Adventures Of Fatherhood

Adventures Of Fatherhood
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A competitive game of laser tag kept me from doing my job last weekend.

We made it a family occasion at Planet Maze’s 20th anniversary celebration last Saturday. While Carson and Pam were enjoying the maze portion, Beckett and I heeded the call for the next laser tag game. The only problem was I sort of forgot a key reason for being there — to take photos of the ribbon cutting celebration.

I basically gave in to Beckett’s persistent requests and refusal to be patient and lost my train of thought. Instead of taking pictures of the planned ribbon cutting ceremony, I got caught up in laser tag with a bunch of teen-agers and my son.

This was Beckett’s first try at laser tag. Our teammates were novice as well. The end result being the opposing team full of experienced players dominated us. It didn’t matter to me, but my competitive son took it personally. He finally did admit he had fun despite crumpling up his score sheet in a fit of disappointment.

As we were leaving the arena, which has recently undergone some impressive upgrades, I immediately noticed there were a lot less people in the lobby area. It turns out during the 15 minutes I was gone I missed the entire ceremony.

It’s not the first time — and won’t be the last either — that I put being a father ahead of my day job. It’s also not the first time some kid nagging has rattled me and lost my train of thought.

Fortunately, the owners — parents themselves, of course — understood and saw the humor in the whole thing, indulging me while I took some more photos of them at the event.

Carson loves all animals, even if it’s a sloth bear showing his teeth at him.

Our youngest son is a study of contradictions at times. He can be outgoing and hug strangers walking down the street at one minute, but then he can also be shy and shirk away from attention.

At the National Zoo on Sunday (our fallback plan after our Orioles game was cancelled), he was almost as extroverted as his big brother, and it’s probably because he’s such an animal lover.

Carson was always trying to get to the front of the crowd to see the animals, such as a panda who was putting on a show with his prowess for chomping piles of bamboo. At one point, Carson even turned to me and made the sign for camera, instructing me to take a photo of him with the panda.

Later, and I think it was probably the highlight for him, Carson managed to wiggle his way up close with Pam to see a sloth bear, which has to be one of the strangest looking animals I have seen in person.

Although he was definitely an odd sight to see, the sloth bear did entertain. I hung back with Beckett, who was not as impressed, while Carson and Pam were up against dividing glass. The sloth bear came up to the glass and licked right where Carson’s hand was and that was quite a thrill for him. I was able to see his expression from through the crowd. That made the visit.

For Beckett, he has a little apprehension with animals. Even our own dog at home, he doesn’t pay much attention to, aside from when he wants him to clean up some food he dropped on the floor. He’s just not a huge animal guy.

Ever since he was a toddler, his least favorite animal has been the elephant. On two occasions, we have had to leave events because an elephant was nearby. Both involved circus stops in Salisbury. The first time we couldn’t even get in the same room with the elephant because he thought he heard it roar. His displeasure runs so deep he was reluctant to even ride the Dumbo ride in Disney.

It has become a bit of a running joke in the family. That’s why whenever an elephant comes on television I pause it so he can see it. I have even ripped out a photo of an elephant in a magazine to show him. He doesn’t find the humor in it like the rest of us.

On Sunday, there was an impressive elephant exhibit. There’s an outdoor area and even a large community center all dedicated to the elephants. We knew it was going to be an issue for him, but we headed toward the outside elephants anyway.

As we approached and got about 10 feet from the outdoor area where two elephants were being fed, he slammed his feet down out of the stroller, bringing me to a halt. A nearby group of moms saw his obvious apprehension and heard him say, “no way.” One of them encouraged us to push him up closer (she saw the humor like us) and we did.

He was clearly troubled, but he did just fine for the few minutes of torture we put him through. All the while his parents were having a hard time holding giggles as the closest elephant — just a few feet away — seemed to be eyeballing him and even extended his trunk out to him.

Next up was the reptile area and I was quick to express my distaste for snakes. Beckett thought that was hilarious as he pulled me by the hand closer to the anaconda area.