. Fortunately, the photographer said he’s a wiz in Photoshop and seemed convinced he would be able to produce an acceptable group shot. I am anxious to see how it turns out.

Of late, everything is “yes” to Beckett. Ask him if he wants a bath, “yes”. Ask him if wants to go for a car ride, “yes”. Ask him if is hungry, “yes”, of course. Ask him if he wants to go to work with his dad, “yes”. Ask him if he wants to see Carson, he says, “yes”. Ask him if he wants to walk on the ceiling, “yes”. Ask him he wants to bark like a dog, he says, “yes”.

However, there are two questions that will get the answer of “no”. “Have you seen my cat?” and “is your diaper wet?” For some reason, he answers emphatically no to these queries. It’s a little odd, but entertaining, because we don’t have a cat and his diaper almost always is a little bit wet.

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.