Fatherhood Adventures

Fatherhood Adventures
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Christmas is my favorite day of the year.

Surely, the kids’ ages of 7 and 6 play a huge part in that because it’s thrilling to watch the kids go about the morning and observe the rest of their day filled with such excitement. It’s as if they are having out-of-body experiences because they can barely contain themselves. The same seems to go for their sleep-deprived parents from the night before.

Some thoughts on this Christmas:

•Along with the gifts from Santa, we always try to plan something special for the kids on Christmas. We love surprising them with something from us after they have opened their gifts from Santa. During the gift opening process, I’m usually as surprised as they are with what Santa brought them. Therefore, it’s a lot of fun for me to watch them rip open their gifts and see which they take an immediate shine to and which they do not.

In other years, after opening their gifts, previous surprises have been a vacation the next day, a backyard trampoline, paddleboards, a basketball hoop and bikes.

This year we fooled them again by transforming our dirty, musty basement into a new playroom for them, complete with little hideouts, bench seating, a new television and gaming consoles and an indoor basketball hoop. It’s by far the nicest room in the house now.

While I had some thoughts on how to surprise them, I always let Pam make these types of decisions because she is better at them. The same approach went for the design of the playroom. That’s her forte. I just trusted her and funded the effort.

After much thought, Pam got strategic and wrapped an empty box containing an xBox 360. Before Beckett opened it, she gave me the nod to head downstairs with the video camera.

From downstairs I could hear Beckett asking where his new console was and then why the basement door was wide open. He stormed down followed by Carson and their facial expressions were priceless. They both started jumping up and down with Beckett yelling, “it’s a downstairs playroom, just for us.”

The boys seemed appreciative and loved exploring their new area. In the days that followed, both thanked us repeatedly for doing it for them.

All the while we were thinking to ourselves it was a gift for us as well because we hope it’s an area they will hang in and entertain themselves.

After a few days, we are still waiting for that to occur. What’s been taking place so far is two-on-one basketball games with me and whenever I try to escape for a few minutes a wrestling match ensues. If I do manage to get away, they come upstairs wondering where I am.

We are banking on them wanting to spend more independent time down there in the near future.

•A couple days after Christmas, when I asked Carson what his favorite gifts were, he pointed down, signaling it was the new room. That was good to know, of course.

When I asked what else he liked, he pulled out all the puzzles he received. That was amazing to me because he also got a kids Kindle Fire, which he has showed little interest in over the last week, and several other really nice presents.

If only we had known the puzzles would reign supreme because one thing I do know is they are a lot cheaper.

•There were a few regrettable gifts this year, just like there are every Christmas.

Two that come to mind immediately are the joke-making microphone that seems to only have one volume level — too loud — and the other is the Bean Boozled game.

While the volume is hard to tolerate, Beckett has been quick to pick up many of the jokes and one liners from the microphone. Here’s one for example. Why is the last month of the year so cold? Because it’s called Decem-burr. You can imagine dozens of those being rattled off one after another could be a bit nerve rattling.

Above all the Bean Boozled game, however, takes the cake as the worst gift, although it’s one of Beckett’s favorites.

I played it so much on Christmas day that I have retired. That’s a game for little kids.

There is an actual game approach to it, but my son has simplified it. There’s a box of jelly beans of assorted colors. The problem is the colors can represent drastically different flavors. Black can be licorice or skunk spray. Yellow and white can be buttered popcorn or rotten egg. Orange and yellow could be caramel corn or moldy cheese. The orange and red beans could either be peach or barf.

As soon as he got the game, Beckett darted to the kitchen for a water bottle for rinsing and a Tupperware bowl for spitting out.

Beckett and Carson loved seeing the adults’ reaction to the nasty ones, but I could only take so much. After multiple rounds of chewing several beans of the skunk spray and moldy cheese variety, I had to drop out for a good flossing and brushing.