The Adventures Of Fatherhood – May 21, 2021

Getting our teenager vaccinated felt significant.

When Beckett’s school sent out a notice about an upcoming vaccination clinic at AGH last week, Pam and I huddled and agreed we should sign him up. We both had some concerns as he had school and a lacrosse game the next day. We didn’t want him not feeling well.

When I took him to the clinic, there was sweet vindication as about a dozen other kids on his team and the girls team were lined up for shots. There seemed to be collective relief as others had similar reservations.

Throughout the night, Beckett said he felt fine and all was normal. I asked him the next morning how he felt while he was showering. “Fine,” he bellowed in a tone only a parent of a teenager recognizes all too well. A quick little argument then ensued about attitude at 6:55 in the morning when all I was asking if he had any effects from the first vaccination.

He said he had forgotten all about it, but did manage to hit me with the Band-Aid from the shower. He laughed. Admitting it was a good shot, I told him to pick it up when he was done. He continued to laugh.

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Later that night, he remembered he wanted to ask what it means to be “fully vaccinated.” I told him it’s two weeks after your second shot, which will be in early June. He expressed relief as if the weight of the world had been on his shoulders of late. I figured it had something to do with having to wear a mask. When I turned around from doing something to take a deeper dive, he was long gone. I later asked him what he meant about being relieved when he’s fully vaccinated. He said he didn’t remember ever saying that.

This, this is life with a 13-year-old.

Some conversations I have with my 13-year-old make me want to pull my hair out, but others just make me laugh.

Rather than obsess on some realities currently, such as school is not as much of a focus as we would like, I try to approach this parenting thing with a bit of levity. It’s not always an easy thing to do. I sent Beckett an email the other day about an article I read. It headlined, “50 Things I want My Son To Know about Teen Girls.”

Here are some highlights:

Lighten up and SMILE. Trying to act cool by being aloof won’t grab a girl’s attention. Don’t be afraid to be silly and laugh. Just be yourself.

With girls, manners count. Whether you’re her friend or a boyfriend, open doors for her, use your table manners, put your phone away so you can give her your undivided attention and make eye contact. Believe me, girls notice.

Just because a girl doesn’t act interested in you, doesn’t mean she isn’t. She might just need a little practice being around boys. Give her time to get comfortable around you.

Practice being a good listener. Most girls love to talk… A LOT.

Give the shy girl a chance… please.

Girls do better research than the FBI. If you cheat, lie or make a move on another girl when she’s not around, she will find out.

Girls are notorious overthinkers. Practice being a good communicator so you don’t leave her in the dark about your thoughts or feelings.

When you mess up (which, let’s face it, you probably will), put your ego on the back burner and apologize quickly. The longer you wait, the more her frustration will fester.

Get to know a girl’s parents. You can learn a lot about a girl by the way she treats her mother and father.

The #1 thing all girls want is a good guy who will treat them right. Be the good guy.

If you’re dating, never flirt with another girl or try to make your girlfriend jealous. Nothing turns a girl off more. Plus, it’s more of a reflection on you and your insecurity, and other girls are watching.

Girls care what their friends think about you – even if they don’t admit it. (In fact, there’s a good chance she’ll gossip about you to her friends.)

Girls like it when guys make the first move. Even if you have to muster up the courage, walk up to that girl in class or the girl standing alone at a party. Chances are she’s just shy and is waiting for you to break the ice.

If you’re dating and your girlfriend offers to pick up the tab or go dutch, let her. Most girls know teen boys aren’t made of money and they’re willing to share the cost of dates.

If a girl is a little awkward around you, don’t pass judgment too quickly. Chances are she just needs a little practice being around boys. Give her some time.

If a girl calls you “cute,” “sweet,” or “adorable” in public, she’s not trying to embarrass you. Take it as a compliment.

Having girl friends can teach you a lot about girls. Plus, when you start dating, your girl friends can help you navigate the dating world.

If you want to turn a girl’s head, make her laugh. A good laugh always breaks the ice.

When I asked him about it and if he read it, he said he did. I was skeptical and would not blame him he didn’t read all 50 things. It appeared he had at a minimum skimmed it because he got the point of it. At the risk of misquoting him, he basically said, “I just treat them like friends, I’m not trying to get married or anything.” That was a relief.

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.