Adventures Of Fatherhood

It’s remarkable the difference, at certain times, in how our kids behave when they are apart compared to when they are together.

The experience is so different and has led at times to Pam and me simply taking a kid and going in different directions. It’s just less tense and sometimes what’s easier must win out for sanity purposes.

For some reason, and hopefully it’s their young ages, they can be a nightmare when together. It’s normally the older brother Beckett, 6, responsible for our parental angst because he torments his brother, Carson, 4, who is just 16 months younger.

I like to work under the assumption it’s typical sibling behavior because I recall my parents recounting stories how my older sister used to abuse me when we were young. Nonetheless, there are times when I am shocked by what I observe on a daily basis. Most of the time it’s of a physical nature but there are times when I’m convinced Beckett is conducting mental and physical torture treatments on Carson and other instances when I feel Carson is picking a fight and trying to get his big brother in hot water.

For example, while Beckett was working on a Lego set the other day at the kitchen table, Carson crawled under his chair and stood up, sending Beckett tumbling over. Once I realized Beckett was fine, I had a bad parenting moment. Instead of addressing it immediately with Carson, I picked up the chair and marveled for a few seconds over the freakish display of strength I had just observed.

As thoughts of how that strength could boost his sports prowess distracted me, Beckett immediately jumped up, laughed and ran after Carson, saying, “okay, my turn, now I get to do whatever I want to you.” When I caught up to them, Beckett was sitting on top of Carson with one finger hooked in his mouth and his other hand working to stick his dirty sock in his younger brother’s mouth in retaliation.

Of course, there are other times when the big brother causes trouble. These are usually the more frustrating occurrences because we know he is well aware of acceptable behavior and is simply making a bad decision.

It’s clear what’s the case when he runs directly into his brother outside without making any attempt to avoid contact. Although it’s obvious, the fact he extends his arms and is looking directly at him as his intended target is a sure giveaway he was trying to deck him. Again, after tending to Carson, I am forced to hand down consequences rather than what’s really floating around in the back of my head — that would have been an outstanding body check on the lacrosse field.

As I am speaking with Beckett, here comes his little brother, who dusts himself off, runs over and slaps his older brother across the face, leading me to separate the two from brawling rather than focusing on the issue at hand. There are times when I think if it were more of an even matchup that I would just let them go at it and see what happens. That day may be coming in the near future.

There are other times when it’s not so simple to determine who is at fault as they both antagonize the other and are intent on getting each other in trouble and stressing their parents. It’s those moments when rather than play on the beach in a nice fashion they decide together they need to throw sand and toys at each other and pull each other’s bathing suits off. Or better yet one brother will steal the other brother’s shovel and throw it into the water for no reason other than to be confrontational.

It’s when these ridiculous and immature circumstances with no easy solutions surface that Pam and I will usually just grab a kid and go in a different direction for a while.

On one hand, it’s silly to have to break up the family, but sometimes it’s just more enjoyable.

Fortunately, there are those moments of sweetness to provide a balance. The other day at school drop-off for Beckett was one of those times. He decided to give Carson a hug followed by what he always says, “now be a good boy Carson today at school and listen to your teachers.” Coming from a live wire like Beckett, that comment always cracks me up.

Nonetheless, it was a sweet gesture and the boys embraced in a nice way. However, before fussing all over them in a good way, Carson couldn’t seem to resist succumbing to the dark side, grabbing Beckett’s glasses and throwing them.

If you see a kid screaming out the window of a moving truck around Berlin, there’s no need to call the police.

It’s just Carson having fun. It seems the non-verbal son in the house has become extremely fond of screaming his head off out the window. Of course, that means Beckett in turn screams out his window.

What makes me tolerate this obnoxious behavior is the fact Carson is not talking, so we embrace any sounds that come out of his mouth at this point. In fact, the other day I recorded it so I could share it with Pam.

He was making all sorts of letter sounds and it’s exciting to hear, although I admit it was extremely loud and I had to fight the immediate response to shush him after a few minutes.