Adventures Of Fatherhood – April 27, 2018

Adventures Of Fatherhood – April 27, 2018

Sleep begets sleep.

There was a time not too many years ago when there was no need for a clock to tell when it was time for bed for my boys, who are now 9 and 8 years old. Everything just went downhill fast and it became known as the bewitching hour.

As I assume happens in all households, bedtimes have evolved over the years. I remember at one point it was 7 p.m. because in the summer Pam and I would be able to enjoy a sunset refreshment after putting the kids to bed. A couple hours later, we were usually asleep because the days with the little ones were such a physical grind.

It has evolved over time. For many years, it was 8 p.m. That worked for both our boys until about a year ago when Beckett started asking to stay up later because he wasn’t ready yet. We pushed it back to 8:30 and now it’s at 9 p.m. with a wake-up for school at 7 a.m.

Within the last few months, Carson has gone to 8:30, mainly because he has therapies several days a week that often run till 7:30 p.m. and it seems unfair to make him go straight to bed immediately afterwards.

On the weekends, bedtime doesn’t change for Carson. For Beckett, we have become lax on weekend nights, but we have to be careful because he will stay up all night if we let him. The result of that is he’s a wreck the next day no matter how late he sleeps.

Like adults, kids benefit from a certain amount of sleep as well as a routine bedtime. A few weeks ago, we were reminded of this fact with Carson. We decided to watch a movie on a Saturday night and he was up till 10. When it became time for bed, he turned evil on us, and he didn’t end up falling asleep till around 11.

Instead of his typical 10 to 11 hours of sleep he got under seven. He was in our bed in the wee hours and was struggling to fall back asleep. The result was an off little boy all day. He wasn’t listening and was generally an irritable mess who was difficult in all aspects.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a school day. I can say that now but on that particular Sunday I wasn’t able to find much good in our decision to let him stay up late.

As far as Beckett goes, we can count on two things. No matter what time we make him turn in for the night, he’s going to question why it can’t be later. He’s going to refer to some friend (fictional I’m thinking), who gets to stay up until whenever he wants to go to bed. We counter with the typical response of us not being so-and-so’s parent while under our breath wandering what 9-year-old kid gets to stay up as a late as he wants.

The other thing we can count on at bedtime is Beckett will want to start a conversation and chat. For instance, one night this week it was 9 p.m. and I was ready for some peace in the house when Beckett asked me about my day. Because he tends to the self-absorbed side most of the time, I was shocked. We talked briefly and I answered some questions. When the rapid-fire questions continued, I quickly realized he was just working me to extend his bedtime.

The next morning when I reminded him what we were talking about the night before he didn’t seem interested anymore. That was not a surprise.

Kids have a beautiful way of keeping things simple.

During a soccer festival last weekend, one of Beckett’s teammates, who happens to be a classmate for the last six years in school, was taken to the hospital after falling hard and hitting his head. There was nothing malicious about the play. It was just one of those things that happens in competitive sports. It was a freakish play, however, in that he hit his head twice on the ground. Parents and coaches from all the teams were concerned.

It did my heart well to see Beckett rush over to his friend. It was equally comforting when Beckett immediately asked (ordered) me to get a hold of his teammate’s parents after the game. I told him we need to give his parents a little time because they haven’t even gotten to the hospital yet. I reminded him he has one more game left and promised I would find out what’s happening.

When the thought of playing another game sunk in, he got a little emotional and said, “I can’t focus on anything but how George is doing right now.” I encouraged him to focus on the game and that he was just going to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

After the game is over on the way home, we rarely talk about soccer. The conversation always revolves around what’s really important — where we are going to eat. Later, after he’s had time to mellow out, I usually talk to him a little bit about how he felt he and the team played.

On this particular day, while he wasn’t happy with his play, he focused instead on his buddy, who turned out to be fine. Only once did he mention wins or losses and goals. He kept it simple and that reminded me what’s in his heart. That’s what really matters in the grand scheme of things.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.