Adventures Of Fatherhood

Adventures Of Fatherhood
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At a gift exchange at Cub Scouts last weekend, Carson walked away with a Rubik’s cube.

He spent the entire ride home trying to break into the plastic to get it out, most likely to see what exactly it did. By the time we got home, he had been successful, despite repeated requests from his mother to wait so he didn’t cut himself on the plastic.

As soon as we walked in the door, he walked into the living room and rolled it like it was dice. He got all green and seemed happy about it.

After laughing, we corrected him and showed him how it’s supposed to be used and the object of it.

He then quickly dismissed it and instead picked up the gift Beckett received — a Nerf bow and arrow set.

We spent the rest of the night on edge as the makeshift arrows flew over, under and by our heads.

There are some mornings that are more challenging than others, and one of those came this week.

For some reason, Carson has been incredibly challenging of late. We don’t know what the reason is, but it’s as if he has regressed significantly to being an incoherent toddler full of bad decisions. The biggest thing is he goes through periods when he will not listen to anything and does whatever he wants, despite repeated warnings of what will happen.

On the ride to Beckett’s school the other day, Carson refused to keep his seat belt buckled and was clearly fixated on agitating Beckett. It didn’t take much to get a negative reaction out of Beckett, resulting in me having to pull the car over twice on the drive to school. It’s about a quarter of a mile.

At one point, I said something that I didn’t intend to be heard. “Dear God, please give me the strength…,” I thought I was saying it to myself. I was thinking it, but didn’t realize I said it aloud until Beckett said, “Daddy, don’t you mean patience because more strength would make you stronger when wrestling with us.”

He was right.

In previous years, Elf on the Shelf was a nice behavior modifying tool, but recent weeks indicate it’s lost its magic touch.

It used to be whenever the kids would be acting up or disobeying (or doing fly sidekicks to one another off the furniture), all we had to do was mention the Elf’s name and the kids would change their ways. It seemed they weren’t too concerned about upsetting their parents, but the potential for the elf to give a bad report to Santa Claus after returning to the North Pole was enough to correct the poor decisions.

That’s not been the case too much these days, particularly with Carson. Instead of changing whatever he is doing that’s upsetting us, he simply takes his antics to another room so the elf can’t see him. When I told him the other night, the elf sees all because he’s magical. He made it clear he did not believe me.

Despite its effectiveness on the behavior modifying front seemingly waning, I still enjoy the whole elf concept. The only problem is at least one night a week Pam or I forget to move it to another location. For those who don’t know, the idea is the elf leaves the house every night, reports to Santa on the goings on with the children to gauge whether they stay on the nice or naughty list and then comes back to the house before the kids wake up in a different spot.

In the middle of the night on Monday, I realized I forgot to move the elf. Not wanting to get the dog amped up (my excuse for being too tired to get out of bed), I rolled over, grabbed my phone and emailed myself a reminder. That way I would be sure to see it the next morning.

I have noticed in recent weeks that the elf is a popular topic among friends. Some have grown weary of the whole concept, while others really get into it, putting the elf in various elaborate scenes that clearly reveals a copious amount of spare time.

In a letter to her elf, published on this month, parent Jennifer Scharf wrote about her annoyance with the entire concept. She uses more colorful language than I can print here, but here’s the gist.

“It was so much easier when I was a kid. Santa came down the chimney, filled your stocking, and went on his merry way. Throw in A Charlie Brown Christmas and call it a day. Now I have to worry about not taking the magic out of you, our “friendly scout” Elf. Now I have to leave sparkly reindeer food and cookies and milk out for the big man and his team. I have to hide gifts, disguise my handwriting on name tags, secretly wrap gifts, and prostitute myself to get my hands on McKenna, the American Girl Doll of the Year that is, ironically, sold out. Like I don’t have enough … to worry about. I’m trying to catch up on Arrested Development on Netflix. I mean, how much can one woman handle?,” she wrote.

For my kids, the elf is fun. Therefore, we continue the tradition, even if it means middle of the night awakenings over its location.