Adventures Of Fatherhood

Adventures Of Fatherhood
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Getting a break from my kids makes me a better parent.

That may sound odd, but it’s the truth. It’s refreshing to get away a couple times a year without the kids, as it broadens the perspective on life and reminds Pam and me that we are actually husband and wife and not just parents swimming against the tide, trying to raise two young boys the best we can.

With my 40th birthday approaching, Pam pulled off a great surprise trip to New York City last weekend. The timing could not have come at a better time as the grind with the kids’ schedules, workplace matters and the need for balance in my life was starting to eat at me.

When she told me Friday morning we would be heading north in a couple hours and wouldn’t be back until Sunday night, my first concern after what kind of weather to pack for was the kids and their planned weekend activities, such as a birthday party, soccer game and swimming practice, to name a few. Apparently, Pam, with the help of some friends and my mom, who did all the heavy lifting with the kids, had all the coordination taken care of and all I had to do was pack for the weekend for some place cold.

That’s all I knew initially and I later discovered we would be taking the train from Wilmington to the City, one of my favorite places.

Later came the even bigger surprise that a group of my best friends would be joining us in a City penthouse for the weekend. She got me good.

The trip away was a memorable one and on the way back we both started talking about the kids more and more. We certainly missed them and gained a new sense of appreciation for our family, despite it just being 48 hours.

Within minutes of being home, it felt like we had never left and we picked right up where we left off.

I started thinking how that was the same feeling I had when I saw my good friends after a long separation. Close friends don’t need to talk a lot or see each other all the time. If they are real friends, the ones who matter on a deep level, you just pick up where you left off, no matter how long it’s been. I felt that way all weekend, thanks to my wife secretly planning and my friends pushing pause on their own lives for a get together.

It was that similar feeling of familiarity and peace that I was feeling when we got back home on Sunday. Within minutes, we were back in the parenting world, and it was exactly where we wanted to be.

However, that doesn’t mean we were excited when we opened up Beckett’s backpack before bedtime on Sunday and saw he had a take-home reading test that was due the next day. That was when reality came crashing down in a brutal way.

One of the highlights of every day is reading at night with my kids.

They are different experiences, but each fun in their own way.

With Carson being non-verbal, the option of him reading aloud is not in the cards. However, he loves being read to and following along. Of late, he has developed a habit of putting his hand on my throat as I read. That’s a habit he picked up from speech therapy. He then follows his pointer finger along with the words.

It’s wonderful to see him take an interest and not get frustrated by the fact he can’t vocalize yet. He loves books..

With Beckett, he tolerates reading but views it at his current age as more like required school work. Once he starts reading, he enjoys it, but he has the wrong viewpoint of it right now. He has certainly not developed a passion for it, although he’s quite adept at it.

On several occasions of late, he has been listening to music on my phone and intentionally started reading my emails and texts. Fortunately, I have nothing to hide and most of them are boring to him, but there is the issue of boundaries to discuss at some point in the future.

Because he’s a comfortable reader now, he oftentimes when reading at night in bed likes to try different accents. He makes them up as he goes along, switching from Spanish to French to Gibberish (which is his favorite because he can just make no sense at all).

By far, his favorite accent is British because of a soccer camp he did this summer with players from England as well as the fact his teacher’s in-laws — also from England — visited his class recently. The only problem is his take on the accent sounds ridiculous. I just go along with it because he’s having fun. If it keeps him reading, I will tolerate the nonsense, no matter how silly it sounds.

What really touches me is when I see Beckett reading to Carson, who knows better than to put his hand on Beckett’s throat like he does me because it would jeopardize his physical well-being. Nonetheless, seeing my sons read together is an amazing sight that I will always enjoy, despite the fact it usually leads to a wrestling match.