Fatherhood Adventures

A certain amount of crying is inevitable around the house with two kids under 2 years old.

Some days there are little to no tears shed, even by us parents, but there are other days when my kids’ water works go into overtime. My reaction to these meltdown moments has changed over time.

The fact is most bouts of crying have little to no impact on me any longer. That was not always the case, and I am quite certain my gradual hair color change can be attributed to the early days of parenthood when every cry nearly gave me a heart attack out of fear there was something terribly wrong with my child.

Two years of parenting experience has now granted me the ability to decipher between a genuine cry and a fabrication intended to achieve a result. It’s actually become quite simple to determine when it’s the real deal or merely a desperate grab for attention or an expression of agitation.

With my son Beckett, rarely is it cry that needs immediate attention. Most of the time, it’s a sign of frustration over something, and it’s typically silly.

For instance, he will scream at the top of his lungs when we tell him he cannot under any circumstances push over the grandfather clock in the house and will never be permitted to poke his little brother in the eye with a matchbox car or hit him in the face with a book. The outbursts that follow are typically best ignored when possible.

One example of a situation that did need immediate attention was when he found himself stuck under the kitchen table in a precarious position the other day. He likes to play under the table, for some reason, and generally we just allow him because it’s a relatively safe place for him to be. It seems to me he thinks he’s in a fort of some sort and likes the fact he can easily access it while his parents cannot.

While in the kitchen catching up on the scores from the night before, I heard Beckett crying. Nothing unusual, except that it was preceded by a familiar and moderately loud thump. When I checked out what he was up to, the crying quickly stopped, only to return a minute later, followed again by another strange bang. The same scenario unfolded a couple times.

Apparently, he had wedged himself under the table in a manner he could not get loose. Rather than saying he was “stuck,” as he has been known to do in the past, he was trying to wiggle loose and was repeatedly hitting his head on the top of the table. He realized immediately it smarted, yet continually tried.

By the time I was able to squeeze under the table and let him loose, he worked himself up to a good bawl. Not much for consoling, my tomato-faced son merely ran off, rubbing his head, saying “boo-boo.” He sought comfort by knocking over his stroller and spinning its wheels.

As far as the newborn in the house, Carson rarely cries. Consequently, when he does, it gets attention. Most of the time it’s because he’s hungry.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are times when the quietest and youngest of my two boys takes the backseat. I take comfort in knowing this is the way most families are when the second child arrives.

There’s no question a second-child mentality exists with families. When both kids are around the same age, there can be trying times, and much of the focus naturally goes to the child that’s mobile and capable of getting himself in the most trouble.

Carson has a mellow nature, similar to the way most friends describe their second kid, but I’m not certain it’s something he was born with or has adapted in his five months of life. He’s a cool customer and seems to even understand his parents have more than enough to keep them busy with his older brother.

There are moments when he’s so peaceful and content that I wonder whether he’s asleep with his eyes open. No matter what’s happening, even his brother sprinting around the house saying, “you and me, me and you,” Carson will just hang out.

Most of the time he reminds me he’s aware of what’s happening around him with a big giggle. Something has clearly tickled him and many times it has something to do with his brother’s antics, like when he screams “rock-n-roll” to the question of “what kind of music do you listen to, Beckett?”

Although my youngest son will put up with some modest neglect, he has his limits and I respect that. If he’s ready to chow, he will let us know immediately with huge tears, a red face and a tone that cannot be confused. It’s as if he’s saying, “enough is enough here.”

Within the last month, my toddler has been a human wrecking ball.

Fortunately, there have been no serious injuries to report, but a growing list of broken items has been documented. Beckett’s destructive ways have resulted in broken candlestick holders, shattered vases, chipped paint on the wall, damaged picture frames, ravaged toys, shredded books and magazines and questionable dents in weird places.

Add an incessant proclivity for pushing the water release on the fridge door, and I can’t help but wonder if anything is safe from his wrath in the entire house.

What all this has largely resulted in is an empty, childproof house. The problem is it’s barely recognizable because there’s nothing around anymore. Most of the nice things we own are now either put away or out of his reach because we have learned better. I’m sure all this is normal with a toddler, or at least I hope.

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.