Fatherhood Adventures

Setting high expectations with kids can be dangerous territory, but, in this case, Christmas morning exceeded all my hopes.

As the big day approached last weekend, my excitement level was running high about all that would await the kids when they woke up. However, I found out on Christmas Eve night Pam had me beat when she presented some themed pajamas for the occasion.

After a long day and night of prepping on Christmas Eve, we were all ready for Christmas morning, and we looked the festive part as well. I’ve never worn so much red in my life, but that’s a topic for another day.

At Beckett’s age (2 ½-years-old-plus), this was truly the first time he understood the magnitude of Christmas morning, and his astonishment was a joy to behold.

Last year, he marveled over the gifts he received, but an accident involving a Diego potty and the corner of a wall led us to the emergency room for a few stitches, putting a bit of a damper on the day.

However, this year he fully embraced the Christmas spirit in fine fashion and at times became quite spastic over all the toys, books and family that visited us.

With Carson just turning 1-year-old last month, he’s too young to grasp it all, but he surely enjoyed playing with all the wrapping paper and boxes and even got to play with a couple toys so long as his older brother was occupied by other items from Santa.

There were times throughout Christmas morning when I just tried to take it all in and observe him at play. Inevitably, there were moments when I couldn’t just be a bystander as an overwhelmed and stimulated Beckett was a bit of a menace throughout the day.

For instance, a lacrosse stick quickly became a weapon that had to be placed out of his reach after he was spotted spinning around in a circle with it over his head. Also, after a few screams of frustration, the floor puzzles needed to be put away for a quieter time, as his patience level was not at its highest with all that was going on around him.

Besides some isolated hiccups along the way, Pam and I enjoyed making this day special for him. At this young age, it’s just as much about the parents as it is the kids. We get just as into it as they do. Surely that’s why my wife was up for the day at 5 that morning (and quick to remind me about those pajamas).

Santa’s big gift for both of the boys was a backyard trampoline, complete with a high enclosure to keep injuries to a minimum (or at least we hope).

We knew he would love it and that it would be the huge hit of the day. The tricky part was how to present it to him. Simply walking him out to it in the yard didn’t seem appropriate.

I had the idea of showing it to him by video recording, where we told him Santa sent us a special message because, after all, the 15-foot-wide trampoline would not fit under the tree.

So, after he had rummaged through all his gifts, we showed him the video of the trampoline in the backyard. He caught on pretty quick, muttering at one point, “that’s my yard, that’s my house. That’s a huge trampoline.”

It goes without saying we immediately had to check it out, as he went about the business of squealing, jumping and having a blast, and in between giggles could be heard saying, “it’s so huge, my trampoline is so huge.”

Of course, he threw a fit when it was time to go inside, but in case you haven’t noticed it’s not exactly trampoline weather. He didn’t care at all about the weather, but it became apparent it was time to go in when his cheeks resembled cherries.

Not even blizzard conditions and later 14 inches of snow could keep him from jumping on his favorite new gift in the days that followed.

What was most surprising to me was not the fact he had a blast throughout the day and enjoyed all his gifts. It was that he seemed to be grateful for all he received (or as much as a 2 ½-year-old can be).

A couple times, while playing on the floor, I heard him muttering to himself, “oh yeah, I’m lucky, this is so cool.” To hear your son at any age say that is a special thing for a parent. Overhearing him say it to himself at his age made it particularly memorable.

Perhaps the part I adored the most was when my wife and Beckett had the following random exchange amidst a sea of toys on the floor.

Pam: All of this is great, buddy, but what are we celebrating today. What happened on Christmas?

Beckett: Baby Jesus was born.

Pam: That’s right, Beckett.

Beckett: Baby Jesus is in my heart.

There was one choked up Dad behind the video camera at that moment. We had naturally talked to him about the significance of the holiday for us, but we were quite certain he was not listening, or at least retaining any of it.

It’s these random comments that get to me the most. You never know what a kid is going to say or do, and it’s not always as pleasant as this situation played out.

There are frustrating times with little ones, as they wade through the learning experiences that come with maturing and growing up. But for every moment of aggravation there’s another comment, gesture or mannerism that makes you so proud and almost able to forget about the exasperation.