Adventures In Fatherhood

Thanks largely to Pam, there’s a lot of Christmas spirit flowing through the house these days.

That’s why I almost went cross-eyed when last Friday she floated the idea of possibly having two trees this year, the customary fake one along with a real one.

It wasn’t so much that I thought it was overkill, although that thought may have slipped into my psyche at one point, but more the fact that we had been waging an ongoing battle of wills with Beckett, our 2 ½-year-old, over the one decorated tree we already had in the house.

As would normal for all kids his age, he has developed an inquisitive obsession with the ornaments hanging on the tree.

His favorite thing is to roughly rip an ornament off and throw it across the room. After all, they do look like balls, he has reminded me on a number of occasions.

He also is happy to try and balance one atop his head. He’s also fond of kicking one or two across the room. He also will take one off and bring it to my wife or me with a sheepish smile on his face, knowing full well it’s unacceptable.

Consequently, we spent the better part of a week telling him and showing him, in different ways, this was not allowed and that he had to leave the Christmas tree alone.

Lots of different tactics have been used, and, of course, Santa Claus and the potential for nothing being left under the tree if bad behavior persists have been thrown around often.

Just when I thought maybe all of the scolding and instructions were starting to sink in, I caught him the other night about to chew on a prized White House ornament, which we get each year from a friend. Apparently, it still had not registered.

This all serves as a little bit of background for why I was quite astonished when Pam suggested we put up another tree this year.

However, like she often does, she won me over. She reminded me I had not had a real tree since I was a young kid and that she had a box full of family ornaments that still needed to be hung. I knew, and she did as well, that all she had to do was show me a baby picture or two in an ornament and I would be on board.

Although she didn’t go that far, she did move some furniture around to illustrate there was plenty of space for another tree in the house.

Later that day, thanks to the local Rotary Club, we picked up a beautiful Fraser Fir tree, and Pam went about decorating it almost immediately. All the while Beckett stood back, seemingly struggling to contain his excitement over the fact there would soon be many more “balls” to kick around the house.

We don’t let Carson anywhere near the tree because all he will try and do is use it to pull himself up, and that’s an obvious disaster waiting to happen. He’s not so much interested in the ornaments as he is with the lights. He is fascinated by the twinkling lights and seems to want to chew on them.

After a particularly exasperating morning with the ornament situation last weekend, Beckett had his parents nearing adult meltdowns, leading me to wonder what happens if my wife and me both have simultaneous nervous breakdowns. You see, it was a dreary and cold morning, and these are times when the walls have a tendency to close in around us.

Soon enough, after some anxious moments, the kids eventually settled down, putting aside those silly thoughts of psychological evaluations for a few hours.

Later, after the kids were both asleep, Pam told me about how her friends once sent out a Christmas card with the entire family in front of a tree. Innocent enough, but careful inspection revealed the tree in the background was only decorated from the midway point up.

At the time, she couldn’t understand how it could be that bad. She fully gets it now, as do I.

It was a genius move on their part and that could be how our trees end up in the days approaching the big day.

For now, we continue to cope with a toddler’s rebellious nature, while the newest tree, the “real” one, only has a few ball-shaped ornaments, or at least within his reach.

I’m new to this “Elf on the Shelf” thing, but I really like it and have really gotten into it this year.

This is the first year it truly means something to Beckett.

Each morning, Beckett loves going on a hunt through the house to find where our elf is hiding each morning. We named him Doddle because every elf has to have a name, of course.

What I like about it is he forgets about Doodle every morning. We have to remind him as soon as he gets downstairs each day, but as soon as we say his name he’s off trying to locate him. Once he finds him, he says the same thing every day, “There’s Doodle, hi Doodle, I want to touch him.”

Doodle is a part of the family these days, and we often refer to him when our kids (mainly Beckett) are misbehaving. For those who don’t remember or are unfamiliar, the elf returns to the North Pole each night to report to Santa on who has been behaving and who has not. By morning, he’s back and in a different spot.

It’s this relocation that I find incredibly cool because he can be placed just about anywhere so long as it’s out of arm’s reach. That allows for quite a bit of creativity.

I can’t wait till next year when both my kids will be rocking around the house on Doodle hunts.

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.