The Adventures Of Fatherhood – April 29, 2022

There are negatives with raising teens, but I try to be a glass half full type in my life. Therefore, here are some positives I have noted of late with my soon to be 14-year-old eighth grader.

  • With a big research paper project underway for English, Pam and I were curious what Beckett would select as his topic. Sports and music are two of his passions, and I thought he might choose a topic about music. We had been asking him for a week or so what he was going to select. As a typical teen, he said he was still thinking about it and would decide at the last minute.

He ultimately decided to write about Autism and the varying severities of disabilities associated with the spectrum. For most of his life, Autism has played a major role due to his brother Carson taking us along on his journey. If Beckett is being honest, he would say there are more negative impacts on his life than positives. He doesn’t have a brother he can ride bikes with around town or shoot hoops with. It’s more of a caretaker role. It’s a shame. As he’s gotten older, I sense some resentment and it’s understandable.

Throughout his life, Beckett has always commented at Autism events about how different everyone is, wondering aloud why some people are so high-functioning while others have major struggles to do the simplest of things. I remember last summer on the beach a chat we had as we watched some individuals struggle through their ocean sessions at Surfers Healing. The conversation was in depth for a teen, but he said, “Now I understand why they call it the spectrum.” He then commented how we were lucky with Carson, saying it could be much worse.

It tells me a lot about our son that he picked this topic out of all the subjects available to him. He wanted to learn more about Autism, though he’s an expert in some ways through first-hand education. He seemed interested in the science behind it and why it impacts people so differently.

What he’s not an expert in I have learned throughout the research paper process is properly creating a works cited page.

  • Monthly photos of our teen’s body changes would be great to watch his growth. The problem is he despises photos like most kids his age. The juice is not worth the squeeze in this case.

Thankfully, we are able to compare the boy’s three sports season pictures – soccer in September, basketball in January and lacrosse in April. The contrasts are incredible with one common denominator – no teeth smiles. The smile annoys me because I think too much about the Invisalign bill I guess.

  • A happy moment for me is when he does well on a test, quiz or project his parents know nothing about. As he gets ready to enter high school, we expect him to be able to keep his school work assignments in check without mom and dad having to micromanage.

Everyone needs to have a balance in life, and my kid is not always interested in the parts of life that he does not enjoy. This is understandable, as adults also struggle with this balancing act. When he does juggle all aspects of his life well, he seems proud of himself. It’s a good feeling.

  • When he sets his mind to something, he becomes fixated on it until he conquers it or gives up. He will not toss in the towel easily, but if he loses hope after a certain of time it’s over. He abandons it.

For many months, he was nonstop working on a few skateboarding tricks. His frustration got the best of him, resulting in him not skating at all for a few months. We encouraged him to keep trying but he was discouraged, frustrated and angry. We tried to talk him out of giving up, but it needed to be his idea to continue practicing and get back at it when he was ready.

The time came last month and after a couple hours he landed whatever trick it was he was fixated on. He chalked it up to getting taller. Though it would have been better if didn’t let his frustration boil over to where he gave us the sport, it was super to see get him back on track with it and observe his mental ride through it.

  • My favorite time with my son is in the vehicle on the way to or from something. He always changes the radio station to what he wants to hear whenever he gets in the car. He doesn’t even think about asking to do it. He just does it. It’s selfish but it is what it is.

These conversations give me a glimpse into his mind and soul. One time recently he was on a “woe is me” kick and I had to rough him up a bit because there’s no sense in playing the victim. It’s especially unproductive when there is little reasoning for feeling sorry for himself.

A recent chat — actually one I overheard — coming home from an away lacrosse game tells me how much he’s changing. Two of his teammates had gotten injured and were heading to the hospital to learn their injuries. He had googled what the injuries could be based on what was known – one a bad hip injury and another involving the knee. He wanted to go to the hospital to hang out with them.

Reminding him he had a load of homework, I encouraged him to text them to see how they were doing. A few minutes later, he was Facetiming with one of the boys. In this case, listening to he and his friend talk about the game and scenarios when he could come back and play on the schedule was awesome to hear.

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.