The Adventures Of Fatherhood – December 10, 2021

Sometimes things don’t go as planned and hoped.

Last Sunday at church our family was to lead a prayer and light the second advent candle. We talked through it with the boys, especially Carson, and Pam and I both felt fine about it. In the past, there would have been serious reservations whether Carson would fully participate.

Based on his progress over the years, I honestly never thought there would be any issues at all this time. He seemed fine and comfortable until it was go time. He immediately froze in his seat and refused to come with everyone. Rather than create a scene, which I knew forcing him would do, I sat next to him in the pew, trying to comfort him and assuring it was no big deal. We were fine to chill here.

As soon as Beckett and Pam started reading the prayer, he lost his composure. It was a meltdown unlike any we have seen in months. What was commonplace at one time was now surprising. I tried all the tricks typically successful in calming him, offering taking him for a walk outside, go to Sunday School and head home. I even jokingly asked him if he just wanted me to go home. I would have been fine with a walk. There was no reasoning with him.

He was crying out loud, clapping to disrupt his mom and brother, wiping his slobbering mouth and nose on me and hitting me. His tantrum peaked when he slapped the man in front of us in the back for no reason. It was so fast and unexpected I couldn’t stop it. It was awful. Feelings not felt for a long time, but a reminder our journey through Autism will be bumpy and full of challenges.

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Fortunately, he began to calm when his mom and brother came back to our seats. He was able to get it together to function during Sunday School. Pam walked them downstairs where he eventually settled.

It was one of those moments a parent remembers but wants to forget. Fortunately, I know it’s in our supportive church environment but there’s no denying it’s ugly and regretful, resulting in hindsight questions.

Should we have practiced before church? Did we not prepare him enough for when it was to take place? Should we have even tried it in the first place? Do we push him too much with his disabilities?

It can get emotional when thinking about these situations. It was a difficult few minutes for me but clearly worse for Carson as he was working through something that set him off completely. We still don’t know what it was exactly but surely anxiety was a huge part of it. It’s that powerlessness that is so upsetting. I, along with his mom, understand him best. We know his best path to daily success. This situation stumped us. The disability won, and it makes me sick if I am being honest.

It’s impossible to not be reflective of the situation. No shame in admitting I was not thinking about the spiritual readings Pam and Beckett were articulating at the time. I was in damage control mode, trying desperately to find something to soothe our boy.

It was interesting later to find some of the papers associated with our reading. The second candle – the one we were to light as a family – was lit by Beckett after he and Pam during the readings. The advent candles represent the four virtues of Jesus – Hope, Faith (or Love), Joy and Peace – and are lit in that order over four Sundays leading to Christmas, representing the “coming.” There are numerous interpretations, but there is comfort found in diving deeper into those virtues when thinking about life’s circumstances, especially when unfortunateness arises. Faith is important.

On a lighter note, watching youth basketball can be entertaining.

After playing several years of recreation basketball at Northside Park, Beckett, 13, is now on his eighth-grade team at school. After a long soccer season, it’s been fun to watch him play a different sport, albeit one he is still getting familiar with. In fact, there seems to be a lot of learning on his team.

In most games, there are far more turnovers than points. When I used to coach, I kept track of these numbers. Now as a parent, I just like to watch, which usually involves giggling. Safe to say there are lots of changes of possession for wild throws, walks, double dribbles and just weird plays where even the kids laugh at themselves.

During a recent game, my son’s team was struggling, down by nine points with five minutes to play. Beckett’s team clawed back to within one when he managed to bank in a three-pointer. After a few strange plays, his teammate found himself on the line down by one. He sunk the first free throw to tie the game. Though he missed the second one, the opposing team’s player saved the rebound right to a wide-open guy on our team for an easy layup with 1.7 seconds left. The game ended 25-23. It was a defensive struggle.

The kids celebrated their first win like it was the championship. It was awesome to watch them celebrate together. Sports are great. He lost those feelings of excitement on the drive home when he remembered he had homework.

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.