The Adventures Of Fatherhood – September 3, 2021

The last couple weeks have confirmed for me it’s time for the kids to get back in school.

When neither kid has the desire, energy or enthusiasm for the beach, pool, Boardwalk, amusement parks or water parks on a summer weekend day, I think the summer doldrums have set in. They need to get back in school. After all, there is only so much rest and relaxation needed out of a summer break.

Though both will vehemently decline being excited or even ready for school, the time is right to get back into the school swing of things. Getting some structure back into their lives will benefit them.

Back in June, I was ready for the school grind – especially the morning struggles — to come to an end. I enjoyed this extended break from hustling two boys who are non-starters in the morning during the summer because it’s a busy time here at the newspaper. I was pressured by deadlines on the work front, but the daily challenges did not include forcing Beckett to get out of the shower in a timely fashion or convincing Carson the shirt I picked out for him is actually just fine even if it’s not what he had in mind.

No, I did not miss the morning battles with my stubborn kids, but I will embrace the feeling of knowing my boys are in school. I have long enjoyed the feeling of driving away from school after dropping the kids off. I equally like picking them up after their school days are over, but there is a special joy in seeing them off to school each day.

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For Beckett, 13, he is going into eighth grade, the last year of middle school. The anxiety of returning to school has been building the last few weeks but reached its zenith when the time came for a back-to-school haircut. He likes his hair sloppy and especially long and wild in the front. He likes the messy, just rolled out of bed look. This would be an appearance, of course, as he seems to go to considerable lengths to ensure he looks disheveled.

When it came time for the haircuts, he worried we were going to make him go short, “like he was when he was  8,” he said. His mom and I both said we could find a middle ground, but were insistent we have to be able to see his eyes. His nerves on the way to the haircut were out of control, according to Pam. There was a meeting of the minds on the hair length with the end result being a good compromise. When I first saw him later that night, I told I can’t even tell it was cut. He was really excited about that comment.

As I dropped him off for orientation day this week, I couldn’t help but notice most of the middle schoolers were sporting the same weird look – long and wild in the front with peace and order in the back. Many of the boys also shared the same odd flick of their heads and constant pull down of their bangs.

For Beckett, school will likely be a tough transition. He has been staying up later at night and sleeping in later than ever. This was an interesting summer for him. He was too old to do most of the camps he has done for years but too young to work. We told him all summer enjoy the relaxation because next summer you will be working somewhere. He seemed to take our advice well and thoroughly embraced a restful summer. There were times – such as when I would come home for lunch break and he was just having breakfast — when I was convinced he was resting far too much. He became an expert this summer at learning how to chill. It’s a good thing but it’s time to add some learning and balance to his life.

As far as Carson, 11, goes, sixth grade is on the horizon. He has anxiety about school like his brother, but the reasons are different. His routine is about to be rocked. He went to summer school during the month of July. It’s a good thing because he should still have the needed familiarity kids on the spectrum require even with an entire month off.

We always go through an adjustment month or two with Carson and school. I’m hopeful that will not be the case this year, but it’s expected. Until he is comfortable with his new teachers, surroundings and routine, there can be some trying days for him as he seeks a comfort level with his new normal. His tendency to be more flexible now than in the past should serve him well.

At a back to school event this week, Carson clearly demonstrated his mixed emotions. Unlike last year with a new school, there will be some familiar faces for him this year. This will help tremendously with his transition challenges. Yet, his shyness and social awkwardness were evident amid the crowds.

Unlike his big brother, Carson’s sleep schedule has never changed. He’s comfortable going to bed early and waking up early. He’s always the first in bed at night and he and I vie for first risers each morning. Getting to school by 7:40 a.m. will be easy for him because he wakes up around 6 each day.

For Carson, mornings are the easiest time of the day. For Beckett, the a.m. hours are dreaded. For Pam and me, we are somewhere in between until both kids are safely and happily in school. I look forward to this time of day each fall.

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.