Adventures In Fatherhood

The routine of putting my kids to sleep seems to always be in a state of flux.

While Beckett, the 2 ½-year-old, is now at the point he will let us know when he’s tired and seems to embrace sleep on most occasions, it’s a little different when it comes to his younger brother, Carson, our 1-year-old.

All Carson wants to do these days is stand up on his own, his latest accomplishment of note. He has a one-track mind about it and he will try to do it anywhere – his car seat, on the floor, his highchair, in the tub and, of course, in his crib.

Constant practice has indeed improved his agility. It’s to the point now he will be standing somewhere and you can see him working up the courage to let go of whatever he has used to pull himself up. The challenge is no longer in getting to his feet. It’s standing without any help. It’s awesome to observe him at work.

It’s quite funny to observe as well, as he stands, slowly takes one hand off whatever he’s holding and then, even more slowly, convinces himself to remove the other hand. So far, he’s not standing on his own and eventually falls to his bottom, which he finds quite hilarious. Along the way, there have been inevitable tough falls, but he seems to get a kick out of that.

This new feat, while exciting to my wife and me, can become an issue when it comes to bedtime, leading me to adopt a “stop, drop and roll” philosophy to putting him down for a nap or for the night.

That sounds cold, admittedly, but it’s really not.

It’s just that Carson is obsessed with standing up, and he’s at the point now that he’s not going to just take his pacifier, stay flat on his back or roll over to his stomach and easily go to sleep, as was the case for months. He needs to do some standing and falling before he’s ready to call it a night or go down for his naps.

That’s why when I put him down I typically make sure he has all he needs in the crib, give him a kiss and turn on his crib mobile.

Before walking out of the room, I always turn back to see him and there he is already standing upright on his toes, peeking his little head over the railing. Rarely does he cry, it’s almost as if he’s waiting for me to leave before he tries to master some new tricks, which may or may not be jumping on his mattress, a favorite pastime of his big brother’s.

Slowly but surely, he gets tired and eventually crashes, and we can see it all, thanks to the wonders of a video monitor.

While a wonderful concept, a good family photo can be tricky business.

Since my brother-in-law, Patrick, happens to be an accomplished photographer, Pam had the idea that maybe it would be cool if we could get him to take a picture of our family on the beach.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but a decent family picture is no easy feat these days, and the scene played out essentially as we expected.

Looking back, and of course hindsight makes everything crystal clear, we should have known better.

We knew taking Beckett to his favorite place to run around like a wild man and forcing him to sit still for a photo was going to be challenging, at its best, and frustrating, at its worst.

In reality, he surpassed our expectations and it turned into nothing short of a nightmare.
Beckett showed his evil side, while Carson simply refused to look at the camera at all.

We figured as much with Carson, as we know from past attempts it can be difficult to get him focused on a camera. That’s why we have dozens of photos of his cute profile, as he has a penchant for quickly turning away from the camera at the last moment. 
Beckett, at times, can be quite the proverbial ham, flashing a big smile for the camera with an ear-to-ear grin. However, that’s entirely dependent on his mood at any given time and whether he wants to cooperate.

Within minutes of arriving at our “photo shoot,” it was evident this was not going to go well and might not even happen at all.

Consistent with his nature, Beckett wanted nothing to do with sitting on our lap for a photo and there was no negotiating with him over the screams and constant wrangling to get loose and run.

He resorted to hitting and kicking and throwing a good old-fashioned tantrum. At one point, I think I observed him facedown kicking his feet. Actually, that may have just been a hallucination sparked by stress.

The end result turned out as we expected. In the picture, the parents are faking smiles and the kids are not cooperating at all.

Carson is prudently examining a twig he found nearby, and Beckett’s eyes are closed (surely, a rebellion of sorts) and he’s leaning in a way that reminds me that’s how he eventually escaped my grasp.

This is no offense to Patrick, of course, as he was facing the impossible – getting the adults and two toddlers to each keep their eyes open and look at the camera long enough for him to snap a quick shot. He did everything he could.

Although the end result was not a great photo, the fact is it’s still a memory and years from now we can look back on it and laugh at the traumatizing situation it was for all of us.

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.