The Adventures Of Fatherhood – May 6, 2022

Take everything day to day.

It’s what parenting reminds us daily about life.

I view each day with my boys, 13 and 12, as restarts. Each kid is different, and most of the time I can tell where their heads are first thing in the morning.

I always strive to be steady with them, or “Even Steven” as Kramer put it in a Seinfeld episode. I am not always successful at maintaining an even keel, but my goal is to just be consistent with them as I know their lives are full of ups and downs they don’t always to share with their parents. I remember life in middle school.

I came across some advice this week I had never heard of before. It’s called the H.A.L.T. method and stems from tactics used in addiction recovery.

With parenting, the concept goes the next time there is some snarky comments or irritable attitude with a teen be sure to “halt” and contemplate some questions first. Any four of these reasons could explain why the “yes,” “of course,” or “no” responses seem especially harsh at any time.

For what’s it’s worth, here’s what website recommends evaluating before jumping into litigious mode when the teen of the house gets aggressive.

Hungry: Are they starving? Before you react, cut them some slack and FEED THEM.

Anxious: Are they worried, stressed, anxious? Talk to your teen, ask questions and be supportive. They need you.

Lonely: Are they feeling left out, isolated? Maybe what they need is your patience and understanding. Dig below the surface.

Tired: Are they exhausted? Table any deep conversations until your teen is rested.

As I thought more about this article, I quickly realized the H.A.L.T. method is applicable to all of us in life on a daily basis.

As my kids have gotten older, I am focusing more and more on not sweating the small stuff. It’s easier than said done, but what I do know it’s unhealthy to micromanage these evolving beings.

The mornings can be chaotic at our house with different school start times for each kid. Divide and conquer is the mindset for Pam and me. I typically focus on Carson because he needs to be at school by 7:30 a.m. If he’s not awake, I make sure to start getting him moving by 6:30 in the morning. The routine plays out about the same each day.

On Monday morning – not typically our smoothest day after the weekend – Carson was really on his game. I remember thinking to myself this is about as perfect of a morning he has had in months. He got up on his own, got himself dressed and watched his favorite Dr. Pol show in his room for a half hour before breakfast. When I told him from downstairs it was time to eat, he quickly came into the kitchen. It usually takes three or four calls to his room and often requires a visit from me to get his attention.

On this day, he was on his game and I was excited. After he had his breakfast, he was off to use the bathroom and brush his teeth when something got his attention. It was his big brother Beckett sitting at the kitchen table nearby having his own breakfast. In a display of how quickly things can change with our special needs kid, he grabbed a stuffed animal from nearby and flung it at his brother knocking things off the table. Beckett took off after him, setting off a chase around the house.

I hoped for the best here while I finished cleaning up the kitchen. Before I could even start heading in their direction, I heard the dreaded sound of glass breaking. Carson was nowhere to be found, but Beckett was standing overtop of it. “He did it, no iPad for a week,” he said.

When I asked what happened, he immediately got defensive, saying it was not his fault and how unfair it is for him to get blamed. I never did anything of the sorts. I was trying to find out what happened, and he took the conversation south in a split second. Of course, it didn’t take much investigative work to find out what occurred.

While being chased by his big brother, Carson picked up a shoe and threw it at Beckett in the foyer. It missed, striking a big framed picture of Carson on his baptism day. Beckett was annoyed I was not upset. I was but I was feigning agitation because I needed to focus on getting Carson to school in the same good frame of mind as a few minutes prior. I showed him what had happened but decided later would be better for a discussion.

Before I was even out the door, Beckett had texted Pam – who was working — about the incident. For some reason, he really wanted to get his little brother in trouble. By the time Carson was in school, I was being asked for details as to what happened. Beckett had evidently painted his little brother as a maniacal madman intent on wrecking the house.

I described it as a temporary lack of sanity that was a shame because he was perfect throughout the morning following his schedule. Because she’s the mom, Pam knew just what to do. She said she would take Carson to a store right after school to buy a new piece of glass. Whatever the cost was he would have to make up in errands. It turnout to be just $19, but I’m going to make up some expensive chores to even things out.

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.