The Adventures Of Fatherhood – November 22, 2019

Somewhere along the way we went wrong.

Beckett has an expectation of a prize or reward for anything he does well or for any good deed.

When he brought home a solid report card this month, he inquired immediately about what he would be getting for doing such a great job in his first term in middle school.

When he was a toddler, we would dangle something he likes to encourage him to have a good day and follow the rules at day care. That sort of reward system continued through school, events and other life situations.

With him now 11 years old, my mindset has changed. Over the last few weeks, I have learned he still likes to be rewarded for doing good things. When he first asked me about it after school the day his first term ended, I was surprised so I blurted out how about Island Creamery. He laughed, informing me that a milkshake is all good but not what he had in mind. He was thinking about money.

A couple days later, after he scored the go-ahead goal with a few minutes left in a soccer game, he ran over to me afterwards screaming, “let’s go, we are going to McDonalds.” It reminded me immediately of the traditional post-Super Bowl interview when the game’s MVP says he’s going to Disney World.

Another time recently Beckett won a stuffed animal during a game at Busch Gardens. Since his little brother freaked out a bit over the prize, Beckett immediately decided to give it to him. He then turned to me and gave me a look that said it all – “that’s going to cost you” – holding out his hand.

I gave him a high five. His look of expectation didn’t change.

About 45 minutes is how long Beckett lasted at his first turkey shoot.

After a frigid soccer practice last Saturday morning, Beckett and I went to meet up with some family at the Synepuxent Rod & Gun Club for a turkey shoot benefiting Boy Scout Troop 225.

I’ve been wanting Beckett to try shooting a gun. It was something he had never done before. To be honest, I’ve only shot a gun a handful of times in my life. I figured an organized charity turkey shoot would be a great opportunity. Plus, his Uncle Patrick and cousin Reagan would be on hand to help show him the way.

Earlier in the week, Beckett was excited. As we got closer to Saturday, his excitement over his first time shooting was waning. He was clearly getting nervous. On the morning of the event, after that brutally cold soccer practice, he wanted to scrap the whole thing because he said he couldn’t feel his fingers or his feet. I pushed him along. I was looking forward to shooting myself. It’s been probably 30 years for me.

Once we arrived at the club, I found a woman who was looking to sell her shooting targets because her new gun was too big for her. Being a newbie, I bought them. Before we could shoot, however, the bake sale table grabbed my son’s attention. He was clearly stalling. The nerves had fully set in and he was searching for excuses, the most frequent continuing to be lack of feeling in his fingers. It was interesting to me he had no problem getting into the brownie and cookie packaging at the bake sale, however.

I assured him his uncle was here and he would help him out. I’m not sure I will ever forget Beckett’s face when he saw the size of the shotgun he would be using. Later he told me he was thinking his dad was crazy to be letting him handle something like that at his age. Though he was using some hyperbole, he said it weighed more than him and was as long as him (from the ground it actually came to his chin).

With his uncle showing great patience with him and his incessant stall tactics and questioning, including the explanation of how shotgun ammunition works, Beckett took his first shot. Though I’m not positive where it went, I do know he missed the target entirely. It didn’t appear close. We all told him that’s to be expected for his first time.

After some more stalling, including a scrapple sandwich and more cookies inside the club, I encouraged him to give it another shot. He didn’t hit the target on this one either. His complaints of how cold he was then intensified. I think he was embarrassed more than anything about his errant shots, although it was freezing.

I asked him to wait inside while I took a shot. I then got a random text message from a number I didn’t recognize. My resourceful kid evidently borrowed a cell phone from a stranger. “Can you unlock the truck? I’m freezing,” the text read.

At that point, with my number not being called to shoot, I handed off my target cards to my brother in law. We would try shooting another day. Though it didn’t go as I hoped, he tried something new and went outside his comfort zone.

The good news is we still did our financial part in helping the troop’s fundraising hopes, thanks to his sweet tooth.

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.