It’s always amazing to me what gifts are the kids’ favorites each year.
It’s not always what we expect.
Carson’s choice has to be the miniature battleship, which is in reality about three feet long, with 12 planes from the current military age as well as years gone by. He loves it so much that on Tuesday he took the whole thing to his day care. In fact, we are using his love for it to keep him straight, as once or twice over the last week we have had to remind him and his brother that Santa can come back and take gifts back if he’s disappointed by their actions.
There was not one singular gift that stood out for Beckett, but his new BMX-style bike and carving scooter have gotten the most love. With Beckett and the cold time of year, we knew outside gifts would be best to keep the electronics to an acceptable level.
For the parents of the house, we decided not to do big gifts as we have a couple vacations coming up this winter. However, my wife broke the deal, getting me a Lynne Lockhart painting of the geriatric dog of the house. That stole my heart immediately because it sums up Bailey’s aloof personality perfectly.
I’m going to have to get her back for that, though, since she broke the rules.
Nothing makes me happier than being proud of my kids.
Parenting is a challenging journey. It’s often mental warfare for us to raise two strong-willed boys with contrasting personalities. There are good days and bad days along the way and there are periods when the negatives outweigh the positives.
It’s these difficult times that makes relishing the proud moments critical to a happy life.
That’s why a weekend Beckett had earlier this month meant so much to us. On a Saturday earlier this month, Beckett successfully earned his Dan Bo belt, which is his last belt before testing for his Black Belt in June. It was a two-hour test that was almost four years in the making. It’s a huge accomplishment for anyone, but significantly impressive for an 8-year-old because it involves discipline, dedication, self-control and an impressive memory because there’s a significant curriculum that comes with each belt. In this case, he had to carry out a variety of elements from each belt over the previous four years to move on to Black Belt training.
One day later, he showed his versatility by playing Jingle Bells on his recorder from his school music class at church. Later, he read several parts and participated in the church Christmas program.
It was on that same stage four years ago when he found an open mic during a Christmas program and yelled, “boo hoo” before running off to Sunday School because he knew it was wrong. I can’t remember what the punishment was for that, but it was significant.
We told him later that this ability to perform so well and read before a group of people with such ease was impressive and not everyone — children and adults — can do it with such aplomb. We told him he’s growing into a well-rounded young boy and that we couldn’t be more proud of him. He doesn’t handle compliments well at his age, dodging them and preferring to focus on something he should have done or could have done better. He said, “yeah but I should have memorized my readings for church.”
As has been tradition the last few years, Santa rolled through the streets of Berlin the Sunday before Christmas atop a Berlin firetruck.
My kids’ reactions to the sightings have changed over the years. I remember the first year it took place we were in the backyard playing and we could hear the music. The kids dropped everything they were doing and sprinted to the street, thinking it was the ice cream truck. When they saw it was the jolly one, their excitement was palpable.
The next year it was much of the same but the novelty had worn off a little because they weren’t surprised that time around.
This year there was the same initial excitement but it was interesting to observe their actions.
Beckett was first outside because he’s the faster of the two kids. We had just come in from the backyard and he was playing video games upstairs with a friend when I announced Santa was here.
As Carson caught up, he decided he needed a rocking chair on the sidewalk to wave as Santa went by. Knowing he would not accept no for an answer, I helped him to speed up the effort.
With Santa passing by us on the firetruck, accompanied by a couple other Berlin fire vehicles and volunteers, Beckett was quick to point out, “Carson you know that’s not the real Santa Claus, right? It’s one of his representatives.” Carson, rocking in his chair, shook his head “no” to that and I encouraged Beckett to drop it.
Regardless of their changing reactions, this is one of my favorite events and the kids will look back at these days years from now as a great childhood memory. Thanks to the Berlin Fire Company for providing that to them and all of us.