The Adventures Of Fatherhood – December 25, 2020

It took a terrible fall on a skate ramp to bring it back, but I got to see my 12-year-old boy’s vulnerability again.

While tough to handle at times, the oldest kid in the home is clearly distancing himself from his parents. We remain engaged as possible with him, but Beckett is shutting us out of many aspects of his life. It’s natural for him to seek independence at his age. It’s oftentimes unclear if it’s hiding things from us or simply keeping matters to himself. It’s a difficult adjustment for us, as his parents, because he’s always been a chatty type who shared everything on his mind.

He’s changing and there are times I wonder if he’s okay. It’s clear there are instances when he’s troubled, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. We try to pry it out so we can talk about it, resulting typically in him isolating himself even more. Conversations usually end with us assuring him we are here for him if he wants to discuss what’s on his mind. Many times, he eventually does open up about what’s going on, but it’s on his timeline and not ours. It could be he needed time to process what was on his mind or it was he simply didn’t want to talk about it at that particular time.

We have found of late he has been talking a lot with friends on devices. Though electronics and social media have many ills, there are positives with it as far as allowing kids his age to stay connected with friends. With most families making efforts to limit their kids’ interactions with others amid the pandemic, apps and video calls can come in handy in allowing the kids to socialize. Nothing beats face-to-face communication, but it’s been nice to see him talking and laughing with friends in his room.

With the opportunity to share quality time with him sparse these days, I jumped at the opportunity take him somewhere he had wanted to go for some time. He had been asking about trying out the ramp inside Lurking Class skate shop in Salisbury for some time.

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After some shopping for Christmas, he took some runs on the ramp. I just happened to be filming him when he took a terrible spill from the top of the ramp. Though only about three feet, it was a hard fall. He later loved sharing the video with friends, so the memory is preserved. When he rolled over, I saw that look of absolute fear and shock. I think he thought he was seriously hurt. I told him, “just breathe, breathe, breathe.” He clearly had the wind knocked out of him.

We rushed off the ramp and took a seat nearby. He had lost all his color, which is not a lot because he’s got a light complexion. He was hurt but not terribly. I thought it important for him to get back out on the ramp immediately. I was excited he was receptive, but he was quick to proclaim he wasn’t trying the same trick again on that day.

On the way home, I told him I was proud of him. He didn’t understand why because he took a hard fall and was never really able to get back into a groove. I reminded him he shook off the physical pain, fear and embarrassment. He got back up and tried again. I then reminded him how that sort of resilience, recovery and strong will can be applied to all aspects of life. It seemed to go over his head, leading to a change of subject and questions about when he can get back to the ramp.

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When Pam and I barged into Beckett’s room last weekend, he thought he was in trouble. I told him he was not, but we wanted to talk to him.

I joked we were there to talk about the birds and bees, but we wanted to clear the air about Santa. We have known for a couple years he knew the truth. Pam wanted to have this talk last year, but I resisted. She was probably right back then.

Nonetheless, the time had come to talk with him about the realities of it all and to remind him about the importance of not ruining the magic for other younger kids, including his little brother Carson, 11.

We told him Carson, who has developmental disabilities and is on the Autism spectrum, has a special gift. He believes in Santa and we encouraged him to support us in our belief it’s a special thing for him to continue to believe in the spirit of Christmas. We told him how important it was for him not to put a damper on his little brother’s Christmas even if he may at times feel like it’s being dishonest or is a charade of sorts.

Because he’s super protective and caring when it comes to his brother, Beckett understood preserving the magic of Christmas was important. Over the next few days, he made several attempts to get Carson excited about Christmas morning and even one day went into detail about how important it was for him to get to bed early on Christmas Eve. In fact, he talked about it six or seven times last weekend, a full week before the big night.

Later he remarked to me how clever he was being. I reminded him sometimes less is more and Carson is not dumb. He said, “well, you know, he can be sometimes,” and then proceeded to jump on him and take his iPad away, touching off a fierce game of tag in the house.

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.