Carson is a fire bug like his dad.
Unlike me, however, he can’t control himself when it comes to a bonfire. He wants to build it as tall as possible as quick as possible, so he can sit back and marvel over it.
Last Friday night, we hit the beach on Assateague for a bonfire. As is his way, Carson, 8, was my helper. While I dug the hole, he was right there with me explaining how to do it. When it looked to him like I had it under control, he went about stacking all our wood and setting up the area.
Those errands kept him busy enough for me to start the fire without him hanging on top of me pointing and giving me instructions. While he remains nonverbal, he clearly communicates what’s on his mind at all times, especially to his family members who know his mannerisms and sounds best.
While the fire was warming up, Pam and I quickly learned Carson could not be trusted around the fire. It wasn’t necessarily a safety thing like it was years ago. It was more about the fact he simply could not resist adding wood continuously. He wanted the fire to be huge all the time.
I share that sentiment. I like a big bonfire as well. At home, I build huge fires because we have a safe pit and plenty of wood. On the beach with the kids and sand and limited wood supplies, it’s safer to keep the fires smaller. That was not what Carson had in mind. When he sets his mind to something, he’s difficult to divert.
Therefore, whenever anyone would turn away, Carson would toss a piece of wood on the fire. Sometimes he was so rushed as to not get caught the wood would miss the fire entirely. It was time for some redirection to get his mind onto something else.
A bunch of us tossing the football around did the trick. He immediately took his shirt off to show he meant business. He wasn’t the least bit concerned about the fact none of us were shirtless. When Beckett asked him why he took off his shirt, Carson shrugged him off. In my head, he was saying, “you play your way, I play my way.” It was time to play and he preferred to play with no shirt no matter if it wasn’t hot out and his physique didn’t support it.
This redirection worked a while until it was too dark to see the ball. After some smores, it was clear Carson was back to the fire fixation. As soon as a few raindrops fell, Carson took that as a sign to throw the remaining wood on the fire. Before we knew it, we were out of wood and the fire was huge.
That was the only time he sat down the entire day. It was probably because it was the first time he was content as his job was completed.
Beckett, our 10-year-old son, is convinced the change is occurring for him and he’s all mixed up about it.
He only refers to it as “the change.” When I ask him what he’s referring to, he usually responds with something along the lines of, “come on Dad, you know what I’m talking about. The word is weird.” I say, “puberty,” and he replies yes. I remind him it’s not a bad word, but he still refuses to say it aloud. It appears the word makes him uncomfortable.
I think this newfound fascination with body changes is directly linked to his summer camps because he’s around different kids, including some older kids. He’s learning some things that I’m sure are coming from teens who more than likely are seeing some changes.
While at the beach the other day, I began talking with him about this in the ocean. I told him now would be a good time to ask me any questions. He rattled off many reasonable questions amid waves. It was a good chat even with the torrential rain that came about.
As the conversation continued, he seemed to get confused by the nature of his questions. When that happens, he typically likes to change the subject.
“What I really want to know is when do I start growing butt hair?,” he asked.
I laughed and went with it, telling him that’s something that happens much later in life. He said, “like after college?” I said that’s right.
The subject was clearly wearing on him and we moved on. He asked me to tell him a line to use on a girl to make her laugh. I knew better to delve into the why of the subject because he would clam up immediately. I obviously was interested to know who he was talking about, but if I asked the conversation would end.
Instead I played along and gave him a joke of sorts a friend used to say in college.
“You see that guy over there, he’s from Tennessee,” the guy would say, “but you are the only ‘Ten’ I see.”
He rolled his eyes, dove under a wave and said that’s too silly.
Nonetheless, I later heard him telling it to a friend’s daughter, but he got it all mixed up. He somehow ended up being the “Ten” in the joke.